SADC ‘can end siege’ in Lesotho
SA DEFENCE MINISTER: CITES ROGUE ARMY ELEMENTS AS CAUSE OF RENEWED INSTABILITY
Kingdom’s army chief was assassinated by two rival officers earlier this month.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has the capacity to end the political and security tension in the Kingdom of Lesotho, South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said yesterday at the launch of a ministerial summit in Pretoria.
There is currently instability and fears of renewed turmoil in the small mountain kingdom.
“As a region, our determination to accompany the people of Lesotho in their quest to lay to rest their political and security challenges should not be doubted.
“Our region has the capacity and the political will to ensure that Lesotho gets out of the siege by rogue army elements and other security renegades,” Mapisa-Nqakula said at the SADC ministers’ summit.
The ministerial summit will be followed by a Double Troika Summit of heads of state and government, also in Pretoria.
“We must commend President Eduardo dos Santos [of Angola, who is also chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security] for his prompt response to the prevailing situation in the kingdom by dispatching a ministerial fact-finding mission to Lesotho.
“We look forward to receiving the report of the fact-finding mission, as well as the recommendations of the defence sub-committee, which met on September 12 and 13.”
Mapisa-Nqakula said Southern African Development Community leaders were meeting “under a dark cloud” to discuss the way forward in Lesotho.
“You will recall that not long ago we were meeting in this building, deliberating on the situation in Lesotho.
“During that time we received a clear commitment from the new government to implement all SADC decisions and recommendations.
“Little did we know that we would have to meet so soon after that and once more discuss the political and security situation in the kingdom,” South Africa’s defence minister said in an address to delegates.
“We meet here under a dark cloud following the brutal assassination of Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motsomotso, Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force.
“On behalf of the chairperson of this summit, President Jacob Zuma, and President Dos Santos and the leadership of our region, I wish to convey sincere condolences to the family of General Motsomotso, the government and the people of Lesotho.”
She said the “untimely death” of Lieutenant-General Motsomotso had underscored the importance of dealing effectively with the persistent political problems in Lesotho.
Security was tightened at OR Tambo Building – the headquarters of the department of international relations in Pretoria – yesterday as President Zuma, as the chairperson of SADC, convened the regional bloc’s Double Troika Summit.
Numerous police vehicles, including Nyalas, were on the premises.
Vehicles entering the OR Tambo Building had to go through security checks first, including being given the once-over by police sniffer dogs.
Inside the premises, full-body scanners, manned by numerous police officers, had been placed at different points leading to the conference rooms.
In one area, waiters from a catering company were standing in a queue to have their packages of food and drinks scanned.
Zuma is expected to be joined by heads of state and government from Swaziland, Angola, Tanzania and Namibia at the summit.
Motsomotso was killed earlier this month.
The two senior officers who were allegedly responsible for the murder were also killed in a shoot-out at barracks in Lesotho’s capital Maseru.
Eyewitnesses to the attack said the officers burst into the army chief’s office and shot him, before being killed by guards. – ANA
RIVALRIES. The coffin of Lesotho’s army chief, Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motsomotso, is carried at his funeral in Malibamatso. King Letsie III said that the killing of the country’s army commander had caused ‘embarrassment’ and ‘scared’ the small mountain kingdom.