By Teboho Serutla
Some of the participants at a three-day consultative meeting on a pathway to sustainable peace, national unity and reconciliation have expressed unhappiness about the participation of government representatives at the conference.
Hosted in Maseru at the ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre from Wednesday the forum brought together representatives from the political parties, chiefs and the National Reforms Authority (NRA) administrative officials.
But it emerged at the forum that some of the people who were considered to be political victims expressed their discontent with the attendance of the politicians.
The consultations, organised by the NRA and funded by the government and the European Union (EU) were hinged on finding ways towards the country’s attainment of peace, unity and reconciliation.
One of the ‘victims’ representatives ‘Mamphanya Mahao said they were aware that government has introduced the bill known as Lesotho National Peace and Unity into parliament without consulting with them.
She added that the government has no role in the forum yet it was pushing ahead with the processes to enact the bill into law.
Another representative Mosebetsi Mapetla, advised the NRA to consider the plight of the political victims some of whom are orphaned and widowed. Others, she added, were jailed for no apparent and substantial reasons as they had not committed any crimes.
In addition, she said others had their properties damaged during the political strife that gripped the country in the past years.
She pleaded for justice to take its course by bringing the perpetrators to the book and face the might of the law. She urged for the perpetrators to come forward and confess so as to be forgiven if necessary.
“The country’s courts of law have shown a very sluggish effort,” Mapetla said it was now nearly 40 years since the slaying of Mahlomola Motuba and two others only known as Koeshe and Mohale.
“This means the recent cases of 2012 and 2017 are also expected to take a 40-year journey” she added.
She says there is a need for transparency within courts of law with no political interference. She also said the delays by the government to prosecute murder cases is a great concern to them.
“As the government delays prosecuting the cases, we plead for victims of political crimes to be financially compensated, because some of the victims’ next of kin were dependent on the deceased persons,” she added.
Mapetla said some of the perpetrators were the masterminds who should be hunted and brought before the courts to pave way for a peaceful future.
She urged that the country’s army has been highly influenced by the government for years against the persecution of civilians, adding that “members of the army are now battling among themselves.”
She advised that both the victims and the perpetrators should be heard in order to usher in a true reconciliation.
It was suggested at the forum that Lesotho should seek advises from other African Union member states and the United Nations.
Another victim Motšoane Motšoane who is a former soldier said he was arrested for a year and incarcerated after he was misjudged to be Motšoene Motšoene. He was accused of insubordination but was found to be innocent.
He said after his release in jail he continued to earn full pay for six years while he was at home. He warned that politicians were creating falsehoods that have spilled into the army ranks.
Officially opening the consultative meeting, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro said Lesotho was engaged in the reforms process in order to create a prosperous state that is at peace with itself.
“Today, we have decided to turn a new page and cross the rivers of despair into a peaceful and more secure and prosperous Lesotho. We are determined to stand up in unison and build a Lesotho that will be the envy of all—a Lesotho that future generation will be happy to inherit,” he said.
Majoro added that in the history of the world, particularly in southern African region, there has not been a more peaceful and united country than Lesotho, until the country faced the gloomy cloud of division hovering over Basotho as a result of divergent political views.