Ramaphosa’s Lesotho task no walk in the park – SADC

2014-10-28 20:52
A military vehicle leaves the army barracks in Maseru. (Mujahid Safodien, AFP)

A military vehicle leaves the army barracks in Maseru. (Mujahid Safodien, AFP)

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Johannesburg - Southern African Development Community secretary Stergomina Tax has admitted there had been challenges in Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's recent mediation efforts in Lesotho.

She told journalists in Johannesburg on Tuesday the mediation process “is moving very well”.

She added, however, that mediation “is not a once-off event, it is a process”, and there were many parties involved, including the leaders from the coalition government.

This coalition government caused the original “challenges” in Lesotho, she said, because the country had no previous experience of this kind of governance.

There was an attempted coup in the country two months ago, but after SADC’s intervention and various mediation visits by Ramaphosa, the various parties agreed to reconvene parliament and hold elections in February.

Tax emphasised that SADC was “one of the most peaceful and politically stable regions in the world”.

Asked about her view on whether Swaziland, a SADC member state, should be more democratic,Tax said if there were issues, SADC would work with Swaziland.

But she added: “It is difficult for me to comment, because I have not seen that there is no democracy in Swaziland. Democracy is about people, and people have to demand that right,” she said.

She said if Swaziland had issues, they should bring it to the table in SADC. “If there is a need for us to intervene, we will do so. One thing we should be aware of, is SADC respects the sovereignty and constitutions of member states,” she said.

Swaziland is a monarchical democracy and has only one party and there are severe restrictions on media freedom.

Tax also said it was difficult for her to comment on Botswana and Namibia refusing entry to members of Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters, which has been critical of the ruling parties in these countries.

She said she didn’t have the particulars of these cases, but the free movement of people in SADC was one of the issues the regional body had been discussing.

“Freedom from having to carry visas is about facilitating business and freedom of movement, but there are also security-related issues,” she said.

Tax, who is from Tanzania and who is SADC’s first female executive secretary, assumed office last year.

She also said business should play a bigger role in SADC, and she was hoping that citizens would take more of an interest in the work of the regional body.

She was in Johannesburg to address an awards ceremony.

Read more on:    sadc  |  eff  |  julius malema  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  lesotho  |  southern africa

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