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‘Zambia committed to helping Lesotho’

’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE Zambian High Commissioner to Lesotho, Emmanuel Mwamba, says his country is fully committed to helping Lesotho overcome its political problems.

Mr Mwamba’s country has provided troops to the SADC Preventive Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL) which has been in the country since last December.

The SAPMIL, also known as the SADC Standby Force to Lesotho, was officially unveiled in Lesotho on 2 December 2017 as part of regional efforts to foster a conducive environment for the implementation of constitutional, security sector, public service, media and governance reforms in line with the recommendations of the regional body.

The standby force is comprised of 217 soldiers, 15 intelligence personnel, 24 police officers and 13 civilian experts.

The standby force completed its original six-month mandate in May this year but this was subsequently extended to November this year to enable it to assist Lesotho in the implementation of the reforms which were recommended by SADC in 2016.

The SADC force was essentially deployed to prevent rogue Lesotho Defence Force soldiers from destabilising Dr Thabane’s coalition as it went about implementing SADC recommended reforms to curb perennial instability in the Kingdom.

The reforms include holding rogue LDF members accountable for their past atrocities and helping mould the LDF into a professional force via some targeted re-training.

The standby force would also help in the investigation of the 5 September, 2017 assassination of army commander, Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo, by his subordinates, Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi as well as the earlier killing of another LDF boss, Maaparankoe Mahao, among other tasks.

And in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express on Friday, Mr Mwamba emphasized Zambia’s commitment to helping Lesotho achieve peace and stability.

He said a stable Lesotho was necessary to ensure a stable a thriving SADC region.

“Zambia and Angola have troops in South Africa on the SAPMIL mission and we are heavily invested in the process in Lesotho,” Mr Mwamba said.

“A peaceful Lesotho guarantees a peaceful SADC and it is for this reason that SADC comes as a partner to embrace Lesotho and walk together to a bright future.

“We have a keen interest in ensuring that Basotho resolve their issues and own the reforms process. What we can only do as other SADC member States is barely to complement what Basotho are already doing.

“This is an ancient kingdom with proper culture and traditions and we have a lot of hope that they will overcome the challenges and differences that have preoccupied the political process and political space.”

Mr Mwamba hailed the convening of the National Leaders Forum on Thursday and Friday, saying it was an important step towards the implementation of reforms that would help bring stability to the country.

“We congratulate Lesotho for holding the National Leaders Forum. This is a milestone for the people of Lesotho and indeed a foundation for a lasting and stable future.

“We are humbled by the humility displayed by all participants and we can see that they are keen to put the past behind and they don’t want to be imprisoned by the past.

“The spirit is good enough to achieve lasting solutions.”

Zambia was recently elected to chair the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

Mr Mwamba however, said his country would “build on the (Organ’s) achievements and continue the initiatives that have worked positively” to ensure peace and stability are ultimately achieved in Lesotho.

“Whatever we do should be in the interest of the people of Lesotho and in the interest of SADC,” Mr Mwamba said, adding that it was imperative for SADC to assist Lesotho bearing in mind that “it is a sovereign state”.




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