5 August 2017

Lesotho: Govt Engendering Public Confidence

Photo: GCIS
Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane (file photo).
editorial

IT can never be over-emphasised that any government must do everything in its power to engender public confidence and it would appear that the four party coalition is going out of its way to do just that.

The new government came to power in the aftermath of the 3 June 2017 snap elections.

The governing parties' pre-election promises centred on the observation of the rule of law as well as implementing the recommendations of the Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi-led SADC Commission of Inquiry that was set up in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of former army commander, Maaparankoe Mahao in 2015.

Lt-Gen Mahao was fatally shot by his colleagues on 25 June 2015 just outside Maseru. The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) subsequently announced Lt-Gen Mahao was resisting arrest when he was killed, which the family has dismissed as untrue.

The Mahao family accused the army of killing him in cold blood basing on the account of his nephews who were with him during the incident.

The 10-member commission carried out its investigations between 31 August and 23 October 2015 and recommended, among other things, that government should investigate the killing and prosecute those found to be responsible.

The previous Pakalitha Mosisili-led administration was accused of dragging its feet in implementing the SADC recommendations which included investigating his killing and prosecuting of those found to be responsible.

However, the new government has shown a determination to bring the matter to finality and as we report elsewhere in this edition, the Mahao family is confident that justice will finally be done.

The family said this after a recent meeting with Defence Minister, Sentje Lebona, who also wanted to return the late Lt-Gen Mahao's personal belongings which were still in the army's possession.

We also report is another unrelated development that Police and Public Safety Minister, 'Mampho Mokhele, revealed that government recalled twenty-one police officers because the previous regime did not follow the proper procedures when it fired them.

The officers were recalled to work on 19 July, 2017 following a directive by the-then Acting Police Commissioner Keketso Monaheng.

They were fired from the police service by embattled police commissioner, Molahlehi Letsoepa allegedly for various offences ranging from misconduct to participating in political activities.

Speaking this week on the 21 officers, Ms Mokhele said they were recalled because proper procedures were not followed when firing them.

"I am not saying the officers are not guilty but I am of the view that proper procedures were not followed when they were dismissed from the service.

"They must be given an opportunity to respond to charges levelled against them and let the justice system find if they are guilty or not," Ms Mokhele said.

This is just as it should be that procedures must be followed.

Accused people must be given an opportunity to respond and the accusers have the responsibility of proving their case beyond reasonable doubt.

It is therefore encouraging to see the government pursuing such steps, first in seeking to resolve a long-standing issue which has attracted international attention and secondly by following the correct procedures with respect to the police officers' case.

There is still a lot that needs to be done to ensure Lesotho finally becomes a nation that is synonymous with the rule of law.

Constitutional, administrative and security sector reforms need to be fully implemented as recommended by SADC.

The scourge of corruption must be tackled and eliminated from all spheres of public life.

But given such small but highly significant actions, government has started down the road of building public confidence in its ability to walk its talk.

It is certainly refreshing to report such positive news.

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