Only one Member of Parliament (MP) attended the civil-military relations and security sector transformation seminar RECENTLY organised by the United States (U.S.) embassy in Maseru.
This stark absence of parliamentary representation has raised questions about the level of commitment towards the crucial security sector reforms in the country.
Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Machesetsa Mofomobe, who confirmed to this publication that he attended the seminar, said he was unable to join the closing ceremony, citing pressing prior commitments.
The seminar’s conclusion was officiated by U.S. Ambassador Maria E. Brewer on Friday.
Retired U.S. Brigadier General Russ Howard expressed his disappointment at the limited MP turnout during the closing ceremony.
â€œOnly one MP did attend the course and was very productive in the course as he participated very well. We wish we had more MPs because we really need them and we insist all MPs should join the course,â€ emphasised General Howard.
Howard outlined the seminarâ€™s primary objectives, highlighting its focus on promoting democracy, civilian control of the military, and discussions on the roles and missions of security services.
He stressed the importance of the whole government’s involvement in ensuring national security.
Brigadier Naha Kolisang of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) underscored the ongoing national reform process in Lesotho, emphasising the need for comprehensive reforms within the security agencies.
He highlighted the seminar’s key purpose: to foster stronger relations between security agencies and other civil organisations.
“The seminar covered everything including the relationship between the military and other security agencies with the government as the main body. We got to understand what it means to obey and abide by the rules of the parliament as it plays the major role in national security of which that relation is important,â€ explained Kolisang.
Expressing dissatisfaction with the MPsâ€™ absence, Kolisang remarked: â€œTo us it is unfair that MPs, especially those who are in security committees, were not present here. If one side does not attend, then the initiative will be in vain.â€
In her closing remarks, Ambassador Brewer reflected on the seminar’s significance as the second visit by a Department of Defense Institute for Security Governance Mobile Education team.
She expressed hope for continued collaboration and praised the instructors for their extensive experience in Africa.
The seminar was hailed as a pivotal moment in the U.S. governmentâ€™s joint efforts to support Lesothoâ€™s National Reform Process, known as â€œThe Lesotho We Want.â€
Ambassador Brewer emphasised the initiativeâ€™s embodiment of the nationâ€™s aspirations for improved governance, security, and prosperity.
â€œCentral to this vision is the imperative transformation of the security sectorâ€”a cornerstone in the foundation of any thriving society. The task of enhancing civil-military relations and fostering the seamless collaboration of government entities is no small feat. Yet, through strategic dialogue, shared insights, and the exchange of best practices, it is an attainable goal,â€ she said.
â€œThe goal of this seminar has been clear: to foster positive civil-military relations and to empower you, the nation’s dedicated leaders, to effectively address the pressing security challenges facing Lesotho,â€ she added.