Keep an eye on those in state power

Lesotho Times - - Feedback - Makhabane Maluke

MACHI­AVEL­LIANS surely have a rea­son for keep­ing a keen in­ter­est in the be­hav­ior of rulers of States.

Rulers are hu­man be­ings and be­have as such one way or the other. From day one of the ABC/LCD/BNP Coali­tion, the writ­ing flick­ered on the high walls of Maseru that it was doomed to fail­ure. The two-year run has ac­tu­ally been longer than many ex­pected.

The ex­clu­sion of the most popular party in gov­ern­ment was a huge mis­cal­cu­la­tion. This coali­tion was an out­come of mere luck and for­tune. It was only blessed with very vo­cal loy­al­ists and sym­pa­thiz­ers, but con­spic­u­ously lacked the es­sen­tial tech­nocrats in some crit­i­cal ar­eas.

It is only through de­pend­able tech­nocrats who can iden­tify the best op­tions for their gov­ern­ments to sta­bilise. Ba­sotho re­main ea­ger to see the au­dit re­ports for the two-year coali­tion rule.

Many prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries were novices as chief ac­count­ing of­fi­cers in min­istries. Some of them were quickly re­de­ployed else­where at the ex­pense of ser­vice de­liv­ery and ac­count­abil­ity to par­lia­ment.

The weak­est link within this coali­tion was not just the num­ber of con­tracted par­ties. In­deed, too many cooks of­ten spoil the broth. This was in ad­di­tion to a ten­dency for a puppy to hold a fully grown bull dog to ran­som in a coali­tion sit­u­a­tion.

A ma­jor weak­ness was that some par­ties were less and least popular, re­spec­tively. The coali­tion could not es­tab­lish its roots in the ho­mo­ge­neous sys­tem it in­her­ited from congress gov­ern­ments.

It had to in­vent its own sys­tem with a hope to prop up each con­trac­tor and his camp first, and fi­nally the coali­tion.

Turfs were cre­ated as no go ar­eas, even by the Head of Gov­ern­ment. We await to see the rul­ing on a Min­is­ter of the Crown who de­clined to be fired. This coali­tion is a real joke where min­is­ters can be red carded any­time, by the ref­eree.

The ten­dency is for gov­ern­ments founded on luck to find the courage to ex­pect for­eign mil­i­tary support/in­ter­ven­tions or mer­ce­nar­ies for sur­vival. This is why early signs of imag­ined dis­tur­bances gen­er­ated loud calls for South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Commu- nity (SADC) to come to Le­sotho and main­tain or­der.

That very SADC has Machi­avel­lians and tech­nocrats. They read the writ­ing on the walls along King’s Way.

It could be on this ba­sis that they did not hand over the chair­man­ship which Le­sotho was con­fi­dently look­ing up to re­ceive at Vic­to­ria Falls. SADC is also out to en­sure that this coali­tion gov­ern­ment is peace­fully re­placed in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

It was no sur­prise that this coali­tion found it ex­pe­di­ent that both the Le­sotho De­fense Force and Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vice be brought un­der a sin­gle au­thor­ity. This may have been de­signed to de­velop a sys­tem that would ex­cep­tion­ally prop up the for­tu­itously ac­quired rule.

We now talk about a failed ex­per­i­ment which only re­minds many Ba­sotho about the BNP rule when the po­lice and PMU were un­der the prime min­is­ter; with a highly mil­i­tarised Po­lice, sup­ple­mented with lo­cal re­servists of Le­botho La Khotso. Vic­tims of those ar­range­ments were largely the cit­i­zens who held po­lit­i­cal views in con­flict with those rulers in power then.

This coali­tion was wel­comed with a con­sid­er­able amount of flat­tery; i.e. en­cour­age­ment and cheer­ing, from wrong sources though. There is al­ways some mo­tive be­hind any form of flat­tery di­rected at the gov­ern­ment.

Dur­ing the cer­e­mony to swear-in the sec­ond batch of min­is­ters and deputy min­is­ters of this coali­tion, one of the of­fi­ci­at­ing mem­bers of the clergy com­mented about an en­act­ment by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment where ex­pect­ing moth­ers would be al­lowed to abort on med­i­cal grounds.

That was flat­tery de­signed to urge the in­com­ing gov­ern­ment to re­think this law when it got into of­fice.

That was a typ­i­cal flat­tery from a man of God, ex­cept that it was a mis­fit for a swear­ing-in cer­e­mony of min­is­ters of gov­ern­ment. It is known that flat­tery can take gov­ern­ment on its wings.

The in­com­ing gov­ern­ment was show­ered with var­ied forms of flat­tery: e.g. that it had promised to le­galise mar­i­juana etc. Gov­ern­ment was dubbed “’Muso oa Molimo/gov­ern­ment des­ig­nated by God”.

The lat­ter stopped abruptly, be­cause the an­tic­i­pated god­li­ness in the coali­tion gov­ern­ment failed to shine. Var­i­ous at­tempts to re­vive the con­fused coali­tion through prayer ap­peared worth­less, as sig­ni­fied by fail­ure to hon­our some agree­ments which were tai­lored to bring or­der to the coali­tion.

The ru­mour mill cites another front whose flat­tery is said to have been the most ef­fec­tive. It makes men­tion of the so-called vet­er­ans, Re­source Group or Think Tank.

How th­ese re­late with the rul­ing party Cen­tral Com­mit­tee re­mains un­clear. What is known is that the sec­re­tary gen­eral of that Cen­tral Com­mit­tee had to re­sign and even de­fected from the party.

It is al­leged that it is from this front that flat­tery it churns out tends to land gov­ern­ment in court bat­tles it of­ten fails to win. The weak­ness of a gov­ern­ment is fur­ther demon­strated through its de­feats by those who take gov­ern­ment to court.

Our coali­tion has passed this test with dis­tinc­tion. It has been good at mis­gov­ern­ing if court rul­ings are any­thing to go by as a form of mea­sure.

The pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment to re­place or dis­place key func­tionar­ies in the ju­di­ciary, in­clud­ing the at­tor­ney gen­eral, di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions, gov­ern­ment sec­re­tary, com­mis­sion­ers of po­lice etc speaks vol­umes.

It was ea­ger to es­tab­lish its own sys­tem overnight, hop­ing to serve its wishes as it wished. This move may have been viewed as sharp­en­ing the saw, but ended up dig­ging a grave for the coali­tion it­self. Change has to be man­aged, and not rushed or im­posed.

Tem­per­ing with the gen­eral pub­lic ser­vice which had all along been very sta­ble was a re­ac­tion which lacked log­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions.

The pow­ers that be ought to have learnt from the late BCP leg­endary leader, Ntsu Mokhehle, who had as­sumed power through the popular vote and not luck. He is re­mem­bered for his ap­proach: “Ba tla iteleka”. He was con­scious not to dis­rupt a work­ing sys­tem his gov­ern­ment in­her­ited.

He never pushed, chased or wished away any key ac­tors. Grad­u­ally, the old guard he in­her­ited weath­ered away. The coali­tion could not wait for a mo­ment.

Best men and women had to come on board soon­est pos­si­ble, be­cause the gravy train would be on the rails for only two years.

This coali­tion ac­tu­ally shot it­self in the foot. The supreme leader at­ti­tude has no place in coali­tions. Ev­ery con­trac­tor who sub­scribed to the coali­tion mat­ters.

This is why one key con­trac­tor failed to carry the heavy supremacy of the supreme leader any fur­ther. Enough was enough, and the fi­nal whis­tle is due in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

Le­sotho of the Eighth Par­lia­ment is where it is to­day be­cause of the qual­ity, cal­i­bre, tal­ent skills etc of all — in­di­vid­u­ally or col­lec­tively — those who run this State. In­deed, even very good or ac­claimed man­agers oc­ca­sion­ally mis­man­age.

Their good­ness shows when they ac­cept and ac­knowl­edge their mis­takes. It is doubt­ful if mem­bers of this coali­tion can bravely stand up to take the blame for any mis­deed.

In­stead, the con­sti­tu­tion of Le­sotho will al­ways be a scape­goat for any out­right mis­man­age­ment. Most of the wrongs are pro­tected as con­sti­tu­tional.

The next gov­ern­ment will have to avoid be­ing as un­wise as to have the very min­i­mum of 61 seats to form a gov­ern­ment like this coali­tion did.

In the event of another coali­tion in the Ninth Par­lia­ment, it will have to re­spect the rule of coali­tions: where a gov­ern­ment losses its con­trol of the House, it has to hand over to the par­ties that have the majority, rather than fran­ti­cally avoid or post­pone the judg­ment day.

The at­ti­tude of “over my dead body” is very un­demo­cratic and re­flects a rule where na­tional in­ter­est ranks very low.

Le­sotho, as a case study on coali­tions in Africa has been a bad per­former. There is need to re­ally watch our rulers.

Hon­ourable Maluke is the Bo­batsi Num­ber 80 Con­stituency Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and be­longs to the main op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Congress.

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