Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli on Friday insisted the army did not support any political party and would serve the government of the day.
Lt-Gen Kamoli was speaking at Makoanyane Military Barracks during a colourful pass-out parade of 304 LDF recruits.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, ministers, judges, legislators and the recruits’ families were among scores of people who attended the highly entertaining ceremony.
“Right Honourable Prime Minister and all honourable guests, we want to emphasise our appreciation by saying we thank His Majesty’s government for keeping this army out of politics through our governing law, which is the Lesotho Defence Force Act.
“The LDF Act of 1996 binds us to serve the government of the day, a legal government which is constitutional in this country. It is a law that forbids us from taking part, in any way, in party politics,” said Lt-Gen Kamoli.
The army boss also noted government had committed itself to implementing security reforms but urged the changes to further guarantee the independence of the military from political influence.
“We also remember that his Majesty’s government also committed itself to implement reforms that would also be implemented in the army or security sector. What we plead with you is you should protect our identity as the country’s army and not as an army of a certain political party,” he said.
Lt-Gen Kamoli further urged the recruits’ parents to continue guiding their children and nurturing them to be soldiers who are loyal to their country.
“You nurtured your children for years and the army has now prepared them to serve the public. Our appeal is as they are still very young, you should work together with us to guide them into becoming men and women who are loyal to their country.
“They are no longer your children as you used to know them, children you could involve in village conflicts. They are now public servants and we appeal that you assist us in helping them serve their country with loyalty,” said Lt-Gen Kamoli.
“Recruits, you were trained at your infantry school and your trainer spoke to you here and this is the first time I speak to you. A soldier’s life is not a happy one. He has shown that during holidays, he would be engaged to serve and protect Moshoeshoe’s nation and all its property.
“You should remember you volunteered to join the army. However, you are now bound by its laws, and that ends your freewill to do what you choose. You are now bound by the LDF Act.
“Don’t be attracted to bad things that attracted others who were indisciplined because as we speak, they are not part of us anymore. The army commander loves you and the army command loves you because you have a major duty, a duty to protect Moshoeshoe’s nation, a nation that was never liberated through appeals to the United Nations for intervention. This territory was bought at a high price; it was fought for.
“It would be unfortunate that during our time, this country would cease to exist. It is your commitment that you will secure Basotho’s peace and stability. Let’s do that no-matter the circumstances.”
He also emphasised the chain of command in the LDF.
“Orders come from the top, from the government. However, they don’t come to you, they come to me as commander, and no one takes orders from anywhere. Orders come to me and I will give them to my deputies and they would go down until they get to Lance-Corporals and up to the senior men. And then you will implement such orders.
“You’re not ordered through newspapers, you are not ordered through radio stations, you are not ordered through the internet, especially because they have caused this country a lot of problems. I hope you will not be part of these things,” said Lt-Gen Kamoli.
He also reiterated that women are not allowed to fall pregnant within five years of graduation.
“Just like any other laws and regulations these recruits have been taught, Standing Order NO 2 of 2014 affects you. For the sake of parents and guardians of these recruits, this Standing Order says female members of the LDF are not allowed to fall pregnant after completion of their recruit courses and being promoted to the rank of Private until the expiry of a period of five years.
“However, this does not mean your children cannot be married during this period, but only that they are not expected to fall pregnant and this applies to those who arrived in the army already married. Such married women cannot be allowed to have babies until they have completed five years in the service,” said Lt-Gen Kamoli.