Window of opportunity for Lesotho

Window of opportunity for Lesotho

PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili this week officially opened a two-day technical workshop on security sector reforms in Maseru.

The workshop was facilitated by SADC special envoys.

In our opinion, the workshop provided a window of opportunity for Lesotho to initiate key reforms in the security sector in line with SADC recommendations.

While we are not aware of the details of what was discussed at the workshop, what is not in doubt is the fact that Lesotho desperately needs help to restore political normality.

This has been so over the past two years and particularly after the tragic killing of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao.

Brigadier 3 MahaoIn its recommendations, the SADC commission of inquiry said Lesotho must implement security sector reforms to ensure the military is reformed.

We wait to see how SADC pushes forward that agenda.

But on another level, there has always been a perception that Lesotho’s security sector is politicised. That, to most observers, has been the root cause of the country’s constant bouts of political instability.

It is on that basis that SADC recommended a shake-up of the security sector.

In a seminal paper titled, Good practices in security sector reform, Nicole Ball argues the security sector must have a strong commitment to democracy and good governance.

The sector must also have a strong commitment to a culture of human rights. It must also be accountable and transparent.

The scholar also argues that the security sector must fall under civilian control. If that is not done, security forces can act with impunity.

In fact, without accountability, the security forces can morph into agents of repression with devastating consequences for democracy and the rule of law.

A paper by the UK’s Department for International Development says “responsible and accountable security forces reduce the risk of conflict, provide security for citizens and create the right environment for sustainable development”.

“The overall objective of security sector reform is to contribute to a secure environment that is conducive to development,” the DFID says.

It is against this background that we think Lesotho must be encouraged to take up with gusto any proposed reforms in the security sector.

We are also pleased to note the level of political commitment regarding the reforms.

But for the reforms to succeed, Basotho must own the process. This should not be a ‘SADC thing’ that is being foisted on us. The reform process is a national programme that needs the buy-in of every Mosotho.

The end result should be a reformed security sector that every Mosotho is proud of.

Currently, there is no doubt that Lesotho’s security sector is deeply polarised. That has created unnecessary antagonism.

As a result of the antagonism, we fail to look at the bigger picture and tend to focus on individuals to the detriment of economic development.

We must move away from personalities and focus on wider reforms to ensure national stability.

The security sector can play a key role in defence of democracy. SADC must aid that process and allow the sector to reform in line with international trends.

We as the media also have a critical role to play to ensure this process succeeds. We must hasten to assure the politicians that we have no stake in the current politics. We seek no quarrel with anyone.

Where we can aid the quest for national stability and development we will happily do so. We agree however that issues of security sector reforms are quite sensitive and must be treated with care.

We will therefore not stoke unnecessary tensions in our coverage but remain committed to offer balanced and fair coverage when tackling security sector issues.

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