43rd SADC Summit: Prime Minister Matekane says SADC is key to Lesotho stability

SANF 23 no 15 – By Clarkson Mambo in Luanda, Angola

“SADC has been a true friend of Lesotho for scores of years now. This organisation has stood with us in bad and in good times. I can only assure you that the efforts of SADC to stabilize Lesotho over the years have not been in vain.”

The Prime Minister of Lesotho, Samuel Ntsokoane Matekane said this on 17 August, 2023 in his first speech to SADC Heads of State and Government at the 43rd Summit in Luanda, Angola.

He pledged his country’s continued support towards the regional integration and development agenda. The Kingdom of Lesotho is a founding member of SADC.

Prime Minister Matekane was a surprise winner in the general elections held in Lesotho in October 2022, when his party, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), won the most seats. The RFP, which was formed only a few months before the elections, fell short of winning a majority, resulting in the formation of a coalition government.

As SADC Heads of State and Government welcomed him, Prime Minister Matekane pledged to continue working to implement a SADC-led national reform process in Lesotho aimed at establishing lasting peace and political stability.

SADC had appointed President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa as the facilitator for Lesotho to begin to stabilise the country through the guidance of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

“The reforms are a national priority that we have a responsibility to ensure are carried forward and finalized. The government strongly believes that it is through this programme, that a new era of peace and stability will be achieved in Lesotho,” the Prime Minister said.

Lesotho has had recurring political instability since 2012 including a coup d’état in 2014, and has held three national elections within a period of five years.

No Prime Minister has managed to serve a full five-year term since the elections in 2012 and none of the political parties has managed to garner a majority to form a government on its own, leading to the formation of shaky coalition governments.

During this tumultuous period, there were assassinations of key military personnel, impacting on efforts to promote and find a lasting solution to the political situation in the country.

A key achievement of the SADC facilitated process was the establishment of the National Reforms Authority (NRA) in February 2020 to oversee the implementation of political reforms.

The NRA, which was later dissolved in April 2022, made some progress in facilitating reforms in seven thematic areas — constitutional, security, economy, judiciary, public service, parliament and the media.

Prime Minister Matekane said his government would work to improve the lives of Basotho through political and socio-economic reforms that are linked to regional developmental objectives.

“Lesotho is also committed to move together with the rest of the region by fully participating in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement. This agreement is not only a stepping stone for claiming our share of global markets, but it is also an enabler for both regional and global value chains,” he said.

The region has potential to achieve all its developmental targets if the 16 Member States “remain committed and faithful to the ideals and the main objectives of SADC, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals,” Prime Minister Matekane said.

“We need to reinforce our resource mobilization strategies to enable us to augment the financial resources that we inject into the implementation of our regional integration agenda as Annual Member States’ Contributions,” he said.

Discussions have been held previously about reducing the SADC reliance on donors to support its integration agenda, and generating sufficient resources within the region.

The theme of the 43rd SADC Summit was, Human and financial capital: The key drivers for sustainable industrialisation of the SADC Region.

At the summit, President João Lourenço of Angola took over the rotational SADC chair from President Fèlix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo of the Democratic of Congo, while President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia took over as chairperson of the SADC Organ Troika from President Hage Geingob of Namibia. sardc.net

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