Lekhanya dies

Lekhanya dies

MASERU-MAJOR General Metsing Lekhanya, who toppled the Leabua Jonathan-led government in a bloodless coup in 1986, has died.
He was 82.

Lekhanya toppled the BNP government on January 20, 1986 and imposed a military regime that ruled Lesotho for the next five years.
Major General Lekhanya, who was diabetic, died at the Makoanyane Military Hospital in Maseru.
He also suffered from high blood pressure.
His family says they are still awaiting post mortem results to ascertain the cause of death.

The family spokesman, Tšepo Lekhanya, said the former army commander suffered from chronic illnesses.
“He was the backbone of the family. He was our father,” Lekhanya said.
He said last week Major General Lekhanya went to Thaba-Tseka, their home district, and when he returned, he began complaining of some pains.
“So, on Monday he was taken to the Makoanyane Military Hospital where he was admitted,” he said.

Lekhanya said they were informed by the hospital yesterday at 12 noon that Maj Gen Lekhanya had died.
Maj Gen Lekhanya is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son.
Major General Samuel Makoro, a retired army officer, said when he joined the army in 1978 Maj Gen Lekhanya was the army boss.

At the time, the feared security agency was called the Lesotho Para-military Force (LPF) which had been built from the Police Mobile Unit (PMU).
Maj Gen Makoro said Maj Gen Lekhanya loved the army.
“He was always active during his tenure as the commander,” Maj Gen Makoro said.

Because of his sense of homour, Maj Gen Makoro said, they did not feel that their training was tough.
He was a hands-on boss, he said.
“No one has served in the army (longer) than him,” he said.

He said Maj Gen Lekhanya transformed the army into what it is today as the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
“He was at the helm of army transformation,” Maj Gen Makoro said.
He said Maj Gen Lekhanya was the first commander to introduce flights in the army.

Maj Gen Lekhanya bought two helicopters and three transport planes from Germany.
He said he also trained local captains to fly those flights.
During his command, Maj Gen Lekhanya is remembered for buying sophisticated military equipment such as armoured cars, amongst others, in his attempt to improve the army.

Maj Gen Makoro said the Makoanyane Military Barracks and other smaller barracks like Ha-Khabo were built under Maj Gen Lekhanya’s command.
The Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, said the death of Maj Gen Lekhanya was a big loss to the party.
“We are grieving as a nation and as a party,” Mofomobe said.
He said they have lost a leader.

He said amongst the old BNP leaders, Maj Gen Lekhanya was the only leader of the party who was still alive.
Mofomobe said they will remember Maj Gen Lekhanya for his bravery during difficult times in the politics of Lesotho.
He said Maj Gen Lekhanya was the BNP MP who pushed for the formation of the Proportional Representation system in parliament.

And he delegated some BNP members to the Interim Political Authority (IPA), which ushered in the Mixed Member Proportional Representation electoral model that is admired by other countries.
Maj Gen Lekhanya was born on April 7, 1938.
He became the head of government on January 24, 1986, four days after he toppled the then Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan.

He was forced to resign following another bloodless coup on May 2, 1991.
He became the first Mosotho officer to head a paramilitary Police Mobile Unit (PMU) platoon soon after its formation in 1965.
During the early 1970s, he received training at police academies in South Africa and the then Rhodesia now Zimbabwe, and later assumed command of the PMU as a Major General in 1975.

Maj Gen Lekhanya seized power in a 1986 coup that ousted an increasingly leftist authoritarian government that had maintained power through army support.
He said at the time military rule was needed because of widespread corruption and chaos.
The coup was staged after South Africa imposed a blockade on Lesotho because of the government’s support for the African National Congress.

In October of that year, Maj Gen Lekhanya invited King Moshoeshoe II to return from exile in London but later rescinded the invitation because of what he called unreasonable demands by the king, including the dissolution of the government.
He then stripped King Moshoeshoe II of his title and power.
The LDF was not available for comment at the time of going to print last night.

Majara Molupe

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