Min­is­ter praises late com­man­der

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

Home Affairs min­is­ter Lekhetho Rakuoane on mon­day praised the coun­try’s late mil­i­tary ruler ma­jor-gen­eral Phisoana Ra­maema as a man who cham­pi­oned political and civil rights.

Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane, who was speak­ing at a me­mo­rial ser­vice of the for­mer Le­sotho De­fence Force com­man­der who passed away on 11 De­cem­ber at makoanyane mil­i­tary Hos­pi­tal aged 82, said ma­jGen Ra­maema was not an or­di­nary sol­dier but a hero who brought demo­cratic rule to Le­sotho.

Ad­dress­ing the mourn­ers on be­half of Prime min­is­ter Pakalitha mo­sisili, Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane chron­i­cled the his­tory of an icon who ended mil­i­tary rule when he could have stayed on as ruler. Le­sotho had been un­der mil­i­tary rule since 1986 when ma­jor-gen­eral mets­ing Lekhanya top­pled Ba­sotho Na­tional Party leader and prime min­is­ter Le­abua Jonathan. ma­jor-gen­eral Ra­maema then over­threw maj-gen­eral Lekhanya on 2 may 1991, but in­stead of cling­ing to power, handed au­thor­ity to a demo­crat­i­cally-elected govern­ment of the Ba­sotho Congress Party (BCP) on 2 April 1993.

“Le­sotho had gone for a long time with­out con­sti­tu­tional rule, but when ma­jor-gen­eral Ra­maema came in, he turned this around and made him­self a bridge that took us to the con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy we en­joy to­day.

“When he de­clared his com­mit­ment to demo­cratic rule, many were scep­ti­cal as crit­ics said the mil­i­tary had be­come com­fort­able and didn’t want to re­lin­quish power.

“But we all re­mem­ber his fa­mous say­ing that his car did not have a re­verse gear. He said this in ref­er­ence to his com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing there was a demo­crat­i­cally elected govern­ment in Le­sotho.

“He was also awarded a Se­nate po­si­tion af­ter his mer­i­to­ri­ous ser­vice. And we know it to be a huge hon­our to be granted such a po­si­tion,” said Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane.

The min­is­ter also went down mem­ory lane and told the mourn­ers that he was a prac­tis­ing lawyer in the late 1980s, when he re­alised that Le­sotho was faced with many chal­lenges when it came to both political and civil rights.

How­ever, Ad­vo­cate Rakuoane said when Maj-gen Ra­maema came to of­fice in 1991 as Chair­man of the mil­i­tary Coun­cil, the sit­u­a­tion changed.

“He started by re­peal­ing the in­fa­mous or­der Num­ber Four, which did not only out­law political par­ties and their ac­tiv­i­ties, but also crim­i­nalised any pub­lic dis­play of party em­blems.

“maj-gen Ra­maema also re­pealed an or­der that sup­pressed com­mu­nist ac­tiv­i­ties, which was more tar­geted at congress par­ties.

“Com­ing to civil rights, maj-gen Ra­maema showed that he was pre­pared to take the bull by the horns as he changed laws that did not al­low fe­male pub­lic ser­vants to have pen­sions if they were mar­ried. He also made an or­der that granted wid­ows the right to land own- er­ship. When one looks at political and civil rights changes he brought to Le­sotho, we will for­ever be in­debted to him for his con­tri­bu­tion to the coun­try’s gov­er­nance,” said Adv Rakuoane.

In his ad­dress, for­mer army com­man­der, Lt-gen Thuso motanyane, said maj-gen Ra­maema was a hum­ble man who never ut­tered insults even when he was an­gry.

Lt-gen motanyane, who was speak­ing on be­half of for­mer LDF com­man­ders, fur­ther said maj-gen Ra­maema’s great­est chal­lenge in of­fice was when he had to re­turn power to civil­ian au­thor­i­ties in 1993.

“When he re­alised the com­plaints that came when con­trol of the govern­ment was sup­posed to be re­turned to civil­ian au­thor­i­ties, ma­jGen Ra­maema made a bold dec­la­ra­tion at one meet­ing and told us that his ve­hi­cle did not have a re­verse gear when it came to democ­racy.

“He worked hard to en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion from army to civil­ian rule,” said Lt-gen motanyane.

Ac­cord­ing to Lt-gen motanyane, dur­ing the 1993 elec­tions, maj-gen Ra­maema went to hard-to-ac­cess con­stituen­cies to su­per­vise the de­liv­ery of elec­tion ma­te­rial to show his com­mit­ment to demo­cratic rule.

on be­half of the fam­ily, Dr Thuso Ra­maema, told the mourn­ers that his un­cle was a fair and hum­ble man who loved the beau­ti­ful things in life.

“my un­cle loved de­vel­op­ment and progress, which is why he be­came fa­mous for telling dis­grun­tled sol­diers that his ve­hi­cle did not have a re­verse gear.

“Dur­ing his time in of­fice, he worked hard to en­sure the eradication of poverty and hunger,” said Dr Ra­maema.

mean­while, mon­day’s me­mo­rial ser­vice was also at­tended by sev­eral se­nior govern­ment of­fi­cials, among them Jus­tice and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices min­is­ter moeketse malebo, De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity min­is­ter Tšeliso mokhosi, Po­lice and Pub­lic Safety min­is­ter monyane moleleki, and Health min­is­ter Dr ‘molotsi monya­mane.

THE cas­ket car­ry­ing the body of the late ma­jor-gen­eral Phisoana Ra­maema

Home Affairs min­is­ter Lekhetho Rakuoane.

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