no more excuses for enacting reforms
FRENCH critic, journalist, and novelist Jean-baptiste Alphonse Karr is mostly known for coining the phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same” in 1849.
Lesotho can certainly borrow Mr Karr’s phrase in light of the events of this week. The Mountain Kingdom can also borrow from the catchphrase “One step forward, two steps back...” which reflects on an anecdote about a frog trying to climb out of a water well; for every two steps the frog climbs, it falls back by one step, making its progress arduous.
The assassination of Lesotho Defence Force commander Lt-gen Khoantle Motšomotšo underscores the long way Lesotho still needs to go in bringing about lasting peace and stability.
For those who were resting on their laurels thinking that the bouts of political instability were a thing of the past, the events of Tuesday offer a sobering perspective and a clarion call for the implementation of multi-sectoral reforms.
To the uninitiated, Lt-gen Motšomotšo was shot dead at his Ratjomose barracks on Tuesday morning by Brigadier Bulane Sechele who was accompanied by Colonel Tefo Hashatsi as reported in this edition.
According to Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister Lesego Makgothi, the two senior officers had confronted Lt-gen Motšomotšo over the police’s investigation of three army officers implicated in the killing of a woman near the home of former LDF commander, Lieutenant-general Tlali Kamoli.
After Lt-gen Motšomotšo explained that the investigation was made in implementation of SADC decisions to probe LDF members implicated in acts of criminality, Brig Sechele allegedly pulled out a firearm and fatally shot the army commander.
Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi were showered with bullets by Lt-gen Motšomotšo’s bodyguards outside the office after the latter realised what had happened. Brig Sechele died at the spot, while Col Hashatsi died of his wounds in a nearby hospital.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) rightly described the assassination as “barbaric and heinous”, and Lesotho owes it to the regional bloc to ensure such an incident does not happen again.
SADC is clearly exasperated with Lesotho’s perennial crises as evidenced by the posture of South Africa in particular.
If there is any positive to be taken from this tragedy, it is in the deployment of standby force to Lesotho from South Africa, Angola and Mozambique to ensure the implementation of the reforms. With security now guaranteed, there can be no convincing excuse for failure to implement the reforms which encompass the security, public service, judiciary, legislature and even media sectors.
The time has come for Basotho across the political divide to come together and chart a way forward for posterity. Surely, Lt-gen Motšomotšo should not die in vain, since he was gunned down while enunciating the need for the SADC reforms to be implemented without fail.
Last month, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s assertion that Lesotho should cease being SADC’S “bad boy” and become a constructive member of the bloc.
Dr Thabane assured SADC Facilitator to Lesotho and South African Vice-president Cyril Ramaphosa that the Mountain Kingdom was determined to shed the ignoble tag of bad boy of the regional bloc.
Any prosecutions by the government should be for crimes committed and not for settling political scores. In the end, no one wins a war of attrition because both sides can inflict harm on the other. Maybe we can take a cue from Mahatma Gandhi’s policy of non-violence which was famously used during the campaign for independence in India. There is a well-known quotation that helps to express the rationale for this non-retaliatory philosophy: “An eye for an eye will leave everyone blind.”