‘Together we can’
Unless you have just landed from planet Pluto, you must by now know that only two outcomes are possible from the 28 February 2015 snap elections and both involve another coalition arrangement.
The first is the very possiblesible return of Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili (Mr size Two) and his Democratic mocratic Congress (DC), in coalition with the lesotho Congress for Democracy mocracy (LCD) and the plethora of other congress parties that willl scrap some parliamentary seats (mainly proportional representationn (PR) seats).
The second is that Thomas as Thabane (Cyclone Tom) stays inn power, with his All Basotho Conventionnvention (ABC) in alliance with thehe Basotho national Party ( BNP),np), the Reformed Congress of lesotho (RCL), plus a few other husband and wife parties like the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) that may also scrap some PR seats.
either way, we are guaranteed another coalition government after 28 February. Barring a major political earthquake, none of the two biggest parties, the ABC or DC, will individually master the 61 seats required to form a government. there was no way Mr size Two could
If there is anyone out there who have pulled another leabua trick seriously believes that Methotjoa from and gotten away with it. Metsing (Mr Marshmallow) and his But everyone also knows that deLCD will win enough votes to lead spite all the attempts at improving, a coalition, then such a person is the Big Men syndrome remains Afliving in a parallel universe. such a rica’s biggest blight. These ubiquiperson will believe it if I told them tous Big Men will kill, rape, torture that I, scrutator, am also the Pope. and steal elections without the mi
nutest sense of shame.
This is not to completely rule out Mr Marshmallow nonetheless. His party may get enough seats to justify his remaining as deputy prime minister in a Dc-led coalition. even though politicians are generally crass prostitutes and their allegiances change as often as we change underwear, I frankly don’t see any possible return of Metsing as a deputy to Thabane. At least not after this election.
It is against this background that I am devoting this week’s column to analysing the strengths and weaknesses of each of these two men (Thabane and Mosisili) who are likely to emerge as prime minister and the traits they seem to have in common.
Most of you know the respective strengths and weaknesses of both Mr size Two and Cyclone Tom.
You are just too scared to debate them honestly. some simply wait for scrutator to lead the way. I am happy to do that. At the end of my analysis, I am going to suggest what I think is the best case scenario for the country after 28 February.
It may not be a feasible scenario but I think it’s the best. so please hold your breath. This analysis is not meant to decide for you who you must vote for. exercise your right to vote in terms of your conscience.
I have made this point before. I will repeat it now and in the future.
Mosisili’s greatest strength is his embrace of democracy as exemplified by his decision to pass on the baton peacefully after failing to forge a coalition after the May 2012 elections.
After winning the most seats in 2012, Mosisili could have used every trick to cling on. We saw it in 1970 with leabua Jonathan. Instead of accepting defeat and handing over to the Basotholand Congress Party (BCP), Jonathan nullified the elections, declared a national state of emergency, suspended the constitution, dissolved Parliament and plunged the Kingdom into crisis until Justin lekhanya came to the rescue in 1986.
Fortunately, the late Jonathan’s Basotho national Party (BNP) is now undergoing a rapid resurgence under the stewardship of Thesele ‘Maseribane and Joang Molapo.
One can argue that in this age of African renewal and the Thabo Mbeki-inspired NEPAD project,
The 91-year old savage criminal in Zimbabwe remains the best example. Also witness the recent developments in the DRC, where dozens have died in protests against Joseph Kabila’s attempts to extend his tenure and Blaise Campaore’s shenanigans in Burkina Faso, for proof that tolerance remains a scarce commodity in Africa’s politics.
The 2009 attempt to kill Mosisili by a group of bandits led by ex-army officer, the late Makotoko Lerotholi, was a dastardly act. Mosisili could have used it as an excuse to go after his opponents. Moreso, considering lerotholi was an ABC man. Mr size Two kept his cool and allowed the normal legal process to unfold against the arrested culprits.
In a nutshell, Mosisili is a tolerant politician. That partly explains why, during his entire 15-year tenure, he also managed to hold the Kingdom in relative peace and stability. His gesture in enabling a peaceful transition in 2012 catapulted lesotho into a mature democracy then, before the small time terrorist trashed all that on 30 August 2014.
Considering our history of instability Mr size Two set an important precedent in 2012. Will Thabane uphold that precedent if he loses next saturday? let’s wait and see.
Despite these obvious strengths, Mr size Two is a man of many weaknesses.
During his tenure, corruption grew to industrial levels with little or no action to combat it. In fact, it was Mosisili’s cabinet that allowed poor Basotho taxpayers to be nikuved. It remains a mystery why Mr size Two himself was never brought to account over the award of a lucrative deal to print passports and identity documents to the so called nikuv International Projects without a competitive bidding process.
There can be no greater deterrent to corruption than the knowledge by public servants that if they steal, they will definitely be investigated, arrested and possibly jailed. All those who stole under Mosisili’s tenure did so knowing that they will ultimately get away with it because he paid lip service to graft.
like with most other politicians, Mosisili’s appointments were never based on merit but political loyalty.
I am not aware of any minister or public official who was ever fired by Mosisili for incompetence, graft or theft.
When Mr Size Two fired Metsing, Motloheloa Phooko and Khotso Matla, in January 2012, it was because of politics than anything else.
lesotho remains a poorly industrialised backwater with nothing to show economically despite Mr size Two’s 15-year reign.
Mosisili is also a very cold and aloof politician with poor relations with the media. Trying to get an interview with Mr size Two is like panning for gold in the River Thames. You are first told to submit questions to some official at DC headquarters and then wait for an appointment that often does not materialise.
Getting an interview with any politician should not be like trying to talk to Jesus Christ. If Mosisili was a south African politician, he would be Thabo Mbeki. They share a common trait of aloofness that is very irritating. Mosisili’s failure to condemn the events of 30 August 2014 will forever rank among his biggest blemishes. no democrat should ever tolerate the overthrow of a democratically-elected government.
enter Thomas Mosoahae Thabane and the ball game changes on the aloofness stakes. When it comes to being media savvy, Thabane is lesotho’s own Barack Obama. Cyclone Tom is easily approachable, courteous and always willing to account for his actions and engage the public through the media. He does not make a fuss if a journalist rings him directly.
He is also a very articulate and humble man who does not look down upon anybody. no one will dispute that Cyclone Tom hit lesotho like a tsunami. He has been the only prime minister who has taken a very serious stance against corruption, enabling senior crooks to be investigated, arrested and arraigned before the courts.
His decision to bring back Advocate Borotho Matsoso, the incorruptible anti-graft buster, at the DCEO (the Directorate on Corruption and economic Offences) is ample testimony of Thabane’s determination to root out graft.
Thabane has faced criticism from the LCD that he has mainly targeted its members. But the question is; are any of the glum men and women from the ABC who surround Thabane clever enough to steal. Me thinks otherwise. Can Ntate Tlali Kasu be scheming enough to abuse his position at the Mines ministry to steal a diamond. I doubt it, judging by his looks.
The fact is in Cyclone Tom we have a prime minister who has taken a tough stance against corruption. That is good. Although he is now zooming around in the latest lexus suvs and enjoying the trappings of power, including a concubine young enough to be his granddaughter, there can be no doubt that Thabane remains a modest man.
There is no evidence that Thabane, his relatives and close friends are abusing the tender system for their benefit at the same industrial scales as we saw during Mosisili’s tenure. There is no evidence of any primitive accumulation by Thabane himself to secure his comfort when he bows out of power.
Thabane is the first African politician I know to be trigger happy to fire ministers or officials for graft, incompetence and for whatever reason. That’s a major strength of his. During his short two-year tenure, Cyclone Tom has fired more people for a variety of reasons than Mosisili ever did in 15 years.
Thabane’s nickname of Cyclone Tom is well deserved. Tolerating non-performers and corrupt politicians and officials in exchange of their loyalty is one of the biggest blemishes of many African leaders.
Thabane has nonetheless been different and a breath of fresh air.
But that’s also where Thabane’s major weaknesses begin. You cannot just fire people for the sake of it, or fire people without explaining why you are firing them. How do you expect them to learn from their mistakes and improve if you don’t explain why you are firing them as we saw in Mophato Monyake’s one line dismissal letter.
I sometimes imagine that Thabane wakes up early in the morning after a good night with liabiloe and, after giving his young wife a good morning kiss, then whispers into her ear; “sweetie my hands are itching to fire someone today….”
Cyclone Tom then takes a shower, puts on his suit and enters the kitchen and tells the cook, “you are fired”. He then walks into the yard and tells the garden boy, “you are fired”, before proceeding to the guy washing his car and telling him the same. It would be fine if it all ended there. It then becomes a problem if Thabane proceeds to the office of the director of public prosecutions and equally announces to him, “you are fired”.
And then tracks the attorneygeneral who might be at a business meeting at a restaurant to tell him; “you are fired”, before looking for a principal secretary to fire. All in the same day.
Much as it is good to have a prime minister who does not care about loyalty but actually fires people, it becomes a problem if such firings are whimsical. I have often been at sea over the reasons behind some of Thabane’s firings. After these firings, it seems Thabane remains with no clue about what to do next to get this country forward.
He then contemplates and implements more firings. After three years as premier, I am still struggling to pin down Thabane’s vision for this country. If Thabane was a south African politician and could sing, dance and be a philanderer, he would be Jacob Zuma. I equally struggle to understand Zuma’s vision for south Africa. Having served in just about every government in lesotho since 1966 and with such vast political and administrative experience, one would expect much more from Thabane. Yet after firing people, he sits like a man without a clue about what to do next. He then fires more.
Thabane and Mosisili of course share common traits. They both have a penchant for political slogans like “growing the economy”, “eradicating poverty”, “improving education and health”, “creating jobs” without articulating any realistic strategies to achieve these noble objectives. Both men are in their 70s.
Both men are handsome. On this point, I will put my head on the parapet and be biased by declaring that Thabane is more handsome and sexy than Mosisili. I think it’s Thabane’s sexiness that drove him to appoint an equally handsome spokesman, Thabo Thakalekoala. Imagine politics without these handsome faces.
It would be like Zimbabwe without their celebrity face, William Masvinu (see the above pics). I recently spent a week on a journalism course in Zimbabwe and each time Masvinu’s picture donned the television screen, everyone in the family I lived with smiled broadly.
I salivate whenever Thabane or Thakalekoala’s faces ardon my TV screen,
This leads me into what I think is the best case scenario for the country. The Bnp’s ‘Maseribane will not be prime minister himself. But his party’s tagline “Together we can” is, in my view, the ultimate answer to lesotho’s problems and provides the most feasible solution to stabilise this country after 28 February.
I give kudos to ‘Maseribane and Molapo for carving out the most innovative and inspiring tagline of the current campaign. If we all embrace it as Basotho, then we will have a coalition government consisting of both Thabane and Mosisili with either man prepared to serve under the other depending on who wins the most seats for the sake of this country.
Thabane can rope in his allies from the BNP and RCL, which I expect to scrap some seats, while Mosisili brings in his allies from the LCD and other congress parties. The focus of such a broadbased coalition government should then be on good governance. A government excluding one of these two top men is likely to guarantee us more strife at the expense of national development.
Considering the jibes and brickbats they have been throwing at each other, I admit I am being too ambitious in imagining a Thabane/ Mosisili coalition. That, of course does not detract from the fact, considering all the strife we have endured since August 30 2014, this will be the best case scenario for the country. Remember scrutator’s God given wisdom can all be ignored to a nation’s peril.
From left: DC leader Pakalitha mosisili, Prime minister Thomas Thabane, Prime minister’s Spokesperson Thabo Thakalekoala and William masvinu