Ex-corporal wants LDF generals blocked

Ex-corporal wants LDF generals blocked

MASERU – A FORMER army corporal, Khoejane Makhele, wants all Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) generals blocked from serving in the commission that will implement the SADC-proposed reforms.

Makhele last week told a parliamentary portfolio committee for law and constitutional affairs that all individuals who had led the LDF since its establishment have a tainted history with party politics.
He said both current and previous generals are at the centre of Lesotho’s political and security crises.

“I don’t understand how they will be honest because they are the ones who have brought us to where we are today,” Makhele said.
“Surely, none of them is qualified to be a commissioner as suggested in this (Reform) Bill,” he said.
“My fear is that they will bring us more trouble.”

Makhele said it would be better if a decorated general would come from another country seconded by the SADC, the African Union or the United Nations.
He said both current and former commanders of the LDF will not operate independently of the control and direction of any person or authority as is required by the Bill.

“It is well known that they have turned themselves into politicians,” he said.
The National Reforms Commission Bill 2018, which seeks to establish a commission that will implement the reforms recommended by the SADC, suggests that one of the commissioners should be a decorated military general.

It says such a general shall be recommended by SADC or any other international organisation to which Lesotho is a member.
The reforms were recommended by SADC after the LDF soldiers ambushed and killed Maaparankoe Mahao in June 2015 plunging Lesotho into a political crisis.

Mahao was fighting for the position of army commander with Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli whom the King had removed but later reinstated.
The Bill seeks to establish a commission that will facilitate national dialogue on matters of the constitution and other related issues with the purpose of ensuring integrated constitutional, parliamentary, judicial, security and public service reforms.

It also seeks to help the nation attain good governance, the rule of law, peace and stability and national security through constitutional reforms.
Makhele argued that the LDF had a history of meddling in politics which had given politicians a free rein to push for bad governance.

He also accused the commanders, both current and former, of stamping on the rule of law to appease their power-hungry political masters.
Makhele also said Lesotho has never had a general but a lieutenant general. He says none of the current leaders of the LDF qualifies for the job.
The LDF has however rejected Makhele’s claims.
Last week, the army dispatched a high-powered delegation led by the deputy commander, Major General Matela Matobakele, to debunk Makhele’s assertions.

In his presentation before the committee, Maj Gen Matobakele told the committee that contrary to Makhele’s assertions, the LDF has in fact generals.
He said soldiers from the rank of brigadier upwards are all generals.
“When we talk about a decorated general we don’t necessarily refer to the officer of four star or five star general,” Maj Gen Matobakele said.
“We also refer to those at the rank of brigadier, major general and lieutenant general, the ranks which are there in the Lesotho Defence Force,” he said.

“They are all generals.”
Maj Gen Matobakele, who was accompanied by Brigadier Posa Stemmere, a colonel and other senior army officers, said soldiers from the rank of major upwards can qualify to be commissioners as long as they have the relevant skills.
He said generals from the rank of brigadier have attended different military training programmes that can make them commissioners who can contribute meaningfully to the reform agenda.

Maj Gen Matobakele said a brigadier can have more relevant skills than his seniors in the army because of courses he would have attended which his seniors may not have attended. He vociferously opposed the idea of a foreign army general being appointed a commissioner, arguing that he may not have a full comprehension of the culture and values of Basotho.

The LDF’s proposal was that any general from the rank of brigadier, either in the current command of the army or the former, should be appointed a commissioner.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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