Cabinet unanimously approved amnesty bill

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…but All Basotho Convention labels the national unity and peace bill 2021 a Democratic Congress product

By Mamello Mosaefane and Lerema Pheea

Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s cabinet of ministers gave the controversial amnesty draft law thumps up before it was tabled in Parliament after its consultations with former Deputy Chief Justice Likgang Moseneke.

Minister of communications, science, and technology, Sam Rapapa, said the government had sanctioned the controversial bill that if passed into law will grant amnesty and set free former Lesotho defense force commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli and his co-accused soldiers for their treasons, murder, and attempted murder charges.

The national peace and unity bill will also facilitate for charges against Lesotho Congress for Democracy leader and former deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Movement for Economic Change leader Selibe Mochoboroane to be dropped even before they could be enjoined as co-accused of Lt Gen Kamoli.

The bill will also facilitate the payment of reparations to the families of victims of atrocities suffered by various families—Lieutenant-General Mahao family, Lisebo Tang family, Sub Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko’s family and others—as a result of army skirmishes in 2014 to 2016.

Rapapa emphasized that Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu, former minister of law and justice who is now leader of Basotho Action Party, Professor Nqosa Mahao, Deputy Minister of foreign affairs Machesetsa Mofomobe and SADC facilitator, Dikgang Moseneke met and discussed and drafted the national peace and unity bill 2021 that was later presented before cabinet.

Rapapa said drafts were therefore made and tabled before the cabinet in May, with the Attorney General’s approval, then tabled before the national assembly for enactment.

The Bill, according to Rapapa, went through all these processes without ABC’s protests against it.

Rapapa is a chairperson of the ABC and Prime Minister Majoro is the newly appointed deputy leader of the ABC, while Mahao is the former deputy leader of the ABC.

But, Rapapa said his party only convened to find its own stance on the draft law a week after it was tabled before the National Assembly of Lesotho.

“It is within the rights of the public and the national assembly to discuss the Bill and either agrees and disagrees with it. There is nothing wrong with that,” said Rapapa.

Democratic Congress spokesperson Serialong Qoo said there was a national dialogue in Maseru where the leaders of parties and civil society organisation talked and agreed on the reform issues.

“The decision was that government ought to formulate a law that will usher Lesotho and Basotho to long-lasting peace and the government advised itself to look at this statement and act on it,” said Qoo.

Qoo corroborated Rapapa’s sentiments on peoples who were involved in the initial formulation of the ideas around amnesty granting law.

He further said after being consulted Moseneke brought Lesotho a document that worked as a foundation for the drafting of the amnesty law.

Qoo said Mahao presented the idea of the amnesty law to cabinet and it was given thumps up.

Qoo said when the draft law had passed all processes the DC supported the idea of the amnesty law as it shall usher in peace and no one in cabinet contested against the formulation of the law.

Qoo argues that in the interest for peace and justice for all Basotho the law must be adopted and enacted by parliament.

He says that the victim’s family must get compensation and be comforted for their wounds to heal in order for unity among Basotho to be attained. He said the criminal justice system only commits criminals for a specified term in prison and later be released while victims are still aggrieved.

But Masoetsa said the ABC stands against the enactment of the law as it promotes impunity and erodes rule of law. He said ABC national executive committee officially does not agree to the enactment of national peace and unity bill 2021 into law.

He said the bill belongs to DC, and was first drafted during Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and Deputy Prime Minister Metsing reign.

He said then the country had to abandon the amnesty law after much pressure from the international community that included the Unites States.

He said ABC demands reconciliation and peace and not amnesty because the criminals ought to appear before court and be prosecuted.

Masoetsa added they do not want false peace as their partners [DC] demands but they demand justice and rule of law.

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