Peace walk a path­way to jus­tice

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis - Ma­hao Ma­hao mr Ma­hao is a lec­turer in the Fac­ulty of Ed­u­ca­tion at the Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho.

THE peace walk held last Satur­day in hon­our of the late Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao was a strong af­fir­ma­tion of the long heal­ing process and emo­tional ther­apy that some mem­bers of the fam­ily, friends and the gen­eral pub­lic still need to un­dergo. It started with Maa­parankoe’s youngest sis­ter lit­er­ally break­ing down as the long pro­ces­sion snaked through the vil­lage of Koal­a­bata that morn­ing.

The painful mem­o­ries of her brother’s fi­nal jour­ney from there to his home vil­lage of Mokema on Fri­day, 10 July 2015 flooded her mind like a rag­ing storm. The rivulets of tears on her face sym­bol­ised a pow­er­ful mes­sage depict­ing the cold-heart­ed­ness of those who planned and ex­e­cuted Gen­eral Ma­hao’s as­sas­si­na­tion. Theirs was an act of beasts, sadists and sav­ages, not hu­mans who would do all in their power to pro­tect a life.

Upon ar­rival at the scene of the mur­der at noon, the trav­ellers’ choice of song and the cir­cle they formed around the grow­ing pile of stones that mark the Gen­eral’s end welled up more tears from some of us. The song was a trib­ute to both the Gen­eral and his 85-year old mother who was also present at the oc­ca­sion.

The lyrics went: Mos­ali ea tsoet­seng Ntate Ma­hao a bokoe (the woman who gave birth to Ntate Ma­hao should be hon­oured). I am not sure what was go­ing through the mind of Nkhono ‘Man­qosa as she lis­tened to this pow­er­ful ren­di­tion but I want to be­lieve she got so­lace from the mar­tyr­dom of her much beloved son and the im­mea­sur­able ado­ra­tion and sup­port that Ba­sotho have shown since his demise.

This is only the be­gin­ning of a long road ahead to im­mor­tal­ize this son of Mokema (and now of the na­tion) with the hope that his death will one day dig this cursed coun­try out of the flames of hell. Those re­spon­si­ble for his killing falsely think they have signed an un­breach­able con­tract with their creator to spare them from meet­ing their death one day. The un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity fac­ing them is that a large ma­jor­ity of this na­tion will want to quickly for­get they ever ex­isted in stark con­trast to the ac­co­lades show­ered on the man they mur­dered.

The Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi-led com­mis­sion has left our shores and Ba­sotho have al­ready had a lot to say through all forms of me­dia in re­la­tion to its work and what the likely out­come of the re­port could be. We all keenly await its find­ings though there is prob­a­bly a cer­tain sec­tion of our na­tion who wish there will be enough sand on the ground to bury their faces when it is made pub­lic.

While the com­mis­sion was still in ses­sion, Jus­tice Phumaphi made a re­mark that shows just how po­lit­i­cally dam­aged this coun­try is. Jus­tice Phumaphi asked how the lead­er­ship of this coun­try would plead ig­no­rance on mat­ters a nor­mal gov­ern­ment would know.

This com­mis­sion gave him the an­swers he was look­ing for; he heard for him­self – through the dif­fer­ent tes­ti­monies — that this is not a nor­mal coun­try. It is sick and rot­ten to the very core of its soul. The worst part is that the can­cer Le­sotho is suf­fer­ing from is man-made not nat­u­ral. With the right lead­er­ship, the ail­ments of this coun­try are cur­able. But the “doc­tors” try­ing to pro­vide this cure lack proper di­ag­nos­tic equip­ment and are bungling even the ba­sics of good ac­count­able gov­er­nance.

This is a coun­try where the word “jus­tice” has no mean­ing oth­er­wise those who mur­dered Lt Gen Ma­hao, po­lice Sub-in­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko and Mo­hau Qo­bete would have long faced it. When the Ma­hao fam­ily wrote a let­ter to the Prime Min­is­ter re­quest­ing him to in­ter­vene in iden­ti­fy­ing Gen­eral Ma­hao’s mur­der­ers, it was with the un­der­stand­ing that he has the power and author­ity to han­dle the mat­ter. His con­tin­ued si­lence, how­ever, speaks much louder than he may think.

This army is clearly be­yond re­proach and even those it re­ports to seem scared to en­gage it in en­sur­ing the rule of law and ac­count­abil­ity are not in­fringed upon at will. Even the fail­ure to re­lease the de­tained sol­diers to af­ford them the op­por­tu­nity to tes­tify con­veys a def­i­nite mes­sage that there are in­di­vid­u­als who are pre­sum­ably above the law in this coun­try and will do as they wish right un­der the noses of gov­ern­ment. We might as well dis­band the courts of law. If their de­ci­sions are not re­spected, they have no rea­son for ex­is­tence in a coun­try where the wheels of jus­tice have been clamped and can­not move.

We are in an era where many bru­tal dic­ta­tor­ships (es­pe­cially in re­gions like South Amer­ica) have long fallen and civil lib­er­ties have be­come the norm. Le­sotho, on the con­trary, ap­pears to be de­vel­op­ing new skills of dic­ta­tor­ship and sharp­en­ing its weapons to dec­i­mate Ba­sotho through brute force and out­right con­tempt for the rule of law.

This, at a time when the world now frowns upon such bar­baric meth­ods. Amaz­ing still is for some in gov­ern­ment to ques­tion the pres- ence of SADC in Le­sotho over the death of “one per­son” (as they put it) when all over Africa there are sim­i­lar or worse prob­lems. If they think so ca­su­ally about life, I chal­lenge them to com­mit sui­cide and de­prive them­selves of the chance and priv­i­lege to raise their own chil­dren.

While the com­mis­sion­ers were here, they heard of the hit-list that had been drawn up and re­sulted in two peo­ple on that list los­ing their lives at the hands of (known) mur­der­ers. Once again a new hit-list has emerged bear­ing (among oth­ers) the names of Ad­vo­cate Tu­misang Mosotho and Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho Vice Chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Nqosa Ma­hao. Those who seem to get a fix out of hu­man blood are prob­a­bly al­ready hov­er­ing above their heads and once again the rel­e­vant gov­ern­ment de­part­ments will fold their arms and wait un­til all the rivers of this coun­try over­flow with hu­man blood.

This is the Le­sotho we are watch­ing with hor­ror and dis­be­lief as it turns into a mur­der cap­i­tal of the world. If those who planned and ex­e­cuted the as­sas­si­na­tion of Lt Gen Ma­hao have chil­dren of their own, they are greeted by the joy­ful sounds of those chil­dren each time they get home and soon fam­ily dis­cus­sions will cen­tre around new Christ­mas toys and presents for the kids. Maa­parankoe no longer has that op­por­tu­nity to find out which Christ­mas gifts would be pre­ferred by his three boys. But a hum­ble re­minder to those who seem to claim own­er­ship of life and the power to de­cide who amongst us has to be stripped of this God-given life; we can­not be in­tim­i­dated and we shall over­come, no mat­ter how long it may take.

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