Women snatch civil society leadership…what next?
Untold suffering and bloodshed and yet the festive, or killing season if you may, is not over yet.
the police on tuesday this week released disturbing statistics of the mayhem which took place throughout the country between 20 and 25 december.
These figures, it should be emphasised, were only those reported to the police, which could suggest they might be but only a tip of the iceberg.
At least 27 fatal car crashes, and 29 senseless murders in less than one week is hardly the ideal news at a time people are supposed to be enjoying themselves and at peace with themselves following a hectic year.
Yet nothing could be further from the truth and as pointed out by Police Spokesperson Senior Inspector lebona Mohloboli elsewhere in this issue, this violence should not be happening in a civilised society such as ours.
Senior Inspector Mohloboli suggests a new approach to policing could help bring these shocking statistics down— which also include 23 sexual offences, 19 cases of housebreaking and two of armed robbery, over the period under review.
Yet while a new modus operandi by the police might deter the criminal element among us, what is even more disturbing is the fact that some leading members of our society, such as businesspeople, have unwittingly become accomplices in some of these crimes.
Most of the murders the police say took place last week, happened in public drinking places which had no right to be operational at the time of the commission of the crimes.
In their efforts to cash-in on the festive season, such businesses disregard their stipulated operating times and remain open till the last patron staggers home in the wee hours of the day.
Sadly, some of these customers do not make it home as they fall prey to criminals who prowl such taverns in search of easy quarry.
Because the businesses will be operating outside the regulated hours, the police would not be around to ensure law and order, leaving innocent people vulnerable to cutthroats who never hesitate to take a life in their pursuit of undeserved wealth.
the police have also reported that the road carnage is almost always the result of intoxicated drivers losing control of their vehicles—another indication that these are crimes committed by people who should know better but simply don’t care about the welfare of others.
With lengthy and oft costly campaigns highlighting the dangers of being drunk behind the wheel clearly not yielding the desired outcome, maybe the time has come when the police, the courts, our lawmakers and other relevant stakeholders, should be considering harsher penalties for these offenders.
the same should also be the case with businesspeople who flout regulations in pursuit of super-profits.
Custodial sentences with no option of paying a fine would be an ideal start, with the jail terms increasing proportionally for repeat offenders.
Special courts for such cases would also ensure the lawbreakers are speedily dealt with, unlike the current situation where some transgressors only answer for an accident five years after the commission of the crime.
Again, the police should also be severely punished for accepting bribes from such transgressors and then allowing them to go because sooner, rather than later, they are bound to commit a similar offense once again.
Senior Inspector Mohloboli has also said members of the lesotho defence Force would join the police in patrolling the countryside to ensure law and order during this festive season. This collaboration, which is not the first time it is happening, is always welcome as it allows peace-loving residents and visitors alike, to enjoy themselves in peace.
there is nothing as disconcerting as coming face to face with an intruder in what should be the comfort of one’s home and the presence of the army and police on the streets gives one that serene sense of security.
After an eventful 12 months—particularly on the political front where the coalition government fell apart, resulting in a snap election in February 2015—the year 2014 has finally come to an end.
Will 2015 be any better? only time will tell. When ‘Mampho thulo, the Managing director of Rural Self-development Association (RSDA) returned unopposed for the presidency of the lesotho Council of ngos, the apex of the civil society organisations in lesotho at its 25th Annual General Meeting, this was seen as a resounding statement that women have a leadership place in the civil society movement.
however, the election of ‘Mankhatho Selepe of development for Peace education (dpe) as deputy President, thusoana ntlama of the Federation of Women lawyers (FIDA) as treasurer, which made the whole executive Committee female, sends a message that needs to be unpacked.
Besides the trio who make up the core leadership, there are other six elected members acting as Commissioners for different sectoral commissions of the Council.
the democracy and human Rights Commission is led by Palesa ntakatsane of the Patriots Vision Association (PAVA), while ‘Masebueng Majara of the Blue Cross thaba-bosiu Centre leads the Women and Children’s Commission. ‘Manthuseng hlopho coming from Centre for empowerment and Social Analysis (CESA) will lead the disaster and humanitarian Commission.
Ben Vontoder of the lesotho environmental Justice Advocacy Centre who is to lead economic justice Commission, thabo Chabatsane of lesotho Forestry Association to lead the Agriculture and environmental Commission and Masenyetse of the lesotho national league of the Visually Impaired Persons to lead the Social development Commission are the only males in the board.
the 66 percent of women representation in the lcn leadership is applauded yet the compelling question is what the sector and women in general are going to make out of this leadership? Will the number of women in the leadership of the lcn make this council a progressive platform that is equal to contemporary issues?
Will this mean any change for the situation of women in this sector? What about in lesotho?
the wave of triumph of liberal orthodox on the world since the demise of the Soviet Bloc and the subsequent end of the Cold War, has not only cornered African states to shift from dictatorship to elected governments but more practically to introduce civil liberties and freedoms in the otherwise customary societies.
By estimates, Sub-saharan Africa, where southern Africa and lesotho in particular is located, is home to more than 22 of the 33 million people of the world living with HIV, and where women and children experience untold suffering from stigma and discrimination as well as inadequate services.
In fact, Lesotho has now been confirmed as the country with the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the world at 23 percent. Unless this female leadership comprehends not only the global trends on gender politics but also local political dynamics, it may not be possible for them to deliver any observable progress.
At the beginning of the 2000s, females were perpetual minors in lesotho. At birth, a female was a child of the father, of the husband when married and of the son upon becoming a widow.
however, within a decade, there has been considerable progress and through the collection of good pieces of legislation such as the Sexual offences, legal Capacity of Married Persons, Companies Act, Gender and development Policy and land Act, a lot of change has been observed.
though there is this considerable change in the legal framework, lesotho remains a highly patriarchal society. Male dominance and female subordination in a patriarchal society are en- trenched into norms and practices that make such imbalance, a way of life. Because a patriarchal society invests in the people’s mind-set, its continuity also turns to define the culture and identity of the society.
despite the commonly held view that laws can address the challenges facing women, sometimes democratically constituted laws and policies as perpetuating violence to the extent that they entrench domination, exploitation and alienation.
lesotho is a democratic Kingdom (Constitution, 1993:1). this hybrid political system espousing civil liberties, while sympathising with customary practices makes progressive affirmative policy choices, such as women quota contentious.
the quotas can be made by laws particularly if there is an adequate majority but women emancipation goes beyond the law to the way of life. Beyond the laws, the question should be: are women able to use the very same laws right in their villages and households where oppression manifests?
the expectation on the lnc women leadership is huge to ensure that the quota of women representation in local government, for example, does not remain a statistical provision that is used to entrench male political domination through party control but turns to transform women’s position socially, economically and politically.
the new leadership is expected to change women’s position in the real sense and ensure that set laws and policies benefit women.
there has been general concern that civil society organisations are maledominated and women leaders are developed into a carbon copy of their male idols. this is the opportunity for women to demonstrate their capability.
In fact, these women did not take this stage simply because they are women; they beat their capable and aspiring male competitors.
Civil society activism in national issues has, for some time now, lacked women’s voices. But will this new leadership bring change?