The SAPMIL (SADC Preventive Mission in Lesotho) has in just over two months acted as a successful deterrent to further instability and the landlocked country has been relatively calm, according to an AU (African Union) assessment.
The continental body, in co-operation with the SADC (Southern African Development Community) secretariat, conducted a joint technical assessment in Lesotho earlier this month. The mission deployed at the beginning of December and this was the first joint technical assessment it has been subjected to.
The AU/SADC secretariat team met with senior leadership of the 258 person-strong SAPMIL as well as Lesotho government officials; opposition political parties, in and outside Parliament; civil society and non-government organisations; the Christian Council of Lesotho and the Lesotho Law Society. The AU/SADC team also visited SAPMIL deployment areas.
In a statement the AU/SADC team said: “The country has been relatively calm and there is an improved working relationship among the various security agencies”.
SAPMIL was commended for discharging its mandate professionally and all its personnel were urged to continue with “the same spirit despite a few operational challenges”.
Lesotho’s government was also commended for support to SAPMIL “thus far” and urged to ensure the “current momentum toward implementation of reforms is maintained to bring stability to the country”.
Consensus and inclusiveness were stressed as being central to the reform process in the mountain Kingdom, bordered on all sides by South Africa.
“There is an urgent need for the AU and other partners to provide technical and financial assistance to enable SAPMIL to effectively discharge its mandate.
“This includes meeting the current SAPMIL financial shortfall of $1,613,928; providing requisite logistical equipment including power generators, water purification plant, staff vehicles and communication infrastructure (C3IS); as well as mobilising experts including judges, security sector deform (SSR) and good governance experts and other sector specific expertise,” the joint statement said.
SAPMIL was formally launched on 2 December 2017. The SADC force has a strength of 269 personnel from Angola, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. This includes 207 troops, 15 intelligence officers, 24 police officers, and 12 civilian experts.
SAPMIL has been deployed for an initial six months “to facilitate the establishment of a secure, stable, and peaceful environment conducive for the implementation of SADC decisions, including the holding of multi-stakeholder dialogue, the constitutional, public service, parliamentary, judicial, and security sector reforms, aimed at stabilising the political and security situation of the Kingdom of Lesotho”, according to the SADC.
SAPMIL moved into Lesotho at the beginning of December after initial indications of a battalion strength force being deployed did not materialise.