PM says army ‘belongs to the nation’
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane yesterday emphasised that the army is under the control of the nation and not individuals, in a democratic dispensation.
Dr Thabane was addressing members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) gathered at Setsoto for the LDF Day 10th Commemoration, which saw thousands of ordinary Basotho pack the stadium to enjoy a range of entertainment activities.
In his keynote address as both Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Dr Thabane further said it was important for the nation to prepare for the chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, which Lesotho would assume later this year.
“The army is answerable to the people who elected it to power; it belongs to the nation in a democratic dispensation,” he said without elaborating further.
Dr Thabane also highlighted some of the roles the LDF has played in the country’s development.
He said: “In its endeavour to carry out its mandate of national security, the Lesotho Defence Force is contributing in implementing some of the government’s policies such as poverty alleviation and crime-prevention.
“The army participates in both summer and winter agricultural activities, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture. Besides operating agricultural machinery, the army is also engaged in crop-production in collaboration with the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC).
“As we speak, there is ongoing production at the Basotho Cannery Centre based in Masianokeng, where the LDF is also involved.
“In addition, the LDF is engaged in crime-prevention operations to intervene in livestock-theft, where the perpetrators are robbing innocent farmers of their animals.
“Although livestock-theft still persists, the army has managed to recover some of the stolen animals, and some of the perpetrators have already been charged before the courts of law.”
However, the premier emphasized the need for all security agencies that deal with livestock-theft to improve their communication, in order to address the problem.
On the other hand, the LDF Commander, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, said the army had established its library in an effort to improve skills and knowledge within the institution.
“This library, which is based at Ratjomose Barracks, was financed by the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) and the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA).
“We also have a slogan in the army which says an untrained soldier is an enemy to his nation. It is under this slogan that we have established a gymnasium at Ratjomose Barracks. The contractor is about to complete construction of this centre,” Lieutenant General Kamoli said.
The army chief further said the establishment of the LDF chaplaincy last November was one of the army’s achievements in 2013.
The recruitment of 299 soldiers, he added, was also another achievement of the year, as this helped reinforce the country’s defence.
Lieutenant General Kamoli further made an undertaking that the army would continue serving the nation with diligence in line with the LDF slogan, which he noted says “we are the nation’s trust.”
Meanwhile, the LDF used yesterday’s event, which was also attended by several senior government officials, among them Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing and Sports Minister Thesele ‘Maseribane, to showcase its members’ various fighting and entertainment skills.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) representatives were also present at yesterday’s LDF gathering.