On Lekhanya’s re­marks and the re­forms vi­sion

Lesotho Times - - Leader - nthak­eng Pheello selinyane

SOME re­marks by the former Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der, mil­i­tary ruler and later be­lea­guered leader of the Ba­sotho Na­tional Party ( BNP) Ma­jor-gen­eral Justin Mets­ing Lekhanya on the promised se­cu­rity re­forms (“’Di­a­logue should pre­cede se­cu­rity re­forms”’, Le­sotho Times 27 July 2017) sound sus­pi­ciously dan­ger­ous even if ap­par­ently in­no­cent.

They, there­fore, beg some form of in­ter­ro­ga­tion and re­but­tal. He prop­erly pro­poses that se­cu­rity re­forms must be pre­ceded by an all-stake­holder na­tional di­a­logue. Yet he places un­due em­pha­sis on the im­por­tance of in­clud­ing the se­cu­rity forces, posit­ing that they have the needed ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing in gov­ern­ment; and com­plain­ing “they are forced to re­main silent even when they fore­see prob­lems”.

This propo­si­tion is hand­i­capped at three lev­els. First, a rogue army stag­ing a coup or even a “rev­o­lu­tion­ary, pa­tri­otic” army stag­ing a revo­lu­tion might not pre­tend to put for­ward its ex­per­i­ment at na­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion as a tem­plate for demo­cratic gov­er­nance – no army is meant for that or in­ducted in that, hence ev­ery mil­i­tary regime uses pli­ant pro­fes­sors and other in­tel­li­gentsia to rule on be­half of “the peo­ple” in a repub­lic and on be­half of “the king” in a monar­chy, as hap­pened here.

Sec­ond, se­cu­rity re­forms are a con­junc­ture where the com­mu­nity de­cides pat­terns of sub­or­di­na­tion and con­trol of its forces, and ac­count­ing for the spinoffs or fall­out there­from, i.e con­se­quences of its choices – not where the forces ne­go­ti­ate the tai­lor­ing of the field with the com­mu­nity and its elected (po­lit­i­cal and civil so­ci­ety) rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Third, though that isn’t its space at all, the LDF doesn’t have any re­cent his­tory of be­ing forced to re­main silent even where it fore­saw prob­lems. On the con­trary, it spent the years 1994 - 1998 chas­ing the rul­ing Congress politi­cians in­clud­ing killing the deputy prime min­is­ter while be­ing ap­par­ently shielded by the state. From be­tween 2007 and 2016, it was chas­ing the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) in op­po­si­tion and in gov­ern­ment alike, in­clud­ing forc­ing its leader, Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane and his po­lice and army chiefs into ex­ile in the Au­gust 29, 2014 coup at­tempt, and ul­ti­mately killing LtGen. Maa­parankoe Ma­hao whom the LDF Congress han­dlers/ clients equated with the ABC for their project.

Its re­peat­edly self-pro­mot­ing, crim­i­nally mul­ti­ply-named com­man­ders told the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion in 2015 that they had since ar­ro­gated to them­selves the re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­ter­mine the le­git­i­macy of the prime min­is­ter and gov­ern­ment, and times to obey or defy him.

The ma­jor-gen­eral claims that the se­cu­rity forces are con­strained to ac­cept the cur­rent changes of com­mand, and the en­vis­aged re­forms pro­gramme, be­cause they are for­mally em­ployed and bud­geted for by the in­cum­bent civil­ian author­ity.

This is an un­for­tu­nate and mer­ce­nary pos­ture, if true, and tragic to is­sue from the throat of one of such sta­tus. In any case, the 2012/15 gov­ern­ment was still pay­ing them, and so was the 2015/17 one, yet they stood up to their civil­ian over­lords in both cases.

The forces should fol­low the coat­tails of the civil­ian author­ity be­cause they think and ac­cept it as their pro­fes­sional call of duty, their oath of life and death, to do so. How you ar­rive at that is a dif­fer­ent ques­tion, but the clever answers of the LDF com­man­ders at the Phumaphi Com­mis- sion show that they are quite ca­pa­ble of in­ter­nal­is­ing the same; af­ter all that has been their life­long train­ing in a num­ber of de­vel­oped ju­ris­dic­tions.

I wish to fur­ther chal­lenge the ma­jor­gen­eral’s three-pronged claim that (i) politi­cians crave se­cu­rity forces’ ab­so­lute sup­port and don’t care much for vot­ers’ sup­port; (ii) this ren­ders it self-con­tra­dic­tory and near im­pos­si­ble to de­politi­cise the forces whose mem­bers have be­come card-car­ry­ing party mem­bers; and (iii) un­til the new inclusive elec­toral model was adopted, a loser of na­tional elec­tions could just go to the bar­racks and pick up arms to re­tain power.

Wrong: (a) this naugh­tily pro­motes mil­i­tary self-de­cep­tion, whereas all par­ties for­mally sub­scribe to elec­tiv­ity as the ba­sis for man­ag­ing na­tional af­fairs – and this in­cludes the Congress that in­cites the forces’ in­sub­or­di­na­tion when in op­po­si­tion, and pros­e­cutes ter­ror when in power; (b) while we have no stud­ies of party af­fil­i­a­tion of the forces save to know the po­lit­i­cal, even anti-gov­ern­ment, rum­blings of com­man­ders at mil­i­tary pa­rades dic­tat­ing vot­ing pat­terns and ha­tred for other com­man­ders; there is ac­tu­ally noth­ing wrong with such iden­ti­ties be­ing known as long as the forces re­late to the rulers only as in­stru­ments of the state and noth­ing else – in the US, for ex­am­ple, the army tra­di­tion­ally votes Repub­li­can Party but has al­ways re­mained pro­fes­sional; (c) nowhere in the world does a “loser” politi­cian en­joy a thor­ough­fare to breach na­tional ar­moury; and in the 1998-2002 tran­si­tion it wasn’t true for “any loser” politi­cian (even if you take it fig­u­ra­tively), but it took a co­in­ci­dence of a par­tic­u­lar com­plex­ion of po­lit­i­cal opin­ion with a cho­sen in­cline as well as ma­te­rial and strate­gic in­ter­ests of the top com­mand. It was a tango of a politi­cian and a sol­dier.

The an­swer to why the ma­jor-gen­eral con­ve­niently shaves the army (com­mand) off this tango, and makes it re­main a solo

Con­tin­ues on Page 16 . . .

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