On se­cond thoughts, Phumaphi was wrong

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili last week re­leased the Mpa­phi Phumaphi Com­mis­sion re­port and de­scribed some of its rec­om­men­da­tions as re­ally, re­ally, re­ally good while he con­demned oth­ers. That’s his pre­rog­a­tive.

Ntate Mo­sisili promised to im­ple­ment some of the re­port’s rec­om­men­da­tions forth­with, some in the medium to long-term while oth­ers will — in Ntate Mo­sisili’s own words — never see the light of day. No prize for guess­ing that the rec­om­men­da­tion to re­lieve King Kamoli of his du­ties is prob­a­bly one such pro­posal that will never see the light of day.

That’s not the point how­ever. The point here is Ntate Mo­sisili has re­leased the re­port, tabled it for de­bate and ac­cepted at least some of its rec­om­men­da­tions. It’s now for ev­ery Mosotho to de­bate the Prime Min­is­ter’s ac­tions.

Af­ter the Prime Min­is­ter’s state­ment last week, Scru­ta­tor is there­fore flum­moxed and flab­ber­gasted by Ntate Tefo Hashatsi’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to con­tinue with his lone ranger fight to get the courts to com­pletely nul­lify the Phumaphi re­port.

What point or in­ter­est is Ntate Hashatsi try­ing to serve? Which in­ter­ests is he try­ing to pro­tect see­ing that the re­port is now in the pub­lic do­main and the de­bate should now be on the le­git­i­macy, or lack thereof, of Ntate Mo­sisili’s de­ci­sion to cherry pick which rec­om­men­da­tions to im­ple­ment?

There is a school of thought, which lady Scru­ta­tor sub­scribes to — as she ar­gued last week that the na­tional in­ter­est would have been bet­ter served by im­ple­ment­ing all the rec­om­men­da­tions. That should be the main fo­cus of any de­bate.

Ntate Hashatsi lost his ini­tial court bid to have the Phumaphi re­port nul­li­fied. That was to be ex­pected. I had pre­dicted that Ntate Hashatsi was a re­cip­i­ent of jaun­diced le­gal ad­vice. But that is where the mat­ter should have ended. How­ever, on the same day last week that he lost his court case, and with evan­gel­i­cal zeal, Ntate Hashatsi lodged an ap­peal.

I am per­plexed that Ntate Hashatsi is not let­ting mat­ters ly­ing down and has now taken his case to the Ap­peal Court. What in­ter­est or pur­pose is to be served by this ap­peal see­ing that Ntate Mo­sisili has pro­nounced on this mat­ter and the de­bate should now be on the cor­rect­ness or wrong­ful­ness of the Prime Min­is­ter’s choices re­gard­ing the Phumaphi re­port?

Is it not bet­ter for Ntate Hashatsi to de­vote his time and en­er­gies to help­ing in the cur­rent lethar­gic fight against crime by de­ploy­ing his spe­cial forces to trace the ever grow­ing band of trig­ger happy crim­i­nals who are ter­ror­iz­ing in­no­cent Ba­sotho and gun­ning them down willy-nilly. Only this week, four Ba­sotho rev­el­ers were gunned down in a sense­less cold blood shoot­ing.

Al­ter­na­tively, is it not bet­ter for Ntate Hashatsi to spend his time mak­ing love, see­ing that he re­cently snatched a beauty from far flung Botswana, than ex­pend­ing en­er­gies on this fu­tile and un­help­ful court case.

One rea­son why Ntate Hashatsi wants the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion nul­li­fied is that it heard ev­i­dence in South Africa while it was es­tab­lished in terms of the laws of Le­sotho.

This rea­son is not tragic. It’s sim­ply hi­lar­i­ous. Surely does it mat­ter whether this ev­i­dence was heard in Mokhot­long, Qacha, Juba (South Su­dan), Siberia, the Rus­sian steppes, or even on Planet Jupiter?

Is the lo­ca­tion of where the ev­i­dence was heard more im­por­tant than the sub­stance of the ev­i­dence it­self and the goal of heal­ing the divi­sions tear­ing us apart? The only value of Ntate Hashatsi’s propo­si­tion is that if I ever com­mit mur­der and flee to a for­eign place, I will refuse to be ar­rested as I can ar­gue that the mur­der was com­mit­ted in Le­sotho and I should only be ar­rested on Le­sotho soil.

Though it re­mains highly un­likely, let’s imag­ine that Ntate Hashatsi is lucky enough to stum­ble upon a judge high on Nyaope who grants his ap­peal. Has Ntate Hashatsi even thought about the con­se­quences of any such suc­cess? What will be­come of this coun­try if Phumaphi’s rec­om­men­da­tions, that rep­re­sent the best hope of mov­ing this coun­try for­ward, are nul­li­fied by court ac­tion? Would that not put this en­tire coun­try’s fu­ture in jeop­ardy?

All I can do for now is to ap­peal to Ntate Hashatsi to try and put this coun­try first. Let’s all be pa­tri­otic and get guided by the na­tional in­ter­est.

How­ever, there is some good that has come out of Ntate Hashatsi’s court ac­tion.

Scru­ta­tor has heard a ru­mour that when­ever court pa­pers bear­ing Ntate Hashatsi or King Kamoli’s names ap­pear on the desk of any judge or mag­is­trate, th­ese ju­di­cial of­fi­cers ef­fec­tively wet their pants and some seek tem­po­rary ex­ile in the moun­tains. This ru­mour is ei­ther mis­lead­ing or merely un­founded as it now ap­pears that there are men and women on the bench with nerves of steel.

One such man is none other the for­mi­da­ble and in­de­fati­ga­ble Jus­tice Tšeliso Mon­aphathi of the “car boots” fame. Re­mem­ber the Judge’s wise words of wis­dom when he was act­ing chief jus­tice and con­demned our many lawyers who op­er­ate their “law firms” from the boots of their se­cond, third and some­times fourth hand car im­ports from Ja­pan. Judge Mon­aphathi’s words of wis­dom still res­onate with me.

As the univer­si­ties churn more law grad­u­ates and as pay­ing clients be­come fewer and fewer, Scru­ta­tor is in­formed that a new class of “car wash kiosk” and “coffee shop” lawyers is emerg­ing. This is a new class of lawyers who can­not even af­ford to buy even the cheap­est fifth hand (not even se­cond hand) cars from Ja­pan.

To hide the fact that they don’t have of­fices, th­ese lawyers chap­eron their clients to the coffee shops at Pi­o­neer and Maseru lawyers un­der the pre­text that they want to take in­struc­tions un­der a hos­pitable con­sul­ta­tion en­vi­ron­ment. What th­ese lawyers would be hid­ing is the fact that they don’t have of­fices. Not even the car boots from where to run their “law firm”.

One of the lawyers hit a snag re­cently when his card bounced and was un­able to pay his M129 bill. The same client he was try­ing to im­press ended up pay­ing the bill and never re­turned to that “lawyer” again. That is the law of un­in­tended con­se­quences. The car wash kiosk lawyers typ­i­cally lie to their clients that they are just get­ting their cars washed and the client should visit them at a car wash stall or kiosk.

A typ­i­cal car wash “lawyer” will then point to any car in the wash­ing bay as his or hers while tak­ing in- struc­tions from the client. One such “lawyer” was ex­posed and hu­mil­i­ated when the real owner of the car left in a wash­ing bay af­ter re­ceiv­ing an emer­gency call and drove off in a hurry.

I sin­cerely hope Ntate Hashatsi is not re­ceiv­ing le­gal ad­vice from any such “coffee shop” or “car wash kiosk” lawyers. If he is in­deed se­ri­ous about his court case, then Ntate Hashatsi is a prac­ti­tioner of re­alpoli­tik.

Ihave been singing praises of Judge Phumaphi’s rec­om­men­da­tions and sug­gested that the best way of mov­ing this coun­try for­ward is to im­ple­ment them all. But on se­cond thoughts, I think the good judge from Botswana was wrong. Of course not for the rea­sons ad­vanced by Ntate Hashatsi but be­cause he could have done bet­ter in for­mu­lat­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions.

Surely, Ntate Phumaphi and his fel­low com­mis­sion­ers should have fore­seen that the cen­tral rec­om­men­da­tion to dis­miss King Kamoli from his ivory tower at the LDF would put Ntate Mo­sisili and his coali­tion govern­ment in an in­vid­i­ous and un­en­vi­able po­si­tion.

I am not sur­prised if this rec­om­men­da­tion is one of those clas­si­fied by Ntate Mo­sisili among those that will never see the light of day.

If I were Judge Phumaphi, I would have gone around this rec­om­men­da­tion by sim­ply ad­vo­cat­ing the to­tal abol­ish­ment of the LDF. This would have re­lieved the Prime Min­is­ter of the un­en­vi­able task of hav­ing to be forced to act against the man whose ac­tions pro­pelled him back into power. Not least even con­tem­plat­ing whom he will have to send to the gal­lows by en­trust­ing him/her with the task of de­liv­er­ing King Kamoli’s dis­missal let­ter.

The duty of any army is to pro­tect a na­tion against ex­ter­nal en­e­mies while the po­lice force is re­spon­si­ble for in­ter­nal polic­ing mat­ters or do­mes­tic law en­force­ment. Le­sotho faces no threats from no­body as we are an en­tire colony of the Free State and Kwazulu Na­tal provinces, not even of en­tire South Africa.

If South Africa wants to in­vade, it will do so eas­ily and over­run us with a frac­tion of a bat­tal­ion. There will even be no point for King Kamoli and Ntate Hashatsi to of­fer any re­sis­tance against any in­va­sion. That’s how­ever un­likely. Why would South Africa want to in­vade us, es­pe­cially un­der Ja­cob Zuma whose en­er­gies are for­ever ex­pended on his favourite pas­times; singing, danc­ing, and phi­lan­der­ing?

If we could not be in­vaded and over­run by suc­ces­sive re­pres­sive apartheid gov­ern­ments, why would a demo­cratic govern­ment, even one owned and run by Zuma ever con­tem­plate do­ing so? Equally, there is a more re­al­is­tic chance of get­ting ev­ery mem­ber of the hu­man race (more than 7 bil­lion of us) get struck by light­ning at one go, than hav­ing any other cross­ing South Africa to in­vade us.

Who would dare in­vade South Africa first, with all its mil­i­tary might, to reach us? It won’t hap­pen.

With no LDF in place, we can cre­ate an ef­fec­tive para-mil­i­tary force run by trained and ex­pe­ri­enced po­lice­men to take charge of in­ter­nal polic­ing is­sues. Dis­ci­plined cadres of the LDF can be con­scripted into such a para­mil­i­tary force which can even re­tain the sexy acro­nym, LMPS.

This is the route that many small coun­tries with no real ex­ter­nal en­e­mies nor real prospects of de­fend­ing them­selves against pow­er­ful neigh­bours have opted for. Costa Rica, Haiti and Gre­nada have no stand­ing armies but lim­ited mil­i­tary forces af­ter un­der­go­ing de­lib­er­ate de­mil­i­ta­riza­tion pro­cesses.

Other coun­tries with no stand­ing armies at all are An­dorra, Do­minica, Kiri­bati, Liecht­en­stein, Mar­shall Is­lands, Fed­er­ated States of Mi­crone­sia, Nauru, Palau, Saint Lu­cia, Saint Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines, Samoa, Solomon Is­lands, Tu­valu and the Vat­i­can City. Coun­tries with no stand­ing armies but lim­ited mil­i­tary forces to pro­tect cer­tain spe­cial in­ter­ests like mar­itime ac­tiv­i­ties are Ice­land, Mau­ri­tius, Monaco, Panama and Van­u­atu.

Some coun­tries with no stand­ing armies have signed treaties with oth­ers to pro­tect them such as An­dorra’s agree­ment with Spain and France. Aus­tralia is re­spon­si­ble for Nauru’s de­fence un­der an in­for­mal agree­ment be­tween the two coun­tries. The 8 000 mem­ber Na­tional Po­lice Force is re­spon­si­ble for do­mes­tic law en­force­ment in Mau­ri­tius.

Imag­ine how happy Zuma would be if we de­cided that we are abol­ish­ing our LDF and out­sourc­ing our na­tional se­cu­rity to Pre­to­ria just in case of a for­eign in­va­sion. Just con­sider how frus­trated Zuma was the other day when he pre­ma­turely an­nounced on t SABC that Le­sotho would be sus­pended from SADC if Ntate Mo­sisili re­mained ob­sti­nate by not ac­cept­ing the Phumaphi re­port.

South Africa would be more than happy to have a Le­sotho at peace with it­self, not a con­stant nui­sance re­quir­ing Cyril Ramaphosa’s con­stant de­ploy­ment at huge ex­pense to the le­git­i­mate South African tax­payer ex­clud­ing the Gup­tas.

All the coun­tries men­tioned above with no stand­ing armies or with lim­ited mil­i­tary forces have one thing in com­mon. They are all pros­per­ous with the ex­cep­tion of that con­stant, hope­less and hap­less bas­ket case: Haiti.

Just imag­ine for a mo­ment a life in Le­sotho with­out mil­i­tary coups (real or at­tempted), Prime Min­is­ters be­ing forced to flee across the bor­ders at mid­night in their un­der­pants, a pro­fes­sional po­lice force do­ing its work with­out the fear of be­ing bombed, and a cit­i­zenry liv­ing in peace and har­mony.

Imag­ine if the en­tire de­fence bud­get since in­de­pen­dence had been used to build schools, hospi­tals, roads, houses, wa­ter and sew­er­age sys­tems. None among us would be liv­ing in the cap­i­tal Maseru and yet squat­ting over a pit la­trine.

Judge Phumaphi was there­fore wrong in sin­gling out King Kamoli, in­stead of the en­tire LDF, to em­power the Prime Min­is­ter with the req­ui­site au­thor­ity to take ac­tion with­out hav­ing to be seen as sin­gling out the man whose con­tro­ver­sial ac­tions he ben­e­fited from.


Jus­tice tšeliso Mon­aphathi.

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