Of General Kamoli and Boko Haram

Army boss Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli
Army boss Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli

THE head of our army, Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, is truly a fine humourist.
If he were to change careers, Scrutator would surely recommend him to join the film industry.
Witness his performance at a recent press conference at which he essentially trashed the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and his counterpart in the security cluster, Police Commissioner Khothatso Tšooana.
It had all the trappings of a soap opera.
Soldiers in general, and army commanders in particular, are generally regarded as men of stealth.
They radiate fear as much as they attract respect. They are guarded in their interactions. They cannot be open books.
Which explains why they rarely call press conferences. And when they do, it is absolutely necessary that they do so.
They then stick to the points, giving away little but making their points nevertheless.

Norman Schwarzkopf, the first Gulf War US commander who led the coalition forces that drove Saddam Hussein’s troops out of Kuwait, in a war launched by George Bush senior on January 17 1991, is a textbook example of how army commanders generally behave.
Lieutenant General Kamoli was probably a very young man during the First Gulf War.
Had he known that one day he would rise to the apex of an entire defence force, he would have been better advised to pay attention to Schwarzkopf.
He certainly would have learnt a lesson or two on military etiquette or at least what is expected of a commander.

The differences between the Lesotho Defence Force and the LMPS have
dominated the headlines for some time now.
For the uninitiated among us, the LMPS want to interview eight soldiers suspected of involvement in those heinous terrorist bombings on the homesteads of Commissioner Tšooana and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s sweetheart on 27 January 2014.
But Lieutenant General Kamoli has dug in his heels and is refusing to hand over his men.
In any civilised democracy, it is the duty of the police to investigate and charge crime suspects.
So there is nothing untoward in Commissioner Tšooana’s bid to have the eight interviewed. Without insinuating anything, credible speculation abounds that the bombings could have involved some materials
and expertise not available to ordinary citizens.
Scrutator believes the best way to clear the air for any suspects, at least, would have been to avail them for interrogation before the police and let them state their cases.
The more bottlenecks are placed in the way of the investigations, the more the rumour mill is fuelled about who was behind the bombings.
After all, soldiers and the army do not exist in a vacuum. They are subject to the laws of the Kingdom.

However, Lieutenant General Kamoli has other ideas. He wants an independent board to probe the Maseru bombings. He is also convinced that the LMPS is — in his own words — incompetent and thus he claim he cannot “baby-sit” it.
What are we ordinary Basotho to make of all this drama and Lieutenant General Kamoli’s antics?
If aliens were to land from Planet Jupiter on our shores today, we at least expect our security cluster comprising of the intelligence service, the police and the army to work in unison to defend us.

We expect our correctional services to be on hand to starve the aliens in our notoriously filthy prisons so they never come back again.
The consequences of any incoherent response in the security cluster are too ghastly to contemplate.
But Basotho must now learn to live with that reality.
Lieutenant General Kamoli clearly has no respect for his counterpart Commissioner Tšooana.
“I as the Commander of the LDF can only be compared to commanders in other countries , not a police commissioner,” thundered Lieutenant General Kamoli.

My message to you Basotho is be afraid, be very afraid.
When your army commander trashes his counterpart in the police cluster in such a disrespectful manner, then expect anything any-day.
It may not be completely out of place to accuse Lieutenant General Kamoli of narcissism.
He certainly is of the view that he and the LDF are superior to all else.
But in terms of the constitution, this cannot be the case. All of us are equal before the mighty law including our foot soldiers.
Scrutator still struggles to make sense of Lieutenant General Kamoli’s venom spewed on all and sundry and without any diplomatic decorum expected of a leader of an army.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when the general complained of remarks on social networks by devotees whom he accuses of insulting the army.
Does this mean Lieutenant General Kamoli spends a fair amount of time scrolling through Facebook or Twitter?
It is common cause that Lesotho is not at war.
But it is equally common cause that the best armies are built during peace times.
You cannot build your army when war arrives.
If Lieutenant General Kamoli is not occupied with real issues, then what will become of us when war hits.
As usual, I am a dispenser of wisdom.
I thus volunteer this free advice to Lieutenant General Kamoli for the benefit of this country.
If you haven’t got time to do some real work Lieutenant General and have time to call press conferences to spew outlandish insults at your counterparts, then why not seek an attachment stint in Nigeria to help fight Boko Haram and possibly help retrieve those God forsaken girls.
Imagine how spending time in the West African tropical jungles in search of the little God’s angels will change you.
You will become inexorably fit seeing that you have not fought any wars in the recent past.
You will earn all sort of medals from backers of the “bring back our girls” campaign in all their ubiquity.
Above all, you will become a hardened soldier.
You may even stop running the army at press conferences for the betterment of
all us who live under your venerable command.

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