SADC de­ploy­ment de­ferred, yet again

Sunday Express - - Front Page - Pas­cali­nah kabi

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.

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