‘Deal with those fomenting  chaos in army’

‘Deal with those fomenting chaos in army’

MASERU – FORMER army commander Lieutenant General Makhula Mosakeng says civilians who infiltrate the army to influence rebellion must be severely punished irrespective of their status in society. Lt. Gen. Mosakeng was speaking at an indaba on security issues organised by Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) yesterday.
He recalled that during the 1998 political and security chaos politicians and the clergy infiltrated the army and soldiers rebelled against him.
The Justice Leon Commission of Inquiry which investigated the 1998 chaos revealed that there were some prominent civilian people in Lesotho’s politics who were the ringleaders in the mutiny.
Some were political party leaders while others were respected chiefs.

Such people were not prosecuted to date except the Roman Catholic priest, Father Anthony Monyau, who served a prison term for the crime.
“Only Monyau was convicted. Where were the others?” Lt. Gen. Mosakeng quipped.
“No one should be special in the eyes of the law.”

Lt. Gen. Mosakeng spoke from experience as he was the commander when junior soldiers led by the late Private Zamuxolo Hosanna Sako removed his decorations and escorted him to the maximum security prison.
When he escaped from prison he went to exile in South Africa, fleeing from his own army.
He came back when SADC intervened militarily to restore law and order.

Lt. Gen. Mosakeng said these things as many people wonder what will happen when the SADC forces deployed in the country after the assassination of Lieutenant General Khoantle Motšomotšo in September last year.
There is a general fear that once the SADC forces, referred to as SAPML, leave rogue elements within the army will cause problems.
“I cannot say we will remain at peace when SAPML leaves or we might not, it is all up to the approach we are going to use,” he said.
“It takes two to go to the dance therefore we should respect each other while doing everything,” he added.

He said soldiers become a threat because they have dangerous equipment.
“We know that at some point there is Mamphokoro (bully) that scares people,” he said.
“For the Lesotho we want, we should not be scared to talk about these things.
He said the commander of LDF always want to command law abiding soldiers.
“Is the recruitment of the commander done correctly?” he asked.

He said he is aware that both the Commissioner of Police and Army Commander are now working together after deadly conflicts in the near past.
“If they sit down together and discuss the issues affecting security, then everything will be fine.”
He said the recruitment in the institutions should be done correctly.

“This issue needs a good approach because good approach leads to positive negotiations, even when one is wrong,” he said.
Lt. Gen. Mosakeng said there are laws that govern the recruitments and procedures.
“All the killings that happened need to be reviewed. Why did they happen? Let us be factual so that we succeed,” he said.
TRC director Tsikoane Peshaone said the period from 2012 to 2015 has unraveled a lot of things.

“TRC was involved in the matter of mutiny ….where it was trying to advocate for justice ….if people were suspected, we wanted them to get a fair trial,” Peshoane said.
He said they contributed to the release of the soldiers suspected of mutiny after it became clear that their charges were trumped up, following the 2015 security crisis.
“We even facilitated the safe return of the exiled,” he said.
“We then realised how security institutions operate,” he said.

He said there is a challenge of cohesion in the management of security institutions.
“There is no unity and sharing of vision in the institutions. It is true,” he said.
He marvelled at how the commissioners of police were shuffled more than three times within a short time.
“After appointment of commanders or commissioners the upper offices shake a bit because the appointing leaders seek loyalty and their comfort,” he said.

He said the former commissioner Molahlehi Letsoepa promoted some police officers to ensure that he would have those loyal to him.
He said the current commissioner Holomo Molibeli did the same thing with the same purpose.
“That is to search for his comfort and secure loyalty,” he added.

He said the procedures have to be followed properly when making promotions or else there will be problems.
“In LDF there were countless promotions done by (Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli) and even the low ranks who vowed to support him are on top right now, they were promoted,” he said.
He said the big challenge is that it does not become easy to do anything against them as they are part of the leaders now.
“(Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela) is also trying to find if he has the loyalty of his colleagues, he found himself trapped in a situation where he has to work together with people who were promoted by the other commander,” Peshoane said.

He also said discipline is another challenge because of the infiltration of politicians.
He said the perpetrators of the previous years’ killings and tortures are known.
“Majority of them have not been convicted but they are working with the victims who are their colleagues. There is no initiative to provide counselling and reconciliation yet. How do you expect cooperation?” he asked.

He also said police brutality is caused by the orders from politicians.
“We have officers who do not even know the law that governs their daily work,” he added.
“Every year they recruit and unfortunately recently they recruited based on party affiliations. The Deputy Prime Minister even apologised,” he added.
Professor Kopano Makoa said the government is the one with responsibility to reform.

“We are not talking to the opposition because SADC never said opposition should reform. That would not make sense,” he said.
“Rogue elements are aware that anyone who tries to hinder the progress will be in trouble,” he said.
He also said the army needs to be decriminalized for peace to prevail.

“Why can’t we decriminalize the army by arresting those criminals and letting them account?”
He said no one should preach good governance while working with criminals who were never convicted.
“Compensation is not a solution but a solution is to weed out those who do crimes, the law is there and laws enforcement forces are there,” he said.
Makoa said there are other soldiers arrested.

“Why are others left? Why can’t they all be arrested?”
Moreover Makoa said the compensation will not erase that both the victims and the perpetrators are now working together.
“I think the commissioner of police should be ordered to arrest criminals who committed such awful crimes,” he said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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