Lekhanya fore­sees ‘prob­lems’ af­ter poll

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Keiso Mohloboli

For­mer Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) Com­man­der, ma­jor Gen­eral mets­ing Lekhanya, says he fore­sees “prob­lems” af­ter Satur­day’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions be­cause of un­re­solved “se­cu­rity is­sues”.

maj Gen Lekhanya over­threw the Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP)led gov­ern­ment of Prime min­is­ter Le­abua Jonathan on 24 Jan­uary 1986, but was to suf­fer a sim­i­lar fate when his sub­or­di­nates top­pled him on 2 may 1991.

In march 1999, the now re­tired sol­dier was elected BNP leader — a po­si­tion he held un­til party sup­port­ers passed a vote-of-no-con­fi­dence in his lead­er­ship on 18 De­cem­ber 2010.

mr Lekhanya has since re­tired from ac­tive pol­i­tics but at­tended the BNP’S fi­nal cam­paign rally at Set­soto Sta­dium on Sun­day where he spoke to the Le­sotho Times about the coun­try’s cur­rent po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity crises, which have prompted a gen­eral elec­tion two years ear­lier than orig­i­nally sched­uled.

Speak­ing to the Le­sotho Times dur­ing Sun­day’s heav­ily at­tended rally, mr Lekhanya said while the up­com­ing elec­tions might end the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis which has dogged the coun­try since early last year, they would not re­solve dif­fer­ences be­tween the LDF and Le­sotho mounted Po­lice Ser­vice (LMPS).

on 30 Au­gust 2014, mem­bers of the LDF at­tacked three key po­lice sta­tions in maseru, re­sult­ing in the death of one se­nior LMPS of­fi­cer, and Lekhanya fears more such clashes af­ter the week­end elec­tions.

“I think the SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor (South Africa’s Deputy Pres­i­dent Cyril ramaphosa) put too much trust in the elec­tions be­ing able to solve all our prob­lems.

“But what I fore­see hap­pen­ing is they will end the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis we find our­selves in, but not the ten­sion be­tween our se­cu­rity agen­cies which have aban­doned their man­date and al­lowed them­selves to be abused by politi­cians,” ma­jor Gen Lekhanya said.

“In­stead of politi­cians look­ing for sup­port among the masses, they have been seen go­ing af­ter the po­lice and army to gain their sym­pa­thy for their own self­ish agen­das.”

Ac­cord­ing to mr Lekhanya, mr ramaphosa was also sup­posed to have ad­dressed such se­cu­rity is­sues as well as pro­nounce him­self on the com­mand of the LDF.

Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli, who was fired as LDF com­man­der by Prime min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane in Au­gust last year for al­leged in­sub­or­di­na­tion, has re­fused to va­cate the post, ar­gu­ing the dis­missal was un­law­ful.

His re­place­ment, Lieu­tenant Gen­eral maa­parankoe ma­hao, has not been able to takeover the po­si­tion due to the stand­off.

mr Lekhanya noted: “I still main­tain that elec­tions are not go­ing to solve all our prob­lems.

“When Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Tlali Kamoli was ap­pointed LDF com­man­der in march 2012, a cer­tain min­is­ter said he was get­ting the post be­cause he was one of them.

“In Le­sotho, min­is­ters are politi­cians and if a min­is­ter says you are one of them, one concludes you be­long to the same po­lit­i­cal party, which should not be the case be­cause the army is sup­posed to be apo­lit­i­cal; it owes its al­le­giance to the gov­ern­ment of the day and not a cer­tain po­lit­i­cal party.

“This has been the prob­lem in Le­sotho, which I can fore­see per­sist­ing even af­ter the elec­tions be­cause the politi­cians are try­ing to abuse our se­cu­rity agen­cies.”

When he was LDF com­man­der, mr Lekhanya said politi­cians re­spected the coun­try’s se­cu­rity in­sti­tu­tions and would never ma­nipu- late them “the way they are do­ing now”.

He added: “Dur­ing my time, we used to have weekly meet­ings with the then Direc­tor of Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ser­vice (NSS) Se­ha­la­hala mo­lapo and Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Shadrack matela to dis­cuss se­cu­rity is­sues.

“We never fought over which in­sti­tu­tion was su­pe­rior than the other; we shared re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and as­sisted each other where nec­es­sary.

“This was done with the sole pur­pose of ad­vanc­ing the coun­try’s in­ter­ests not our per­sonal or po­lit­i­cal agen­das.”

mr Lekhanya be­lieves the 1986 coup could have mis­led the army into be­liev­ing it could do as it pleases.

“The army’s in­ter­ven­tion then, when it felt the coun­try was not be­ing prop­erly gov­erned, ap­pears to have twisted the minds of some of the cur­rent LDF mem­bers who have clearly forgotten their man­date, which is to pro­tect Ba­sotho and their prop­erty from ex­ter­nal enemies.”

ma­jor Gen Lekhanya said if he was to sug­gest a so­lu­tion to the coun­try’s cur­rent in­sta­bil­ity, it would in­clude re­struc­tur­ing both the LDF and LMPS.

“The LDF ruled be­tween 1986 and 1993, which has made some mil­i­tary of­fi­cers be­lieve they can do as they please, with­out un­der­stand­ing what made the army do what it did back then,” he said.

“That is why I have this strong feel­ing that if the se­cu­rity is­sue is not re­solved along­side the po­lit­i­cal one, then the in­fight­ing be­tween the LMPS and LDF is go­ing to flare-up, prompt­ing out­side in­ter­ven­tion.

“I fear when this hap­pens, Le­sotho is go­ing to end up be­ing ruled by other na­tions, in this case SADC, and for what?

“Be­cause our politi­cians have failed to gov­ern this na­tion by ob­sess­ing them­selves with, and abus­ing the se­cu­rity agen­cies?”

Asked what he thought of the BNP, and the up­com­ing elec­tions in gen­eral, mr Lekhanya said to begin with, he had not yet de­cided if he was go­ing to cast his vote.

How­ever, he said it was pleas­ing that the BNP had grown its sup­port base over re­cent months, which he cred­ited to Th­e­sele ‘ maserib­ane’s lead­er­ship.

“BNP sup­port­ers had be­come dis­il­lu­sioned fol­low­ing events of 1986 and were no longer at­tend­ing the party’s ral­lies.

“But things changed when the party be­came part of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment in 2012.

“I didn’t vote in 2012 be­cause I was very un­happy with the way our politi­cians were con­duct­ing them­selves, and I am still not de­cided if I am go­ing to vote on Satur­day.

“my ad­vice to the BNP lead­er­ship is to rein­vent the party at grass­roots level be­cause I can see the in­ter­est com­ing back again.”

Asked to pre­dict the out­come of Satur­day’s vote, mr Lekhanya said he be­lieved there would be no sin­gle party with an out­right ma­jor­ity win.

“From what I see, the Demo­cratic Congress and All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion are the big­gest par­ties that are go­ing to win many of the seats.

“What hap­pens next would be up to them — to form a coali­tion gov­ern­ment to­gether or opt for an al­liance with smaller par­ties,” he said.

For­mer LDF Com­man­der ma­jor Gen­eral mets­ing Lekhanya

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