Mokhothu attacks politicians ‘capture’ army, cops

BONGIWE ZIHLANGU

Maseru -An opposition leader has taken a dig at top politicians who use captured security forces to settle scores, saying this deepens polarisation and instability that is now choking national development. In a stinging rebuke of politicians who arrogate themselves unrestrained power over the army and police, Democratic Congress deputy leader Mathibeli Mokhothu said there was a pressing need now than ever before to inspire professionalism in the forces.

Mokhothu told politicians to respect the electorate by honouring their election campaign promises through pursuing safety, security, justice and economic equality for all. He warned politicians to refrain from sowing seeds of instability within the security sector because “the police and army belong to no politician but the citizenry”.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the three-day Multi-stakeholder National Dialogue on Reforms on Wednesday this week, the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) party deputy leader said that it was imperative for political leaders to respect voters and foster development once they assumed government office. According to Mokhothu, it was typical of Basotho politicians to polarise and capture the police and army, as well as other key institutions while also setting on security agents on their perceived enemies.

The dialogue forms part of the country’s multi-stakeholder reforms process which will overhaul the constitution, parliament, the judiciary, media as well as the public service and security sectors. Recommendations for reforms were first mooted in 2013 by the Commonwealth’s Dr Rajen Prasad, followed by the report of the 2014 SADC Observer Mission in Lesotho (SOMILES), and later supported by the report of SADC-backed Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry.

The Phumaphi Commission was established to investigate the assassination of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Maaparankoe Mahao and surrounding circumstances. Mokhothu added that Lesotho was at a crossroads and that it was critical to choose the “upper road of integrity” instead of the “mediocre lower road that leads to pessimism, shortcuts and victimisation”.

“We can only attain victory together for the emancipation of the Basotho nation. We have embarked on the reforms journey because of the problems of this country that came to a head. Lesotho is now at a crossroads. We need to decide which road to take: the upper road or the road to mediocrity,” Mokhothu said. “The road to greatness is forgiveness, finding peace and unity, and respect for each other, tolerance, national unity, economic growth and job creation for the benefit of all, and not individual political parties.”

Mokhothu added that for Lesotho to reach its potential and for the reforms to yield desired results “we first must respect the electorate” and ensure that “our leadership is devoid of any form of discrimination”. “When the votes of the nation have pointed in your direction to govern this country, the road you must take should be devoid of any form of discrimination, lead to the dignified utilisation of the army and police for the nation’s safety and security, and not a particular clique.

Lesotho’s army and police do not belong to a certain political formation but to the Basotho nation as a whole,” Mokhothu said.“The road you take should lead to stability, an apolitical justice system, effective and apolitical public service, stable and accountable government to the parliament of this country.” The DC deputy leader added Lesotho politicians should at all costs avoid the road to destruction.

“The lower road, that is mediocrity, comprises pessimism, shortcuts, victimisation, setting security agents on perceived enemies, capturing all key state institutions in order to govern whichever way you want, while also muzzling the media,” Mokhothu said. “There are only two roads to take and you cannot walk them both at the same time. You must choose which one to take. Even a tree cannot bear sweet and bitter fruits at the same time, just as a well cannot produce water that is refreshing and bitter at the same time. When I look at the horizon, I see change only if we as Basotho can come together in earnest, and stop victimising each other at every turn.”

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