On Lekhanya’s re­marks and the re­forms vi­sion

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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.

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