lesotho’s moment of truth
THE long-awaited SADC Commission of Inquiry report into the circumstances surrounding the killing of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Maaparankoe Mahao, among other things, is finally out with some editing by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili to remove names of people whom he said did not give evidence before the commission.
The report by the Justice Phumaphi Mphaphi led commission has already stirred the proverbial honest nest with the opposition claiming it was widely edited. It is incumbent upon the opposition to substantiate these claims by their own means.
From where we seat, the report – as presented by Prime Minister – is immensely significant and marks a defining moment for the future of this Kingdom. It is very lucid and plain in its findings and recommendations. It provides all the essential building blocks for charting a new course for this country.
A case can be made that the report contains nothing that we did not already know. But that’s not the point. The point is we now have an independent commission of inquiry corroborating our knowledge. That should spur us into action. This is our own moment of truth. We have a choice to ignore the report to our peril or embrace its recommendations for our own future good. But for the latter to happen, a broad consensus among all key stakeholders and the general populace on a way forward is an essential prerequisite. It is nonetheless difficult to conceive how such consensus can happen in the current toxic environment in which the opposition and civic society on one hand and the coalition government on the other remain worlds apart. If ever there is a time for cool heads to prevail, it is now.
One of the essential observations in the report is the historical destructive role of the Lesotho Defence Force in the democratic progress of the country. This is mainly because of the LDF’S routine obstinence in submitting to civilian authority. The report identifies the unprofessionalism of the security cluster combined with the abuse of the same security cluster by politicians for their own political survival ends as being central to the repeated episodes of political and security instability in Lesotho. It chronicles how the LDF, or at least a section of it, has transmogrified into becoming a law unto itself with several of its members accused of committing various atrocities being shielded from prosecution. It recommends their prosecution as well as serious constitutional and security reforms to foster professionalism in the security cluster and to exclude the LDF from internal policing duties that should be the orbit of the police.
But the elephant of the report is its recommendation that LDF commander Lt. General Tlali Kamoli be fired. “The conduct of the LDF under his (Kamoli) command is disconcerting…..,” the report declares. No single Mosotho who loves this country can seriously disagree with these observations. Perhaps it is only human nature for those who have benefited from Lt General Kamoli’s actions to want to seek to protect him at every turn. But there is no doubt that his actions have been central to the problems that have plagued this country. Just as in medicine, every ill in society can never be resolved without a proper diagnosis. The SADC report is a good starting point in highlighting what is wrong in the Kingdom
Now the ball is in the government’s court. It has to pronounce on how it will proceed with the recommendations. There is no doubt that some of the recommendations, like the one on Kamoli, will require nerves of still by those in power to implement, if they elect to do so. The essential question that must guide all and sundry is; What is good for the country?
The vigorous investigation of Maaparankoe Mahao’s killing and the prosecution of those responsible for it and other crimes - as recommended in the report - must be a no brainer. It must happen forthwith.
If impunity is allowed to fester, no one’s safety is guaranteed including everyone who might feel secure under the current security dispensation. Constitutional and legislative reforms must follow to reshape the public service, including the security cluster, into an independent, non-politicised, professional service. A professional civil service and security cluster ready to serve any government of the day is an indispensable component of any stable nation. The government’s response to the report’s recommendations will be a good litmus test of where this country is headed.