2 minute read
31 Aug 2014
6:41 pm

SADC ministers to meet on Lesotho coup

Foreign ministers of three Southern Africa Development Community member states will be discussing the recent events in Lesotho, Dirco confirmed on Sunday.

People walk on August 31, 2014 in a market in Maseru. Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane claimed on August 30 he fled for his life after soldiers seized power in a coup, despite the military denying it overthrew the tiny mountain kingdom's government. Lesotho has suffered a series of coups since independence in 1966, and the political temperature in the country has been rising rapidly in recent months. Since the prime minister suspended parliament in June, divisions within the ruling coalition, the military and between the police and military have turned into chasms. AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN

“Foreign ministers of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia are meeting tonight in Pretoria to talk about matters of Lesotho,” said International Relations and Co-operation departmental spokesman, Clayson Monyela.

He said South Africa called the meeting in its capacity as the chairing nation of SADC’s organ on politics and defence.

Monyela could not confirm an apparent meeting between President Jacob Zuma, Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and members of the kingdom’s coalition government.

According to the Associated Press, Thabane was meeting with leaders of his country’s coalition government and Zuma to discuss the recent unrest.

On Saturday, Thabane told the BBC he had fled for his life across the border to South Africa, accusing the military of seizing power in a coup and leaving the country in flux.

“I have been removed from control not by the people but by the armed forces, and that is illegal,” Thabane reportedly said.

“I will return as soon as my life is not in danger… I will not go back to Lesotho to get killed.”

Meanwhile, the South African National Defence Force refuted claims that it was involved in foiling the alleged coup.

Spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini said that as “far as [he] was aware” there had been “none whatsoever” – in terms of reports that South African soldiers had assisted in bringing down an alleged mutiny.

Dlamini was responding to an article in the Sunday Times with the headline ‘SA special forces foil Lesotho coup’.

The article reported that SANDF troops – based in Phalaborwa, Limpopo – had entered the country on Friday – along with a group of diplomats. The article said a pre-dawn raid had then been carried out on Saturday in Maseru to assist Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane to flee the country into South Africa.

“I’m not sure that the reports from the Sunday Times are accurate. This matter is at a much higher level than just the defence force,” said Dlamini.

He said the matter would be dealt with by the Southern African Development Community.

Dlamini said the South Africa government continued to “monitor the situation”.

– Sapa