Cletus Mushanawani recently in MASERU, Lesotho
Zimbabwe’S tour of duty in fellow African countries is derived from good neighbourliness and not material gains as the country does not have an expansionist policy, Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko has said.
VP Mphoko was speaking in an interview at Maseru Sun Hotel on Tuesday after a dinner to thank the Zimbabwean contingent that was on a tour of duty in Lesotho as part of the Sadc Observer Mission to the kingdom’s recent elections.
He thanked the team for its professionalism in discharging its duties during the elections.
Zimbabwe deployed personnel, including security details, as part of the Sadc Observer Mission to the elections held following the collapse of the coalition government led by outgoing Prime Minister Dr Thomas Thabane and Deputy Prime Minister Mothejoa Metsing.
The situation was made worse by the friction between the Lesotho Mounted Police Services and the Lesotho Defence Forces, largely at the instigation of the three coalition leaders.
“I want to thank our team that was here on duty observing elections,” said VP Mphoko. “It is always a pleasure to meet and thank each other for a job well done.
“Zimbabwe is very experienced in issues to do with bringing peace to its neighbours. We went to Mozambique to help a friend. We spent time, years there, about eight years. We lost time and lives, but we left without an inch of that country because we are not expansionists.
“We went to DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and we lost lives and time and left with no inch of land of that country, but in the meanwhile when we were helping our friends other countries were pegging to increase their areas of influence, especially in mining and business.
“So, in Lesotho we simply had an observer team. Some have gone back home, some are still here and in the near future they will be going back. They have done a good job and we are on record for doing that wherever we go. The relationships between two countries should be seen along those lines.
“Other countries are inviting our soldiers to assist them in their own countries. Just now we were in Equatorial Guinea monitoring football games and all those are telling stories about our abilities as a country and our military services.”
On costs involved in such missions, VP Mphoko said: “My friend, you know when you talk about costs you can’t do anything. The most important thing a country has to do is address the security situation. If you think you are going to spend money here and let loose the security situation then the repercussions will be more serious than what you will be thinking of, so the cost will at times become secondary.”
VP Mphoko called for unity among all the people of Lesotho for their country to succeed.
“For any country to succeed, the most important thing is unity,” he said. “To be united is fundamental. There are so many parties in this small country and if not careful they might have problems. However, they know their own problems and if they can emphasise on unity they will pull through.”
VP Mphoko said Zimbabwe and Lesotho enjoy cordial relationships dating back to the days of the liberation struggle.
“We always have been friends even during the war,” he said. “The relations between the two countries are very good. His Majesty, the King (Lestie III) passed his warm regards to President Mugabe as well as a special message which I will deliver. We also have diplomatic ties with Lesotho.”
VP Mphoko and his delegation returned home yesterday.