I beg to dif­fer Ntate Mo­sisili

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator - scru­ta­tor266@gmail.com

IHOPE all those who have in­vested their faith in MMM as a source of quick wealth have heeded my ad­vice over the last two weeks and jet­ti­soned this crooked scheme. If you haven’t and are still pour­ing money into the MMM scam, you can­not be helped. I am thus aban­don­ing you to dwell on an important sub­ject that my prime min­is­ter raised re­cently.

Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili is adamant that Le­sotho needs an army. He has also re­it­er­ated his view that it’s bet­ter for us to mis­gov­ern our­selves rather than be gov­erned well by oth­ers. Very high sound­ing pitches in­deed.

Ntate Mo­sisili scolded Ba­sotho and for­eign na­tion­als who sug­gest Le­sotho does not need an army at all, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port in the Sun­day Ex­press.

Ntate Mo­sisili said such neg­a­tive sen­ti­ments come from peo­ple who are “lost” and do not ap­pre­ci­ate the var­i­ous roles played by the Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) in dif­fer­ent sec­tions of so­ci­ety.

The premier in­sisted Le­sotho “is a sov­er­eign state and it’s up to us to know what we need and what we do not need be­cause we fought for our in­de­pen­dence”.

Ntate Mo­sisili made th­ese re­marks while ad­dress­ing an LDF pass-out pa­rade of 304 re­cruits at Makoanyane Mil­i­tary Bar­racks. He said that in ad­di­tion to its de­fence role, the army per­formed many other devel­op­ment func­tions hence its crit­i­cal im­por­tance to the coun­try.

For the avoid­ance of any doubt, I will re­peat ver­ba­tim the quotes at­trib­uted to him.

“I would like to point out some­thing shock­ing I have read from our pub­li­ca­tions and heard on our ra­dios that Le­sotho does not need an army. ……There are even for­eign­ers who speak the same language that Le­sotho does not need an army,” re­marked Ntate Mo­sisili.

“Those are things said by peo­ple who are lost. Hav­ing been the Head of His Majesty’s gov­ern­ment for four times now, I know the de­ci­sion by Prime Min­is­ter Chief Le­abua Jonathan to form an army for Le­sotho was the right one. Just like I have pointed out, the army does not just fight for our peo­ple through the use of arms, but also en­gages in many ac­tiv­i­ties in other sec­tors of our econ­omy.

“Ba­sotho chil­dren should not be say­ing we do not need an army; such thoughts should not be com­ing from them. I also call to or­der for­eign­ers who are say­ing we do not need an army; it’s not their con­cern whether we have an army or not.

“Le­sotho is a sov­er­eign state and it’s up to us to know what we need and what we do not need be­cause we fought for our in­de­pen­dence,” said Dr Mo­sisili.

“When our lead­ers said the Bri­tish should leave our house, our fore­fa­thers made a state­ment I al­ways re­mem­ber — that it is bet­ter to mis­gov­ern our­selves than to be gov­erned well by oth­ers”.

Or­di­nar­ily, there is noth­ing wrong with Ntate Mo­sisili’s points of view. Sov­er­eign na­tions have ev­ery right to make their choices. So it is within our right as a sov­er­eign na­tion to have an army or any other in­sti­tu­tion of choice.

How­ever, on the ques­tion of the army, I have to dif­fer with my Prime Min­is­ter and in­sist on my point of view that hav­ing a well-equipped army should never be our pri­or­ity.

The caus­tic and malef­i­cent role that the army has played in Le­sotho’s pol­i­tics is a mat­ter of public record, prompt­ing many to ques­tion whether we in­deed need an army.

One for­eigner who has been most em­phatic on the sub­ject is for­mer South African cen­tral bank gover­nor Tito Mboweni.

Mboweni went as far as sug­gest­ing a fed­eral ar­range­ment wherein Le­sotho, Swaziland and South Africa could re­main au­ton­o­mous re­gions with South Africa as­sum­ing the role of main­tain­ing and foot­ing the bill of a re­gional army to pro­tect this fed­eral ar­range­ment.

This would then en­able Swaziland and Le­sotho to plough the re­sources they are us­ing in main­tain­ing their ar­mies into important so­cial ser­vices.

Let me state up­front that my dis­dain for us­ing our scare re­sources on main­tain­ing any army does not em­anate from any dis­like of King Kamoli. Far from it.

My pref­er­ence of us not hav­ing an army, as sug­gested by Mboweni, stems from com­pelling re­al­ity. To il­lus­trate my point, I have to ask the ques­tion I have asked many times be­fore. What is the tra­di­tional role of an army?

The pur­pose of any army is pri­mar­ily to de­fend any sov­er­eign na­tion against ex­ter­nal threats or en­e­mies with the po­lice be­ing re­spon­si­ble for any na­tion’s in­ter­nal polic­ing mat­ters. Who there­fore con­sti­tute Le­sotho’s ex­ter­nal en­e­mies re­quir­ing us to main­tain an army? The an­swer is zilch?

Even if we had ex­ter­nal en­e­mies. Our nat­u­ral ge­o­graph­i­cal cir­cum­stances are our best pro­tec­tion. We are one of only two coun­tries in the world wholly sur­rounded by an­other. We are to­tally un­reach­able. Who would dare trans­verse the en­tirety of South Africa to come and at­tack us? We are un­touch­able and un­reach­able be­cause of our ge­og­ra­phy.

Our unique ge­o­graphic sit­u­a­tion is our best pro­tec­tion. This leaves South Africa as the only po­ten­tial en­emy within easy reach of us. Let’s as­sume Ntate Mo­sisili fights with Ja­cob Zuma at one of those highly charged SADC sum­mits and the Nkandla crooner de­cided to de­ploy his might South­ern African Na­tional De­fence Force (SANDF) to dec­i­mate us.

Would King Kamoli and his men and women have the stamina to re­pel the mighty SANDF, even if the lat­ter de­ploys a tiny frac­tion of its en­tire might? Me thinks not. It’s a good thing that South Africa will not in­vade us. That pos­si­bil­ity has long van­ished with the demise of apartheid. This means we ef­fec­tively face no ex­ter­nal threat against which we re­quire an army.

But let’s be hy­po­thet­i­cal and imag­ine that South Africa finds rea­son to in­vade. In that case, we will have to all throw up our hands in the air and ac­cept be­com­ing a colony again. King Kamoli and his men won’t stand a chance.

This partly ex­plains why many small coun­tries in our mould, with no real prospects of de­fend­ing them­selves, have opted to ei­ther ex­ist with­out ar­mies (and avoid cre­at­ing en­e­mies) or have sim­ply out­sourced their pro­tec­tion to other big­ger coun­tries.

In this sense, Mboweni is right that we are bet­ter off out­sourc­ing our pro­tec­tion to South Africa. In place of the LDF, we re­main with the LMPS to over­see in­ter­nal polic­ing.

Ntate Mo­sisili thinks the LDF did a good job in thwart­ing the sev­eral ter­ror­ist at­tacks at­tempted on the homes of min­is­ters and on the premier him­self dur­ing the pe­riod 2007 to 2009. That maybe so.

But Ntate Mo­sisili for­gets that some of th­ese at­tacks were per­pe­trated by rogue el­e­ments of the LDF it­self. Let’s not for­get the role of Mako­toko Lerotholi (aka Mashai), a for­mer LDF mem­ber, in lead­ing that heinous at­tack on Ntate Mo­sisili.

Mashai had the stamina of lead­ing men to rob Makoanyane bar­racks to rob arms to use in at­tack­ing a sit­ting Prime Min­is­ter. I was furious and con­demned Mashai in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms. Be­cause Le­sotho’s army has never had to fight a for­eign en­emy, it tends to be in­ward look­ing.

If we never had an army, it means that the 1998 mutiny which threat­ened Ntate Mo­sisili’s grip on power, would never have oc­curred. It means the heinous at­tacks on the houses of sev­eral min­is­ters and on Prime Min­is­ter Mo­sisili him­self through­out 2007 and 2009 would never have oc­curred.

It means Le­abua Jonathan’s buf­foon­ery in ig­nor­ing the out­come of a demo­cratic elec­tion and rul­ing unim­peded for 17 years at the ex­pense of Ntate Ntsu would never have hap­pened.

It we did not have an army, it means Au­gust 30 2014 would never have oc­curred. It means Maa­parankoe would still be alive. It means we would not be hav­ing SADC snort­ing its long nose in our in­ter­nal af­fairs. Mpa­phi Phumaphi would never have oc­curred. It means we would be well fo­cused on is­sues of na­tional devel­op­ment. Wouldn’t be that a nice thing Prime Min­is­ter?

Of course bon­tate Mo­sisili and Mokhosi (the de­fence min­is­ter) are right that the army has other roles to play in the na­tion. It’s true that the army is play­ing a vi­tal role in work­ing with the Min­istry of Health in en­cour­ag­ing vol­un­tary male cir­cum­ci­sion pro­grammes to re­duce HIV/ Aids.

The army can also help com­mu­ni­ties in dif­fer­ent ways like dur­ing nat­u­ral dis­as­ters etc. But the fun­da­men­tal ques­tion re­mains that th­ese are not the pri­mary roles of any army. Ar­mies ex­ist to de­fend a coun­try against ex­ter­nal threats. Let’s con­sider an­other poignant ex­am­ple. Sup­pose Ntate Mo­sisili heeds Mboweni’s ad­vice and out­sources our army to South Africa. All our sol­diers are then trans­ferred to be part of the SANDF. We dis­pose our en­tire ar­moury and are left with not a sin­gle penny to splurge on the army.

Let’s imag­ine that Ntate Mo­sisili then spends the bil­lions saved on De­fence in re­build­ing Maseru, en­sur­ing that we have proper flush­ing toi­lets and run­ning water, proper tarred roads in the var­i­ous vil­lages of the city with proper street names.

Let’s also as­sume this money is in­vested in equip­ping schools, clin­ics and hos­pi­tals around Maseru. I will bet a pound of my flesh that Ntate Mo­sisili will never lose an elec­tion in any ur­ban Maseru con­stituency again. He will re­claim all the Maseru seats his party has lost to the ABC with pride.

There could be an­other added ben­e­fit from Mboweni’s sug­ges­tion. With all our sol­diers sec­onded to South Africa in a fed­eral se­cu­rity ar­range­ment, King Kamoli would then qual­ify to be­come com­man­der of the SANDF.

Imag­ine King Kamoli at the helm of the SANDF. In light of the SANDF’S grow­ing con­ti­nen­tal role, Africa would then be rid of Boko Haram and Al Shaabab.

In dis­agree­ing with my Prime Min­is­ter on the need of an army, I might be sound­ing like an er­rant child. But the facts speak for them­selves. Many small coun­tries with no real ex­ter­nal en­e­mies nor real prospects of de­fend­ing them­selves against pow­er­ful neigh­bours have opted for a life with­out ar­mies. 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.

Only an 8 000 mem­ber Na­tional Po­lice Force is re­spon­si­ble for do­mes­tic law en­force­ment in Mau­ri­tius. There is no army in Mau­ri­tius. But hey, look at how pros­per­ous all the above small coun­tries are. The only ex­cep­tion is that con­stant 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. A small coun­try at peace with it­self. We would all love it. Ntate Mo­sisili, you are passionate about the army.

But on this one, I dis­agree with you my Prime Min­is­ter. Take my ad­vice and out­source our army to the Nkandla crooner on a trial ba­sis. In­vest re­sources saved in the ar­eas I have sug­gested above.

Le­sotho will ieft off. As per your sug­ges­tion that it’s bet­ter to mis­gov­ern our­selves than be gov­erned by oth­ers, that’s surely a story for an­other day.


Prime min­is­ter Pakalitha mo­sisili

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