LDF allays boot camp rumours



MASERU – Claims that only youngsters who have completed boot camp might be eligible for enlistment in the army have been flatly denied by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF). In an interview this week, LDF spokesperson Captain Sakeng Lekola explained that joining the army is a vocation driven by a commitment to defend the nation rather than merely a job opportunity. He said while soldiers are remunerated, their primary duty is national defence.

“This is where every Mosotho child makes profound sacrifices and leaves behind all they possess in pursuit of their country’s freedom. The Lesotho army belongs to the people, established under Constitutional Law Section 145, as amended, mandating the existence of a defence force for Lesotho’s protection. Its operations are guided by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Act No. 4 of 1996 and the LDF Regulations of 1998.

“As I mentioned, the LDF is the people’s asset. Whenever vacancies arise, announcements are made to all eligible Basotho citizens. The criteria include age, educational background, and behaviour; naturally, the LDF does not tolerate criminal behaviour. Applicants undergo rigorous tests and comprehensive health examinations encompassing both mental and physical fitness.”

Lekola said the LDF does not exclusively prioritise individuals who have attended boot camp for army enlistment. Rather, applicants become eligible upon successfully meeting the prescribed tests and criteria. He further showed that the LDF Commander, Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela has expressed a desire for widespread boot camp participation, but recognises the financial constraints faced by some families unable to afford the programme.

In a recent interview, Public Eye spoke with parents to gauge their perspectives on the LDF Boot Camp. Nthati Nyabela, a mother of two, explained that neither she nor her children have attended the boot camp. However, she praised the initiative for its positive impact on moral development and for instilling patriotism in children. Nyabela noted anecdotes from other parents, reporting their children return with improved attitudes and outlooks on life. “I would appreciate the opportunity for my children to participate in this initiative. However, they have not been able to take part due to eligibility constraints. I have a 17-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. I believe that not every child necessarily requires the boot camp experience, as some are already engaged in activities that foster their moral development,” she explained.

Nthatisi Thabane, a mother of four, said the boot camp proactively helps Basotho children recognise their actions, develop self-discipline, and cultivate respect for elders.She said the boot camp fosters patriotism among the youth and contributes to significant behavioural changes. “We are currently grappling with issues like ‘Manomoro’, and the camp plays a pivotal role in instigating behavioural change. Through guided training, the youth undergo a transformative experience where discipline is instilled,” she also said.

The annual boot camp, inaugurated in December 2021, is an integral component of the LDF Youth Development Programme initiated by the LDF Commander. This programme has evolved into a cornerstone practice for the LDF, aiming to nurture youth through boot camps and school outreach initiatives. These efforts focus on instilling moral standards, fostering patriotism, and effecting positive change in the lives of Basotho children. Moreover, the programme aims to mitigate the high incidence of criminal activities among youth.

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