The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Preventive Mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho (SAPMIL) was officially launched by the Representative of the Chairperson of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Admiral Gasper Rufino on 2nd December 2017, at the VODACOM Park Grounds in Maseru, Lesotho.
The launch was attended by Acting Prime Minister of Lesotho, Honourable Monyane Moleleki and SADC Executive Secretary was represented by SADC Director Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs, Mr Jorge Cardoso.
In delivering his remarks Remarks , Director Cardoso expressed his gratitude to the acting Prime Minister and the Government of Lesotho for their commitment shown towards the implementation of SADC decisions that aim at assisting Lesotho to return to normalcy in its political and security situation. He further recalled the different preliminary actions taken by SADC leadership that led to the official launch of the mission on this day.
The Acting Prime Minister Hon. Moleleki conveyed his gratitude to countries of the region who deployed their personnel to Lesotho in order to secure a stable and peaceful environment to restore the stability of the country: “your presence here today bears witness to yet another historic and firm resolve by SADC to support the Kingdom of Lesotho in her quest to institute reforms aimed at achieving lasting political and security, necessary for economic development and the general well-being of Basotho” he said.
In his official opening remarks, the Representative of the Chairperson of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, State Secretary of Defence of the Republic of Angola, Admiral Gaspar dos Santos Rufino, thanked the Government and the people of Lesotho for warmly welcoming SAPMIL personnel. He assured them that SAPMIL was deployed to support the Kingdom of Lesotho in its quest to restore peace, security and stability to the country and not to takeover or replace the Lesotho Defence Force or other security institutions of Lesotho. Therefore, it should not be considered as an intruder or an invader but rather like brothers and sisters from the region willing to assist Basotho. He finally expressed optimism that at the end of the Mission both SADC and the Kingdom of Lesotho will win.
Prior to the re-hatting of the contingent and the inspection of the contingent by the Head of SAPMIL, Admiral Rufino officially opened the SAPMIL Headquarters by the hoisting the SADC Flag, accompanied by the Acting Prime Minister of Lesotho, Honourable Monyane Moleleki, and the Representative of the SADC Executive Secretary, Mr. Jorge Cardoso.
Admiral Rufino also handed over the SADC flag to the Head of mission, Ambassador Matias Matondo signifying the handing over power to enable the Head of Mission direct and supervise the SAPMIL.
SAPMIL comprises of 269 personnel: 207 Military personnel, 15 Intelligence officers, 24 Police officers; and 12 Civilian experts in different fields. The team will be on the ground for an initial period of 6 months. It has been deployed for a period on initial six months subject to extension.
The mission was launched pursuant to the decision of the Double Troika Summit (DTS) of 15 September 2017 to deploy a Contingent Force to the Kingdom of Lesotho in order to facilitate a secure, stable and peaceful environment conducive for the Rule of Law necessary for the implementation of SADC decisions, including the Security Sector Reforms. The DTS decision also followed a request from the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho. SAPMIL has therefore been deployed with the consent of the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho in order to complement Lesotho Government’s efforts to attain lasting peace and security in the country.
The official launch was followed by a Media briefing at the Lesotho Convention Center where the Representative of the SADC Chairperson of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation in presence of the Acting Prime Minister of Lesotho, some members of the Government of Lesotho, and the Diplomatic Corps, briefed the Media and sensitized them on their role to inform the public in general and the Basothos in particular of the objectives and the mandate of the mission.