The rule of fear

The rule of fear

Since the unfortunate killing of three army officers at the Ratjomose Barracks on September 5, 2017, Basotho have been bombarded by narratives that inspire fear in citizens from their own government.  These fears have been communicated in the form of a military intervention by the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The government has said on numerous platforms that SADC will send 300 to 400 troops to Lesotho as an intervention force.

It is clear that this is not a peacekeeping or peace enforcement force. The government said this force’s main task is to deal with some rogue elements of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).  I must state from the beginning that military intervention is war not peacekeeping or peace enforcement.
But there must be a just cause for any military intervention to take place. It is common cause that the 1998 intervention took place when there was anarchy and lawlessness in the country.

At the present moment there is no such chaos. The current situation is far more peaceful and the government is in total control as compared to 1998.
Surely there is no need to spread fear of intervention amongst the people. Before discussing these fears it is important to revisit the history of Just War.

The doctrine of Just War
In the development of the Just War theory, St. Augustine (354-430) argued that “the justness of action could be judged without evaluating the driving intention, so also with the state action of going to war”.
St Thomas Aquinas (1224-74), on the other hand, argues that war must be waged by a competent authority and there must be a just cause for that war so that those who were invaded must deserve to have been attacked.

The “just cause for war could be found in self-defence; restoration of peace; assistance of neighbours against attack and, most notably, defence of the poor and the oppressed”. For Suárez, the defence of innocent people, no matter where in the world, would be a just cause.
This line of argument influenced the findings of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) which identified six criteria for military intervention that conform to the UN Charter and the Security Council Articles.

These were: just cause, right authority, right intention, last resort, proportional means and reasonable prospects. Recently we have seen some members of the LDF being arrested and brought before courts of law and being charged.
We are yet to see this fearful scenario that the government is threatening the people about. It is very unwise to govern people with fear of the unknown.

Spreading fear and threats of violence
The government has on numerous occasions told the nation that SADC will send between 300 to 400 contingent forces to disarm rogue members of the LDF.

In fact, Foreign Affairs Minister Makgothi in one interview said that in the process of implementing the SADC recommendations “if there will be any form of resistance, SADC will basically be in the clear picture of what is happening so that we don’t implement, after implementation when we hit the impasse then we go back to SADC and say we have a problem; we want SADC to be right there when we start the implementations process”.
This was one of the justifications provided by our government for military intervention.

On Saturday September 9, 2017, the PM was interviewed on the way forward regarding the recent senseless killing of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander on BBC Peter Okocha programme.  The PM was quoted as saying, “we have sent a delegation to both SADC and the AU headed by our Foreign Minister to seek military intervention”. It would appear that the Premier had already requested SADC to send its military to Lesotho.

According to the PM, these SADC forces from Angola, Mozambique and South Africa were expected to arrive in Lesotho on the 11th or the 12th September 2017. He was further quoted as saying, “we want a real shuffle in this organization (LDF).
I know there are good men in there and so we have to isolate the good men from chaff”. This statement came despite the fact that the SADC mandate and Charter of the United Nations do not permit military intervention in the format suggested by both the premier and his Foreign Minister.
All these narratives were intended to instill fear not only in the LDF but the whole nation.

In an interview with MoAfrika FM, the Minister of Information informed Basotho that SADC forces would arrive in Lesotho in a few days’ time. He probably meant the week of the 25th to 29th September 2017.  We now know that this did not come to be. Even the SADC Double Troika Summit Communique of the 15th September 2017 did not mention any pending military intervention in the form that our government was emphasizing. It only made approval of the deployment of a contingent group of military, intelligence and police experts.

There was no talk of a military interventionist force of 300-400 armed troops to disarm the LDF.
While this fear narrative continues on both Lesotho Television and Radio Lesotho, no normal thinking investor will come and invest in a country where there is an imminent military intervention.

The fear narrative will have economic consequences for Lesotho.
At the beginning of the 20th century the world was ruled by ten empires. Today, there are no more existing empires in this world. In a period of less than one hundred years all ten had collapsed.

By the end of the First World War I, the Ottoman Empire, the German and Austro-Hungarian empires had vanished from the face of the earth. At the end of the Second World War, the Japanese Empire had also crumbled. These were followed by the British, French, Dutch, Belgian and Portuguese Empires.
Why is this so important to Lesotho and Basotho today? All those ten empires ruled their people by fear, threats and force. You can instill fear in the population but fear and threats are never sustainable. People cannot remain prisoners of fear forever.
In fact, the SADC Treaty calls on its member states to promote peace and security, human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes, not military intervention.

Similarly, the Charter of the United Nations mandated its members that “all members shall settle their disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered”.
Then why insist on threatening Basotho with military intervention when we can settle our disputes peacefully as we have done on numerous occasions?

Over many centuries powerful empires and their successor states have spread fear amongst citizens and ignored human rights issues. They discouraged all peace efforts because they were part of the problem.  They did not want peace to reign because they flourished on using fear to rule. I hope this is not the direction my government would like to take.

They could reduce the potential for violence dramatically only if they give peace a chance. Basotho from all directions and political persuasions are peace-loving people. There is no need to instill fear in their lives.

Basotho are very much conversant with the consequences of military intervention. Surely the country does not want to go back there. We must give peace a chance.  The SADC mandate is very clear, that disputes must be settled peacefully not through force.
For the UN Charter, members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purpose of the United Nations.
There is no need to rule Lesotho by injecting fear through threats of military intervention.

Dr Fako Likoti

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