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Mosisili slams army critics

 

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili yesterday criticised “shallow analysts” who say Lesotho does not need an army, insisting the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) has contributed immensely to the development of the country under the command of Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli.

Political commentators have suggested the LDF is a waste of resources because chances are slim Lesotho could be attacked as it is landlocked and protected by South Africa, among other reasons.

The LDF, the analysts further allege, is being abused to push political agendas and further accuse the military of being behind the country’s political instability.

But addressing Army Day celebrations at Setsoto Stadium yesterday, Dr Mosisili dismissed the critics and highlighted the positive contributions the LDF has made for Lesotho.

“I find it shocking that some shallow analysts can say we don’t need the army in this country. I am going to list some of the most positive contributions the LDF has made. Other than protecting the people and their property, the LDF has made notable contributions in agriculture, infrastructure development, health sector and promoting the spirit of patriotism in this country,” Dr Mosisili said.

“The army has continued to make valuable input in the agricultural sector by taking part in crop-production. The army has also supported the Ministry of Public Works and Transport by building bridges. It continues to provide health services and recently the army even signed an agreement of cooperation with the Ministry of Health.”

The LDF, Dr Mosisili said, continues to instill the spirit of patriotism among Basotho and promote peace and stability in the country.

“But these people, without justification, suggest that we don’t need the army. Enemies of the country come in different forms and our people should be aware of this. People want to associate the army with politics and that is unacceptable. The army serves the government of the day and when it does so, people begin to say it is being used by politicians.

“When they notice a meeting between the commander and the prime minister, they begin to say things like the commander is meddling in politics. It is the mandate of the army to take instructions from the government of the day. That is not meddling in politics.”

Dr Mosisili further said the government would work hard to make sure the army was apolitical.

“We are aware that there are some people who really want to go behind the back and try to pull the army into politics but we are not going to tolerate that,” he said.

Dr Mosisili also took a swipe at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry into Lesotho’s political and security challenges “for entertaining suggestions by some people that the army was meddling in politics”.

“I was really shocked when the Justice Phumaphi Commission entertained this issue of people saying LDF members were meddling in politics because there was no proof of that.”

Dr Mosisili further expressed concern at members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) he accused of playing political songs in police vehicles and while on duty. He urged the police commissioner to urgently address the issue which he said was “unacceptable”.

“We are aware of the behaviour of some police officers who play political music in the police vehicles they use. These police officers do this openly on duty and this behaviour cannot be tolerated. I don’t care which political party music they are playing, whether it is the opposition or parties that form government, I want that behaviour uprooted. Even if it is the party I lead, I would not tolerate it if the police officers play its music. Police officers are supposed to be highly professional.”

Dr Mosisili also spoke about the army’s vision for the next 10 years.

“In the next 10 years, the army should be in a position to have, within its structures, highly qualified and professional personnel like medical doctors and engineers.

“The army should be in a position to be operating many health centers in the country to contribute in the provision of health services. I put this as a challenge to you, the Commander of the day. One Major General from India was telling me about 62 military health clinics he managed in that country. He is a medical doctor and a soldier himself. That is the direction we should be taking so I am really challenging the Commander and Minister of Defence about this issue.

“Again, the army should be in a position to make a meaningful contribution towards the economic growth of this country in the near future. They should be capacitated to go round the country and train the youths about how they can empower themselves and contribute in the economy of the country.”

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