Peacekeeping troops from the SADC region have started arriving in Lesotho to restore order and stability in the crisis prone small mountainous country. So far Angola, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland have contributed troops to support the SADC standby force on what seems like a possible solution to the melting pot that has become this country.
The decision to engage SADC troops was taken at the Heads of State Summit held in Pretoria in September. Prior to this year’s summit, there have been other attempts to bring stability in member states that were undergoing challenges but with no success. One such county is the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is in turmoil for the simple reason that President Joseph Kabila has refused to step down at the end of his two terms and has on many occasions postponed elections.
For two years now, Kabila has ignored pressure from the international community to call elections as prescribed in the country’s constitution. Many Congolese have had to pay with their lives to realise the dream of holding elections post Kabila era. SADC has not been helpful either and the regional Heads of State have failed to look Kabila in the eye and tell him his time was over.
Another headache for SADC is Zimbabwe. Millions of Zimbabweans still flee their country because of instability and economic hardships brought about by the country’s leadership’s grip on power at whatever cost. SADC should change its tone on sovereignty of member states and emphasise tolerance and adherence to constitution and rule of law if it is to succeed in many of its endeavours. Lesotho has also been a recurring problem dating back to the early 1990s.
We believe that SADC has matured over the years and it is time for the regional body to avail a permanent solution to the crisis in Lesotho. The first steps will be to disarm the warring factions in Lesotho military and redeploy some of them to other government departments or even send others to prison or in exile. All these should be done within the laws of the country, but trials should be handled or observed by foreign judges and magistrates to enhance transparency and prevent instances of bias.
With a small population of just over two million, coupled with the country’s small geographical size, it is possible that the citizenry are related in one way or the other or know each other somehow. It is time for SADC to seize this opportunity and bring an end to this crisis to build confidence of its citizens on the institution’s abilities to bring order and stability within the borders of its member states. Ordinary Basotho want to return to their normal lives and their only hope is for SADC to make that possible.
“We need to inspire and give each other confidence so that the work we do will be fruitful for the well-being of the people, the stability and security of the country”
– Bhumibol Adulyadej