The Republic of Zambia, by virtue of being the current Southern African Development Community (SADC) Chairpersonship for the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation took over from the Republic of Angola as the new Chairperson of the Oversight Committee in a ceremony held in Maseru, Kingdom of Lesotho on the 19th September 2018.
In his welcoming remarks, the Director of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation at the SADC Secretariat, Mr Jorge Cardoso, on behalf of SADC Executive Secretary, indicated that the SADC Oversight Committee began its operations in October 2016 following the decision of the SADC Summit of July 2015 in response to the political and security challenges that had occurred within the security establishment of the Government of Lesotho, after the killing of the former LDF Commander, Lt. General Mahao.
He noted that the initiative by Summit was not only responsive, but was also designed to provide Lesotho and the region with an active early warning mechanism for monitoring political and security developments in the country. Since its inception the Oversight Committee have conducted its operations in a professional manner and ensured that it effectively interacted with key stakeholders to create a conducive environment for the return of the political normalcy in Lesotho.
While extending his gratitude to Ambassador Matias Bertino Matondo for the sterling leadership of the Oversight Committee and his out-going team, Mr. Cardoso stressed that the current security and political stability in Lesotho is attributed to the continued visibility and activities of the SADC Oversight Committee, complemented by the efforts of the SADC Preventative Mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho (SAPMIL) and the SADC Facilitator.
In his opening remarks, Hon. Davies Chama, the Minister of Defence of Zambia, representing the Chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, a President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency, Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, emphasized the commitment of SADC, to the realizations of the aspiration of the people of Lesotho to live in a stable, peaceful and secure environment. This has been demonstrated by the various interventions SADC has put in place; namely the appointment of a Facilitator, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa, the establishment of an Oversight Committee and the deployment of the SADC Preventative Mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho (SAPMIL).
Hon. Davies Chama anticipated that the Constitutional, Parliamentary, Public and Security Sector reforms will lead to the transformation of Lesotho into a stable, prosperous and united nation requiring leadership and national ownership by all the Basotho. Hon. Chama acknowledged the progress made thus far by the Government of Lesotho by creating a conducive environment that has enabled various initiatives to take place, citing the recently held National Leaders Forum (NLF), which was attended by key stakeholders including major political parties, civil society and churches as a welcome important milestone.
In his taking over remarks, the Incoming Chairperson of the Oversight Committee, Retired Chief Justice Matthew M.S.W. Ngulube, from the Republic of Zambia thanked the Outgoing Chairperson for the diligent work done in supporting the people of Lesotho through their difficult times, and pledged to use his previous experience wherein he deployed as part of a mediation team to Lesotho, to ensure that concerted efforts are put towards the peace process for the Kingdom of Lesotho.
The handing/taking–over ceremony was attended by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs of Zambia, the Army Commander; the Zambia High Commissioner to South Africa and also accredited to Lesotho, and by the Incoming Head of Mission for SAPMIL. The Republic of South Africa was represented by a representative from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation while Namibia the current Chair of SADC was represented by a member from the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation.
The SADC Oversight Committee will continue to be deployed in the Kingdom of Lesotho until March 2019 to render assistance in the reforms and the political stabilization process, and to serve as an early warning mechanism.