Govt commits M10 million for SADC Force

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Pascalinah Kabi         

THE Government of Lesotho has committed M10 million to support the welfare of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Contingency Forces deployed in the country.

The Ministry of Defense and National Security Principal Secretary, Retired Colonel Tanki Mothae yesterday told the media at a News Briefing that the money would meet the SADC team’s accommodation and basic utilities, in an effort to financially assist the regional body.

“As a host country we have a responsibility to ensure that we make thorough preparations for our visitors who came to our rescue. There is a little token we have put forward as a budget of approximately M10 million. Our efforts reflect our appreciation for the assistance provided by the SADC member states,” Rtd Col Mothae said.

He said Lesotho was responsible of meeting the accommodation, electricity and water bills for the 258-member contingency force, adding this was per the Status of the Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the host country and SADC Secretariat.

Rtd Col Mothae said the contingency force would soon roll-out its own programme in line with Lesotho’s request, with the training requirements for the army a key priority area.

Among its responsibilities, the SADC mission is expected to reconfigure the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) Military Intelligence Department which has been under a lot of strain.

On his part, Ministry of Health International Health Regulations Manager, Khotso Mahomo said the contingency force met all the set international health requirements upon their arrival in Lesotho.

“The troops were screened as they came in the country as per international health regulations and Public Health Order. Frequent assessment of the camping sites was done to ensure proper sanitation and waste management,” Mr Mahomo said.

He said the contingency plan on management of illness was in place with different levels of healthcare.  All team members produced their yellow fever booklets upon arrival.

Made of 207 soldiers, 15 intelligence officers, 24 police officers and 12 civilian experts; the SADC team was officially launched earlier this month.

The deployment came following Lesotho’s request to have a SADC standby force deployed in the Mountain Kingdom following the assassination of army commander, Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo on 5 September this year.

Lt-Gen Motšomotšo, it alleged, was assassinated by Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi, who accused him of selling them out to the police after he decided to cooperate with the SADC Commission of Inquiry decisions.

Brigadier Sechele and Colonel Hashatsi were both killed during a shoot-out with the general’s bodyguards. They were among the soldiers fingered by the Justice Mphaphi’s Commission of Inquiry, in the assassination of Lt-Gen Maaparankoe Mahao in June 2015.

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