Army wants media trained in ‘conflict management’

Army wants media trained in ‘conflict management’

MASERU – LESOTHO Defence Force (LDF) deputy commander Major General Matela Matobakele wants journalists included in conflict management training.
Maj Gen Matobakele was speaking at the end of a five-day training programme conducted by the British army at the Makoanyane Barracks last week.
Britain military adviser Wing Commander Kavin Royner conducted the training for the police, soldiers and other security agents.

“Maybe this is not the last seminar so it is our plea that it becomes more inclusive even for the media, they should also be part (of the training),” Major General Matobakele said.
International election observers have in the past rapped local media accusing them of lack of professionalism and fanning hate speech particularly during election times.
The media, particularly private radio stations, are generally seen as highly polarized.

A 2012 SADC election observer report criticized the local media for its lack of objectivity in covering the elections. Similar criticism was levelled against the media once again after the 2015 elections.

Observer missions said the media, particularly radio stations, were fuelling divisions and hate speech.
Major General Matobakele’s call came at a time when Communications Minister Thesele ’Maseribane raised concerns about how journalists were conducting themselves.
’Maseribane was speaking during an indaba with local journalists at Lesotho Television studios last week. He said he was tired over the manner in which the media was conducting itself.
“You are not objective,” ’Maseribane said.

The conflict management training for the disciplined forces, conducted by the British Military Academy, which is one of the best in the world, was meant to equip trainees with skills to prevent conflicts. They were also trained on how to conduct themselves when there are conflicts between sections of society.
The training follows a realisation that the Lesotho army and the police played a negative role in the political turmoil that has dogged the country since August 2014.
Former LDF commander Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli refused to leave after he had been sacked by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

Lt Gen Kamoli then stormed the State House and some police stations, sending Thabane and some key allies scurrying into exile in South Africa.
The police, who were seen as pro-Thabane, were overpowered by the army and immediately went into hiding for two days.
Major General Matobakele said the training is an important factor in the creation of effective professionals.

“It is our hope that our country will gain a lot from this training, we hope to see results like a man who planted a tree expecting fruits,” he said.
The Deputy Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Justice, Pitso Makosholo said the seminar was very important as they were preparing for the SADC-driven national reforms.
“It is also important because students are being equipped with skills to confront challenges that we may encounter as a country,” he said.

He also said the coming of the trainers from the United Kingdom was also a demonstration of the good relations between the two countries.
“We are looking forward to having more interactions,” he added.

Speaking during the official opening of the training programme earlier in the week, army commander Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela said participants should display the highest level of officership demonstrated by ethical behaviour, integrity and proactive participation.

“It is imperative to prepare officers and government officials in the security sector to train together in order to enable them to plan, manage and ensure a comprehensive capacity for the state that places a high premium on human security,” Lieutenant General Letsoela said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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