Lesotho - Military Personnel
Since the resumption of an International Military Education Training (IMET) Program in 2007, following the signing in 2006 of an Article 98 Agreement, Embassy Maseru has sent four Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) officers to specialized U.S. military schools. This training exposes Lesotho's military personnel to the U.S. professional military establishment and democratic values, respect for human rights, and adherence to the rule of law. The State Department allocated Lesotho $45,000 of IMET training in FY 07/08, and, according to EUCOM/AFRICOM, will allocate $50,000 for Lesotho in FY 08/09.
The Lesotho Defense Force has been highly receptive to IMET training, and has expressed interest in additional programs in the areas of medical records, aircraft maintenance, and HIV/AIDS prevention. An increased IMET budget for Lesotho to approximately $100,000 would allow the LDF to receive substantive training in these areas.
Political influence continues because troops are recruited under a political leader’s sway. When security bosses’ appointments and promotions are politically-motivated, they suffer politicisation as an incentive to join the politicians’ side. By 2015 politicization of these institutions made it impossible for non-card holders to get jobs within the security forces. Basotho youths had relatively easy access to employment within security forces. Now, recruitment into the police service and army was based on political affiliation, deliberately excluding those who are not card-carrying members.
The politicised troops are seen actively attending secret meetings affectionately known as “linakeli”. There is no hope, however, that security chiefs would separate wheat from chaff as the promotion on merit policy is not effective anymore, and meanwhile some officers are being promoted on the basis of their political affiliation and not on performance. Nothing is done about some personnel who are seen actively wearing political party attires and go around boasting about being loyal members of the ruling party. Those suspected of links to the prior ruling party, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), were victimized by their seniors and even transferred from urban to remote areas.
Although the Government of Lesotho does not have a law that specifies the minimum age for voluntary service, the Lesotho Defense Force has a policy prohibiting the recruitment of children under age 18. Education is compulsory in Lesotho through the age of 13, but the minimum age for work is set at 15. This standard makes children at age 14 particularly vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor, as they are not required to be in school but are not legally permitted to work. Moreover, the ILO Committee of Experts urged the Government to collaborate with the Ministry of Education and Training to ensure that compulsory education is up to the minimum age of employment.
Colonel Mabote Sekoboto, who is a trainer in the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) spoke at a graduation ceremony for 304 recruits who were elevated to the rank of private at Makoanyane Military Barracks 22 April 2016. The training began on 01 October 2015, with 310 trainees, 258 men and 53 women. Sekoboto said due to different reasons the others could not complete the training programme while one trainee died.
He expressed concern over the quality of today’s recruits saying the younger generation does “not have strong bones and get broken easily”. He recommended that they should drink lots of milk, learn to work with their own hands, walk on foot when taking trips so that their bones are strong.
Sekoboto said the recruits learnt physical training, military tactics, science and technology in weapons, map reading, field craft, foot and arms drill, first aid, HIV awareness and management, the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Act and regulations and miscellaneous subjects. He said they worked with the Lesotho Mounted Police, National Security Service and Lesotho Correctional Service to train the new soldiers.
Speaking at the same occasion, the LDF Commander Lieutenant Genera lTlali Kamoli said last Friday’s ceremony was supposed to show growth but the newly recruited troops were only going to fill vacancies. Kamoli said many soldiers had left the army to join government departments, parastatals and institutions in the private sector.
He also said the new female soldiers should not have children within five years from the graduation day so that they can effectively undergo further military training programmes. “The law that governs the army of Lesotho that was passed in March 2014 says female members of the army of Lesotho, should not have children after completing their first training until five years have passed,”Kamoli said. He said if a female soldier gets married she must wait until five years to have babies and the ones that are already married should also wait.
Kamoli urged parents of the new recruits to make sure that they do not break this law. He said the aim of this law is to ensure nothing stands in the way of the female members’ military training.
The Minister of Defence Tšeliso Mokhosi said the recruits were trained to be men and women who are trusted to protect the country under all circumstances. Mokhosi said fortunately there are men and women who are already in the army and so they are going to guide the new recruits in all ways.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili said they should learn all the good things that the people who are already in the army are doing “and the love you have for this country should come first”. Mosisili said they should make their love for their country manifest in all things and live a life similar to a man their barracks is named after, Makoanyane, who was Moshoeshoe I’s number one warrior. He said that their names should be written in Lesotho’s history books like Makoanyane’s.
Mosisili praised the army for its role in what he called acts of security threats in 2007 when ministers’ homes were attacked and soldiers guarding them were disarmed. Another important part he said was played by the army was when he was attacked at State House in April 2009 when mercenaries nearly assassinated him. He said this is where the army of Lesotho “showed that they are trustworthy because they made those people to fail in their bad mission of killing the government ministers”.
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