THE Lesotho Liberation Army Veterans Association (LLAVETA) has urged security agencies to stick to their core mandate and not be “abused” by politicians.
LLAVETA was formed by veterans of the Lesotho Liberation Army, an armed wing of the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP).
It was led by the late Ntsu Mokhehle after the late Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan’s Basotho National Party refused to accept defeat in the 1970 general elections.
Chief Jonathan suspended the constitution and went on to crack down on political dissension.
The BCP militants however failed to remove Chief Jonathan until he was toppled by his own army in a coup in 1986.
According to LLAVETA spokesperson, Moeketsi Monyane, politicians’ interference in security matters was the main reason for the periodic instability rocking the Mountain Kingdom.
“The laws governing security agencies should be followed to the letter. From 1970 onwards, politicians have used the army to attack other political leaders,” said Mr Monyane.
“We have the constitution that controls the armed forces, but there are different interpretations of how it should be followed.”
He continued: “As Basotho if there’s a need to amend the constitution, then we should work hand in hand towards amending the law. The Lesotho Defence Force Act of 1996 that governs how the army is run should be followed but not be abused by the government to persecute anyone with a dissenting voice. There’s also a court martial process that deals with military offences.”
He also condemned the alleged threatening of lawyers, court officials and the public last week by some LDF members during the trial of army officers accused of mutiny.
“Such conduct is not acceptable and should be condemned with the contempt it deserves,” Mr Monyane said.
He also weighed in on the LDF members’ taking over of Maseru Central and Maximum prisons last week, saying they were keeping a keen eye on the issue.
Some Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) staff have been on go-slow since December last year, protesting government’s failure to review their salaries and rank-structure.
As part of the industrial action, warders are refusing to admit new inmates, take those incarcerated to court, and also denying prisoners their visitors.
“They (LCS warders) are fighting for their rights, but as an association we feel that that they are infringing upon the prisoners’ rights by denying them access to medicine and visitation rights,” Mr Monyane said.
He also appealed to journalists to avoid stoking fires by reporting news factually and waiting for the outcomes of legal processes.