22 September 2017

Southern Africa: Lesotho Instability Costs SADC M87m

THE proposed Southern African Development Community (SADC) intervention in Lesotho to help end instability and prepare the stage for the implementation of a raft of security sector, constitutional and governance reforms is set to gobble at least M87 million, the Lesotho Times can reveal.

The budget will be used to support a force of military, security, intelligence and civilian experts to be deployed in Lesotho to support the government's efforts to restore stability.

This follows last Friday's SADC one-day Double Troika Summit in Pretoria, South Africa which was convened in light of the 5 September, 2017 assassination of Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Lieutenant-General Khoantle Motšomotšo by his subordinates.

Lt-Gen Motšomotšo was shot dead at his Ratjomose barracks office allegedly by Brigadier Bulane Sechele who was accompanied by Colonel Tefo Hashatsi and Major Pitso Ramoepane. Brig Sechele was killed in a hail of bullets by Lt-Gen Motšomotšo's bodyguards soon afterwards, while Col Hashatsi died of his wounds in a nearby hospital.

Maj Ramoepane was last week charged with murdering Lt-Gen Motšomotšo in the Magistrate's Court. Lt-Gen Motšomotšo was laid to rest in his home village of Ha Lesaoana in Butha-Buthe.

And at the Double Troika Summit, SADC acquiesced to the Lesotho government's request for a standby force comprising military, security, intelligence and civilian experts to assist the LDF in managing the security crisis in the country.

The summit was attended by representatives of the governments of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Tanzania.

SADC documents from the summit seen by the Lesotho Times show that the SADC secretariat prepared a US$5, 8 million budget for the proposed deployment of troops to Lesotho.

"Given the volatile security situation with serious implications for the political stability of the Kingdom of Lesotho, there is an urgent need to assist the country in restoring law and order and a peaceful environment conducive to among others, the implementation of SADC decisions specifically, security sector and constitutional reforms," part of the SADC document states.

Although SADC leaders directed the heads of defence and security "to assess the requirements, determine the appropriate size of the contingent force and prepare the modalities for the deployment," the documents show that the budget is for at least 1000 personnel including military, police and civilian experts.

"The secretariat prepared a draft operational concept and budget of US$5 810 431 (about M76 million) for the proposed deployment of a battalion strength including military, police and civilian experts with an estimated capacity of 1000 personnel)," the document states.

A further budget of US$846 120 (about M11 million) was approved for the "expanded mandate of the Oversight Committee to be withdrawn from the Contingency Fund".

This will bring the overall cost of SADC involvement in Lesotho to M87 million.

Led by retired Tanzanian judge, Justice Frederic Mwita Werema, and initially made up of 10 members, the Oversight Committee was established by an extraordinary summit of the Double Troika on 3 July 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa to monitor the implementation of SADC decisions regarding the political and security situation in Lesotho.

The committee was also tasked with providing assistance in the implementation of constitutional, security and public sector reforms in Lesotho.

Last Friday's summit subsequently approved an expanded mandate and composition of 34 members of the SADC Oversight Committee to include military, security, intelligence and civilian experts to be deployed to Lesotho immediately for a month.

And according to the proposed budget at the Friday summit, the head of mission of the Oversight Committee will receive an allowance of US$400 ( about M5200) for a 30-day bringing the total to US$12 000 (about M156 000).

The 34 military, police and civilian details on the committee will each receive US$250 per day (M3250) for 30 days, bringing the combined total to US$255 000 (about M3,3 million).

Three SADC secretariat staff will each receive US$250 per day (M3250) for 30 days, bringing the combined total to US$22 500 (M292 500).

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