Press comments made by South African President Thabo Mbeki and Prime Minister of Lesotho Pakalitha Mosisili Tuynhuys, Cape Town, Tuesday 19 June 2007


President Thabo Mbeki
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the press.

Welcome Prime Minister. We are very glad indeed that you have honoured us with your visit. This visit is long outstanding and I am very glad indeed that you are here.

The Prime Minister is here to have a look at the status of the bilateral relations between Lesotho and South Africa with a particular focus on what we need to be doing that will be of mutual benefit to both countries. One of the issues in this regard will be the facilitation of free movement between the people of both countries. There is great movement between the peoples of both countries on a daily basis and we need to ensure there are no obstacles in this regard. I am saying that this is the kind of framework in which we are operating so we have indeed agreed about a number of priorities on which we will focus for instance the matter of tourism which is important and therefore work has begun to improve the road across the Drakensburg - Maluti mountain that links Lesotho to Durban and also impacts on the Maluti - Drakensburg Transfrontier Park. This is part of the infrastructure on issues that relate to tourism.

I must say that I found the discussion on what Lesotho will do to attract the support of the 2010 Soccer World Cup very interesting in that Lesotho is proposing that the training camp be set up in Lesotho. I am saying that the visit was intended to look at all these matters on how we can improve our working together on addressing the tourism challenge and what we do about these issues that relate to the movement of people.

Indeed a major point in our relations is our heavy dependence on Lesotho for our water and how we can co-operate on this matter.

We have had a wide range of discussions and I am quite sure Prime Minister that we can now speed up the implementation on these issues.

But Prime Minister a very warm welcome.

Prime Minister Mosisili
Thank you very much Mr President. It is an honour and one that I hesitate to describe as rare since it indicates this is a singular opportunity when indeed this is how we envisage our relations to ideally look - such regular consultations. It is very important for us to be here. I would also like to indicate how pleased we are that these memoranda of understanding have been signed.

These memoranda of understanding go towards the integration of our programmes because like it was so aptly described by Foreign Minister Dlamini Zuma this morning: not only is Lesotho landlocked, but it is South Africa bound. It makes a lot of sense for us to do things together.

We from Lesotho are very proud of the achievements that South Africa is making under your visionary leadership, Mr President. We wish to take a leaf from your book.

When I was a young man growing up and our political leaders were struggling against the British, they had an expression: it is better to misgovern ourselves than to be governed well by others. That was true then but it cannot be good for ourselves today. We have to govern ourselves well. Part of the reason for these consultations and memoranda of understanding is that they epitomise transparent, clearly articulated programmes of operation, indeed programmes of good governance - you will recall Mr President and members of the media that the flagship of Lesotho-South Africa relations is the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. One of its unique characteristics has been zero tolerance of corruption and by jointly working together - that is a bilateral project that we jointly own - we have not hesitated to say that no one is above the law. If it was said that our officials were corrupt we responded by saying it takes two to tango. For there to be corruption and for someone to be corrupted, there had to be someone doing the corrupting - that is to say there had to be a corrupter and corruptee. Indeed joint programmes need to be characterised by good governance and clean practices. For this to happen, there has to be very close design and implementation in many of the programmes.

Mr President, because of this, we greatly appreciate the assistance rendered to Lesotho over the years in our democratisation processes. We have recently held general elections and there again, your assistance by way of providing helicopters to ferry election material before the elections into the remote and hard to reach areas and then to ferry them back to the headquarters of the constituencies was invaluable - that is to say that I cannot attach a value to it, not that it was valueless, just in case there are misunderstandings.

All of the memoranda of understanding are very important but some are more equal than others so I am personally quite excited about the memorandum of understanding between the Departments of Correctional Services because our people live together and do good and bad things together and we have to have a way of managing them properly and catering for their rehabilitation where required.

The other one that I am quite excited about is the one regarding free movement of people across our borders. I must emphasize that the borders are very porous but this free movement of people speaks about legal border crossings. We have to be very careful on how we implement this lest criminals derive more benefit from it than law abiding citizens.

These are exciting times Mr President for our governments and our people - I deliberately use the term people and not peoples because of history, geography, social and cultural factors we are indeed one people.

It will be in the implementation that the proof of the pudding will be tested.

Thank you
Questions and answers
Question Prime Minister Mosisili - I wanted to ask you about soccer - there is talk that there is a conspiracy between South Africa and Lesotho against the Ugandans and therefore their game was cancelled on Saturday?
The elections in February were favourably commented on by almost all observers. But there seems to be discontent among the opposition with regard to the allocation of seats according to the proportional representation system. Do you feel this system is working or is there a problem?
Answer Regarding the question of the soccer game: I am not very well informed. But I understand that the Tanzanian officials had not obtained the necessary visas and/or permits and hence they did not arrive in time to conduct the match on Saturday.

This is perhaps a wake up call for the SADC as a whole to say we are a community - Southern African Development Community - and it high time that we integrated in a way that this movement of our citizens can indeed be more easily facilitated and in a way that the nation of one of the member states of the community is not prevented from crossing the border into another country of the community for lack of visas. It says we have to work very hard indeed to complete this process of integration. This is how I wish to respond to this matter.

On the matter of elections in Lesotho, you are quite right. Not only the elections in February but also previous ones have been characterized as free and fair, just, transparent but for some reason or other, the post-election period in Lesotho is now habitually being characterized by disturbances so we thought we had closed this chapter with the mixed member proportional system.

You are quite right in observing there is some uneasiness, unhappiness about the way in which the proportional representation seats were allocated. That is in fact a matter that has been taken to the courts of Lesotho so the lawyers tell me this matter is sub judice.

There is an initiative by SADC to allow for the stakeholders to revisit the allocation of the proportional seats by the IEC. To that extent, the former President of Botswana Sir Ketumile Masire was in Maseru recently to facilitate dialogue over some of the issues and indeed agreement has been reached on what else it to come and to look at how the proportional seats were allocated.

I must be fair to you and say the cause seems to have been the alliances that some parties formed in preparation for the elections and so we will await the ruling of the courts to say whether or not these alliances were legal or lawful.

Question Prime Minister Mosisili can you kindly give us an update of the curfew in Maseru - why was it deemed necessary and for how long will it be in place? And what is the general security situation in Maseru?
Answer Last Friday the Commissioner of Police announced a curfew from 6pm to 6am.

This was precipitated by the occurrence of a few unfortunate incidents in which the residences of Ministers were attacked. Bodyguards of two Ministers at the gates of their residences were attacked, their weapons and communication devices taken away.

The third incident involved the hijacking of a ministerial motor vehicle. The vehicle was then commandeered to the residence of the particular minister to which easy access was gained. Fortunately the Minister was not in this vehicle. The guns of the security guards were then taken away and shots were fired into the residence. These events happened under the cover of darkness.

The Commissioner of Police thought it necessary to contain these acts of crime and imposed the 06pm-06am curfew which has been in operation since Saturday.

When I talked to the Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Prime Minister I was briefed that the Commissioner of Police was reviewing the times of this curfew and would perhaps modify it to 8pm - 5am. This would allow for workers especially those working in the textile factories and other economic activities to get to work early and reach home safely in the evenings.

So, yes indeed a curfew was imposed in Maseru, precipitated by these acts of violence.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

19 June 2007


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