Time for some in­tro­spec­tion

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

IN the demo­cratic evo­lu­tion of ev­ery na­tion, there comes a time when deep in­tro­spec­tion not only be­comes im­per­a­tive but in­escapable. If there has ever been need for such time in this King­dom, it is now. Ev­ery na­tion should reg­u­larly de­fine and re­fine its value sys­tem and re­flect on its in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­i­ties to pro­tect its val­ues.

Like them or loath them, the Amer­i­cans have come far in per­fect­ing their democ­racy; es­sen­tially one of the best democ­ra­cies in the world. Their sys­tem has evolved from slave own­er­ship to the new age of in­alien­able civil lib­er­ties.

Once upon a time, Amer­ica pres­i­dents served umpteen terms un­til con­ven­tional Amer­i­can wis­dom de­cided that democ­racy is best pro­tected by lim­it­ing each pres­i­dent terms of of­fice to a max­i­mum of two fouryear terms.

Scru­ta­tor would surely have wanted the re­mark­able Barack Obama to con­tinue in of­fice. But call­ing for a con­sti­tu­tional change to ex­tend terms of of­fice of an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent be­yond the al­lowed two terms — some­thing that is so fre­quent in Africa — is al­most trea­son in Amer­ica.

The val­ues of lib­erty, equal­ity and fra­ter­nity that un­der­pinned the 1789 French rev­o­lu­tion are in­deed in­terred in the Amer­i­can value sys­tem. They are al­most vis­i­ble in the uni­ver­sal gaze of the Statue of Lib­erty, a wor­thy do­na­tion from the French to the Amer­i­cans, perched in up­mar­ket Man­hat­tan.

Of course Amer­ica’s democ­racy is still rid­dled with im­per­fec­tions like un­equal ac­cess to eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for mi­nor­ity groups, racism against blacks, un­equal ac­cess to jus­tice, the long neg­a­tive legacy of slav­ery, among other im­per­fec­tions.

But what makes Un­cle Sam’s democ­racy ad­mirable is the abil­ity of cit­i­zens to re­flect and in­tro­spect and strive con­stantly to im­prove the in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­i­ties re­quired to pro­tect Amer­i­can val­ues. There are many things that Amer­i­can politi­cians can never do be­cause of strong in­sti­tu­tions of democ­racy which pro­tect cit­i­zens. Just ask Don­ald Trump.

Af­ter this week’s may­hem at Makoanyane Bar­racks, surely isn’t it time Ba­sotho took a deep breath and be­gin a deep process of in­tro­spec­tion of our peren­ni­ally trou­bled demo­cratic evo­lu­tion process with a view of foist­ing ba­sic san­ity onto His Majesty’s King­dom.

What in­sti­tu­tions do we re­ally need to safe­guard and pro­mote demo­cratic gover­nance? What in­sti­tu­tions do we have and which ones do we lack for democ­racy’s sake?

Which of our in­sti­tu­tions are es­sen­tial for demo­cratic de­vel­op­ment but can­not per­form be­cause they are weak? Which ones of them need strength­en­ing and how? Which ones do we need but don’t have?

Above all else, do we re­ally need the Lesotho De­fence Force (LDF)?

Whom does the LDF de­fend us from? Whom has it ever de­fended us from? What role has the LDF been play­ing since its in­cep­tion in fos­ter­ing demo­cratic gover­nance? Is it an es­sen­tial tool for pro­mot­ing democ­racy or is it an al­ba­tross around democ­racy’s neck? What are the val­ues of the LDF? Are these con­sis­tent with the gen­er­al­ity of our val­ues as a na­tion?

Armies ex­ist to pro­tect na­tions from ex­ter­nal threats? Has the LDF ever de­fended Lesotho from any ex­ter­nal threat? In fact, does Lesotho face any ex­ter­nal threats? If so, from where?

Does the LDF have the ca­pac­ity to de­fend us from such ex­ter­nal threats? So much has been made of the need to im­ple­ment the re­forms rec­om­mended by SADC to de­politi­cise the LDF and make it a pro­fes­sional force. But is it ever pos­si­ble to de­politi­cise the LDF? Is it pos­si­ble to mould it into a pro­fes­sional force?

Let’s imag­ine a life with­out the LDF. Wouldn’t life in the King­dom be more fun? Maa­parankoe Ma­hao would surely still be alive rais­ing his chil­dren? So would be Sub In­spec­tor Mokhe­seng Ramahloko. So would be other dear de­parted Ba­sotho, too many to men­tion?

The time for Ba­sotho to re­flect on our value sys­tem, our mores and in­sti­tu­tions has come. It is in­escapable. The ele­phant in the room of our demo­cratic val­ues re­mains the un­mighty Lesotho De­fence Force. With all due re­spect, we don’t need this in­sti­tu­tion? Be­cause its men and women have never fought a war and will never fight one be­cause none will ever arise, they will al­ways find rea­son to wedge war against fel­low cit­i­zens? If they don’t fight cit­i­zens, they will be at war with one an­other in the bar­racks?

Just imag­ine what would hap­pen if Ntate Mo­sisili or Ntate Mets­ing re­turn to power and — against all rea­son — de­cide to re­in­state Ntate Kamoli at the helm of the LDF. Just imag­ine the may­hem that will fol­low?

How many schools, clin­ics and hos­pi­tals could have been built from all the re­sources that have been in­vested in the LDF thus far? Imag­ine if ev­ery salary of a sol­dier was in­stead in­vested in a teacher, nurse or doc­tor? Just like Dubai, Lesotho would now be a world renowned cen­tre for med­i­cal tourism?

Ntate Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo was a long-term deputy of Kamoli. He im­me­di­ately changed course af­ter Ntate Tha­bane’s re­turn to power. He seems to have jet­ti­soned his for­mer boss Kamoli.

He sub­mit­ted him­self to civil­ian rule. It was early days but Ntate Motšo­motšo seemed to have un­der­gone a com­plete dam­a­scene con­ver­sion. That was the right thing to do. For that rea­son his slay­ing is tragic. May Ntate Motšo­motšo’s soul rest in eter­nal peace.

The same can­not be said of his mur­der­ers in the per­sons of Tefo Hashatsi and Bu­lane Sechele. It had be­come com­mon cause that Hashatsi — in his ca­pac­ity as the head of the spe­cial forces sec­tion of the LDF — ex­e­cuted the ac­tual mur­der of Ma­hao in pur­suance of the in­struc­tions of the then high com­mand. The adage that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword must now ring true in the mind of ev­ery LDF mem­ber.

Death must never be cel­e­brated. Death must never be cher­ished. Death is never a nice thing. But not in the case of these two scoundrels. They were a shame not only to the LDF, but to the en­tirety of the Ba­sotho na­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, they have taken with them a man who had re­alised his mis­take. A man who had re-dis­cov­ered his hon­our. A man who had recog­nised his er­rors and was re­deem­ing him­self.

Of course, there are many de­cent men and women in the LDF. There are many good, trained and ex­pe­ri­enced sol­diers who will be use­ful in crime fight­ing in Lesotho. The abol­ish­ment of the LDF does not mean all these good men and women should be jet­ti­soned and ren­dered job­less.

They can be re­de­ployed in a new para­mil­i­tary po­lice force — mod­elled along the lines of the Mau­ri­tian po­lice — with the sole re­spon­si­bil­ity of fight­ing in­ter­nal crime. Mau­ri­tius is iso­lated in the mid­dle of nowhere. It is more vul­ner­a­ble to in­va­sion — not only by UFOS (uniden­ti­fied fly­ing ob­jects) — but by real en­e­mies.

Yet its gov­ern­ment made a con­scious de­ci­sion to abol­ish its army and main­tain a well-mo­ti­vated and well trained po­lice force to fight in­ter­nal crime.

That is the way Lesotho should go. In the event that we dis­cover oil and Don­ald Trump de­cides to in­vade, we can then all be­come sol­diers and fight with spears, picks and bows. RIP Ntate Motšo­motšo. Ache!!!!

The late Brigadier Bu­lane Sechele

The late Colonel Tefo hashatsi.

The late Lt-gen Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo.

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