Congress-na­tion­al­ist divide: fal­lacy or re­al­ity?

Lesotho Times - - Leader - So­fonea Shale

Though the Congress-na­tion­al­ist divide was rife in the pre-in­de­pen­dence pol­i­tics of Le­sotho and in­deed reached its height in the 1970 tur­moil, man­i­fested in the po­lit­i­cal his­tory that fol­lowed and some think that the con­tem­po­rary pol­i­tics have grad­u­ated, oth­ers ar­gue that present day party po­lit­i­cal loy­alty and woo­ing of votes in 2015 polls can and will still be based of that divide.

While Congress-na­tion­al­ist divide song reignited by the leader of DC fol­low­ing lose of of­fice in 2012 seems to be gain­ing mo­men­tum, many vot­ers could not even com­pre­hend what ac­tu­ally makes a dif­fer­ence be­tween a Congress and Na­tional party, is it ide­o­log­i­cal, is it a po­lit­i­cal re­al­ity or just a fal­lacy?

This ar­ti­cle will not re­spond to whether congress-na­tion­al­ist divide is a re­al­ity or fal­lacy but look at on what did BCP and BNP dif­fer and the reader will judge whether the con­sis­tency or oth­er­wise in the dif­fer­ences can mean any­thing in the con­tem­po­rary pol­i­tics.

The BCP was formed by Ntsu Mokhehle as a lib­er­a­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion des­tined to be part of the con­ti­nen­tal lib­er­a­tion move­ment. In its view, the key so­cial pil­lars and source of author­ity in so­ci­ety per­pet­u­ated op­pres­sion in one way or the other and en­trenched their hege­mony whether benev­o­lent or self­ish.

At the heart of it was the in­ten­tion to free peo­ple from all forms of author­ity ex­cept the one they would cre­ate through elec­tions. on the other hand, the BNP was formed to pre­serve val­ues of Ba­sotho as a so­ci­ety, pro­mote Chris­tian­ity and seek devel­op­ment within the es­tab­lished author­ity.

This dif­fer­ence can be elab­o­rated by a num­ber of prac­ti­cal ex­am­ples. The first one is the at­ti­tude of the two to the cen­tres of power in the Ba­sotho so­ci­ety pre in­de­pen­dence. Chiefs had tremen­dous in­flu­ence on so­ci­ety and bel­lowed in­struc­tions which could not be un­der­mined, some de­hu­man­is­ing while oth­ers in­stilled com­mon dis­ci­pline and col­lec­tive.

Lib­er­a­tion and devel­op­ment for BCP meant re­moval of power from chiefs to the peo­ple while BNP felt that chiefs with reg­u­lated power and author­ity can play a nec­es­sary lead­er­ship role in devel­op­ment. The sec­ond pow­er­ful sec­tor was church.

Many Ba­sotho greatly be­lieved in church lead­ers pre­dom­i­nantly mis- sion­ar­ies at that time and many in the Catholic Church. They preached against com­mu­nism which BCP was per­ceived to be. The third cen­tre of power was the whites who were traders and civil ser­vants. The at­ti­tude of the BCP and BNP to­wards th­ese cen­tres il­lus­trates how the two differed.

The sec­ond il­lus­tra­tion can be found in the pre-in­de­pen­dence po­si­tions on key clauses of the con­sti­tu­tion. The BCP wanted a con­sti­tu­tional monarch, BNP an ex­ec­u­tive monarch and Mara­mat­lou an ab­so­lute monarch.

Log­i­cally flow­ing from th­ese po­si­tions was con­tes­ta­tions that BCP wanted the mil­i­tary to be un­der Prime Min­is­ter ar­gu­ing that it is bet­ter di­rected by the elected author­ity, while the BNP and MFP saw it as well placed un­der the King. When BCP lost pre-in­de­pen­dence elec­tions in 1965 which was won by the BNP, po­si­tions swapped.

The BCP said mil­i­tary con­trol should be un­der the King while the BNP said it should be un­der the Prime Min­is­ter. When BNP did not re­lin­quish power af­ter 1970 and the con­sti­tu­tion was suspended, the divide in­formed the re­sponse to the 1970 and its af­ter­math. True that there was a lot of vi­o­lent acts by the BCP mem­bers and state re­acted harshly. Though BCP leader ap­pealed to his fol­low­ers to re­frain from vi­o­lent ac­tiv­i­ties and dis­tanced the party from such, many could not hit the call be­cause they be­lieved he could be say­ing that un­der duress as he was jailed.

Though lead­ers col­lec­tively de­clared the 1970 polls null and void, the en­vis­aged re­run never came to be. In an at­tempt to le­git­imise his rule, Morena Le­abua Jonathan tried a rep­re­sen­ta­tive as­sem­bly to among oth­ers pre­pare for elec­tions in 1973 but the BCP did not agree on its rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the In­terim As­sem­bly and gerad Pokane Ramore­bodi, the Deputy Leader of the BCP led the one fac­tion to the As­sem­bly while the Leader Ntsu Mokhehle fled the coun­try af­ter the aborted BCP plan to cap­ture all the po­lice sta­tions, an equiva- lent of coup at­tempt.

State bru­tal­ity against the BCP who were thought to be and those who were in­deed in­volved in vi­o­lent acts de­fined the divide in its own terms. This sit­u­a­tion was ma­nip­u­lated as some BCP mem­bers were vic­tims not be­cause they did any wrong sim­ply be­cause, some BNP mem­bers felt they should be or they were sus­pected to be linked to the per­pe­tra­tors of vi­o­lence.

This per­me­ated the so­ci­ety and turned Le­sotho into a vi­o­lent coun­try as around the same time the BCP in the ex­ile in col­lab­o­ra­tion with friends in ex­ile formed a guer­rilla war wing, Le­sotho Lib­er­a­tion Army. In the war be­tween LLA and gov­ern­ment forces, in­no­cent cit­i­zens BCP, BNP and non­aligned lost lives let alone the com­bat­ants.

The third il­lus­tra­tion and the one which helps to re­spond to the main ques­tion is what the two stood for and what they did when in power. BCP be­lieved that lib­er­a­tion from hege­mony and cre­ation of peo­ple’s gov­er­nance in­cludes econ­omy. Co­op­er­a­tives were the buzz word. BCP in power pri­va­tised to non-ba­sotho the public en­ter­prises that were es­tab­lished dur­ing BNP time.

Dur­ing the BCP and LCD rule there were bouts of state bru­tal­ity and many other short­ing com­ings, sim­i­lar in na­ture to those seen dur­ing the BNP. BNP was once aligned to the Apartheid South Africa in his­tory, BCP has equally been. The BNP has been ac­cused of us­ing mil­i­tary against the peo­ple who held dif­fer­ent views with the gov­ern­ment; the LCD is not spared and the ac­cu­sa­tion goes fur­ther to the in­vi­ta­tion of for­eign mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in 1998 whose his­tory is known.

What is the at­ti­tude of the congress to the chiefs to­day? Lis­ten to what Dr Mo­sisili and hon Mo­choboroane say about their con­tri­bu­tion to the in­sti­tu­tion. To­day as the divide is re­sus­ci­tated peo­ple who have clearly de­nounced it, are forced to sing for it.

Mo­sisili’s ad­min­is­tra­tion as­signed peo­ple re­spon­si­bil­i­ties some of whom were known to be from dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal par­ties and that growth and grad­u­a­tion made a mark. For pur­poses of re­tain­ing power the LCD, the splin­ter party from the BCP en­tered into a con­tro­ver­sial coali­tion with NIP, a break­away from BNP. Is this divide a re­al­ity or fal­lacy?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.