SADC chairperson President Mugabe, South African President Jacob Zuma (centre) and Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane (standing, right) share a lighter moment ahead of the opening of the SADC Extraordinary Double Troika Summit at OR Tambo Building in Pretoria ,South Africa, yesterday. - (Picture by Presidential Photographer Joseph Nyadzayo)

SADC chairperson President Mugabe, South African President Jacob Zuma (centre) and Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane (standing, right) share a lighter moment ahead of the opening of the SADC Extraordinary Double Troika Summit at OR Tambo Building in Pretoria ,South Africa, yesterday. – (Picture by Presidential Photographer Joseph Nyadzayo)

Lloyd Gumbo recently in Pretoria, S. AFRICA—
SADC cleared the way for Lesotho to go ahead with parliamentary elections scheduled for next weekend at an Extraordinary Double Troika Summit chaired by the regional bloc’s chairperson, President Mugabe, in South Africa yesterday. The summit, that was also attended by South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, Namibia’s incoming President Hage Geingob and Botswana’s Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi, whose countries make up the Troika.

Malawi was represented by its Foreign Affairs Minister George Chaponda and Lesotho’s warring parties led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his deputy and Mothetjoa Metsing attended the summit..

The leaders observed that the political and security situation in the mountain kingdom was conducive for the holding of polls.

The elections in the Kingdom of Lesotho, to be held two years earlier than scheduled, are expected to pave the way for stability in that country following an attempted coup in August last year.

Speaking at a Press briefing after the summit, President Mugabe said SADC would remain seized with the remaining sticky issues in Lesotho, while some of them would be addressed after the elections.

He said the regional bloc was committed to finding a lasting solution to the problems in Lesotho.

“Summit accept that some of the differences now should be provided for correction after the election,” said President Mugabe. “But whatever is immediately problematic and inhibitive will in due course, as we move, be attended to.”

President Mugabe said the leaders agreed on the methodology on how to address some of the issues.

Presenting the summit’s communique, SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said the regional leaders considered the political and security situation in Lesotho.

She said Sadc facilitator to the Lesotho dialogue, South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, briefed them about the political developments in that country as well as the electoral process.

“Summit welcomed progress made toward the finalisation of the Lesotho dialogue and commended both the facilitator and key stakeholders, including the Independent Electoral Commission of Lesotho, for the preparation of the electoral process,” said Dr Tax.

“Summit noted that Sadc Election Advisory Council undertook a mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho and confirmed that the political atmosphere and security situation are conducive to hold elections as scheduled.”

Dr Tax said the summit also called upon all stakeholders in Lesotho to abide by commitments made in the three Sadc agreements – the Maseru Facilitation Declaration, Maseru Security Accord and the Electoral Pledge.

She said the summit condemned any actions that could compromise the holding of peaceful, fair, free and credible elections.

Lesotho was also directed to work towards security sector reforms and constitutional reforms after next week’s parliamentary elections, while the regional bloc will give a helping hand in that regard

“Summit commended the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Republics of Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe for meeting their assessed contributions towards the Sadc deployment in the Kingdom of Lesotho,” said Dr Tax.

“Summit requested the Republics of Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the DRC and the United Republic of Tanzania to deploy more police to support the Kingdom of Lesotho Mounted Police with immediate effect until 5 March 2015,” she said.

Speaking at the same press briefing, President Zuma said the military would remain in the barracks, but would only help in the distribution of ballot papers.

He said Sadc was sending 475 police officers to augment Lesotho’s Mounted Police during the elections.

President Mugabe returned home last night and was welcomed at Harare International Airport by Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Senior Government officials and service chiefs.