THE Steyn Commission has castigated the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) chiefs over last year’s attacks on Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and the Makoanyane Military Base.
The commission — set up in January to probe the April 22 attacks — said the army leadership must accept responsibility for the serious lapses of discipline on the night.
“The evidence clearly establishes that an all-pervasive ambience of laxity prevailed,” the commission said.
“The malaise was to be found at every level of the LDF’s manpower complement.”
The commission noted that had the mission of the bandits succeeded Lesotho could have degenerated into chaos and anarchy.
The indictment does not surprise us.
It is both disturbing and embarrassing that a “motley bunch of some 15 odd brigands” not only crossed our borders unnoticed but penetrated what we thought was a fortified military base.
The attacks had raised serious questions about the role of “bad apples” within the LDF in the April fiasco.
The manner of the attacks and the way soldiers capitulated on the night of the attacks raised serious questions about how these bandits could overrun the military base with such ease.
We are aware of our dark history when military men usurped power from civilians.
It’s a past that we would not want repeated.
We are only relieved that the commission — headed by former Lesotho Court of Appeal judge Jan Hendric Steyn — has attributed the April madness to dissidents who were probably assisted by a few dissatisfied elements within the military.
He said whereas the army had taken part in previous insurgencies “the events of 21 and 22 April 2009 were not orchestrated by the army itself or any part thereof”.
This is a big relief.
It gives us encouragement to trust our military to defend our sovereignty and leave politics to politicians.
But, as Steyn noted, there is need to ensure discipline is at high levels all the time in the force if we are to have full faith in the LDF.
The April 22 attacks, we believe, would not have happened if we had vigilant and disciplined servicemen on duty that night.
Thus those charged with maintaining security should reassure the nation that our security is vested in safe hands.
The LDF chiefs ought to reassure Basotho that the incidents of April 22 will not happen again under their nose.
We hope the military chiefs will draw lessons from the findings of the commission.
It is encouraging, according to the commission, that the army bosses have not sought to shift blame to anyone.
They must take the flak.
“In this report we noted with appreciation the willingness of the commander and a few members of his team to do so,” noted the commission.
We believe this is a step in the right direction.
The LDF itself must have its own inquiry into what happened on April 22.
Only self-introspection can help the army ensure that such serious lapses will not occur again.
Having survived the catastrophic effects that could have befallen us as a nation had those bandits succeeded, our security forces must work hard to strengthen their security systems.
We believe it is critical for the army chiefs to constantly monitor the conduct and actions of our servicemen.
With a disciplined army we are assured our security, sovereignty and democracy are in safe hands.