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‘Nationalists politicised army’


Keiso Mohloboli

PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s former political advisor Meshu Mokitimi says the opposition should not blame the government for the politicisation of the military as it was instituted by nationalists.

Mr Mokitimi, who is also a former Lesotho Liberation Army combatant, said it was unfair for some Basotho to accuse Dr Mosisili of abusing the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) to consolidate his power.

“Some Basotho want to blame Dr Mosisili and claim that he is misusing the military,” he said.

“However, it is unfair to shift the blame to Dr Mosisili and his partners in the coalition government because attempts to abuse the military pre-date Dr Mosisili’s coming to power.

“They began as far back as 1966 during the reign of then Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan. It is politicians from that era who should be blamed because they did not lay a proper foundation for the future.”

He said the opposition and their supporters had been “too quick” to blame Dr Mosisili for the army’s politicisation without looking at the “bad foundation” laid by the nationalist movement’s founding leader Chief Jonathan.

“Instead of pointing fingers at Dr Mosisili, they should have looked back, before saying too much, and realised that it was their leader’s fault that the military is politicised,” Mr Mokitimi said.

“Chief Jonathan laid a bad foundation that cannot be easily changed.”

He said Chief Jonathan was not democratic since he declared a state of emergency, suspended the constitution and arrested opposition leaders when it appeared that he would lose the 1970 general elections to the Ntsu Mokhehle-led Basotho Congress Party.

Mr Mokitimi said Chief Jonathan also used British paramilitary leader Fred Roach to retain power instead of relinquishing power.

“Instead of handing over power to Dr Mokhehle, Chief Jonathan’s soldiers arrested the BCP leader and his supporters and locked them up in Maseru Maximum Security Prison.

“Five hundred of Dr Mokhehle’s supporters were detained in prisons across the country with the most radical kept at Maseru Maximum Security Prison.”

He said reforming the military could not be done “overnight”, adding that it should not be spearheaded by outsiders.

“The army needs to be reformed, but the process must not be carried out overnight only because SADC recommended it,” said Mr Mokitimi.

“It must be done in a careful manner and treated as an internal matter. While it is a good thing that Lesotho is a member state of SADC and other bodies, the country still reserves its right to sovereignty.”

He said Dr Mosisili “made a mistake” by seeking SADC’s assistance to probe the killing of former army boss Maaparankoe Mahao. The premier’s request resulted in the establishment of the Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi-led commission whose report was tabled by the Dr Mosisili last Monday.

The former army chief was killed outside Maseru on 25 June 2015 with the LDF later saying he was resisting arrest when he was shot.

“Mahao’s death was an ordeal for everyone and not just his family,” Mr Mokitimi said.

“As a prime minister, Dr Mosisili should not have concerned himself with what people would say and visited the Mahao family to pass his condolences. I know that the family did not want any government officials to visit them.

“I understand that he went to SADC to show that there was nothing to hide. However, in my view, it was unnecessary because the government of Lesotho was supposed to establish its own commission of inquiry to investigate the matter as it was an internal issue.”

He said a commission of inquiry was convened in 1994 to probe the killing of five people after soldiers demanded 100 percent salary increases.

“Dr Mosisili was supposed to do the same as was done in 1994 and only report to SADC that the government had established a commission without giving SADC full control of internal issues,” said Mr Mokitimi.

“I still think it was a mistake for an independent country to seek foreign intervention.”

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