Although the contingent of the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) doing duty at the Mozambique mission continues to impress in delivering service to the troubled people of that country against the rebel formations, their upkeep remains a challenge, Newsday has learnt.
This publication has been reliably informed that members of the force have been twice severed the challenge of non-payment of their service allowances.
This was confirmed by the Ministry of Defense’s Public Relations Officer Matšepo Morojele who confirmed that the delay goes back to as far as November last year
“It is true that they have not yet received their allowances from the month of November and December. The delay is a result of many factors within the processes that are undertaken to issue the allowances,” she said.
Morojele outlined that since the mission was an emergency that the country had not initially planned for, its expenses were not prior budgeted for hence money has to be sourced on the way which sometimes causes delays “…such as this one”.
“Initially we had planned that the soldiers in the mission were to be granted the allowances and these allowances would be those specifically for the Mozambique mission, they received their salaries together with the normal allowances they get every month,” she explained, without saying where the money was to be sourced.
She also added that the system is also contributing to the delay of payments because the allowances are special and are new to the payment system, so it takes a bit of time to reprogramme it in order to accommodate the special allowances.
Mojorele however mentioned that the allowances are expected to pop up anytime from today as long as the long processes are done with.
Meanwhile, it has become apparent that allowances are not the only challenge faced by the forces as other logistical challenges such as resources including transport had been named as another bottleneck for the contingent.
“The ministry provided transport for the mission although transport is the responsibility of Angola, however, we had to ensure that our forces are well equipped for the mission by offering them transport” she explained.
The Minister of Defense Halebonoe Setšabi had told this publication in previous issues that they had encountered problems in the systems to process the payments of the contingent. He had at the time, indicated that some of the challenges came from the fact that his ministry had expected that some of the expenses would have been the responsibility of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Meanwhile, approached to weigh-in on the matter, Principal Secretary in the defense ministry Maphunye Bohloko could not be brought to comment saying her office was already seized with the matter.
Quizzed further at the level and extend of progress she said she was already in meetings dealing with the matter and “…I do not report to you on the progress of my work.”
Of the initially 125 members of the LDF contingent to Mozambique, only one had succumbed to death after having come down with Malaria-related illnesses, a feat which had also been attributed to the challenge of delay in the acquisition of medical response.
Meanwhile, the mission which was initially expected to last no more than three months was subsequently extended to up to January 2022 and it remains to be seen if that will happen or if a further extension may be necessary.
LDF is paired with the Tanzanian forces from whose end positive progress has been recorded including killing some of the rebel leaders and returning thousands of displaced villagers to their homes and restoring such life necessities as water.