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Metsing warns politicians over security agencies

 

Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing
Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing

Pascalinah Kabi

Rothe

Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing says politicians should not regard security agencies as “recreational toys” as doing so would have dire consequences for the nation.

Mr Metsing made the remark on Friday while officially opening Mokhalinyane Police Post’s new buildings constructed at a cost of M18 million. Among the structures are a boardroom, holding cells, staff quarters and a stable.

The project is part of government’s drive to facelift dilapidated police posts around the country and improve the operations of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).

Mr Metsing said as government prepares to institute security reforms, all stakeholders should understand the sector is “holy” and must be handled with care.

Security sector reforms are among recommendations made by the Justice Phumaphi-led Commission of Inquiry into Lesotho’s instability. The inquiry, which was launched following the killing of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Maaparankoe Mahao by his army colleagues on 25 June last year, was held between 31 August and 23 October 2015.

“We must understand the importance of these reforms and ensure we all participate by supporting this huge task government is undertaking,” Mr Metsing said.

“We shouldn’t shy away from the fact that we had challenges in these sectors but the problems we experienced were not unique to Lesotho.”

He said the turf war between the LDF and LMPS was now “a thing of the past”.

“It is normal for people working together to encounter problems now and then when they don’t see eye-to-eye.”

The deputy premier said claims by the international community that the two security agencies were at war with each other were an exaggeration.

“Claims made by the international community that the two security agencies were politically-polarised and at war with each other were far from the truth,” he said.

“The misunderstandings between the army and police in the preceding years should stay in the past. They were embarrassing incidents that should never be repeated under any circumstances.”

Mr Metsing said the government would never allow the private sector to spearhead security sector reforms as advocated by some sections of society. Certain members of society were mistakenly associating public participation in security sector reforms with allowing the private sector to lead the process, he added.

“We are now in an era where some people in the world believe governments should not deal with certain issues and leave them to the private sector. But no sane country will ever put its security in the hands of the private sector,” said Mr Metsing.

“Each country’s security is a key responsibility of the government and security is holy and must be treated as such.”

The deputy premier said it was imperative for security sector reforms to be implemented in an apolitical and professional way. He said the army and police were equipped with “dangerous weapons”, adding if security sector reforms were not handled with care, the results would be disastrous.

“Reforming the LDF and LMPS is not a political process. It must be understood that the reforms will be undertaken following laid down procedures and not to fulfil political agendas,” Mr Metsing said.

“We must therefore agree that even if we get bored as politicians, security agencies should not be our recreational toys and government is going to lead the security sector reforms.”

The LDF and LMPS remain among “the best” security agencies in the Southern African Development Community and even beyond, Mr Metsing said.

“Compared to other countries, we have really advanced as far as the LDF and LMPS are concerned despite the embarrassing disagreements of the past. We should not allow ourselves to go back to that position because it has tainted our image,” said Mr Metsing.

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