Of Ntate Tha­bane and First Ladies

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

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

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