What is women’s place in 2015 elec­tions?

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

A NEW year has dawned. We wish you all a happy and pros­per­ous 2015. In Le­sotho, we are be­gin­ning the New Year with uni­ver­sal fo­cus on the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 gen­eral elec­tions which will see the cur­tain fall­ing on the tragic chap­ter of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment.

Be­cause of the fre­netic and hec­tic na­ture of elec­tions, hold­ing a gen­eral plebiscite is hardly the most sooth­ing way to begin a new year. Moreso af­ter the te­dium and in­er­tia that we all in­cur af­ter our fes­tive in­dul­gences. For Le­sotho, how­ever, there is no other way this time round.

We must wel­come the fact that we are be­gin­ning the year with snap gen­eral elec­tions and we must all en­dure the rig­ors thereof. Af­ter start­ing with so much prom­ise in 2012, it be­came a heavy bur­den that this im­pov­er­ished na­tion could no longer carry. Feud­ing among coali­tion part­ners, some­times bor­der­ing on pet­ti­ness and po­lit­i­cal child­ish­ness, had be­come the or­der of the day. Con­se­quently, im­por­tant mat­ters of gov­er­nance took a back seat. The coun­try vir­tu­ally ground to a halt as Messrs Tha­bane, Mets­ing, Maserib­ane et all per­formed what came to de­fine their nexus; feud­ing.

of course it will be naive to dis­miss the coali­tion gov­ern­ment as a to­tal fail­ure. No­table things, never seen be­fore, were born out of the coali­tion. The most sig­nif­i­cant be­ing the anti-cor­rup­tion drive that saw high pro­file crooks, for the first time ever, be­ing hauled to the courts to an­swer for their shame­less self-ag­gran­dize­ment at the ex­pense of this im­pov­er­ished na­tion.

The de­ci­sion to re­turn the widely re­spected Ad­vo­cate Barotho Mat­soso to the helm of the Di­rec­torate on Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic of­fences (the DCEO) was in it­self a good in­di­ca­tor of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment’s at­tempts to deal with the en­demic graft that the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment al­lowed to per­vade this King­dom like a most di­a­bolic form of can­cer.

For the first ever time in our his­tory, we saw a vig­or­ous at­tempt to get high pro­file fig­ures to ac­count. Of course in any high pro­file pros­e­cu­tions, claims abound that pro­cesses are se­lec­tive and tar­geted at po­lit­i­cal ad­ver­saries. But as the South African Supreme Court of Ap­peal has noted in one prece­dent set­ting judg­ment, a pros­e­cu­tion is not wrong­ful be­cause it is driven by im­proper mo­tives only. In ad­di­tion, there must also be no cred­i­ble or rea­son­able grounds to pros­e­cute. This was hardly the case in most of the cases brought against th­ese high pro­file in­di­vid­u­als as they in­volved le­git­i­mate prima fa­cie is­sues. We all know how the coun­try was sold out by those who pros­ti­tuted ev­ery prin­ci­ple in the guide book to give a gi­gan­tic con­tract to Nikuv. It raises le­git­i­mate ques­tions if a poorly paid politi­cian rakes in hun­dreds of thou­sands of mal­oti into his ac­count from ob­scure sources amid re­ports of shady deals un­der his port­fo­lio.

The coun­try now badly needs a gov­ern­ment that will fo­cus on the busi­ness of gov­er­nance with­out be­ing sad­dled by per­pet­ual in­ter­nal strife. un­for­tu­nately, be­cause of our com­plex elec­toral sys­tem, which seeks to ac­com­mo­date ev­ery small voice, we are un­likely to emerge out of 28 Fe­bru­ary 2018 with one win­ner with the sim­ple ma­jor­ity re­quired to form the next gov­ern­ment. An­other coali­tion gov­ern­ment is likely. But trag­i­cally, such a coali­tion is un­likely to be driven by prin­ci­ples and val­ues to take this coun­try for­ward.

Equally, the vot­ing pat­terns by the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion are un­likely to be de­pen­dent on which party (or coali­tion) has the best poli­cies to carry the coun­try for­ward. Le­sotho suf­fers from the same de­bil­i­tat­ing dis­ease which af­flicts most African coun­tries of ig­no­rant and un­en­light­ened elec­torates. Vot­ing pat­terns are made on silly considerations such as tribal af­fil­i­a­tions or in the case of Le­sotho, with mainly one big tribe, on the ba­sis of re­gion­al­ism or other crass mis­con­cep­tions. Clue­less politi­cians, who have no idea about how to run a gov­ern­ment al­ways have a fight­ing chance.

our ra­dio sta­tions, which reach the most masses, are highly com­pro­mised and each shame­lessly aligns it­self to a par­tic­u­lar party. As a re­sult, there is no in­tel­li­gi­ble de­bate through this crit­i­cal medium of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Ba­sotho should thus seek for them­selves the crit­i­cal need to un­der­stand the plethora of poli­cies and prom­ises of the var­i­ous par­ties and de­ter­mine which party has the re­al­is­tic poli­cies to put food on their ta­bles.

In the end, we can only hope for a new dis­pen­sa­tion that will ad­vance the na­tional in­ter­est of this coun­try re­gard­less of whether or not it will in­clude any mem­bers of the cur­rent coali­tion. oth­er­wise, as we rem­i­nisce the life of the out­go­ing coali­tion, we may also end up firmly living in the curse of the familiar French proverb; plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same). Though the ques­tion whether women will be king mak­ers in the board­rooms and ac­tivists on the drawing boards for party man­i­festoes and gov­er­nance prepa­ra­tions or largely re­main on the dance floor is most rel­e­vant if not crit­i­cal, it may not be asked in the up­com­ing Na­tional As­sem­bly Elec­tions.

The up­com­ing elec­tions will highly likely be on the def­i­ni­tion of the col­lapse of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment and which part­ners to blame for this. This means that par­ties will have lit­tle if any at­ten­tion to the real pol­icy is­sues un­less civil so­ci­ety and in­ter­ests groups force politi­cians to go be­yond blame game on who is guilty and why for the col­lapse of com­bined gov­ern­ment.

Though women form large num­ber of peo­ple who cast their vote and there­fore put gov­ern­ment in of­fice, their is­sues re­main in the mar­gins of the main party man­i­festoes and the party gov­er­nance agen­das.

Now that po­lit­i­cal par­ties present their of­fers to the elec­torate to be in of­fice, a num­ber of ques­tions are im­por­tant in par­tic­u­lar, but for now fo­cus is on women.

Will women use their pres­ence, role and po­si­tions strate­gi­cally to in­flu­ence what their par­ties put on the agenda or will they just ride on the ex­ist­ing po­lit­i­cal party divide?

Are women in dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal par­ties able to read their is­sues be­yond what their po­lit­i­cal par­ties are defin­ing as their ar­eas of con­tention? Will women elec­tors’ votes come as cheap as mere party loy­alty or are they go­ing to put a price tag on their vote?

As­sum­ing that one wants to know whether women are ac­tive in the board rooms or are just artist on the floor dance is there a mark­ing memo?

When po­lit­i­cal par­ties pro­nounce their con­cep­tion of po­lit­i­cal party youth and women leagues one may re­alise that women make their voices heard at the strate­gic lev­els.

Though po­lit­i­cal party youth and women leagues are re­garded by some as em­pow­er­ment ef­forts to en­sure that their is­sues in­form the main party agenda, oth­ers see them as per­pet­u­a­tion of th­ese sec­tors marginali- sa­tion.

Whether it is the ar­gu­ment for or against the leagues which makes sense is a sub­ject of de­bate but what mat­ters most is what par­ties make of them.

The leagues could ei­ther be pro­gres­sive within the party and be used as dou­ble op­por­tu­nity for the sec­tors.

how­ever, they may as well be used to keep women and youth un­der the con­trol of the party lead­er­ship lest they desta­bilise it.

When par­ties do not make their own con­cep­tion of this part of cam­paign con­tent, it might be that women in such par­ties have cho­sen to re­main at the dance floor, blow whis­tles, dress to kill and out­shine oth­ers in the party at­tire colours, and strug­gle for front­lines and prox­im­ity with lead­ers dur­ing the party mass choirs per­for­mance at the ral­lies with ei­ther their fuku-fuku long dresses or miniskirts.

Though lo­cal gov­ern­ment reser­va­tion of one third seats for women is a good pro­vi­sion, the fact that it is the po­lit­i­cal par­ties which de­ter­mine which women oc­cupy such seats cur­tails the women em­pow­er­ment.

There are strong views that who oc­cupy Spe­cial Women Seats should be determined by the elec­torate so that women with qual­i­ties not nec­es­sar­ily those favoured for party struc­tures and lead­er­ship some­times for the rea­sons iron­i­cal to the cause of women eman­ci­pa­tion can be given the po­si­tions.

When par­ties do not tell in their cam­paign con­tent whether they are will­ing to change or keep this, it might be that women in such par­ties have cho­sen to re­main at the dance floor, blow whis­tles, dress to kill and out­shine oth­ers in the party at­tire colours, and strug­gle for front­lines and prox­im­ity with lead­ers dur­ing party mass choirs per­for­mance at the ral­lies with ei­ther their fuku-fuku long dresses or miniskirts.

Le­sotho con­sti­tu­tion sec­tion 18(4) (b) and (c) re­spec­tively in­su­late dis­crim­i­na­tion in the ap­pli­ca­tion of the cus­tom­ary law of Le­sotho. In 1995 Le­sotho made reser­va­tion on the ar­ti­cle 2 of the In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion on Elim­i­na­tion of all forms of Dis­crim­i­na­tion Against Women (CEDAW) which read: The Gov­ern­ment of the King­dom of Le­sotho does not con­sider it­self bound by Ar­ti­cle 2 to the ex­tent that it con­flicts with Le­sotho’s con­sti­tu­tional stip­u­la­tion rel­a­tive to suc­ces­sion to the Throne of the king­dom of Le­sotho and the law re­lat­ing to chief­tain­ship. The Le­sotho gov­ern­ment’s rat­i­fi­ca­tion is sub­ject to the un­der­stand­ing that none of its obligations un­der the con­ven­tion es­pe­cially in Ar­ti­cle 2(c) shall be treated as ex­tend­ing to the af­fairs of re­li­gious de­nom­i­na­tions. Fur­ther­more, the Le­sotho gov­ern­ment de­clares that it shall not take any leg­isla­tive mea­sures un­der the Con­ven­tion where those mea­sures would be in­com­pat­i­ble with the Con­sti­tu­tion of Le­sotho.

In 2004, the reser­va­tion was re­laxed to only ap­ply to the ex­tent that it af­fects the suc­ces­sion to the throne and chief­tain­ship. The case of Se­nate David gabashane Ma­sopha im­me­di­ately comes to mind.

Some hu­man rights and women ac-

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