En­e­mies of our democ­racy

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis - Ma­hao Ma­hao

LAST week, two char­ac­ters, namely Dr Fako Likoti and Arthur Ma­jara made a grand ap­pear­ance in two dif­fer­ent me­dia plat­forms; the for­mer in a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle and the lat­ter on ra­dio. Fol­low­ing their state­ments one would as­sume they do not oc­cupy the same space as the rest of us, but in­stead live in a planet still yet to be dis­cov­ered.

Start­ing off with Dr Likoti, he is a po­lit­i­cal ad­vi­sor to the prime min­is­ter and penned an ar­ti­cle in the Le­sotho Times (31 March 2016) ti­tled “Se­jana­mane’s paral­y­sis of anal­y­sis” (beau­ti­ful po­etic ti­tle no doubt) where he crit­i­cised the Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence Pro­fes­sor for some of his re­cent com­men­tary on Le­sotho politics, more es­pe­cially on the army and gov­ern­ment’s re­luc­tance and fear to deal de­ci­sively with the long-run­ning Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli saga.

I will not go into his var­i­ous ram­blings in the en­tire ar­ti­cle but will point at one clear fal­lacy on his part. He claims that “we have a highly pro­fes­sional army which has be­come the envy of the re­gion of which Ba­sotho are very proud.”

Let me make it im­me­di­ately clear to Dr Likoti that in al­leg­ing that Ba­sotho are proud of the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) he should not in­clude me in that group which in my opin­ion con­sists of him, his fam­ily and the cur­rent gov­ern­ment.

I and surely many other right-think­ing and self-re­spect­ing Ba­sotho are not short of peo­ple and groups to be proud of but the LDF — in its cur­rent form — does not fall into that cat­e­gory of in­sti­tu­tions that evoke pride.

For starters, Dr Likoti should be spe­cific about his so-called pride in the LDF. With his re­search back­ground, he should know bet­ter not to make blan­ket state­ments about what Ba­sotho are proud of with­out pre­sent­ing tan­gi­ble ev­i­dence.

Hon­estly speak­ing, where would this pride in the LDF stem from? What have they done to de­serve any praise? In my hum­ble opin­ion, ab­so­lutely noth­ing ex­cept sow­ing chaos. In fact, if I had my way there would be no such in­sti­tu­tion called the LDF upon which suc­ces­sive govern­ments pump huge re­sources for no good rea­son. If in­deed the LDF is the envy of the re­gion as he says, SADC would not be here for yet another mis­be­haviour by this same army.

Dr Likoti should give us specifics on the good deeds of this army, the bat­tles they have fought in de­fence of Le­sotho and the vic­to­ries they have brought home. The LDF is no­to­ri­ous for some­times parad­ing out­dated equip­ment on our streets to in­tim­i­date cit­i­zens who have no clue about mod­ern and ad­vanced mil­i­tary equip­ment. Their equip­ment (in­clu­sive of the tiny rams) can­not even stand its ground against 20 South African po­lice of­fi­cers.

It has been well doc­u­mented how since in­de­pen­dence in 1966, the Le­sotho army has been right at the cen­tre of this coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal malaise and in­sta­bil­ity. The most re­cently no­table cases be­ing 1994, 1998 and 2014 to the present. I guess this is the same shame­ful his­tory that Dr Likoti and like-minded peo­ple are so proud of.

They are pleased with the sense­less killing of Mo­hau Qo­bete and In­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko and the cold-blood as­sas­si­na­tion of Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao. Surely they don’t mind leav­ing their chil­dren to an un­cer­tain fu­ture the same way it hap­pened with Qo­bete, Ramahloko and Ma­hao.

Dr Likoti’s undy­ing love for the LDF does not even recog­nise the damn­ing SADC re­port on the same army; an in­sti­tu­tion that has brought un­wanted at­ten­tion from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. Does the read­ing of the Jus­tice Phumaphi re­port evoke any sort of ad­mi­ra­tion for the LDF? Only those who have just landed from Mars would be made to be­lieve that noth­ing is rot­ten in the state of Le­sotho.

Even the rot that Shake­speare once al­luded to in the state of Den­mark over four cen­turies ago does not come close. For peo­ple like Dr Likoti, death is about sta­tis­tics (one or three peo­ple killed) and not about the sanc­tity of life. He is one of those who have al­ways ques­tioned what the fuss is over the death of one man. I have pre­vi­ously chal­lenged those like him to com­mit sui­cide if life is so mean­ing­less.

In short, the LDF — through self­ish po­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests — have been noth­ing short of en­e­mies of our democ­racy. My in­ten­tion is not to pour scorn on the en­tire LDF. Some among them have openly told us of their frus­tra­tions in the cur­rent LDF set-up and are un­happy about the no­to­ri­ety that their in­sti­tu­tion has gained in re­cent times. If wishes were horses they would ride away and of­fer their ser­vices else­where.

The sec­ond char­ac­ter, Mr Ma­jara, ap­peared on PC FM this past week and ram­bled on and on about the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho. Among some of his un­for­tu­nate state­ments was his wish that the Lt-gen Ma­hao is­sue comes to noth­ing so that his fam­ily can wait and wait in per­pet­ual frus­tra­tion. I have never heard such dis­re­spect in my en­tire life. It’s hard to be­lieve there are in­di­vid­u­als who openly laugh at another fam­ily’s tragic loss.

I have a feel­ing this man is driven by jeal­ousy at the man­ner in which Maa­parankoe’s fam­ily has shown re­mark­able re­solve and unity to fight for jus­tice de­spite the re­lent­less ef­forts by self­ish politi­cians and other en­e­mies of our democ­racy con­tin­u­ously plac­ing ob­sta­cles in their path.

This was an ut­ter­ance full of sheer ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity and which begs the ques­tion: what does Mr Ma­jara gain out of stand­ing in the way of jus­tice as op­posed to ad­vo­cat­ing for the rule of law and ac­count­abil­ity? A lu­cra­tive po­si­tion in gov­ern­ment per­haps?

For him it means noth­ing that till to­day his gov­ern­ment has never pro­cessed Maa­parankoe’s ter­mi­nal ben­e­fits so that his chil­dren can con­tinue to have meals and a de­cent ed­u­ca­tion.

While Mr Ma­jara’s beloved gov­ern­ment has turned a blind eye on all cor­re­spon­dence from Maa­parankoe’s fam­ily, he should be made aware that money is not the key driv­ing force be­hind the un­bend­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion to seek jus­tice.

If there is one thing the fam­ily would one day take pride in would be the po­lit­i­cal eman­ci­pa­tion that Ba­sotho will en­joy as a re­sult of the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice their son paid to lib­er­ate this coun­try from those hold­ing it to ran­som.

When this is achieved, Maa­parankoe’s fam­ily will not take the glory but in­stead will cast their eyes back to that soli­tary ceme­tery in the vil­lage of Mokema and salute Lt-gen Ma­hao for the bul­lets he took on his body to lib­er­ate this coun­try from self­ish in­ter­ests.

Let me humbly in­form Mr Ma­jara and those who share his warped think­ing that Maa­parankoe built his prom­i­nent pro­file from hum­ble be­gin­nings.

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