A year after opening offices in Maseru, the SADC Preventative Mission in Lesotho (SAPMIL) ceased operations having made “good progress” in restoring peace, security and stability to the mountain kingdom.
Stergomena Tax, executive secretary of the southern African regional organisation said SAPMIL’s presence and the conduct of confidence building patrols, among others, were a deterrent to those wanting to disrupt conditions in Lesotho.
“There is now an environment conducive for reforms to take place,” she is reported as saying at a ceremony to mark closure of the mission in Maseru earlier this week.
She said the political and security situation in Lesotho was “now calm and there is steadfast improvement in working relations among stakeholders”.
A national security forum is up and running and weapons stolen from the Lesotho Mountain Police in 2014 have been recovered.
SAPMIL supported Lesotho in retraining personnel, especially in the areas of civil military relations (CIMIC), international conflict management and capacitation of 400 personnel from the country’s military, police, Correctional Services and Intelligence departments.
As far as the national dialogue was concerned, Tax said SAPMIL assisted in the signing of a framework document to facilitate the national dialogue process. All Basotho people, she said, have a responsibility to adhere to the document.
A SADC statement issued ahead of the mission moving into Lesotho last November said it would support the landlocked country in “its quest to restore peace, security and stability to the country and not to take over or replace the Lesotho Defence Force or other security institutions of Lesotho. It should not be considered an intruder or an invader but rather be seen as brothers and sisters from the region willing to assist the Basotho people”.
An oversight committee, headed by Zambia’s retired chief justice Matthew Ngulube, will continue to monitor Lesotho and act as an early warning mechanism as well as continuing to support reconciliation. South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and his team will continue facilitation of the national dialogue and reform processes according to the SADC.
Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is quoted as saying “significant strides” were made since SAPMIL arrived in the country. All stakeholders pledged to support and be part of the reform process and the National Leaders’ forum had met twice. A multi-stakeholder national dialogue planning committee meeting will take place later this month.
Seven of SADC’s 15 member states – Angola, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe – contributed to the mission. At the outset it was listed as having 207 military personnel, 15 intelligence officers, 24 police officers and 12 civilian experts in its ranks.