Govt fumes over SADC mis­sion

. . . ac­cuses bloc’s de­fence chiefs of over­rul­ing Dou­ble Troika de­ci­sion

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Staff Re­porters

PRIME Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane’s gov­ern­ment is de­mand­ing an­swers from the South­ern African Devel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) after the bloc’s de­fence chiefs de­cided to dis­patch a third se­cu­rity as­sess­ment mis­sion to Le­sotho on 18 Oc­to­ber 2017 de­spite the regional body’s ear­lier com­mit­ment to de­ploy a 1 200-strong standby force by 1 Novem­ber 2017.

For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter, Le­sego Mak­gothi, is to­day ex­pected to meet SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Ster­gom­ena Lawrence Tax, in Gaborone, Botswana, to get an ex­pla­na­tion on the lat­est de­ci­sion by the regional body’s De­fence Sub Com­mit­tee and voice Le­sotho’s strong in­dig­na­tion over it. The De­fence Sub Com­mit­tee com­prises of army com­man­ders from all of SADC’S 14 mem­ber states.

Mr Mak­gothi told the Le­sotho Times en route to Botswana yes­ter­day that the gov­ern­ment wanted to know how the De­fence Sub Com­mit­tee could “over­rule” a de­ci­sion of the SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit to de­ploy a con­tin­gent or standby force to Le­sotho. He said the sub­com­mit­tee was only sup­posed to have dis­cussed and de­cided the con­tin­gent force’s size, ten­ure and scope and never to make a new de­ci­sion about de­ploy­ing an­oth- er as­sess­ment mis­sion.

The De­fence Sub Com­mit­tee met last Fri­day in Luanda, An­gola to de­lib­er­ate on the find­ings of a 40-mem­ber SADC tech­ni­cal as­sess­ment team that was in Le­sotho be­tween 24 and 28 Septem­ber 2017.

The tech­ni­cal as­sess­ment team had been dis­patched by a 15 Septem­ber SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit to as­sess the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho after the 5 Septem­ber 2017 as­sas­si­na­tion of Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der, Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Khoan­tle Motšo­motšo by his sub­or­di­nates Bri­gadier Bu­lane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.

Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi were gunned down by Lt-gen Motšo­motšo’s body­guards in the af­ter­math of the as­sas­si­na­tion, while a third sus­pect, Cap­tain Boiket­siso Fo­nane, is in mil­i­tary de­ten­tion.

The sum­mit also ap­proved Le­sotho’s re­quest for a standby force con­sist­ing of mil­i­tary, se­cu­rity, in­tel­li­gence and civil­ian ex­perts to as­sist the LDF in man­ag­ing the se- cu­rity cri­sis in the coun­try in the af­ter­math of the as­sas­si­na­tion and dur­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms rec­om­mended by the regional body. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Mak­gothi, the standby force woulkd con­sist of 1 099 troops, 30 civil­ians, 34 po­lice of­fi­cers, one pathol­o­gist, four scuba divers and a po­lice mo­bile unit.

The tech­ni­cal as­sess­ment team held con­sul­ta­tive meet­ings with the gov­ern­ment, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal par­ties and other non-state ac­tors such as the Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho and the Le­sotho Coun­cil of NGOS. The mis­sion was com­prised of se­nior mil­i­tary, po­lice and state se­cu­rity and civil­ian of­fi­cers from An­gola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swazi­land, Zam­bia and the SADC Sec­re­tar­iat. Botswana par­tic­i­pated in the mis­sion in the coun­try’s ca­pac­ity as chair of the De­fence In­tel­li­gence Stand­ing Com­mit­tee.

At the end of the mis­sion, the team pre­pared a de­tailed re­port with rec­om­menda- tions on the re­quire­ments and modal­i­ties for the de­ploy­ment of the standby force. The de­fence and se­cu­rity chiefs were then only sup­posed to de­ter­mine the size, ten­ure and scope of the con­tin­gent force be­fore its de­ploy­ment to the Moun­tain King­dom, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment is­sued by SADC after the visit.

SADC had also dis­patched a Min­is­te­rial Dou­ble Troika fact-find­ing mis­sion to Le­sotho soon after Lt-gen Motšo­motšo’s as­sas­si­na­tion on 7 Septem­ber led by then An­golan For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter, Ge­orges Re­belo Pinto Chikoti. The fact-find­ing mis­sion sub­mit­ted its find­ings to the bloc’s chair­per­son and South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma ahead of the 15 Septem­ber sum­mit.

Mr Mak­gothi said the gov­ern­ment was now “baf­fled” after be­ing no­ti­fied by SADC that a third mis­sion was com­ing to Le­sotho on 18 Oc­to­ber 2017.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.