le­sotho’s mo­ment of truth

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

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.

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