LESOTHO: the valley of dry bones

Thabo Masokola
Wednesday, 13 September 2017
LESOTHO: the valley of dry bones

A man in the Bible called Ezekiel makes a startling claim, he says, “I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry”. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” in the case of Lesotho, the answer is an unequivocal NO! 

Another murder another mindless crime! Another cold-blooded kill, another cold-blooded thrill. Another Lieutenant General down, another trouble brewing. As the Monarchy goes down, anarchy goes up. As they did two years ago with former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Commander Lt. Gen. Maaparankoe Mahao, they have repeated it with Lt. Gen. Khoantle Motsomotso; cold-blood murder. 

The unique geographic position and rugged terrain of the Kingdom of Lesotho is a telling summary of its never-ending pains. This barren and mountainous enclave has been on political analgesics ever since it tasted independence. Tiny as it is, disentangling politics and psychography of the Kingdom of Lesotho is an unforgiving experience. It is torture of first kind and often ends as a journey into oblivion.  

The Kingdom has been on perpetual life-support swinging between a coma and political epilepsy. Since independence, Lesotho has experienced countless military coup d’état. Long lasting peace and political stability has been as elusive to the Kingdom as Kapenta fish is to the fishermen of the Zambezi River. 

Geographically deprived as it is, the kingdom’s complexities and dynamics far contrast its size. Decades of instability are testimony that in Lesotho, peace is a political inconvenience. As things stand, Lesotho remains a puzzle in Pandora’s Box, tied in Gordian knot and hidden behind the garden, behind the wall under the tree. There is no doubt that the mountains of Lesotho have become killing fields and the country, a valley of dry bones.


Lord of the Mountains

“And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place,” so says the book of Micah. 

In the current political and security climate in Lesotho, no man befits this description better than the recently retired LDF Commander, Lt. General Tlali Kamoli. Those close to him call him, ‘Lord of the mountains’ and the Phumaphi Commission called him, ‘divisive.’ Those in the know would whisper to your ears that Kamoli is the man behind the chaos; the master puppeteer.

When Lt. Gen. Mahao was killed by fellow officers in 2015, all fingers pointed to Kamoli. He was accused of ordering the hit and Phumaphi Commission called for his immediate removal. This was after Kamoli was accused of orchestrating a failed coup that saw the military attack several police stations and led to Prime Minister Tom Thabane and others escaping to South Africa.

For over many years the military have been central actors in Basotho politics: in 1970 supporting Chief Leabua Jonathan’s decision to suspend the constitution and abort elections clearly lost to Ntsu Mokhehle and the BCP; in 1986 overthrowing the government itself; in 1990 staging an intra- military putsch; in 1993 dictating many of the terms of democratic elections such that the RLDF and its Command are now entrenched as part of the ruling executive. Kamoli has literally become law unto himself and is obstructing any constructive effort to find peaceful resolution to the political crisis. 


Eli, Eli, lemasabachthani!

Where will the cure for Lesotho’s chronic illness come from, when all textbook solutions have proven fruitless? The Kingdom has been the ‘sick man of SADC’ and it will remain so until SADC heeds to Albert Einstein’s advice that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 

The point, there is nothing new that SADC is doing in Lesotho, that it has not done before. They have called Summit after Summit, Troika after Troika, Election after Election and even deployed military units, but the results have always come out the same; more instability. Kamoli has defied not only court orders, but even SADC. 

Fearful of him and his potential retribution in 2016, the government offered him a golden handshake and full assurance that all his transgressions would be swept under the carpet. This happened before SADC’s very eyes and in total disregard of Ramaphosa and the Phumaphi Commission. 

What did SADC do, it was all business as usual. In simple terms, SADC has allowed Kamoli to get away with murder. 

Although the political instability in Lesotho is proving to be having multiple causes and intensifiers, the feebleness of state institutions seems to be a leading factor. 

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