President Ramaphosa has commended the people of the Kingdom of Lesotho for their determination to forge a stable and peaceful country.
He was speaking at the inauguration of the country’s newly elected Prime Minister Samuel Ntsokoane Matekane, in Maseru on Friday.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, I offer warm congratulations on your appointment as the Prime Minister of our sister country, Lesotho, a fellow member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“Our congratulations go to all Basotho for the successful exercise of their democratic right on 7 October 2022. I wish to commend the people of Lesotho for their shared determination to restore peace and stability and to forge a just and prosperous future for the Kingdom,” he said.
The President reflected on the deep ties between South Africa and Lesotho spanning back to the Apartheid era where some South Africans fled to the land-locked country.
“For many, [Lesotho] became a place of refuge and safety. After gaining its independence in 1966, the Basotho Kingdom became an essential sanctuary for many South African freedom fighters driven into exile by the apartheid regime.
“We acknowledge with gratitude the solidarity and the hospitality of the Basotho, and recognise the sacrifices that were made in the pursuit of our freedom. This warm and welcoming nature of the Basotho continues to this day.
“The strong bonds between our two nations are founded on family ties, shared language, history and culture. Our pasts are inseparable. Our futures are intertwined,” he said.
President Ramaphosa said Lesotho itself has had to deal with a “difficult path towards the restoration of peace, security and stability” over the past eight years.
“In December 2014, SADC entrusted me with the task of Facilitator in the Kingdom of Lesotho to assist with the promotion of peace and stability and constitutional reform. After I was elected President of South Africa, this task was taken forward by a Facilitation Team… to promote open and transparent dialogue, to allow the Basotho to express their own views about the Lesotho they want.
“We recall how His Majesty King Letsie III, the former Prime Minister, SADC and the Basotho celebrated the successful culmination of the National Dialogue, which led to the establishment of the National Reforms Authority,” he said.
The President commended the National Reforms Authority for piloting legislative reforms despite facing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The work of the National Reforms Authority is best captured in the Draft Eleventh Constitutional Amendment Act – the Omnibus Bill – which was presented to the 10th Parliament before its dissolution in July 2022. The reforms contained in the Draft Omnibus Bill lay a solid foundation for the future of the Basotho.
“We therefore welcome the commitment of the incoming government to give priority to the finalisation of this important work. We believe that the issue of justice and reconciliation is within the grasp of the Basotho,” he said.