Of Ntate Thabane and First Ladies
LAST week, I provided my full analysis of the Democratic Congress’s manifesto and highlighted its deficiencies. I promised the same on the manifestos of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the All Basotho Convention (ABC), the two leading lights in our Tom and Jerry coalition whose childish shenanigans have foisted an early election upon us.
However, something has cropped up that needs urgent attention. It might appear trivial at first but it’s a very important issue. I will thus defer my analysis of the LCD and ABC manifestos to next week, assuming the two political behemoths (by Basotho standards) would in fact have released their manifestos by then.
I will then wind up with the manifesto of the Basotho National Party (BNP), which I have been equally struggling to lay my hands on. I believe there is one somewhere.
Also remember my promise last year to elaborate on why I think Joang Molapo is one of the very few promising politicians of the future.
Ihaven’t forgotten my pledges. I will explain them including the latest theory being bandied about that Joshua Setipa, the former boss of the Lesotho National Development Corpotation ( LNDC) represents a new breed of politicians who can be the panacea to the problems bedevilling Lesotho in general and the LCD in particular. I have a lot to say about that.
My task to defer my analysis of the LCD and ABC manifestos is made easier by the fact that none of the two parties have in fact released what one can describe as a coherent political manifesto.
The two parties have been too busy fighting to worry about produc- ing their electoral manifestos.
The LCD has got something written in broken Sesotho. I am not sure whether they are hoping to fight the elections on that cryptic document alone.
The ABC have simply dusted the old “manifesto” they used in the previous election and updated it with the latest dates. I am not sure whether that is the best they can offer the electorate.
It seems neither party understands the real meaning and need of proper political manifestos. Much as I butchered the DC manifesto last week, I also made a point of congratulating the party for at least producing one.
If the LCD and ABC have not produced coherent manifestos by the time of going to print next week, I will simply proceed with what they have thus far put in the public domain to argue my case that any Mosotho looking to any of the current parties to get this country to the next level needs to have their head read by a Nobel laureate in advanced psychiatry.
Allow me therefore to devote this column this week to educate Basotho in general, and our judges, parliamentarians and legal drafters in particular, on the concept and meaning of the term First Lady.
Last week, I awoke to headlines that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s ex-flame, one Lipolelo Alice Thabane, had won her court bid to be recognised as Lesotho’s First Spouse or First lady.
Lipolelo had apparently petitioned the courts to ban Liabiloe Ramoholi from posing as Lesotho’s First Lady. This because Lipolelo is still legally married to Cyclone Tom.
Justice Molefi Makara duly granted Lipolelo’s request and ordered that she be recognised as the Kingdom’s First Spouse at the expense of Liabiloe, whom the PM married traditionally recently.
In terms of Judge Makara’s ruling, Lipolelo must now be afforded all the benefits allotted to the Prime Minister’s spouse in terms of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister (Retirement and Spouses Benefits) Act 2011.
The Act speaks of the Prime Minister’s spouse as the First Spouse or alternatively First lady. The judgment alludes to the same. All this is wrong.
Neither Lipolelo, Liabililoe, nor any other woman Cyclone Tom might pick in the future (assuming he lingers on beyond 28 February 2015) qualifies to use the term First Lady.
In a nutshell, no wife of any sitting Prime Minister qualifies for the term First Lady or First Spouse.
The term First Lady has been adapted over centuries to refer to the spouse of a sitting head of state.
In our particular case, it means we only have one First Lady, that is Her Majesty Queen ‘ Masenate Mohato Seeiso, the wife of king Letsie III.
She is Lesotho’s First Lady and she is the only one who qualifies for that title. It doesn’t matter that King Letsie is a ceremonial head of state .
The fact that he is the head of state means his wife is the only one who should be called First Lady or First Spouse. The King’s family is also the First Family and never the Prime Minister’s.
In our case, the Prime Minister’s wife should merely be referred to as the Prime Minister’s wife, spouse or girlfriend, depending on her exact relationship to the PM.
In the case, of Liabiloe, I don’t know what to call her since the courts have ruled that she is not the prime minister’s official spouse.
To call either Lipolelo or Liabiloe First Lady is to insult ‘M’e Karabo, the King’s wife who deserves that title.
The term First Lady originated in the USA in 1849 in reference to Dolley Madison, wife to President James Madison.
It became even more popular when the media used it in subsequent reports but mainly after the inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1877.
Ever since, the term is used to describe the wife of a sitting head of state.
In all Westminister style jurisdictions which have a separate head of state and a separate head of government, the term still describes the wife of the head of state but never the wife of the head of government.
Which explains why neither Cherie Blair nor Samantha Cameroon and all their predecessors were never described as First Ladies
In Lesotho, we should be immensely proud of our First Lady. She is bright, intelligent and highly educated.
Her Majesty is certainly one of those few beautiful women created when God had just had his breakfast and was at his peak.
Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso is the real First Lady of Lesotho by virtue of her being the head of state’s wife. To call anyone else First Lady is a travesty.
If you want to be called First Lady, then your fight should be first on getting the King’s eye and displacing Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso.
That is nevertheless a tall order as the King is clearly in love.
In fact, the only challenge for the King and all of us is to keep Her Majesty at a safe distance from the prying eyes of one Jacob Zuma.
Queen ‘Masenate Mohato Seeiso