Thanks to SADC Mission

Thanks to SADC Mission

THE SADC Preventive Mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho officially wrapped up its mission on Tuesday.
The Mission has been in Lesotho since November 20 last year.
The role of the SAPMIL mission was to help create a stable and peaceful environment that would pave way for the implementation of security sector reforms in Lesotho.
There were fears that Lesotho would encounter resistance from rogue elements within the military as it pushed for the implementation of the reforms.

The SADC Standby Force would therefore provide the necessary stability and reassurance that was needed for the government to fulfil its mandate.
We can confidently state that the SADC mission has successfully provided that stability over the last 12 months. Lesotho has also benefited from key security-related training programmes conducted by SADC experts.

While this was all good, we note with a tinge of disappointment that Lesotho has not really taken advantage of the presence of SADC Forces to push ahead with the reforms.
Instead of taking advantage of SADC’s presence to quickly effect the key security sector reforms, we remained bogged down by our own little quarrels.
We dismally failed to take advantage of SADC’s presence, thanks to the constant bickering by our own politicians.
That is regrettable.

Now that the SADC Mission is set to leave Lesotho, it is our hope that this will not create a security vacuum.
While we are not military experts, we obviously would have preferred to see a phased withdrawal of the security team. That would have gone a long way in reassuring the government of Lesotho.
We also hope that the security team has done its due diligence to assess the potential security threats and has put in place measures to counter these in the event the security situation deteriorates in Lesotho.

As we have argued in previous editorials, it would be naïve on our part to think that SADC will continue ad infinitum to “baby-sit” Lesotho.
We must stand on our own.

But for that to happen, Lesotho needs to de-politicise its security sector to ensure the army and other security agencies like the police and the intelligence do not dabble in local politics.
That will be a big ask. It will take a herculean effort on the part of our security sector which for decades has allowed itself to be at the beck and call of politicians.

The reforms that we are embarking on must find novel ways to tackle the hot issue of security sector reforms. That to us would go a long way in fixing what is wrong with our politics.
The reforms are a key moment in the history of Lesotho. If we squander this moment, we are probably doomed for the next 50 years.
That is why every voice must be heard. The opposition must be heard. Civil society, fragmented as it is, must also be heard.
The voices of the marginalised villagers in the districts must also be taken into consideration.

Mothetjoa Metsing, who has been in exile in South Africa for over a year, and many others who fled the country for various reasons, must be persuaded to be part of the process even if their “demands” for security guarantees might appear unreasonable.
With everyone pulling in the same direction, we are confident that we can get Lesotho working again for the good of its people.
The people have suffered enough.

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