No place for gun battles in Lesotho
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.