Makhoakhoa, disciplined forces walk for peace

 As TRC tries to mend relations between the forces and communities

’MAPALO NKHELOANE

BOTHA-BOTHE – The second annual Makhoakhoa walk was held in Botha-Bothe under the auspices of the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) to raise awareness on the need to forge relations between civilians and security institutions for better protection of human rights.

The initiative involved public gatherings held to restore the now tarnished relations between the security sector and the civilian population in the district.

TRC’s Human Rights Officer, Masenono Letsie, in an interview with Public Eye expressed concern over the increasing incidents of killings of community members by security agencies and vice versa.

Letsie, therefore, said as the proud sponsor of the historic Makhoakhoa Walk, their major role was to resuscitate the relations between the former and the latter for a better and more peaceful Lesotho.

She further indicated that civilians currently see the police and soldiers as their worst nightmare which is why “the gatherings we are holding are meant to fix that mentality.”

Giving credence negative view that communities have of the disciplined forces were remarks made by some community members at a gathering at Serutle after realising that members of the LDF were present.

Some even went as far as leaving the event, showing that they could not be at the same gathering with their worst enemies. Letsie said the act showed that this showed there was need for serious intervention before things worsen.

She was, however, glad because the TRC’s involvement in the Makhoakhoa Walk granted them a chance to take a step forward in mending the broken relationship. Letsie thanked the European Union for funding their visit to Botha-Bothe.

Members of the LDF joined the walk, a step towards bonding and engaging in conversations with the community that participated. This was done in an effort to challenge the perception that the army-men and the community were enemies.

The Makhoakhoa Walk, which is held annually from October 1 to 4, commemorates Chief Lethole of the Makhoakhoa tribe.

History shows that Chief Lethole is the first among the leaders of different tribes that built the Basotho nation to enter into an agreement with King Moshoeshoe I focused on uniting their people to jointly fight the Lifaqane war.

The organiser of the prestigious walk, Pheello Mohloai, explained that the 30km walk started from Likileng to Qholaqhoe.

He first thanked the two sponsors, being the TRC and the Women In Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), for the insightful gatherings they held for the communities of Botha-Bothe.

“The Makhoakhoa Walk is a walk for change and historic teachings regarding the Makhoakhoa tribe and its iconic chief. It reminds the community of Botha-Bothe of their roots and provides the entire nation with knowledge regarding past historic events that occurred in Botha-Bothe,” Mohloai explained.

The walk was celebrated under the theme “Civilian-security institutions relations are critical for human rights and women protection during Covid-19”.

Makhoakhoa Walk also offered stalls and business opportunities mostly to underprivileged nearby villagers as a way of giving back to the community. Villagers who were given the business opportunities offered basic needs for a price to people at a camping site for the four-day period.

These included selling warm water for bathing, firewood for the bonfire, mattresses and blankets while others sold food as well as sheep for braai. Nearby shops and households offered the battery charging of phones and laptops as there was no electricity at the camping site.

And Mohloai indicated that bosting small businesses is one of his favourite gestures brought about by the walk. He said knowing that his initiative provides jobs for his fellow villagers, although temporary, fulfils him.

“I am glad that not even the bad weather condition stopped the walk from happening. The rain might have affected this year’s attendance but at least the walk served its intended purpose and that is all that matters.

“Next year we are coming back bigger and better as the intention is for the walk to be hosted annually, especially around the time when Lesotho celebrates independence,” Mohloai said.

Botha-Bothe District Administrator (DA), Tšepa Chaba, said he was grateful and honoured for his community benefited and learned a lot from the gatherings that were held for them.

He also showed that they acquired vital information as leaders in their district as the main issues discussed were in relation to human rights which is currently a great challenge.

The DA mentioned that the gatherings were held at the right time when the community barely pays attention to what the law said.

He continued to show that his major concern is that the community thinks the police and soldiers are fighting them when they are rightfully enforcing the law, especially now when the country is battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

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