Lessons from failed 8th parliament
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.