Lesotho’s three senior security officers— Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao and Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Commissioner, Khothatso Tšooana—are “stuck” in Johannesburg and have no idea when they would be arriving at their respective destinations in line with the Maseru Security Accord (MSA), the Lesotho Times heard this week.
The trio left the country on Friday last week for Johannesburg, South Africa, with Lt Gen Mahao, Lt Gen Kamoli and Commissioner of Police (ComPol) Tšooana destined for Sudan, Uganda and Algeria respectively, where they are expected to spend their leave of absence.
The leave is the result of the MSA signed on 23 October 2014.
Under the MSA, which was facilitated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the three officers were required to go to an African or Commonwealth country on special leave to allow the restoration of peace between the LMPS and LDF, whose continued feuding—mainly due to personality clashes between ComPol Tšooana and Lt Gen Kamoli—had brought Lesotho to the brink of civil war.
The absence of the trio is also meant to ensure peace prevails in Lesotho in the run-up to the February 2015 snap election—a result of the Maseru Facilitation Declaration also brokered by SADC on 2 October 2014 through South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
However, the Lesotho Times established yesterday that the three men are still in South Africa and getting increasingly frustrated with their situation.
In an interview, Lt Gen Mahao yesterday told the Lesotho Times that since his arrival in South Africa last Friday, “nobody has told me when I will be leaving for Sudan, where I am supposed to be spending my leave of absence”.
“I am supposed to go to Ethiopia first, to the African Union headquarters, and then Sudan. What I only know is that processes are still underway for the finalisation of my trip to Sudan.”
Lt Gen Mahao, however, said he knew when he would be back home as he already had his return ticket.
On the other hand, ComPol Tšooana would not say much but also told the Lesotho Times that he was still in South Africa.
“As a public servant, I respect and abide by what I am told to do by my authorities and will be patiently waiting to be told when and where to go,” ComPol Tšooana said.
Asked about his return, ComPol Tšooana said he was not aware when he would be back home.
“Unfortunately, I am not aware of when I would be back.”
Efforts by the Lesotho Times to contact Lt Gen Kamoli were unsuccessful yesterday but according to the Ministry of Defence Principal Secretary, Thato Mohasoa, he was in Johannesburg.
“What I know is that Lt Gen Kamoli should be in Johannesburg as agreed, but I am yet to meet the Head of SADC Mission in Lesotho, Mr Fannie Phakola, for an update on the three security officers”.
“The transport logistics for Lt Mahao and ComPol Tšooana were organised by the government of Lesotho, while Lt Gen Kamoli’s were handled by SADC,” Mr Mohasoa said.
“It is not like the three generals have been abandoned in Johannesburg; they can’t go to their respective destinations until all the formalities of their trips to the African Union are complete.”
Contacted to shed more light on the issue, Mr Phakola yesterday told the Lesotho Times that it was “no sin” for SADC to organise transport for Lt Gen Kamoli and treat him differently from Lt Gen Mahao and ComPol Tšooana.
“It was done for obvious reasons; there is definitely no trust between the government of Lesotho and Lt Gen Kamoli.
“Lt Gen Kamoli asked SADC to organise his transport from Lesotho to his transit destination in Johannesburg and we had to take responsibility.
“SADC is treating Lt Gen Kamoli differently for obvious reasons—there is tension between the three of them because of the prevailing security crisis in the country”.
Mr Phakola also confirmed that Lt Gen Kamoli asked SADC to allow him go with his LDF bodyguards to Uganda, but the request was turned down.