Does Lesotho really need an army?
THE events in this country since last Friday are indeed tragic. Yet another innocent person has lost a life to Commander Tlali Kamoli’s prosaic mindlessness.
This time, it is Sub Inspector Ramahloko Mokheseng, an innocent policeman who was just performing his national duty when Kamoli’s men were let loose. Only a few weeks back, it was Lisebo Tang, a 20 year old, with a whole future and world ahead of her.
Her only crime was to be in the company of her boyfriend who mistaken with members of the police force, purportedly on the hunt for Kamoli.
How long will it take for all this madness to stop? Regardless of where one stands politically, all Basotho must of necessity agree on one thing; Kamoli attempted a coup d’état last Friday.
When soldiers leave their barracks and force the leader of a country to flee, when soldiers attack any security cluster perceived as supporting the same leader who has been forced to flee and disarm the cluster’s members, there is simply no way of describing it all than calling it a straight forward coup.
Yes Kamoli did not intend to implement a 100 percent coup, but he got what he wanted; humiliate the prime minister into seeking refuge in a foreign land, disarm those members of the security forces loyal to him and of course kill an innocent man in line with what is fast becoming his hallmark.
Thabane might be back and pretend to be in charge. But with Kamoli’s guns threatening to blaze over him, the PM will remain ineffectual and inconsequential. He will have to spend most of his time looking over his shoulder.
This is not Lesotho’s first attempted coup. It probably won’t be the last. Hence my question; do we really need an army in this country? If so, what for? Does a country which lives in the womb of another deserve to have any army? If so for what purpose?
Who is ever going to come and want to invade Lesotho? Even if any other country invaded, how will it bypass South Africa to reach us and evade the mighty South African National Defence Force (SANDF)? The answer to all these questions is zilch. Lesotho does not need an army but an effective police force to oversee internal policing arrangements?
National armies primarily exist to protect their countries and citizens against external threats. Lesotho faces no external threat. The only country that can invade us is South Africa, the neighbour that wholly surrounds us.
If that where to ever happen, then we stand no chance even if every Basotho of fighting age were to be given a fire arm. Lesotho simply does not have the financial wherewithal to build as effective an army as only an eighth of the SANDF. If South Africa invaded us, we simply have to throw our hands in the air.
So I again ask the question, Do we really need an army? Another possibility of Lesotho justifying any army is in the event of us having to invade another country? But again, for what reason? We could never invade South Africa for instance. Neither could we march through South Africa to reach any target of invasion furthest.
Kamoli would also never dare invade any other country, lest he be exposed for what he is; a small time terrorist with no requisite experience or military firepower to defeat any other country. You see, killing your own countrymen and causing unnecessary bloodshed among your own is much easier than tackling a foreign enemy no matter how weak.
Ask Idi Amin, Uganda’s former butcher. It was easy to kill 300 000 plus of his civilians than face a few hundred troops from Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere who then forced Amin to flee Kampala in humiliation.
The fact remains that we have no cause, reason or capacity to invade another country. We have no cause, reason or capacity to be invaded. We therefore simply don’t need any army.
There is nothing for anyone to seize power here for yet we have had more coups or coup attempts than Nigeria. At least in Nigeria they have the petro dollars and the generals there have always regarded coups as the easiest way to access the national cookie jar. But still, coups have long stopped in Nigeria. The world has changed. One of its achievements, despite its perennial ineffectiveness, is the African Union’s blanket refusal to tolerate coups.
Lesotho’s army has a propensity for coups simply because it has nothing else to do. We don’t need this army but an effective police force to ensure peace and tranquility? We only need any intelligence service insofar as it should try to snuff out criminals before they commit their acts. But such a service should fall squarely as a department within the police force.
With nothing else to do and with no external threats to face, our trigger happy soldiers can only kill their fellow citizens. How tragic.
Why not emulate the only other country, San Marino, who just like us, is wholly surrounded by another, Italy. San Marino has no regular army. It occasionally assembles voluntary military corps to perform only ceremonial duties and to offer the police limited support. The only other country (though not in the correct sense of the word) wholly surrounded by the other is the Vatican, also in Italy. No prizes for guessing why it does not need an army.
Few other countries don’t have active armies in the world but small effective police forces, the Alpian enclave of Liechtenstein being the other good example. All these small countries have one thing in common, they are very small and very rich. Their citizens are happy because they never have to endure trigger-happy soldiers.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the Democratic Congress (DC) are being shortsighted in their defence of Kamoli. Yes he may assist them in their short-term ambition to topple Thabane from power, but the question they should ask themselves is; What happens afterwards? They must always know that if you create a monster, that monster will eat you one day.
As we have seen in the entire Thabane, Metsing, Maseribane matrix, political relations can sour very easily. The head of any army is a political appointee. What if it becomes Metsing or Mosisili’s future turn (whoever becomes prime minister) to fire Kamoli and the latter refuses with the threat to cause mayhem.
The DC and LCD’s defence of Kamoli are simpy childish and unfortunate. Pakalitha Mosisili, as the leader of the official opposition is wrong in maintaining a callous silence over the weekend atrocities.
What Kamoli did at the weekend was evil. What authority does he have to disarm the police?
His parading of arms seized from the police, to justify his actions on the pretext that these feeble arms were going to be used against LCD protestors is as equally feeble as it is shabby. It is a pathetic self-serving attempt to defend the indefensible.
In any event, how were the police going to use these arms on a protest that they had refused to authorise. The fact is Kamoli created this excuse to justify his coup attempt and avoid being fired.
The fact is he wanted to create an excuse to kill the man who had been gazetted to replace him. The fact is an innocent policeman has been killed in pursuit of Kamoli’s ambitions to save his job. His coup attempt is as bad as the prorogation that the DC and LCD so much loath. But while Kamoli’s actions are plain illegal and he one day shall have to be held accountable, the prorogation of parliament is a perfectly legal move allowed by the constitution.
Yes we may not like it. I personally don’t like is as it is too draconian. But the correct course of action for all those who don’t want it is to use channels of legal law making in Parliament (when it finally reopens) to ensure the repealing of the law allowing prorogation.
No words can perfectly describe the LDF’s dastardly weekend actions. Scrutator sees no difference between what the LDF soldiers did and what the barbaric terrorists of the so called Islamic State (ISIS) are doing in beheading innocent civilians in Iraq and Syria.
It is the constitutional prerogative of any sitting Prime Minister to replace the head of army or police.
It’s Thabane’s right to appoint whomever he deems fit as army commander. If Kamoli is aggrieved by his firing, he ought to, at least use the legal process to challenge his dismissal just like Attorney-General Tsokolo Makhethe and Director of Public Prosecutions Leaba Thetsane have done, even though he stands no prospects of success. Using the courts will show that he can use brains than brawn, albeit infrequently.
To resort to strong arm tactics to save his job is taking barbarism to Boko Haram levels. Yes, Parliament will ultimately re-open. Thabane may be toppled. Kamoli may secure his job in an LCD/DC alliance. But that will never justify his actions.
All the people he has killed in his manouvres, will not have died in vain. They were not killed in any noble mission to protect this country. They died because one man has elevated his ego and ambition to above the national interest.
Their souls will not rest in peace. They will seek justice. One day, they will indeed get it. You can get away with anything Commander Kamoli, but you cannot get away with murder done under your wasteful command.