Lessons from failed 8th par­lia­ment

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis -

Ev­Ery ac­tion/decision, or lack of ei­ther or both, by a Man­ager of any sta­tus has some value. There is ei­ther some gain or loss to the or­ga­ni­za­tion one has to man­age.

That the 8th Par­lia­ment has pre­ma­turely been dis­solved is enough ev­i­dence that state af­fairs have been mis­man­aged to the ex­tent they have been.

Let us ex­am­ine the par­lia­ment it­self. Le­sotho is where it is now be­cause of ei­ther poor or good goal keep­ing, by Pre­sid­ing Of­fices of the Na­tional Assem­bly.

There are ar­gu­ments that had Pre­sid­ing Of­fi­cers of the 8th Par­lia­ment done what they did dif­fer­ently, and in the true spirit of neu­tral­ity from their high ta­ble, the 8th Par­lia­ment could still be in place.

Fi­nally, the na­tion now has to pay dearly for all that goes with early dis­so­lu­tion and the sub­se­quent snap elec­tion.

The crust of the mat­ter is whether it was a right decision not to de­bate the no-con­fi­dence mo­tion in the House for a rea­son that a par­lia­men­tary mo­tion and ten­ta­tive business of the House had been chal­lenged in court.

This, it was given, was based purely on copies of pa­pers filed in court. Sadly, that highly ex­pected court in­ter­ven­tion was never to be: Lead­ing to fur­ther mis­man­age­ment of state af­fairs.

The ul­ti­mate rem­edy now, is the costly snap elec­tion which the out­come of the mo­tion would have avoided very cheaply.

Le­sotho has now learnt about coali­tions. This has how­ever been a sad les­son. Coali­tions could be a dan­ger­ous threat to po­lit­i­cal party ide­olo­gies.

In coali­tions, weaker par­ties end up for­get­ting their own out­look and those who voted their lead­ers to power.

One leader in the coali­tion is known to have openly pledged to support the dear leader of a coali­tion party who hap­pens to be Head of Gov­ern­ment, to re­main Prime Min­is­ter: rather than in­di­cate how his own party would strife to win the next elec­tion.

To many, that was odd and re­vealed how that Leader’s hope for sur­vival in gov­ern­ment was in a coali­tion set up. Oth­er­wise, he is sure for ex­clu­sion form gov­ern­ment.

On the one hand, other par­ties support coali­tions largely in their in­ter­ests and not nec­es­sar­ily to strengthen a par­lia­men­tary sys­tem.

The LCD in the coali­tion could not follow blindly, when par­lia­ment was uni­lat­er­ally pro­rogued un­der the ex­cuse that this was con­sti­tu­tional. LCD has its own out­look as a congress party.

The rest of the coali­tion had rea­son to view LCD as a spoiler of their val­ued coali­tion. LCD equally had its val­ues.

Another crit­i­cal les­son on coali­tions is their ten­dency to di­lute the con­ven­tional pri­macy of a Prime Min­is­ter. Coali­tion cur­tails and re­stricts PM’s pow­ers.

A Prime Min­is­ter has not to throw his oth­er­wise heavy weight around as he pleases. A PM in a coali­tion as­sumes a di­min­ished role: just to cap­tain a team of Min­is­ters.

A PM is not at lib­erty to ei­ther pick or re­place a player from one party’s team or camp.

The Le­sotho coali­tion has seen its PM fail to re­de­ploy BNP Min­is­ters or to re­move an LCD Min­is­ter from of­fice.

Ear­lier, he was called to or­der when he at­tempted to shift the LHDA project to his turf, from LCD con­trol.

In this ex­am­ple, a coali­tion gov­ern­ment qual­i­fies to be com­pared with what used to be called ‘’ KHUNYA-KHUNYA”.

This was a can­vas bag which hos­pi­tals of that time used, large enough to con­tain an adult hu­man be­ing, to restain dan­ger­ous pa­tients with men­tal ill­ness.

A pa­tient had to stay put in the bag or call for as­sis­tance to be able to get to the toi­let or do any other thing. Coali­tion PMs have to do just that: con­sult; for a coali­tion to work well. Le­sotho is where it is be­cause of fail­ure to ask or con­sult.

Le­sotho has fur­ther ex­pe­ri­ences a sad ef­fect of coali­tions. They en­cour­age mid-stream splits and de­fec­tions.

This is a chal­lenge to cap­tains of par­ties in coali­tions. How a leader leads or man­ages his own party is of sig­nif­i­cance.

The his­tor­i­cal de­fec­tion of two prom­i­nent mem­bers of the ABC, a rul­ing party, owes its causes to this as­pect. Sim­i­larly, the emer­gence of Bolekana from LCD, as a rul­ing party, could be at­trib­uted to this dilemma. All eyes will be on th­ese two rul­ing par­ties in the next elec­tion.

Coali­tions fur­ther en­cour­age pro­lif­er­a­tion of po­lit­i­cal par­ties. New par­ties get born just to try their luck to gain ac­cess to na­tional power.

For coali­tions to sur­vive, ev­ery party, in­clud­ing that which is not known, is im­por­tant. New par­ties read the mal­prac­tices of coali­tions and wish to gain favour of the feud­ing par­ties in the next elec­tion.

An in­signif­i­cant party, with hardly a sin­gle con­stituency won can be coopted by the more pow­er­ful into gov­ern­ment. BNP is a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple.

The com­ing to­gether of the DC and LCD with a wish to undo the ABC, LCD and BNP coali­tion was another in­ter­est­ing les­son. DC and LCD were largely like-minded; un­like the mix of ABC, LCD and BNP which are ac­tu­ally strange bad fel­lows.

Most prob­a­bly, a rule by DC and LCD could not be as bumpy as that which has failed to go beyond three years.

With the 2012-2014 first coali­tion, many thought it marked a be­gin­ning of po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ment.

It only ush­ered in in­gre­di­ents of po­lit­i­cal de­cay which only di­vided His Majesty’s na­tion into frag­ments.

Many pre­dict Le­sotho will never ever have an ad­min­is­tra­tion of the kind dis­played by the ABC, LCD, and BNP coali­tion. It is in such sit­u­a­tions that per­son­al­ity traits come into play.

Whether a po­lit­i­cal party gets re-elected or not is de­pen­dant on the qual­ity of per­sonal lead­er­ship.

The na­tion can count on the num­ber of times any party which ever ruled Le­sotho was re-elected to gov­ern.

Let us end th­ese lessons with the be­gin­ning: lessons from par­lia­ment it­self. Pre­sid­ing Of­fi­cers of the Na­tional Assem­bly ap­peared as un­pre­dictable as the Ex­ec­u­tive it­self.

To some, that was the way they dis­played their neu­tral­ity, while oth­ers only saw lack of it. It is doubt­ful if any of the MPs of the 8th Par­lia­ment ac­tu­ally knows the num­ber of all “rul­ings from the chair” made dur­ing their pe­riod. One would ex­pect all th­ese to be com­piled and cir­cu­lated as prece­dents whether good or bad.

Th­ese ought to be lessons for the next crop of MPs. Oth­er­wise the run­ning of the 8th par­lia­ment would have been just a cir­cus.

The 9th Par­lia­ment MPs have to be aware of the short­com­ings of the 8th Par­lia­ment: To avoid rep­e­ti­tion of the same.

The next par­lia­ment would be chal­lenged to con­fider the va­lid­ity of the old school of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment prin­ci­ple that: you fit a per­son to the job and a job to a per­son. All this en­ables man­agers to avoid mis­fits for or­ga­ni­za­tional suc­cess. Do­ing a wrong thing is ac­tu­ally un­law­ful.

It could be by the grace of God that the whole lot of us had to pre­ma­turely go; be­cause the 8th Par­lia­ment and its Ex­ec­u­tive have been a li­a­bil­ity to this na­tion. It is no sur­prise that no one, of late, could be heard to make a men­tion of “Muso oa Molimo/ Gov­ern­ment des­ig­nated by God”.

It is very sad­den­ing that SADC has had to go beyond med­i­ta­tion and has to ac­tu­ally par­ent the King­dom by en­sur­ing that each of the chil­dren in the fam­ily ac­tu­ally car­ries his/her own school bag.

The other good mir­ror to re­flect the kind of gov­ern­ment Le­sotho had will be Au­dit re­ports for the June 2012 — March 2015 pe­riod of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment.

There are many who doubt whether the 9th Par­lia­ment will find any mean­ing­ful 20152016 bud­get in place. The ABC, LCD and BNP coali­tion in­her­ited good pro­grammes from its pre­de­ces­sor.

All have to just wait to see the Au­dit re­ports on that legacy.

Above ev­ery thing else, per­for­mances of the ABC, LCD and BNP coali­tion gov­ern­ment has been a dis­grace of the new Mpilo Hill fa­cil­ity con­structed by the congress gov­ern­ment. Mem­bers’ ques­tions were of­ten dif­fered.

The very last day when the House ad­journed sine die pend­ing dis­so­lu­tion set the worst ex­am­ple.

Luck­ily, SADC of­fi­cials were in attendance, wit­ness­ing the three or so Min­is­ters in attendance, re­quest­ing de­fer­re­ment of ques­tions.

In other worlds, all those mem­bers’ de­ferred ques­tions will never be replied to by this coali­tion. That was sad.

The 8th par­lia­ment of Le­sotho has failed to main­tain it’s prom­ises, opines the writer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.