Joint march starting point for LDF, LmPS
The seemingly small gesture of members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) engaging in a joint march yesterday was no mean feat, and should be celebrated by all progressive Basotho.
For this nation to function properly, the two agencies need to complement, rather than sabotage each other. What is clear, beyond the turf wars that rocked the agencies, is that the rank and file members want nothing more than to discharge their duties in the service of their paymasters who are the hardworking taxpayers.
We have to acknowledge the sterling role played by Southern African Development Community (SADC) Facilitator to Lesotho, Cyril Ramaphosa, in bringing the belligerent leaders of these agencies together and charting a course which all sides could accept. Mr Ramaphosa’s brokering of the Maseru Security Accord on 23 October 2014 has changed the nation’s trajectory from doom and gloom to hope and expectation.
However, now is the time for Basotho to the rise to the occasion and show that we have the wherewithal to chart this nation’s future despite all the challenges we face. Thankfully, acting LDF commander, Major General Khoantle Motšomotšo and his LMPS counterpart, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Masupha Masupha, rose beyond the bitter divisions between the agencies and marched in unison as they sang the national anthem.
The people’s response in the communities the procession passed through should have given the army and police bosses food for thought. The cheers and amazement of onlookers speak volumes about a people who are not interested in the wrangles of the army and police, but want to live in peace and tranquillity.
Despite shouldering most of the blame for the bitter tiff between the LDF and LMPS, Lt Gen Kamoli allegedly penned a roadmap, before his leave of absence, which would ensure the agencies worked in harmony before and after the SADC-brokered early elections in February 2015.
He proposed the initiation of dialogue at strategic and operational levels between the two security agencies and the establishment of a Joint Operation Centre to manage the operations of both the LDF and LMPS, which will ultimately work together before and during the election period in planning operations and monitoring of executions of operations.
however, we are under no illusions of the formidable task at hand, especially when it comes to the army complying by handing over the eight soldiers the police need to interview in connection with the simultaneous bombing of three Maseru homes on the night of 27 January 2014
One of the attacked homes belonged to LMPS Commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana, while the others were owned by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s partner, Liabiloe Ramoholi, and her neighbour, ‘Mamoletsane Moletsane.
In a bid to build oneness between the LDF and LMPS, Lt Gen Kamoli called for the agencies to hold different sporting activities, joint cleaning campaigns, fun walks and workshops covering such aspects as peacekeeping domestic violence; HIV & AIDS and the Ebola outbreak.
Lt Gen Kamoli also called for prayer sessions which would be conducted by chaplains from both agencies.
However, while it all sounds good on paper, it is common cause that actions speak louder than the most eloquent words. Lt Gen Kamoli made every effort to undermine his LMPS counterpart Khothatso Tšooana before he was relieved of his duties by Dr Thabane on 28 August for alleged insubordination. The fact that yesterday’s march started from Mabote Police Station, which was among the institutions raided by the army that fateful 30 August morning, shows an attempt to acknowledge the wrongs of the past.
However, it bears notice that LDF members outnumbered their LMPS counterparts at the march, which speaks volumes of the mistrust the latter still hold for the former. The trauma of the vicious attacks is still very fresh in the memory.
So, before all the joint initiatives are conducted the LDF command should started with a sincere apology and compliance with all the outstanding requests.