Lesotho warning to SA

01 July 2015 - 08:27 By Graeme Hosken and Rapelang Radebe

South Africa has just days to bring Lesotho's deadly political bloodshed to an end or risk it spilling over the borders. The warning by an international governance analyst follows President Jacob Zuma, who described the security situation as "explosive", dispatching his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, to Lesotho to meet that country's political leaders.Ramaphosa's mission follows a fact-finding visit by Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to Lesotho over the weekend after the killings of several high-ranking opposition politicians over the last week.Last year, Ramaphosa succeeded in ensuring a coup was averted and that this year's elections were brought forward from 2017.Last year's violence saw then prime minister Tom Thabane flee Lesotho months before he lost the election to Pakalitha Mosisili.Part of Ramaphosa's deal was that defence force chief Tlali Kamoli, who was behind the coup, not be appointed to the position. But after coming to power Mosisili ignored the condition.It is alleged that soldiers acting on Kamoli's orders committed a series of assassinations last week.Thabane's former military chief, Maaparankoe Mahao, and his All Basotho Congress funder Thabiso Tsosane were murdered and the majority of the army's junior officers - seen as loyal to Thabane - arrested. Several opposition party leaders, including Thabane, have fled to South Africa.Koffi Kouakou of Wits University's School of Governance, said though SADC and South Africa were strong enough to resolve the situation, they would have to use "strong-arm political tactics"."Military intervention won't work. The situation needs strong political intervention, stronger than what Ramaphosa used before, because his deal has failed with deadly consequences."South Africa and SADC must act quickly. If they don't the violence will spread, with potentially severe implications for this country including fighting spilling over the borders, refugees streaming into the country and an increase in weapons being smuggled into Lesotho. As long as the murders and violence continue, the situation will remain volatile."He said if South Africa allowed the situation to fester, Lesotho's future and the region's security would be in grave danger.In Maseru yesterday Mahao's family described how he was attacked by soldiers near Roma, southeast of the capital.He was reportedly travelling with two nephews when they were boxed in by two military vehicles. He was shot several times by a soldier with an automatic weapon. The wounded general attempted to escape but fell as he got out of the vehicle. The soldiers reportedly dragged him to their bakkie and drove off. The family have not been allowed to view his body."He did not deserve to die the brutal and degrading way he did," said Nqosa Mahao, his brother...

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