Investigate disturbances

Investigate disturbances

THE deaths of three senior army officers last week in what was said to be a shootout at the army barracks can only be described as tragic for Lesotho.
Their deaths came at a time when the government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was trying to address some of the challenges that have haunted the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) over the last three years.
LDF boss Lieutenant General Khoantle Motsomotso and two senior figures Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi all died in the shootout.

The government has described Motšomotšo as a committed soldier who was willing to subject himself to civilian authority, a move that is said to have infuriated some of his lieutenants. The killing of the three has once again drawn the international community’s spotlight on Lesotho at a time when the new government has barely settled.

While the government has given its own account of what happened at Ratjomose barracks last Tuesday, we note that social media has been awash with its own narrative. How to deal with social media has proved a tricky challenge for most governments. How do you control debate on such a platform?

However what we have seen is that most of the accounts on social media are highly speculative, driving the nation into a relentless frenzy.
We are not surprised that last week’s story has now mutated into something of an enigma with the potential to create more questions than answers for the government’s information czars.

A counter narrative, away from the official government position, could balloon into a public relations nightmare for the government.
As reported elsewhere in this newspaper, Hashatsi’s distraught mother has raised serious questions about how her son died.
She says she doubts the truthfulness of the government statement.

As a grieving mother she too must be allowed the space to mourn her son. That is part of our humanity as Basotho.
The Facebook posts and other messages on WhatsApp and other social media only point to one thing: there is a still a huge cross-section of society that is still averse to trusting their own government.

It is clear that the government is dealing with a major trust deficit.  This should not come as a surprise.
It is a natural, reflex response to a traumatic national tragedy.  In light of these concerns and the questions surrounding the whole incident it would be in the government’s interest to set up a commission of enquiry to establish what happened last Tuesday.

Did Sechele and Hashatsi act alone?  Was there a bigger plot that went beyond the duo? The nation has been told there was a fourth soldier in Motšomotšo’s office.  What happened to him during the commotion?  These are questions the nation is asking and only an independent commission of enquiry can be able to unravel what happened.  Last week’s tragic events must not be allowed to destabilise the country and create further chaos.

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