Behind Lesotho’s instability 

SHARE   |   Monday, 18 September 2017   |   By Phillimon Mmeso 
Kamoli Kamoli

While many people especially in Lesotho were slightly relived after the killing of some of the leading trouble makers at the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Colonel Tefo Hashatsi and Brigadier Bulane Sechele, it is not yet over as former Army Commander Kamoli still has the grip of the army. Highly placed sources within the LDF has revealed that it will only take an overhaul of the army top brass to bring stability to the mountainous kingdom as Kamoli-Mosisili axis had ensured that all the top security forces top brass belong to them. Around August last year, when Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili realised that he was losing grip of government and had fallen out with his ally Monyane Moleleki who went to form his own party, he began creating a power layer for himself. In September last year the National Security Services (NSS) Director General, Colonel Tumo Lekhooa briefed both Mosisili and Kamoli that chances of All Basotho Congress (ABC) winning the 2017 June snap elections was very minimal if not naught. He recommended that Mosisili use the 2012 strategy in which he promoted those who are allied to him, especially in the military and police force. In 2012 when Mosisili handed power to Tom Thabane he ensured that he built a solid base in both the public service and the security services.  He appointed both the Government Secretary, who heads the public service and the Commander of the LDF Kamoli a few weeks before the elections in 2012.  In the month of September most officers within the army who were allied to Mosisili and Kamoli were rapidly promoted some even twice in a space of three months. 

Some of the key officers promoted include Hashatsi from captain in 2015 to Lieutenant Colonel in 2016 and subsequently colonel in the same year. Sechele was promoted from captain to Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel and Brigadier. The promotions have created a security challenge for Thabane as there are too many brigadiers and too many colonels for a small army. Of all the promoted 90% of them were implicated in the Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi report and also in the judgement of the Court of Appeal in which Hashatsi challenged the legality of the Phumaphi Commission. First to be appointed last year was the commander of the LDF Khoantle Mot’somot’so who was due for retirement. He was one of the most loyal army officers to Kamoli and this was demonstrated in 2014 when was appointed to act as Commander while Kamoli was ostensibly on sabbatical. He refused to accept even a letter of appointment. He allegedly did not even use the Commander’s office during that period. When Thabane assumed office in June this year, Mot’somot’so somersaulted and pledged his allegiance to Thabane, something that irked his colleagues who expected him to help destabilise the government. Intelligence information shows that Sechele and Hashatsi were staging a coup after assassinating the LDF commander. A statement was found written by Sechele in which he was going to announce to nation that the army had taken over.

Major General Lineo Poopa

Though he promised that he will root out rogue officers in the army, General Poopa has an uphill task as most of his top officers are part of the rogue officers, revealed the source at LDF. “There are serious instability and factions within the army and this started in 2012 when Mosisili vacated office and it will take some time before there is order in LDF,” said source at LDF, adding that there is need to restructure, retrain, reform and transform Ratjomose Barracks. On Friday SADC Double Troika which consist of South Africa, Tanzania, Swaziland, Angola and Namibia met to discuss whether to send troops to Lesotho. A statement from the South African Presidency stated that the meeting was to be briefed by the Ministerial Fact Finding Mission. “The summit will be briefed on the report of the Ministerial Fact Finding Mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho, conducted by the rogue elements fingered in the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry Report, in order to chart a way forward on the necessary support to the Kingdom of Lesotho,” said the Presidency. Currently the regional block has deployed a standby force to monitor the situation. They are drawn from South Africa, Angola and Mozambique. SADC has also deployed into Lesotho four ministers from the SADC Ministerial Double Troika and a fact-finding mission consisting of defence and security chiefs to deal with the latest round of instability in that country. Contacted for comment Lesotho's Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister, Lesego Makgothi declined to comment on the deployment of the SADC reserve force. “I am currently preparing to make presentation to SADC Double Troika and for now I won’t say much,” he said.