Africa-Press – Lesotho. PRIME Minister Sam Matekane last weekend dashed off to northern Mozambique where Lesotho’s soldiers are helping in the fighting against Islamic jihadists.
Soldiers who are serving there told Matekane of the huge challenges they are facing on national duty. The premier, who expressed his gratitude for the reception he received from the troops in the bush, pledged to act to resolve some of their problems.
“I have learned of the hardships you are going through and I promise that we will sit down and deal with them,” Matekane said.
“We will discuss how we solve the challenges you are facing here in deployment.
In a statement released by the army after Matekane’s visit, the premier urged the troops to be vigilant at all times as they are operating behind enemy lines.
Last year in January, the then Finance Minister Thabo Sophonea said the government was so broke that it could not continue financing the soldiers’ upkeep in Mozambique.
Sophonea even said the government was considering withdrawing the Lesotho contingent force from the SADC troops fighting the jihadists. Sophonea said SADC states had pledged to pay the soldiers’ allowances but there had been serious delays that put a strain on Lesotho’s resources.
He said the government was struggling to even buy food for the soldiers. Matekane’s visit to the Nangade district of the northern Cabo-Delgado Province in Mozambique was brief and done secretly because of security concerns.
Matekane was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Lejone Mpotjoane and the army commander, Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela, among others. Brigadier Posa Setemmere also joined the crew.
The army said the contingent commander, Commando Lieutenant Colonel Makhoahle, told the prime Minister that the insurgents’ bases were very close to their forward operating base.
“I am sure you have heard when one of my officers was giving you orientation that they are very close to us,” Commando Lt Col Makhoahle said.
“This is where we live,” Lt Col Mahoahle said.
“This is our new home away from home.
Lt Col Mokhoahle said participating in a mission like the one they are part of brings remarkable growth and experience to the country, government, and the army itself.
He said it equips officers and soldiers with relevant knowledge and experience to deal with similar situations in future. He said terrorism is very contagious and if SADC member states turned a blind eye to the situation in Mozambique, it would spread to the other SADC countries.
The Islamic State-linked insurgents have been terrorising the Mozambique northern region of Cabo Delgado since 2017, causing a humanitarian crisis that has left hundreds dead, thousands facing food shortages and over a million displaced.
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