Demil­i­tari­sa­tion: A vi­able re­form op­tion

Lesotho Times - - Opin­ion & Anal­y­sis -

For in­stance, in the cur­rent bud­get, de­fence is the sixth high­est min­istry in terms of bud­get al­lo­ca­tions in Le­sotho.

The de­fence min­istry has been al­lo­cated far more than that of agri­cul­ture among other min­istries. This is de­spite the fact that the ma­jor­ity of the cit­i­zens are fac­ing se­ri­ous food in­se­cu­rity due to the re­cent drought. Chan­nelling of re­sources to more pro­duc­tive sec­tors would, in the long run, ben­e­fit the coun­try at large, in­clud­ing the cur­rent and po­ten­tial mem­bers of the army.

It would, how­ever, re­quire the coun­try to ex­er­cise se­ri­ous com­mit­ment and cau­tion if demil­i­tari­sa­tion were to be un­der­taken. Cur­rently, the Le­sotho army em­ploys around 3 000 mem­bers and has an av­er­age yearly re­cruit­ment rate of around 300. Each work­ing per­son is re­port­edly re­spon­si­ble for an av­er­age of six in­di­vid­u­als in Le­sotho. This im­plies that the earn­ings from the army cater for around 18 000 liveli­hoods. It would thus be im­por­tant that if Le­sotho opts for demil­i­tari­sa­tion, ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble is made to en­sure that these liveli­hoods are not dras­ti­cally af­fected.

Al­ter­na­tives would in­clude amongst oth­ers re­tire­ment of all of­fi­cials near­ing re­tire­ment age (with all ben­e­fits cal­cu­lated on their of­fi­cial dates of re­tire­ment) and trans­fer­ring younger of­fi­cials to other min­istries, or pri­vate or­gan­i­sa­tions. It is worth em­pha­sis­ing that there would need to be se­ri­ous re­train­ing pro­grammes that the de­mo­bilised of­fi­cials would have to un­dergo in or­der to be ad­e­quately rein­te­grated into civil­ian life. These are highly trained in­di­vid­u­als who can eas­ily be­come danger­ous to so­ci­ety if just thrown to strug­gle in civil­ian life. Fail­ure to ad­e­quately rein­te­grate the de­mo­bilised sol­diers would be cat­a­strophic as it proved else­where. For in­stance, in Haiti the de­mo­bilised sol­diers re­grouped and over­threw the coun­try’s civil­ian govern­ment.

Un­der the cir­cum­stances Le­sotho finds it­self in, demil­i­tari­sa­tion re­mains the most vi­able op­tion in search of per­ma­nent or at least long-last­ing peace. Ob­vi­ously, demil­i­tari­sa­tion would re­quire mas­sive re­sources as it has to be thor­oughly planned in or­der to be suc­cess­ful. The process would only be costly in the short run. It would, in all like­li­hood, prove to be a vi­able in­vest­ment sure to pay peace­ful div­i­dends to the na­tion as a whole. It is not im­pos­si­ble for Le­sotho’s fu­ture prime min­is­ters to sing their coun­try’s praises the way Pres­i­dent Os­car An­drias Sanchez did about his own coun­try — Costa Rica.

l Let­sie is a lec­turer in the Depart­ment of Po­lit­i­cal and Ad­min­is­tra­tive Stud­ies at the Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.