So who are the ‘Manazi’ now?

What the LLA pen­sion tells us

Lesotho Times - - Leader - nthak­eng Pheello selinyane

SO the 24-year old wail­ing of the Le­sotho Lib­er­a­tion Army (LLA) of the Ba­su­toland Congress Party (BCP) which is the par­ent party of all Le­sotho’s Congress par­ties in one way or an­other, has for the first time fallen on sym­pa­thetic ear of a gov­ern­ment that has given it a war veter­ans’ pen­sion.

This comes 26 years af­ter the guer­rilla out­fit which was pu­ta­tively formed to wage a war of felling the Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) gov­ern­ment of Morena Le­abua Jonathan between 197985, was dis­owned by the wor­shipped BCP leader Ntsu Mokhehle in Maseru in 1991 say­ing among oth­ers, “I never asked any­one’s child to fol­low me into ex­ile”, and “I never car­ried any­one on my back”.

This was af­ter the leader said in a me­dia in­ter­view that the LLA had been dis­solved, ig­nit­ing fury among its mem­bers whose fate re­mained un­known as they were not men­tioned in the ar­range­ments and agree­ments for the re­turn of Dr Mokhehle and his fol­low­ers from ex­ile be­gin­ning in 1989, me­di­ated by the Coun­cil of Churches between Mokhehle and the mil­i­tary regime of 1986-93.

It is now leg­end that the BCP abroad had bro­ken up into the Mokhehle-led group which con­sorted with the apartheid South Africa where the LLA was hosted, trained, and armed as a sur­ro­gate to mil­i­tary sab­o­tage of Le­sotho’s eco­nomic in­stal­la­tion, killing politi­cians and en­gage the Le­sotho Para­mil­i­tary Force (LPF) in skir­mishes; and one led by his sec­re­tary Koenyama Chakela who was as­sas­si­nated af­ter re­turn­ing home to tell the story of be­trayal in 1980.

Later anec­do­tal ac­counts of the LLA op­er­a­tives re­vealed the LLA could have been split down the same lines, with the Vlak­plaas fac­tion and the Qwaqwa fac­tion.

Thus it came to pass that when the BCP had set­tled in gov­ern­ment in a one-party par­lia­ment of 1993, some seg­ments of the LLA were se­cretly in­fil­trated into ill-fit­ting slots in the civil ser­vice, which were awk­wardly and sus­pi­ciously named Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Of­fi­cers in odd place like bor­der man­age­ment, trans­port and traf­fic, dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tion; while oth­ers were left in the cold.

By the time of the burial of one LLA stal­wart Ts’eliso Rapitse in Mafeteng in 2003, his home­boy and deputy prime min­is­ter, who had been on cab­i­net since 1993 Le­sao Le­hohla pla­cated the in­dig­nant veteran mourn­ers with a prom­ise that the LLA Veter­ans As­so­ci­a­tion (LLAVETA) cor­re­spon­dence on their griev­ances was on the prime min­is­ter’s desk and action on them im­mi­nent.

When a decade later in 2012 the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD), which was a BCP ma­jor­ity splin­ter of 1997, was un­seated af­ter 15 years in power, the LLAVETA had nailed its colours to the mast of for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter A.K. Maope’s Le­sotho Peo­ple’s Congress (LPC), which formed part of a six-party bloc of pro-gov­ern­ment par­lia­men­tary op­po­si­tion but was bun­gled, and the veter­ans missed the train yet again thanks to the early col­lapse of the Let­sema coali­tion.

When the LPC broke up as a co-gov­ern­ing party, un­der the weight of spon­sor­ing the state ex­cesses that have since been ex­posed by the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion, sub­stan­tially con­tribut­ing to the early col­lapse of the Khokanyan’a Phiri sec­ond coali­tion gov­ern­ment, the LLAVeta an­nounced that it was form­ing its own party to con­test the June 2017 snap elec­tions, cit­ing a quar­ter cen­tury of be­trayal, but ul­ti­mately chick­ened out.

This was af­ter 10 years of a sup­pos­edly pro-poor Congress cru­sade which waged an un­prece­dent­edly pre­cip­i­tous, most vul­gar cam­paign of di­vi­sion of the na­tion, by nam­ing civil so­ci­ety, ri­val po­lit­i­cal par­ties, the clergy and me­dia and even res­i­dent diplo­matic and in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal bod­ies as “Manazi”, equat­ing all th­ese sec­tors en bloc to an evil that de­served only sup­pres­sion and elim­i­na­tion in­clud­ing death.

Yet this cru­sade failed its most self-sac­ri­fic­ing, gal­lant devo­tees and de­fend­ers in the LLA, even as late as un­der the 2015 sec­ond coali­tion gov­ern­ment, which was sup­posed to be the mo­ment of ul­ti­mate de­liv­er­ance.

Th­ese men could only be evac­u­ated from the eter­nal con­dem­na­tion to pau­perism by those whom their mas­ters dubbed MaNazi, whose ge­netic makeup sup­pos­edly des­tined them only to sub­ject the Ba­sotho, es­pe­cially Congress loy­al­ists, to eter­nal mis­ery for their pres­sure.

Al­most im­me­di­ately upon the land­mark award of this pen­sion in the Bud­get Speech, some ex­pres­sions of in­dig­na­tion flowed into the so­cial me­dia, mainly a voic­ing of dis­gust at a sup­posed re­ward of ter­ror­ism.

This is all in or­der, if you use as a yard­stick the ex­ist­ing lit­er­a­ture and known his­tory of apartheid, de­clared as a crime against hu­man­ity, and the har­ness­ing of the LLA in the ex­e­cu­tion of apartheid’s To­tal On­slaught Strat­egy – and the fact that th­ese men have never come clean about their part therein.

We have to re­mem­ber and ac­cept, how­ever, that the pro­cesses of atone­ment and self-ex­pi­a­tion in such his­to­ries be­long to the realm of pol­i­tics and politi­cians; and if the po­lit­i­cal elites of the BCP and all the rul­ing Congress par­ties, first de­nied and then dis­owned the LLA, and ran th­ese men from pil­lar to post over 24 years as bear­ers of the state, there was no way the men them­selves could do that and have it val­i­dated as part of a cred­i­ble na­tional rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process.

Sec­ond, we shouldn’t al­low emo­tion to run ahead of in­tel­lect of com­mon sense here: the han­dlers or mas­ters of th­ese men have been draped with the cloak of cus­to­dian of our na­tional demo­cratic state and its val­ues, they make laws and ex­act tax­a­tion on the en­tirety of the cit­i­zenry, and they en­joy state pen­sions and burial upon death- they don’t in­cur the or­di­nary ex­penses of work- ing per­sons be­cause of the hon­our of of­fice we have be­stowed on them over a quar­ter cen­tury. Why shouldn’t the men who were sim­ply their er­rand boys be viewed and treated as out­casts? And re­mem­ber, we’re talk­ing about per­sons who were made to omit a huge chunk of their youth­ful and pro­duc­tive life and go on a wild goose chase of “lib­er­at­ing” the coun­try, who were hood­winked in the most naïve, pas­sion­ate, gullible, and in­trepid age.

We can ill af­ford for now to ap­por­tion moral judg­ment to their mo­tives or con­se­quences of their ac­tions. Th­ese are hap­pen­ings which are bag­gage of our­selves as a peo­ple, not its shades and seg­ments, and the un­qual­i­fied ac­cep­tance and em­brace would seem to ac­knowl­edge the same.

This does noth­ing more than ac­knowl­edge that a na­tion which al­lows it­self to walk through that bog might also not choose to wash only it an­gles and shins but not also

Le­sotho Times. its soles and toes. It isn’t done at the ex­pense of jus­tice for the ben­e­fit nor at the ex­pense of any part of the com­mu­nity to the joy and ben­e­fit of an­other; since such ac­tions aren’t cov­ered in statutes of lim­i­ta­tions, nor is this ges­ture of­fi­cially de­clared as fore­clos­ing the same.

I could even say the de­bates it rakes points to the ur­gency of re­solv­ing this bleak wa­ter­shed pe­riod in our na­tional his­tory, and putting it to rest in a man­ner that sat­is­fies the con­science of the en­tire na­tion, but most im­por­tantly the ag­grieved.

There have also been raised ques­tions about “for­got­ten” vic­tims of the LLA cam­paigns, which cut across the “great po­lit­i­cal di­vide and in­clude some among their peers and po­lit­i­cal prin­ci­pals, and th­ese all still need a holis­tic re­vis­i­ta­tion. Mr Selinyane’s views are his own and do not re­flect the views of the Le­sotho Times.

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