LCN calls for national dialogue
LESOTHO Council of Non-Governmental Organisations Executive Director Seabata Motsamai says foreign interventions in Lesotho’s security and political crises had failed due to short-term solutions which did not address underlying problems.
In his presentation to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of NGOs (CNGOs) on the security and political situation in the country, Mr Motsamai said Lesotho was prone to political and security instability mainly driven by the army since the 1970s.
The three-day forum began on Monday and was held parallel to the 36th Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government which is being held in Manzini, Swaziland from 15 – 31 August 2016. SADC-CNGO is the apex body of NGOs operating in the region.
It was attended by more than 350 delegates from SADC countries, with Lesotho also represented by Development for Peace Country Coordinator Sofonea Shale and International Federation for Women Lawyers Programmes Manager Thusoana Ntlama.
“The army has been part and parcel of political and security instability in the country for years, and no international or internal intervention has ever been successful in stabilising the country,” said Mr Motsamai.
“In 1994, fighting between rival military factions occurred in and around Maseru. Though low pay was the alleged reason, the conflict was in fact caused by military resentment for the landslide victory of the Basotho Congress Party in the 1993 elections.”
He said the instability continued in the 1998 political riots which saw property and businesses being destroyed. In 1998, an electoral dispute led to a power vacuum and violence that sucked in South African troops. Eight South African soldiers died in the chaos, and SADC moved in to restore order.
Mr Motsamai said the army raid of Police Headquarters on 30 August 2014, in which Sub-Inspector Mokheseng Ramahloko was killed and the killing of former army chief Maaparankoe Mahao on 25 June 2015 were all linked to the instability.
Mr Motsamai said the intervention of the Commonwealth and SADC over the years did not resolve the challenges due the short-term solutions they prescribed.
“Politicians with the help of security forces have, over the years, been able to breed political instability, politicise public institutions, and foster political intolerance. These are the underlying issues,” he said.
“Therefore, Lesotho needs an inclusive national dialogue as a healing process. The dialogue which will also validate the security, constitutional, public service, judiciary and oversight institutions reforms.”