PRINCIPAL Chiefs have welcomed the deployment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission to Lesotho saying the intervention will help to restore peace and stability in the country.
These remarks were made yesterday after Prime Minister Thomas Thabane tabled before the Senate, reasons that motivated the invitation and presence of the mission. He said a total 258 people comprising soldiers, police and intelligence experts will be in the country for the next six months to support Lesotho’s efforts to build lasting peace.
“The SADC mission is to provide technical support that will enable the smooth implementation of the Phumaphi Commission recommendations; ensure the efficient application and respect of the Rule of Law; review and formulation of reforms; and to assist in investigations related to the assassination of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lieutenant General Khoantle Motṧomotṧo in September this year,” Dr Thabane said.
He urged the Principal Chiefs to encourage communities to cooperate with the team, adding that their living costs will be settled by SADC.
“For a while now we have heard disturbing reports indicating that we have a highly undisciplined force which caused me to ask whether we as politicians are the ones tainting the army.
“However, I believe that if we can all work together, the government joining hands with the noble Principal Chiefs and the community at large, that unity can help build sustainable peace and stability. We need to set our minds to where we would like to be and contribute to creating the Lesotho we want,” Dr Thabane said.
Responding to Dr Thabane’s presentation, the members of the senate sought to understand progress made in investigating the assassination of Lt-Gen Motṧomotṧo, where the SADC team would be staying, and arrangements made so far to monitor their work.
Dr Thabane explained that the Lesotho Mounted Police Service had started investigating the killing of Lt-Gen Motṧomotṧo and have so far made some progress. The SADC mission, he further said, will support their investigations to gather enough information that will help to get to the underlying causes of the shooting incident, in which two other army officers were also killed.
“The team will be based at the various LDF bases including Mejametalana Airbase, Feedlot in Ha Foso and Sehlabeng among others. In terms of monitoring their work, SADC standard procedures will be activated for application while the government will also ensure they have a healthy interaction with the local communities,” Dr Thabane said.
Commenting on the presence of the SADC mission, Principal Chief Khoabane Theko of Thaba Bosiu said the initiative would go a long way to ensure discipline and professionalism in the army.
“We know that there is resistance of the new developments in the LDF, hence the need to ensure we have external support for the success of the reform agenda,” he said.
“Rogue soldiers who served certain politicians rather than the country need to be rooted out of the LDF so that the army can regain their image and professionalism which once reflected a defence force of the people. Politicians should learn from Zimbabwe’s case, which showed that wrapping oneself with the army is never a good idea for they are the same people who toppled (former President Robert) Mugabe who was using the army for his personal gain,” Chief Theko said.
Other Principal Chiefs who applauded the deployment of SADC include Peete Lesaoana Peete of Mapoteng and Koeneng; ‘Mako Mohale of Tajane, Ha Ramoetsane and Ha Mohale; and Mojela Makhaola of Qacha’s Nek.