Keep an eye on those in state power
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.