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Kamoli talks tough

. . . army commander tells soldiers to abstain from making babies

Boitumelo Koloi
Ha-Ratjomose

soldiersArmy commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli on Friday advised the Lesotho Defence Force’s latest graduates to refrain from making babies for the next five years because of a demanding schedule.

Speaking during a pass-out parade held at Ratjomose Barracks where 299 new members — 50 of them female — graduated into the force, Kamoli said because of the heavy artillery the soldiers would be using over the next five years, there would be no room for
childbearing.

“This group will not be expected to have children for the next five years because we have very big things planned for them. They are going to be using very heavy weapons which require people who
are strong and healthy,” Kamoli said.

The army commander further said since the new soldiers were very youthful, they were also being prepared mentally to enter into healthy and lasting marriages.

“Since they are still young, we would want to ensure that when they finally get married, they would commit to marriage and not follow the current trend in our society where people get in and out of marriage irresponsibly,” Kamoli said.

The commander also shed light on the army’s new employment policy, which he said would only see those with COSC being recruited.

“People with extra qualifications are often a headache because when they get into the force, they demand positions and packages that match their qualifications. They are even reluctant to carry out orders as required because they would think they are very educated,” Kamoli said.

Kamoli also urged the new soldiers to steer clear of politics, saying it was unethical for the military to be active in party politics.
“The new LDF Act discourages military officers from being active politicians. As military officers, we have taken an oath that says we will be loyal to the government of the day regardless of political party affiliation,” he said.

Defence minister and Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, who also attended the pass-out parade, urged the young soldiers to respect their leaders and elders.

Meanwhile, human rights activist and lawyer, Tekane Maqakachane, yesterday said either the commander was joking or simply wanted to demonstrate the intensity of military duty, when he advised the soldiers to refrain from falling pregnant over the next five years.

Maqakachane said: “It would be the joke of the year to set limits on when one can reproduce because everyone has a right to bear children at will. Does it mean the responsibility of handling heavy weapons would be confined to these newly-qualified soldiers alone, since the rest of the experienced soldiers already have families?”

Maqakachane further said such a ban would make sense if it applied to soldiers who were on combat mission “outside this peaceful country of ours”.

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