Rad­i­cal po­lit­i­cal, se­cu­rity re­form needed

Lesotho Times - - Feedback - Moeketsi Ma­joro

IN THE ab­sence of deep and rad­i­cal po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms as well as so­cial heal­ing, Le­sotho’s frag­ile and un­sta­ble po­lit­i­cal ar­chi­tec­ture will con­tinue to feed law­less­ness and ul­ti­mately vi­o­lent con­flict.

The fail­ure by po­lit­i­cal lead­ers to re­assess their roles and recom­mit to ad­vanc­ing Le­sotho’s long-term in­ter­ests at the ex­pense of their own short-term am­bi­tions is adding fuel to the cur­rent volatile po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion.

Fur­ther­more, th­ese short-term vested in­ter­ests, which can never be equated to na­tional in­ter­est, de­rive from en­trenched cor­rup­tion and other se­ri­ous crimes.

Le­sotho faces a daunt­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis, which past gov­ern­ments have failed to ad­dress over the en­tire post-in­de­pen­dence pe­riod. The cri­sis has man­i­fested in high in­ci­dences of:

Poverty (57 per­cent); Hunger (39 per­cent) and mal­nu­tri­tion (40 per­cent);

An HIV/AIDS preva­lence of 23 per­cent, sec­ond high­est in the world, and the re­lated or­phan­ing of chil­dren;

One of the high­est ma­ter­nal and in­fant mor­tal­ity rates in Africa; and

Un­em­ploy­ment (25 per­cent).

The re­cently an­nounced work pro­gramme of Le­sotho’s coali­tion gov­ern­ment to re­verse th­ese cri­sis in­di­ca­tors and cre­ate thou­sands of jobs for Ba­sotho was seen as the only cred­i­ble and in­no­va­tive plan to fi­nally trans­form the so­cial and eco­nomic fab­ric of the coun­try.

The pro­posed trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme, now held hostage by this po­lit­i­cal im­passe, is not only in­clu­sive and com­pre­hen­sive, it is also founded on sound di­ag­nos­tics and fresh ideas and prin­ci­ples.

The need for the trans­for­ma­tion of Le­sotho is ur­gent and must suc­ceed, but this will re­quire to­tal fo­cus and con­certed ef­forts on the work pro­gramme by po­lit­i­cal par­ties, legis- la­tors, gov­ern­ment, civil so­ci­ety, the pri­vate sec­tor and in­ter­na­tional co-op­er­at­ing part­ners.

The pro­gramme, cov­er­ing crit­i­cal hu­man­i­tar­ian in­ter­ven­tions, a job strat­egy and in­vest­ment cli­mate re­forms, demon­strates an emerg­ing ac­knowl­edge­ment of past pol­icy fail­ures and the need to take a to­tally dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.

It is deeply dis­ap­point­ing that some lead­ers are pre­oc­cu­pied with other in­ter­ests rather than im­ple­ment­ing or sup­port­ing this pro­gramme.

The suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of the work pro­gramme re­quires per­ma­nent and en­trenched po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity and, more desperately, the rule of law.

The con­flict has dra­mat­i­cally weak­ened the na­tional com­mit­ment to con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism, democ­racy and the rule of law.

It has also as sown seeds for law­less­ness, de­fi­ance of con­sti­tu­tional or­der, se­lec­tiv­ity in abid­ing by the law and ul­ti­mately civil con­flict.

The po­lar­i­sa­tion of so­ci­ety through the false di­vi­sion of Ba­sotho into be­ing ei­ther “congress” or “na­tion­al­ist” cou­pled with false “vic­tim” com­plex could ul­ti­mately feed the vi­o­lence that some po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have openly ad­vo­cated.

Le­sotho’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to walk back from this dan­ger­ous precipice and must be­gin the dif­fi­cult process of so­cial heal­ing and recom­mit­ment to con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity and gen­uine democ­racy.

No one else can re­store the ma­tu­rity, self­less­ness and the loy­alty to coun­try.

The South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) has its lim­i­ta­tions.

It can­not fully com­pre­hend the true depth of this cri­sis. Worse, con­tin­u­ally mak­ing a mess with the hope that SADC will in­ter­vene does not help Le­sotho to ma­ture.

We must fix this, and once and for all. The hu­mil­i­a­tion im­posed on the proud na­tion of Moshoeshoe is un­de­served.

Other lead­ers, in­clud­ing those of business, need to find the courage to ex­ert in­flu­ence on this sit­u­a­tion rather than wait in the wings and hope for a bet­ter sit­u­a­tion.

I ap­pre­ci­ate that it is dif­fi­cult for other lead­ers to speak out, but Le­sotho be­longs to all of us and not the few look­ing out for their own in­ter­ests.

Equally, the wider in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity needs to be keener on the re-sta­bil­i­sa­tion process that is un­der way in Le­sotho.

The 2015 elec­tion must take place be­cause there is no al­ter­na­tive. How­ever, it will not bring about a last­ing so­lu­tion in the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment of di­vi­sions, law­less­ness, po­lit­i­cal op­por­tunism and de­fi­ance.

To pre­pare Le­sotho for a last­ing set­tle­ment, the crim­i­nal mo­ti­va­tions for the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment must be ac­knowl­edged, openly dis­cussed and ad­dressed.

Fur­ther­more, the na­tional com­pe­tency to ne­go­ti­ate and man­age coali­tion gov­ern­ments must be de­vel­oped be­fore, and not after, the elec­tion.

It is vi­tal to im­ple­ment the re­cently adopted New Zealand re­forms about how coali­tion gov­ern­ments are sup­posed to work. At the very least, the set of re­forms deal­ing with ne­go­ti­at­ing and de-politi­cis­ing the pub­lic ser­vice must be im­ple­mented.

In his BDlive col­umn on 25 Septem­ber , (for­mer South African Re­serve Bank gov­er­nor) Tito Mboweni opines that given deep poverty and a small econ­omy, the loss of power (and by con­trast the thirst for power) drive “even the best of men and women to go ab­so­lutely berserk”.

If he is right, the be­hav­iour he de­scribes must cre­ate a vi­cious cy­cle and not the vir­tu­ous cy­cle im­plied in the work pro­gramme re­ferred to above.

Those who seek po­lit­i­cal power do so to en­rich them­selves and, if they get in, they will not have the time to en­rich the na­tional econ­omy, which in turn will en­sure that those who seek power do so to en­rich them­selves.

Is a poor coun­try by def­i­ni­tion doomed to have weak, di­vi­sive and self-in­ter­ested po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship and to fragility and civil con­flict? Yes and no.

Rwanda and Ethiopia are the most re­cent ex­am­ples of how coun­tries pull them­selves from the brink and chart a new vi­sion of pros­per­ity built on the rule of law and hu­man rights.

But th­ese same ex­am­ples show that this re­quires new lead­ers who embrace that new vi­sion and des­tiny.

For its part, SADC needs to cre­ate the space for that new think­ing to take root. Leav­ing Le­sotho in shack­les and to the mer­cies of the old ways of en­ti­tle­ment, of vi­sion­free lead­er­ship and of state pa­tron­age will lead to last­ing con­flict.

A last­ing set­tle­ment should bring out pa­tri­otic lead­ers com­mit­ted to the trans­for­ma­tion of Le­sotho and this should be the sin­gle­minded ob­jec­tive of re­gional fa­cil­i­ta­tion in Le­sotho.

That said, no out­side me­di­a­tion will suc­ceed with­out a change of hearts by the present pro­tag­o­nists and by the vot­ers.

The lat­ter must elect par­ties that embrace trans­for­ma­tion and re­form and that recog­nise the er­rors of the past.

Ma­joro is Min­is­ter of De­vel­op­ment Plan­ning

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