On Lekhanya’s remarks and the reforms vision
act of a “loser” politician, is found in his explanation of army violence on society as simple boyish skirmishes gone wrong, and his prescription that security reforms simply require that civilians change their contemptuous attitude to the army as their protector and defender.
For an elderly statesman, we cannot be stronger than say he isn’t being truthful. The 2007 Military Intelligence head and 2012 LDF commander Lt.-gen. Tlali Kamoli confessed in my July 2007 interview that his then ongoing kidnap-and-torture expedition targeted the ABC. My various other published interviews revealing intricate details of politicallyinspired LDF violence on citizenry of various identities remain unchallenged.
Reform calls were triggered not by tavern-brawl clashes of army and civilian teenagers; but by a fomenting of an abortive coup, ultimate felling of a government and murder of an ostracised former commander – all proudly sourced by the army from a Facebook page of an explicitly seditious publisher who was housing the main opposition overtly inciting insubordination of the army.
Major-general Lekhanya dismissed as silly and unnecessary Lt-gen. Mahao’s murder and the pretexts thereof. The tragedy and surrounding circumstances cannot go unmentioned in assessing security reforms’ prospects.even outside these eminently political escapades, the national chief prosecutor found cause to charge (to no avail) elements of the army criminally for such incidents as the cold-blooded killing of those Mafeteng boys; and obstruction-of-justice compacts of conspiracy of silence were notoriously rammed down throats of poor bereft families like that of Lisebo Tang.
After May 2015, all reported and publicly witnessed cases were routinely brushed aside and rubbished by the Public Affairs Office of the LDF and the LCD and LPC spokes- persons almost stepping into army shoes. Ultimately, the army embedded itself in the police, kidnaping and torturing opposition activists while the police “public relations” desk justified the crimes.
We must stress that prosecuting justice in these cases isn’t in itself a reform; just as removing the rotten police apex, reversing malicious dismissals and promotions, and instantly solving the criminal disappearance of Police Constable Mokalekale Khetheng isn’t reform. It is simply indicative of the political will and boldness of the civilian authority to subject the forces to its dictates as the first move towards prosecution of such reforms. That is why it is dangerous of Major-general Lekhanya to even faintly suggest that security reforms must be negotiated with the forces, although I welcome their “voices” the same way I wouldn’t go about curriculum reform without involving students. Yes, many observers, activists and other role players await with bated breath a visitation of justice on the army excesses, which many view as a shot in the dark, a testing of uncharted waters, indeed a Rubicon moment stubbornly waiting to test the collective resolve and unity of purpose of the four ruling parties.
The deputy prime minister was forced by public outcry to change from calling for a “general amnesty” covering the Phumaphi Commission-named soldiers and their maliciously detained and self-exiled victims, to saying they should instead all be put on trial. This was all thanks to the Commission inexplicably recommending “amnesty” for the victim men it cleared, apparently to placate the authorities who explicitly supported the suspects.
Major-general Lekhanya has on radio advised Prime Minister Thabane to avoid “hitting the beehive with a fist” in going about reforms – like Lt.-gen. Kamoli ominously warning Thabane, in a 2012 passout ceremony speech, that the army was a bee that could sting if mishandled. In a media briefing to announce the founding of the coalition government, that he wasn’t interested in abolishing the army, the prime minister also joked that disbanding men under arms would be risking death – a line which had been harped on by the DC and LPC spokesmen in parliament and private radio over the preceding week. The top-heavy, fugitive sections of the LDF command will be looking to build on these utterances as a construct of their platform in negotiating their fate going into the reform process.
A popular, forward-looking multiparty government should dispense with criminality in the forces without elevating it to a price for purchase of the reforms. To walk into that space, the LDF’S decorated criminal corps needs a political voice to carry its cause in cabinet as in the 2012 coalition, or the government to vacate its space as in the 2015 coalition – and both governments were felled by the same two-facedness.
Mr Selinyane’s views are his OWN AND DO NOT REFLECT THE views of the Lesotho Times.