Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

IT can’t be easy Maa­parankoe Ma­hao. This em­bat­tled brother of mine has just en­tered the Guin­ness book of records; not for his very un­kind, un­savoury, in­salu­bri­ous and to­tally un­ac­cept­able first name.

But for be­ing the first ever sol­dier to be ap­pointed army com­man­der, sur­vive an as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt the next day (af­ter ap­point­ment) be­fore be­ing shuf­fled to some for­eign sab­bat­i­cal.

Then be­ing un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously fired from the post of army com­man­der with­out hav­ing sat foot in any of the bar­racks he was sup­posed to com­mand.

But even more omi­nous, the brother does not only get fired with­out set­ting foot in of­fice, his dis­missal gets back­dated to the very same day he was ap­pointed.

This mind bog­gling stuff should surely find a whole page in the Guin­ness book of records. I am tempted to say that it can only hap­pen in Le­sotho. But that would be very un­kind to my tor­mented King­dom.

We must all take cog­ni­sance of the fact that had Ntate Thomas Tha­bane re­tained of­fice as pre­mier, Ntate Maa­parankoe would be wear­ing the red, green, gold robes and medals of army com­man­der. Ntate Kamoli would then be suf­fer­ing ex­ile some­where in Siberia. But pol­i­tics be­ing pol­i­tics, the re­ver­sal per­tains.


y worry with Ntate Ma­hao’s first name re­mains nev­er­the­less. How would he have in­tro­duced him­self at those much vaunted gath­er­ings of chiefs of de­fence forces or at any other in­ter­na­tional gath­er­ings if Ntate Tha­bane had won power and re­tained Ntate Ma­hao as army com­man­der.

I am told that mil­i­tary eti­quette de­mands that when you in­tro­duce your­self to oth­ers, you men­tion your rank, first name and sur­name in full. I once had a very spe­cial and rare en­counter of meet­ing that celebrity for­mer head of the United States armed forces, Colin Pow­ell.

This was not at a meet­ing of mil­i­tary chiefs but at the Wash­ing­ton press club while Pow­ell served as Sec­re­tary of State for the sec­ond Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush. Pow­ell grabbed my hand firmly be­fore mut­ter­ing in a com­mand­ing voice, typ­i­cal of an ac­com­plished sol­dier: “I am Gen­eral Colin Pow­ell …. I am thrilled to meet you….”

This was long af­ter Pow­ell had left the US mil­i­tary. I re­sponded calmly and had a brief chat be­fore the gen­eral moved to greet oth­ers. I re­called the in­ci­dent and it has re­mained stuck in my mind since Ntate Tha­bane’s ill-fated ef­fort to ap­point Ntate Maa­parankoe to the helm of the de­fence force.

I have of­ten wor­ried about how Ntate Maa­parankoe would have in­tro­duced him­self to his in­ter­na­tional col­leagues at any of the in­ter­na­tional gath­er­ings he would have graced as com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF).

Just imag­ine a meet­ing of Com­mon­wealth de­fence chiefs in Lon­don and the host ap­proaches Ntate Ma­hao to say; “I am Nick Carter, the head of the Bri­tish armed forces and who are you,” to which Ntate would re­tort: “I am Maa­parankoeeee Ma­hao, the head of the Le­sotho De­fence Force.”

“Who did you say you are, what’s your first name again?” would be Carter’s and any­one else present’s re­sponse. To pro­nounce this name prop­erly, one must in essence drag the “e” and pro­nounce it as Maa­parankoeeeeee.

What I am try­ing to say here is that when we Ba­sotho name our chil­dren, we for­get that some might end up in top po­si­tions that take them to far flung for­eign lands.

Some might be­come in­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tors, mak­ing fre­quent for­eign vis­its in pur­suit of their pro­fes­sional en­deav­ours. We Ba­sotho take names for granted. But names are an es­sen­tial part of ev­ery­one’s iden­tity.

It’s thus not proper to give our chil­dren such weird names as if they shall for­ever be con­fined within the bor­ders of Le­sotho. Some of th­ese names are so weird that Ba­sotho can­not com­pre­hend them.

The eas­ier your first name or sur­name is (but im­por­tantly your first name), the more peo­ple will re­mem­ber you and do busi­ness with you.

Once you have met new peo­ple and got­ten to know them, the trend is to ad­dress each other by your first names.

Imag­ine if Ntate Maa­parankoe was a Wall Street banker, where ev­ery­thing is done on a first name ba­sis. He would have to for­feit a great num­ber of clients as no one would be able to say his name.

An­other top sol­dier who ex­pe­ri­enced im­mense dif­fi­cul­ties with a weird first name was Gen­eral Musung­wa­gava Zvinavashe, the now late com­man­der of the Zim­babwe De­fence Forces (ZDF). Be­cause of per­sis­tent prob­lems in re­mem­ber­ing and call­ing his first name, Zvinavashe changed it to Vi­talis.

If Ntate Tha­bane had won and Maa­parankoe had stayed at the helm of the LDF, I would have pe­ti­tioned the courts to force this brother to change his first name to Maps or Mappy. Mappi or Ma­paps would also do.

As read­ers of this col­umn know, I am not only im­mensely flu­ent in writ­ing and speak­ing the Queen’s lan­guage, my first lan­guage is Sotho. I am im­mensely good at it. I taught it in school be­fore join­ing the me­dia.

But af­ter ex­ten­sive re­search, I can­not seem to get what Maa­parankoe means. There are lots of many other strange and weird names that Ba­sotho have as­cribed to their chil­dren.

I shall soon write about th­ese names and their in­her­ent dis­ad­van­tages if not curses. There is more se­ri­ous stuff need­ing im­me­di­ate com­ment.

In the mean­time, if any­thing goes wrong, I shall be say­ing things have gone Maa­parankoeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

As we now all know, Ntate Kamoli is back in of­fice. Hate or like him, the man is back. Ntate Kamoli’s come­back was al­ways go­ing to be con­tro­ver­sial. ABC and BNP sup­port­ers did not want him back be­cause he tar­geted their lead­ers.

They want him to an­swer for a lot of charges in­clud­ing the events of Au­gust 30 2014 and those bomb­ings of the houses of Cy­clone Tom’s then con­cu­bine and Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Khothatso Tšooana. But for the DC and LCD sup­port­ers, Kamoli is the man.

He is the man who made their re­turn to power pos­si­ble. In their eyes, he is the nat­u­ral born army com­man­der.

Pro­po­nents of Kamoli’s re­in­state­ment will say it’s an en­dorse­ment of a tried and tested sol­dier, a com­pe­tent sol­dier, a determined sol­dier and a man with nerves of steel.

Op­po­nents of the new coali­tion gov­ern­ment will say Kamoli’s re­in­state­ment is an en­dorse­ment for ut­ter im­punity, stealth, brawn over rea­son, vi­o­lence and skul­dug­gery.

The third school of thought is that Kamoli, Tšooana and Ma­hao should all not have been re­turned to the armed forces af­ter their for­eign sab­bat­i­cals to en­able the army and po­lice to start on a clean slate re­gard­less of who formed gov­ern­ment af­ter the Fe­bru­ary 28 elec­tions.

The de­bate about the mer­its and de­mer­its of Ntate Kamoli’s re-ap­point­ment is thus now aca­demic. The fact is that the man is back in mil­i­tary power. Politi­cians nat­u­rally ap­point those who will aid and abet their pol­i­tics and en­trench them in power.

The very essence of crude pol­i­tics is crude pa­tron­age. Which is why if Ntate Tha­bane was back in power, Ntate Ma­hao will be army com­man­der. Rea­son and pru­dence nor­mally take a back seat in po­lit­i­cal anoint­ments.

The main ques­tion is: What does Kamoli’s re­in­state­ment hold for the fu­ture of Le­sotho? The an­swer to this ques­tion will de­pend on Ntate Kamoli him­self. There is no doubt that he is now the most pow­er­ful man in the coun­try. Prob­a­bly more pow­er­ful than Mr Size Two him­self.

Let us spec­u­late, just as an ex­am­ple, that Ntate Kamoli and Ntate Mo­sisili cross swords one of th­ese fine days as is so of­ten the case in pol­i­tics. Ntate Kamoli then pro­ceeds to State House (30 Au­gust 2014 style) and in­cin­er­ates Mr Size Two.

Op­po­nents of Ntate Mo­sisili will sim­ply say to him, with some jus­ti­fi­ca­tion; “you made your own bed, you must now lay on it”. Oth­ers will say; “here is a test of your own medicine. Get well soon….”

The only way to avoid all this is for Ntate Kamoli to fully sub­mit him­self to civil­ian author­ity and to put the in­ter­ests of this na­tion and its peo­ple ahead of ev­ery­thing else. Scru­ta­tor’s sim­ple, per­sonal mes­sage to Ntate Kamoli is; sub­ju­gate your own in­di­vid­ual in­ter­ests and those of politi­cians who have ap­pointed you in favour of those of Ba­sotho.

By putting the na­tional in­ter­ests of Le­sotho first, you will win the hearts and minds of those who are vi­o­lently op­posed to your re­turn. What do I mean by this?

Ntate Tha­bane has fled the coun­try and vowed not to re­turn with­out SADC safety guar­an­tees, claim­ing that mem­bers of the LDF had planned to way­lay and kill him.

Tha­bane has specif­i­cally claimed in me­dia in­ter­views that now that you Ntate Kamoli are back, you bear a grudge against him be­cause he once fired you and you want to kill him. This could all be po­lit­i­cal blus­ter.

But sym­pa­this­ers of Tha­bane are sup­port­ing him on the ba­sis of pre­vi­ous au­then­tic at­tempts on his life in­clud­ing the events of Au­gust 30 2014 and the bomb­ings of his then con­cu­bine (now wife)’s home.

Tha­bane has been res­o­lute in claim­ing that this bomb­ing was in fact tar­geted at him. The fall-out over your re­fusal to han­dover the sus­pects to the po­lice is the chief rea­son of him fir­ing you last year.

My ap­peal to you, Ntate Kamoli is that please pro­tect both Ntate Mo­sisili, Ntate Tha­bane (he is no longer a cy­clone). He poses no threat to you) and Ntate Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing. Th­ese three are the main lead­ers of Ba­sotho and it’s up to vot­ers to ap­point or dis­ap­point them from of­fice.

Tha­bane and Mo­sisili have shown ex­cep­tional states­man­ship in ex­chang­ing power peace­fully. You as army com­man­der must be res­o­lute in en­sur­ing the pro­tec­tion of the will of the peo­ple.

We should all never blind our­selves to re­al­ity on the al­tar of ex­pe­di­ency. Ntate Tha­bane and his ally, Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane, won the most con­stituency seats in the Fe­bru­ary 28 2015 polls — a to­tal of 41 out of the 80 con­tested seats.

In fact were it not for the math­e­mat­i­cal gym­nas­tics of the pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion sys­tem, they could have formed gov­ern­ment (al­beit with the slimmest ma­jor­ity).

The ABC is the only party to have ex­pe­ri­enced mas­sive growth from 17 con­stituen­cies in 2007 at its for­ma­tion, to 25 in 2012 and 40 in 2015. This is plain re­al­ity.

If any­thing were to hap­pen to Ntate Tha­bane in the form of as­sas­si­na­tion as he claims, I shud­der to think what will hap­pen to this coun­try which is cur­rently split right through the mid­dle in terms of sup­port for Mo­sisili/mets­ing and Tha­bane/maserib­ane.

Civil war will be an un­der­state­ment. Even if Ntate Tha­bane is killed by an or­di­nary crim­i­nal, chances are that his sup­port­ers will point a fin­ger at the LDF.

This, for me, is even more rea­son why you ( Ntate Kamoli) should en­sure that Ntate Tha­bane is fully pro­tected, so is Mo­sisili and Mets­ing.

Let Cy­clone Tom die a nat­u­ral death via old age or sick­ness when his time comes. The years are pass­ing fast and he is al­ready 75 years of age (as­sum­ing his age was cor­rectly cap­tured by his par­ents at birth).

The man is too hand­some and looks much younger. He looks like he is in his early 30s but na­ture is na­ture and it ul­ti­mately takes its course with­out need to fire guns.

Al­ter­na­tively, let Ntate Tha­bane die a nat­u­ral po­lit­i­cal death. That is as­sum­ing Mr Size Two and King­maker Mets­ing use the ad­van­tage of in­cum­bency and woo back all the sup­port­ers they lost to the ABC.

Fi­nally, I urge you Ntate Kamoli not to har­bour any mo­tives of vengeance against any other ABC/ BNP sup­port­ers or any Mosotho who has crossed your path for what­ever rea­son.

‘Maserib­ane claims that a hit list of tar­gets for elim­i­na­tion has been drawn. We have al­ready suf­fered a large share of bad pub­lic­ity abroad.

We can’t af­ford more. We need peace and devel­op­ment. If such a hit list in­deed ex­ists, let it be found and trashed.

The army must pro­tect ev­ery­one on that hit list. Pro­tect all of us and al­low us to pros­per in peace and tran­quil­lity.

With­out peace, ev­ery­thing be­comes Ma­parankooeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ee!


Maa­parankoe Ma­hao

Lieu­tenant Gen­eral tlali kamoli

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