SADC deployment deferred, yet again
THE Southern African Development Community (SADC) has has once again deferred the deployment of its standby force to Lesotho due to “unforeseen circumstances”, amid indications that the facilities earmarked for their accommodation were only “50 percent ready”.
The deployment of the standby force – made of 207 soldiers, 15 intelligence personnel, 24 police officers and 12 civilian experts-was endorsed by SADC leaders to assist the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) in managing the security crisis in the country in the aftermath of the 5 September, 2017 assassination of army commander, Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo by his subordinates, Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi.
The deployment has now been postponed on at least four occasions after SADC announced the latest deferment in a statement on Friday.
“SADC wishes to inform that the deployment of its contingent force into the Kingdom of Lesotho scheduled to begin between from 20 to 27 November, 2017 is delayed due to unforeseen circumstances,” part of the SADC statement reads.
“It is expected that by next week, the contingent will be deployed and ready to operate.”
While the regional body did not state the reasons for the delay, it did however note that “so far more than 50 percent of the facilities were ready thanks to the Ministry of Defence and National Security, Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and Lesotho Mounted Po- lice Service (LMPS)”.
On Wednesday, a government delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister, Monyane Moleleki, toured the Peace Corps Vol- unteers site at Old Europa in Maseru, Moshoeshoe I International Airport at Mazenod and the Agriculture Show Grounds in Ha Foso which have all been earmarked to house the standby force.
Electricity was being installed at the Old Europa and Ha Foso facilities during the tour and Mr Moleleki sought to explain the delays by saying that hosting the standby force was not like “hosting games like football but an emergency situation” that needed to be catered for.
“We requested assistance from SADC under serious circumstances and this is an emergency situation which we are working hard to address,” Mr Moleleki said.
In addition to managing the security crisis in the country in the aftermath of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo’s assassination, SADC states that the standby force will “assist in isolating renegade elements within the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF)”.
The standby force will also support Lesotho in retraining its army personnel, especially in the area of civil-military relations while working towards security sector and other institutional reforms.
Furthermore, the SADC force will “monitor the investigation of the assassination of Lt-Gen Motšomotšo, prioritise and expeditiously assist in the operationalisation of national unity and reconciliation dialogue with a clear approach, to be facilitated by SADC, whereby the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission may be considered”.
DPM Monyane Moleleki (second from left) and his team during their tour of proposed accomodation facilities for the SADC standby force in Maseru on Wednesday.