Africa-Press – Lesotho. PROFESSOR Nqosa Mahao says the National Peace and Unity Bill is an abhorrent law that would be prejudicial to victims of human rights abuses. Speaking at a press conference in Maseru on Tuesday, Mahao said he warned Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro that Bill was a bad law that would not see the light of day.
He said he also expressed his misgivings about the Bill to SADC envoy, Justice Dikgang Moseneke, saying it had been crafted in a way that would prejudice victims of rights violations.
He said when Justice Moseneke presented his proposed document to the Cabinet he warned that it would not see light of the day. Mahao said the Cabinet gave him the document so that he could develop it and he took it to experts in the ministry so that it could be corrected.
He also said he invited families of victims of gross human rights violations to have an input in it but unfortunately he was fired from his ministerial post before that could be done.
The Basotho Action Party (BAP) leader was responding to allegations by his successor in the Justice and Law Ministry, Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, that he was part of the initiators of the Bill as it is.
Two weeks ago Advocate Rakuoane said when he entered office he found the Bill already there, left by Professor Mahao, ready to be taken to parliament. The Democratic Congress (DC), which gave Rakuoane’s Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) the ministerial seat, also echoed his remarks about Mahao.
The DC deputy leader Motlalentoa Letsosa took it even further saying the cabinet discussed and agreed on the Bill before it was passed to parliament for enactment.
He said they will support the Bill to the end because “it is the only remedy to Lesotho’s problems adding that they will push it with all the power they have”.
Letsosa said the Bill had passed through cabinet and the Attorney General’s office before it was taken to the National assembly. “The cabinet discussed this Bill, asked questions and then said they were satisfied,” Letsosa said.
“I am part of the cabinet together with those who oppose it now,” he said, referring to Professor Mahao and Prime Minister Majoro together with his All Basotho Convention (ABC) ministers.
He also said immediately after the agreements were made Professor Mahao was kicked out of office and his replacement, Advocate Rakuoane, took it to parliament.
He encouraged all those who oppose the TJC bill to write to the National Assembly clerk for the justice portfolio committee to hear their reasons. Mahao says in its present form the Bill promotes impunity and should therefore be called the “Impunity Bill”.
He said the Bill is intended to extend divisions within the country while also “depriving the King of his supremacy to exonerate citizens accused of various crimes”.
“The fundamental area of disagreement with the National Peace and Unity Bill is that it encroaches upon the highest law of the land – the Constitution,” he said. Mahao said the Bill is going to obstruct the functions of other legal frameworks, for instance the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).
The aim of the Bill is to secure the freedom of perpetrators of human rights violations, in a sense that it is prejudicial to the interests of human rights victims’ that have not been consulted, he said.
Mahao claims to have drafted five laws that were presented and passed by the National Reforms Authority (NRA) only to be stalled by the current government.
But this Bill, which has not even made it to the NRA, has been rushed to parliament by the government, he said. The ABC spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa said the Bill is the brainchild of the DC.
“I declare officially today that the Bill belongs to the DC (and has been in the making) since five years ago,” Masoetsa said.
He said five years ago the Pakalitha Mosisili administration began plans to form a commission that would grant amnesty to perpetrators of human rights.
He said the American Embassy then wrote to Mosisili condemning the idea. “They wrote to Mosisili (asking him) to refrain from pardoning the suspects of murders,” Masoetsa said.
“The Bill is meant to free the suspects who are already detained,” he said.