No place for gun bat­tles in Le­sotho

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

FOR Le­sotho, it al­ways seems to be a case of one step for­ward, two steps back with yet an­other shoot­ing blight­ing the lit­tle op­ti­mism that has ac­com­pa­nied the build up to the forth­com­ing elec­tions.

As re­ported else­where in this edi­tion, a gun battle raged this past Sun­day in Maseru which left two sol­diers wounded and a se­cu­rity guard killed. The shoot­ings hap­pened just when hap­less Ba­sotho be­gan to ex­pe­ri­ence some sem­blance of nor­malcy fol­low­ing the chill­ing events of the week­end of 28-29 Au­gust 2014 in which Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) mem­bers raided three key Maseru po­lice sta­tions lead­ing to the death of a sub-in­spec­tor, and a five-day paral­y­sis of the Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS).

Dur­ing that pe­riod, the na­tion en­dured gun bat­tles be­tween LDF and LMPS of­fi­cers, their sup­posed pro­tec­tors, in the streets and vil­lages. how­ever, the in­ter­ven­tion of re­gional bloc South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC), Ba­sotho hoped, would put paid to the shoot­ing spree that had ren­dered such ar­eas as Khu­bet­soana vir­tual war zones.

By all in­di­ca­tions, the un­rest seemed to be a thing of the past es­pe­cially given the as­tute fa­cil­i­ta­tion of South African Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa who had man­aged to bro­ker the Maseru Se­cu­rity Ac­cord (MSA). un­der the MSA, the bel­liger­ent se­cu­rity agency bosses went on a leave of ab­sence abroad to re­store peace be­tween the LMPS and LDF, whose con­tin­ued feud­ing — mainly due to per­son­al­ity clashes be­tween Com­mis­sioner, Khothatso Tšooana and Lieu­tenant gen­eral Tlali Kamoli — had brought Le­sotho to the brink of civil war.

how­ever, the events of this past week­end have since dis­abused us of the no­tion that nor­malcy had fi­nally re­turned.

And when such in­ci­dents oc­cur, there are con­flict­ing re­ports from gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and agen­cies, which high­light the ex­tent of their po­lar­i­sa­tion.

The dis­par­ity be­tween the ver­sion of events de­scribed by the LDF and Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane’s Press Sec­re­tary Thabo Thakalekoala is dis­con­cert­ing to say the least.

The LDF al­leges that army per­son­nel guard­ing the of­fices of the Sadc Mission in Le­sotho “an­tic­i­pated dan­ger” and were then shot by Ma­jor Mo­jafela Mosak­eng and Cor­po­ral Ngoliso Ma­jara.

how­ever, Mr Thakalekoala of­fers a dif­fer­ent view, say­ing that the two afore­men­tioned of­fi­cers, who are re­port­edly part of Dr Tha­bane’s se­cu­rity de­tail, had been tar­geted by “rene­gade sol­diers bent on desta­bil­is­ing the coun­try” ahead of the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 na­tional as­sem­bly elec­tions.

While the blame game con­tin­ues, Le­sotho’s stand­ing among the com­mu­nity of na­tions con­tin­ues to take more bat­ter­ing. In­stead of be­ing counted among the demo­cratic and pro­gres­sive na­tions on the con­ti­nent and the world, the King­dom is found among the hotspots of in­sta­bil­ity.

of late, we have con­tin­u­ously been mak­ing the global news for the wrong rea­sons which has re­sul­tantly put off for­eign in­vestors and tourists alike.

The buck ul­ti­mately stops with the po­lit­i­cal lead­ers who are stok­ing more ten­sion with their petty brinkman­ship.

Dr Tha­bane has fla­grantly vi­o­lated the tenets of the Elec­toral Pledge (EP), of which he is a sig­na­tory. Among other is­sues, the EP stip­u­lated that the coali­tion gov­ern­ment lead­ers, who are now in power on a care­taker ba­sis, should re­frain from mak­ing se­nior gov­ern­ment ap­point­ments dur­ing the elec­tion pe­riod, which be­gan on 8 De­cem­ber and ends on 7 March 2015.

Since ap­pend­ing his sig­na­ture to the EP, the pre­mier has ap­pointed the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary for Cabi­net Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice and Court of Ap­peal Pres­i­dent.

While we hold noth­ing against the ap­pointees in their per­sonal ca­pac­i­ties, since they are qual­i­fied for their new jobs, the tim­ing has been con­strued by many to have po­lit­i­cal con­no­ta­tions.

For the sake of en­sur­ing cred­i­ble, free and fair elec­tions, Dr Tha­bane needs to abide by what he signed up to and not change the goal posts as he goes along. The po­lit­i­cal play­ing field needs to re­main level for all the con­tenders to par­tic­i­pate with­out reser­va­tions.

This is not to con­done the shoot­ings which should be con­demned in the strong­est terms. This na­tion can­not be dragged down by trig­ger happy peo­ple who want to take power even at the cost of life and limb.

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