Plan­ning is key to food se­cu­rity

Sunday Express - - LEADER - Peter Fabri­cius

BE­YOnD the wel­come re­lief from the heat which is very op­pres­sive in sum­mer, the rains which have been pound­ing var­i­ous parts of the coun­try are cer­tainly wel­come to the farm­ing com­mu­nity in the coun­try.

But with­out proper plan­ning on the part of both farm­ers and gov­ern­ment, the rains will come and go with­out cor­re­spond­ing progress in the coun­try’s abil­ity to en­sure food se­cu­rity.

it is no se­cret that just like in most african coun­tries and other de­vel­op­ing nations in other con­ti­nents, food pro­duc­tion in our beloved Moun­tain king­dom is heav­ily de­pen­dent on rain-fed agri­cul­ture.

Pe­ri­odic droughts and the lack of a co­or­di­nated ap­proach to plan­ning in agri­cul­ture have en­sured that 51 years af­ter in­de­pen­dence, we con­tinue to wear the un­en­vi­able tag of net im­porters of food in ad­di­tion to sur­viv­ing on do­na­tions.

We are heav­ily de­pen­dent on South africa to the ex­tent that more than 70 per­cent of the food prod­ucts in our shops are im­ported from our neigh­bour.

This is de­spite the fact that we are blessed with abun­dant wa­ter sources which South africa is in­creas­ingly re­ly­ing on to meet the needs of its ma­jor com­mer­cial hub, the gaut­eng prov­ince.

Even Botswana is now seek­ing a share of our abun­dant wa­ter re­sources.

So it will be that in the com­ing years we will see dams con­structed and piped wa­ter flow­ing past parched lo­cal vil­lages on their way to South africa and Botswana.

These lo­cal vil­lages which re­main with­out clean wa­ter could eas­ily be turned into ver­i­ta­ble green belts only if gov­ern­ment and other stake­hold­ers take the ini­tia­tive to plan be­yond de­pen­dence on the whims and caprices of the heav­ens to open up and pro­vide rains.

it is im­per­a­tive for gov­ern­ment to be­gin a sys­tem­atic process of plan­ning to en­sure that agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties in the coun­try are pre­dictable, cer­tain and can be con­ducted be­yond the nat­u­ral sum­mer rain sea­son. This is what will lead to food se­cu­rity in the coun­try.

Such plan­ning should re­sult in wa­ter har­vest­ing ini­tia­tives that can sup­port ir­ri­gated crop pro­duc­tion to en­sure al­lyear pro­duc­tion.

Wa­ter har­vest­ing could also lead to aqua cul­ture which would go a long way in solv­ing the nu­tri­tion de­fi­cien­cies which re­sult from our ob­ses­sion with the pro­duc­tion of the maize crop which is only good for pro­vid­ing car­bo­hy­drates and not the bal­anced nu­tri­tion our bod­ies re­quire for health and gen­eral well­be­ing.

it is there­fore our hum­ble plea to the au­thor­i­ties to se­ri­ously con­sider in­vest­ing more in terms of time, plan­ning, pre­pared­ness and re­sources to en­sure food and nu­tri­tion se­cu­rity.

Wa­ter har­vest­ing is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent as it can also spur the growth of down­stream industries in­clud­ing tak­ing care of our en­ergy re­quire­ments through hy­dro-elec­tric power gen­er­a­tion.

We should at least take a leaf from nations such as is­rael.

The tiny Mid­dle East coun­try which is half the size of our king­dom is largely desert. But care­ful plan­ning and in­vest­ment in wa­ter har­vest­ing in­fra­struc­ture such as dams, have en­sured that it is not only self-suf­fi­cient in terms of its wa­ter needs but also in terms of food pro­duc­tion which is car­ried out all year round.

WiLL the South­ern african De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SaDC) get it right in Le­sotho this time? af­ter over three years of quite in­tense diplo­macy, the re­gional body has failed to end the chronic in­sta­bil­ity in a tiny coun­try that ought to be man­age­able.

That fail­ure was un­der­scored dra­mat­i­cally on 5 Septem­ber when Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral khoan­tle Motšo­motšo was shot dead in his Ratjo­mose Bar­racks of­fice in Maseru by his sub­or­di­nates Bri­gadier Bu­lane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi. They, in turn, were swiftly shot dead by Lt-gen Motšo­motšo’s body­guards. now it looks as though at last SaDC in­tends to bring the nec­es­sary force to bear on the prob­lem. SaDC military chiefs are meet­ing in Luanda, an­gola, where — Prime Min­is­ter Tom Tha­bane and most other Ba­sotho hope — they will ap­prove a pro­posal to send a full bat­tal­ion of troops into Le­sotho by the end of this month.

That force may just be enough to pro­vide Dr Tha­bane with the pro­tec­tion he needs to act against mem­bers of the LDF who have ef­fec­tively been run­ning the coun­try for years, killing en­e­mies and com­mit­ting many other crimes with im­punity. The LDF has been desta­bil­is­ing Le­sotho for decades. But it placed it­self firmly on SADC’s trou­ble list in au­gust 2014 when then LDF com­man­der Lt-gen Tlali kamoli launched an at­tempted coup against Dr Tha­bane’s gov­ern­ment, forc­ing him and some of his al­lies to flee to South Africa.

SaDC called a sum­mit and pro­vided pro­tec­tion for Dr Tha­bane to re­turn to the coun­try. SaDC spe­cial en­voy Cyril Ramaphosa, South africa’s deputy president, then ne­go­ti­ated an agree­ment with all Ba­sotho par­ties to bring for­ward sched­uled elec­tions two years to Fe­bru­ary 2015, to try to ad­dress the prob­lem. in those elec­tions Dr Tha­bane was de­feated by a coali­tion led by for­mer prime min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili.

But the elec­tions did not bring the hoped-for sta­bil­ity. Four months later, Lt-gen Maa­parankoe Ma­hao, who had been Dr Tha­bane’s de­fence chief, was shot dead. He was al­legedly re­sist­ing ar­rest by soldiers sent by Dr Mo­sisili’s re­in­stated de­fence chief Lt-gen kamoli to bring him in for sup­posed com­plic­ity in a mutiny plot.

SaDC then con­ducted the Phumaphi ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry into Lt­gen Ma­hao’s killing and into the un­der­ly­ing causes of Le­sotho’s chronic in­sta­bil­ity. it rec­om­mended a raft of po­lit­i­cal, con­sti­tu­tional and se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms as well as stern ac­tion against Lt­gen Ma­hao’s killers. These Dr Mo­sisili largely ig­nored.

Un­der ex­treme out­side pres­sure (mainly from the United States it seems) he did even­tu­ally fire Lt-Gen Kamoli in De­cem­ber last year, but that was about all. and so Dr Tha­bane re­turned to of­fice af­ter win­ning elec­tions in June this year, vow­ing to im­ple­ment SaDC’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

The dra­matic ini­tial re­sult was the mur­der of Lt-gen Motšo­motšo, re­port­edly shot dead pre­cisely be­cause he had in­sisted on car­ry­ing out Dr Tha­bane’s — and SaDC’s — in­struc­tions to take ac­tion against those im­pli­cated in the killing of Lt-gen Ma­hao and other crimes. These in­cluded Brig Sechele and Col Hashatsi, both hench­men of Lt-gen kamoli.

Rather iron­i­cally, amnesty in­ter­na­tional last month ac­cused Dr Tha­bane of fail­ing to tackle the “deeply en­trenched cul­ture of im­punity for past hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions”, lament­ing the lack of clear progress in solv­ing a se­ries of cases in­volv­ing killings by Le­sotho’s se­cu­rity forces. Only trou­ble is that when he tried to do just that, the re­sult was the killing of his de­fence chief.

The killing of Lt-gen Motšo­motšo ap­pears at last to have jolted SaDC into recog­ni­tion of the true na­ture of the prob­lem in Le­sotho. Lead­ers put their heads to­gether and dis­patched a min­is­te­rial fact-find­ing mis­sion to the coun­try on 8 Septem­ber led by an­golan For­eign Min­is­ter ge­orges Chikoti (as an­gola cur­rently chairs SaDC’s or­gan on pol­i­tics, de­fence and se­cu­rity). The min­is­te­rial mis­sion re­ported to a dou­ble-troika sum­mit (in­volv­ing the heads of SaDC it­self and the or­gan) in Pre­to­ria on 15 Septem­ber. The sum­mit ap­proved Dr Tha­bane’s re­quest for a re­gional ‘multi-di­men­sional’ standby force com­pris­ing military, se­cu­rity, in­tel­li­gence and civil­ian ex­perts, to as­sist the gov­ern­ment man­age the se­cu­rity cri­sis.

From 25 to 27 Septem­ber, a SaDC tech­ni­cal as­sess­ment team vis­ited Le­sotho “to as­sess the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in the king­dom, and de­ter­mine the re­quire­ments and prepare modal­i­ties for de­ploy­ing a mul­ti­di­men­sional SaDC Con­tin­gent Force by 1 novem­ber, 2017”, SaDC said in a state­ment. af­ter con­sul­ta­tion with a wide range of Le­sotho stake­hold­ers, the team pre­pared a de­tailed re­port. This in­cluded rec­om­men­da­tions on the re­quire­ments and modal­i­ties for the pro­posed con­tin­gent force of military, po­lice and civil­ian com­po­nents as well as its draft con­cept of op­er­a­tion, rules of en­gage­ment and sta­tus of forces agree­ment.

SaDC’s military chiefs are now meet­ing in Luanda to de­cide whether to adopt these rec­om­men­da­tions. The crit­i­cal one, ac­cord­ing to SADC of­fi­cial sources, is that the con­tin­gent force should be bat­tal­ion size in strength. if that is agreed, as seems likely, it should be strong enough to al­low Dr Tha­bane to start act­ing against the LDF rene­gades — in­clud­ing, most dan­ger­ously, Lt-gen kamoli him­self — with­out fear of pro­vok­ing fur­ther as­sas­si­na­tions of top se­cu­rity com­man­ders, or even a military coup.

Pro­fes­sor Mafa Se­jana­mane of the po­lit­i­cal science de­part­ment of the na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho be­lieves that SaDC has at last re­alised that it must first tackle the se­cu­rity sec­tor is­sues in Le­sotho before em­bark­ing on the broader po­lit­i­cal and con­sti­tu­tional re­forms rec­om­mended by the Phumaphi com­mis­sion.

Prof Se­jana­mane wrote in a re­cent blog that this recog­ni­tion had been miss­ing from SaDC’s ear­lier in­ter­ven­tions, “which saw pol­i­tics as op­posed to se­cu­rity as the source of Le­sotho’s un­sta­ble en­vi­ron­ment. Thus in 2015, SaDC pre­scribed elec­tions as a so­lu­tion rather than to sup­press the army re­bel­lion. Fol­low­ing the mur­der of Lt-gen Motšo­motšo, SaDC has now been dis­abused of the tin­ker­ing around with the se­cu­rity vac­uum in Le­sotho but wants it solved”.

ac­cord­ing to Prof Se­jana­mane, Mr Chikoti’s re­port to the 15 Septem­ber SaDC dou­ble-troika meet­ing also in­cluded rec­om­men­da­tions for an as­sess­ment of all of SaDC’s pre­vi­ous in­ter­ven­tions in Le­sotho. These were to date back to the military in­cur­sion of 1998 which pre­vented a coup — but at the cost of many lives and much ma­te­rial de­struc­tion.

if the military chiefs in an­gola do in­deed en­dorse the rec­om­men­da­tion of a full bat­tal­ion to be de­ployed into Le­sotho by 1 novem­ber, this will pre­sum­ably be the trig­ger for Dr Tha­bane to re­ally start mov­ing against the LDF rene­gades. Some SaDC of­fi­cials in­sist that the mis­sion of the con­tin­gent force will be more about “put­ting brains on the ground than boots on the ground”. They say the force’s ini­tial aim will be to try to “in­flu­ence” the be­hav­iour of key play­ers, most no­tably to per­suade the military to stay out of pol­i­tics.

But if past ex­pe­ri­ence is any­thing to go by, brawn will prove at least as im­por­tant as brains, if SaDC’s in­ter­ven­tion is to suc­ceed this time.

Sun­day Talk

Mr Fabri­cius is an ISS con­sul­tant. UR con­tri­bu­tion has to be given not only for the liq­ui­da­tion of the colo­nial sys­tem but also for the liq­ui­da­tion of ig­no­rance, dis­ease and prim­i­tive forms of so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tion, ” Agostinho Neto, the late first president of An­gola (1975–1979), hav­ing led the Pop­u­lar Move­ment for the Lib­er­a­tion of An­gola (MPLA) in the war for in­de­pen­dence (1961–1974).

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