Sadc chair in SA for Double Troika

Morris Mkwate in PRETORIA, South Africa
President Mugabe arrived here last night to steer today’s Sadc Double Troika Summit, which will formulate strategies to restore political stability and security in Lesotho.

Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko is Acting President.

President Mugabe, who is Sadc chairman, is accompanied by Ministers Sydney Sekeramayi (Defence) and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Foreign Affairs).

He was received at Waterkloof Air Force Base by South Africa’s Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

President Mugabe, who is also chairman of the Africa Union, was invited to the interface by the regional grouping’s Politics, Defence and Security Chair and South African President Jacob Zuma following fresh political tensions in Lesotho.

The volatile situation has seen former Lesotho Defence Forces Commander Brigadier Maaparankoe Mahao being killed and opposition leaders, among them All Basotho Convention frontman and ex-Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, fleeing to South Africa.

Presidents Hage Geingob (Namibia) and Seretse Khama Ian Khama (Botswana) complete the Troika and are both scheduled to be part of today’s proceedings.

Foreign Affairs secretary Ambassador Joey Bimha said on Wednesday that: “President Zuma, after being briefed on the security situation in Lesotho by his fact-finding mission, invited Heads of State and Government of the Sadc Double Troika for a meeting in Pretoria to discuss the situation.

“He then dispatched his special envoy (and South Africa’s Defence Minister), Madam Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana to brief the Heads of State and Government. First, she came to Zimbabwe on Tuesday and, thereafter, proceeded to the other two countries.”

The political turmoil in Lesotho comes four months after the country conducted parliamentary elections, which saw the then premier, Mr Thabane, being replaced with Democratic Congress leader Mr Pakalitha Mosisili.

These polls were initially pencilled in for 2017, but were pulled back to help quell political instability stemming from an alleged coup attempt in August 2014.

However, tensions have been building among the major political players and this culminated in Brigadier Mahao’s death on June 25.

Reports from the capital, Maseru, suggest the former defence forces chief was allegedly shot after being linked to the 2014 coup attempt.

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