EXCLUSIVE: Lesotho's Prime Minister speaks about urgent need for SADC intervention following murder of his army commander

06 September 2017 - 20:42
By Graeme Hosken
Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
Image: Gary Gershoff/WireImage Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

Lesotho’s Prime Minister‚ Tom Thabane‚ in an exclusive interview with TimesLIVE‚ has called for urgent intervention by the Southern African Development Community following the murder of his defence force's commander.

This‚ he says‚ must include some form of security intervention.

A SADC fact-finding mission is due to leave for Lesotho on Thursday‚ on newly elected SADC chairman Jacob Zuma's instructions.

Thabane was speaking to TimesLIVE on Wednesday afternoon moments after returning from visiting the family of murdered army chief Khoantle Motsomotso.

Motsomotso was gunned down on Tuesday by two subordinates at that country's military headquarters.

The gunmen - Brigadier Bulane Sechele and Colonel Tefo Hashatsi - were shot dead in a shootout with Motsomotso's bodyguards and other soldiers. They‚ along with several other soldiers‚ were under investigation for their role in the murder of the previous Lesotho Defence Force chief‚ General Maaparanko Mahao‚ in 2015.

Thabane said that Motsomotso was killed at a time that major reforms of the country's security institutions were under way.

"It was part of the SADC plan developed after the 2014 attempted coup and Mahao's murder. Khoantle was leading this reform‚ which has created a lot of unhappiness for some people within certain sectors of my country.

"Khoantle was intent on seeing this reform process through. The process meant a number of things‚ including people being criminally investigated for‚ among other things‚ murder." He described the situation in Lesotho's capital Maseru as calm "for now".

Thabane however admitted that "now more than ever” urgent interventions were needed in his country.

"It has gone just beyond political interventions and reforms. There are now security interventions which are needed‚ not in the form of guns blazing‚ but advice on how we can reform our security institutions successfully and peacefully and as quickly as possible."

Describing Motsomotso as a well liked and respected military leader‚ he said inside the army there was something that needed urgent fixing.

"When your defence force commander is killed by his own men‚ for some unknown reason‚ you cannot say everything is fine. We need help.

"We are calling for an urgent SADC intervention‚ with the security reform now becoming a top priority. Motsomotso's killing has hastened the need for these reforms. It’s urgent now more than ever."

Asked if he feared whether a coup was being planned‚ Thabane said if one was he thought it would have already occurred.

"I'm not sure for certain but I do have my doubts. I think this was to do with something else in terms of the current reforms and accountability that we are trying to bring about within the security structures."

- TimesLIVE