THE weekend military coup in Lesotho has provided new Sadc chairperson President Robert Mugabe with an opportunity to flex his muscles and display his aversion to military coups, political analysts said yesterday.
The analysts said Mugabe was likely to urgently organise a regional military intervention if the Lesotho army digs in and refuses to allow Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane back into the country.
Thabane fled the mountainous kingdom on Saturday and sought refuge in South Africa after the army closed in on his official residence and police stations in Maseru.
Thabane has since accused his deputy Mothetjoa Metsing of working in cahoots with the army in the coup, although the latter has denied the charge.
Analyst Charles Mangongera said the Sadc leaders meeting in South Africa were likely to rally behind Thabane.
“Sadc is well known for its aversion of military coups unlike other political groupings in West Africa. There is no such tradition of recognising military governments in Sadc and that, therefore, means they will not accept it,” Mangongera said.
“They will go all out to drive out the army by all means including some kind of military intervention, in which case South Africa because of its geographical location, would play a pivotal role in mobilising the army to crush the dissidents.”
Another analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said: “This should be the easiest task for Mugabe. Sadc is known for its tradition of not allowing the army to intervene in civilian matters. Sadc should just rein in the military leaders behind the coup plot and allow the due process of the law to take its course. Staging or attempting a coup is treasonous and the culprits should face the consequences of their actions.”
South African President Jacob Zuma, who is head of Sadc’s Organ on Defence, Politics, Peace and Security, called an urgent meeting to discuss the Lesotho crisis.
Zimbabwe as the chair of the regional bloc is also attending the meeting which will, among other factors, focus on workable mechanisms to restore peace and stability in Lesotho.
Lesotho, which formed its first coalition government in 2012 after elections ousted the 14-year incumbent Pakalitha Mosisili, has undergone a number of military coups since independence from Britain in 1966.
At least 58 locals and eight South African soldiers died during a political stand-off and subsequent fighting in 1998.