Bye, bye Looney Tunes

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

There you have it Ba­sotho! You have, with the nar­row­est of mar­gins, buried the Looney Tunes coali­tion and given birth to a new one. Since it hasn’t started work, Scru­ta­tor shall not yet give it a new ep­i­thet. It’s only fair to give the new coali­tion a chance to fully un­veil it­self and do some real work be­fore it earns it char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion.

Suf­fice to say that those who still doubt my wis­dom, had bet­ter think again. Fol­low­ers of this col­umn will know that the Demo­cratic Congress (DC), Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) al­liance is one I had fre­quently pre­dicted as one of the most likely to emerge vic­to­ri­ous from the snap elec­tions.

If not that, it had to be the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), the Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) and the re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL) nexus. The odds were nev­er­the­less al­ways stacked against the lat­ter as the RCL is still an in­fant while the BNP had only started its resur­gence.

De­spite not be­ing in power, the DC has re­mained a be­he­moth. The folks in the ru­ral moun­tains will never for­get the so­cial grants Pakalitha Mo­sisili af­forded them dur­ing his long reign as LCD prime min­is­ter. They will vote for him no mat­ter what. Some of them think the money came from Mr Size Two’s own back pocket even af­ter his 2012 ouster.

The point must be made of course that this elec­tion has been too close. So close that there are no win­ners and losers. Per­haps, the big­gest win­ner of course is Methotjoa Mets­ing. Through the back­door of pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion (Pr) seats, Mr Marsh­mal­low will get to keep his job.

Be­cause he is the prover­bial cat with nine lives, and the ul­ti­mate sur­vivor, I am go­ing to have to find a new de­scrip­tion for him. he is per­haps no longer a Marsh­mal­low but a Strongman. Let’s see how he fares in the new coali­tion first.

This week­end’s re­sults of course pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for all the con­test­ing par­ties to do some se­ri­ous soul search­ing. The con­stituency re­sults are the best gauge of the pop­u­lar­ity stakes.

Cy­clone Tom is now his­tory. It must be acutely em­bar­rass­ing for him to sud­denly as­sume the dis­honor of hav­ing be­come the short­est ever serv­ing prime min­is­ter af­ter haae Phoofolo’s 24 hour ten­ure as prime min­is­ter some­time back in the wind­ing 90s (if not 80s).

But Cy­clone Tom can walk with his shoul­ders very high. he is the leader to have con­sis­tently grown his party since 2007 when he won a measly 17 seats, in­creas­ing them to 30 in 2012 be­fore the very im­pres­sive 40 seats he gar­nered this week­end.

Of course, it is the peren­nial curse of Le­sotho’s elec­toral sys­tem that the well you do in the con­stituen­cies, the less likely you are go­ing to form the next gov­ern­ment. The DC will know bet­ter af­ter their fail­ure to con­sti­tute the gov­ern­ment in 2012 de­spite win­ning an im­pres­sive 41 con­stituency seats.

The ques­tion for the ABC

is whether it will main­tain this im­pres­sive run af­ter Tha­bane has gone. re­mem­ber that Cy­clone Tom has said this elec­tion is his last. If he keeps his word, then the ABC would need a new leader of his charisma to carry the man­tle.

I nev­er­the­less don’t see any suit­able can­di­date among those clos­est to him. his cur­rent deputy looks too glum to carry the party for­ward. So un­less the Cy­clone grooms an­other ef­fec­tive Cy­clone, it’s doubt­ful the ABC will main­tain its chutzpah to scale be­yond 40 in 2020, as­sum­ing the new coali­tion holds till then.

The DC has equally main­tained its im­pres­sive sup­port base. It’s ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for any party to main­tain a cred­i­ble sup­port base af­ter los­ing power. In fact it is of­ten af­ter los­ing power that most po­lit­i­cal par­ties im­plode.

Look at the Move­ment for Mul­ti­Party Democ­racy (MMD) in Zam­bia, Ka­muzu Banda’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Gerry rawl­ing’s party (what­ever it is called) in Ghana just to name but a few ex­am­ples.

The thing that Mr Size Two has done, and done very well, is to iden­tify a cer­tain group of vot­ers and give them a mes­sage that res­onates.

he seems to have per­ma­nently con­nected with his con­stituency in the moun­tains and cre­ated a bond that shall be very dif­fi­cult to break.

It will need a lot of hard work for other par­ties to pen­e­trate Mo­sisili’s power base.

The worry for him, of course, is that no leader should want to rely on the ru­ral vote only to main­tain power. The world is chang­ing rapidly and ru­ral to ur­ban migration has be­come the norm.

The more the ru­ral herd-boys and herd-girls mi­grate to the cities, the more they get en­light­ened. The more they want more than just so­cial grants. Sooner or later there will be fewer and fewer un­crit­i­cal, and in some cases ig­no­rant, ru­ral vot­ers on which to sus­tain that sup­port base.

The ques­tion then is; what hap­pens next.

Mr Size Two must, of ne­ces­sity, begin think­ing se­ri­ously of how to

en­gage and connect with ur­ban vot­ers in the same way he has been able to com­mand the ru­ral vote.

Judg­ing by the num­bers that thronged Set­soto Sta­dium for their rally, I would have thought that the BNP would have fared bet­ter, if not in the con­stituen­cies, then in the Pr seats. The im­prove­ment by just two seats from their five PR only seats in 2012 is grossly un­sat­is­fac­tory.

Ntate ‘Maserib­ane and Mo­lapo must ask them­selves what went wrong and find the an­swers. Their motto and mission state­ment was very slick. Yet it did not do the job for them. Why? Find out for your­selves gen­tle­men.

The rcl’s two Pr seats are prob­a­bly not too bad for a po­lit­i­cal up­start launched only a few weeks be­fore the polls. But the fact that Mme Keke fared so badly in her own con­stituency does not au­gur well for the party. She would have to work the hard­est to make a dif­fer­ence in the fu­ture.

Mets­ing has ev­ery rea­son to cel­e­brate for out­fox­ing Cy­clone Tom and re­tain­ing his po­si­tion in the new coali­tion.

But if I were him, I would have sleep­less nights over the LCD’S poor per­for­mance in the con­stituency seats.

Since 2007 when it won 60 plus con­stituency seats, the LCD has been im­plod­ing, win­ning only 12 in 2012 — in a poll many had billed as be­ing be­tween the LCD and DC — and slid­ing fur­ther to only two seats dur­ing the week­end elec­tions.

If the party main­tains that rate, it will crash in 2020 and have no seats. The ques­tion be­comes; what hap­pens if the luck of the back­door Pr seats runs out? More­over, no politi­cian wants to be a deputy to some­one for­ever. ev­ery politi­cian must of ne­ces­sity aim to scale greater heights.

Af­ter be­ing deputy prime min­is­ter in two con­sec­u­tive coali­tions, Mr Marsh­mal­low must of ne­ces­sity want to be­come Prime Min­is­ter in 2020. This can only hap­pen if the LCD re­gains all lost ground and re­asserts its lost glory.

One way of do­ing this is for Mets­ing to halt the high turnover of politi­cians from his party. he must hold onto who­ever he has now and re­cruit new cred­i­ble tal­ent into the LCD ranks.

Many have al­ready writ­ten the obit­u­ary of the Mo­sisili coali­tion.

This be­cause, just like the previ- ous coali­tion, it is a coali­tion of con­ve­nience; not built on solid shared prin­ci­ples, val­ues and mores.

Joang Mo­lapo posted a terse state­ment on his Face­book page say­ing they ac­cept the out­come but his BNP’S al­liance with the ABC would soon bounce back. It seems Mo­lapo is al­ready look­ing for­ward to Mets­ing com­plain­ing next week that Mr Size Two has not con­sulted him on this or that point, be­gin­ning the un­rav­el­ling of the al­liance be­fore it has even as­sumed power.

That of course will not hap­pen. Mets­ing must have learnt from his mis­takes. here is my ad­vice lines to him; 1) If it were not for you Mets­ing, Size Two would never have been able to form a coali­tion even af­ter all the other un­cle/nephew one seat par­ties had sup­ported him. So please in­sist on tak­ing charge of a few in­flu­en­tial min­istries in­clud­ing the fi­nance port­fo­lio you held in the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment and at least one se­cu­rity min­istry; 2) re­mem­ber a coali­tion agree­ment is an un­der­stand­ing be­tween po­lit­i­cal bud­dies and not a statu­tory doc­u­ment. how­ever, en­sure that it con­tains the nec­es­sary safe­guards and it clearly iden­ti­fies and de­fines the dos and don’ts for the coali­tion par­ties; 3) The coali­tion gov­ern­ment must state the is­sues and de­ci­sions that must be taken jointly by coali­tion part­ners and those that re­quire prime min­is­te­rial dis­cre­tion alone.

If you do not in­sist on a solid coali­tion pact with all the nec­es­sary safe­guards for your im­por­tant King­maker role that has en­abled this new coali­tion, please ex­pect no sym­pa­thies from any­one, not least me.

When I hear you cry that you have not been con­sulted on this or that de­ci­sion, I will say to you, cry out even louder.

Fol­low­ers of my wis­dom will re­call the umpteen times I have praised Mo­sisili over his de­ci­sion to en­sure a smooth han­dover of power in 2012. I ex­pect the same of Tha­bane.

Sadly I had not heard any­thing from him at the time of go­ing to print last night.

I am not even sure whether this is a sign of a man not will­ing to hand over power or it could be just that the Cy­clone was in low spir­its last night af­ter the fi­nal tal­lies were an­nounced.

Whichever the case, I ex­pect Tha­bane to be as cour­te­ous as Mo­sisili in 2012 and dis­patch the fol­low­ing state­ment to Mr Size Two; “hi there my brother. It’s Cy­clone Tom here.

Thanks for de­flat­ing me. The Cy­clone has faded into a lesser tor­nado.

I hand over power to you. Let’s meet for a drink tonight and I give you the keys to State house in Per­son . . .


The coali­tion gov­ern­ment of (from left) LCD leader Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing, ABC leader Thomas Tha­bane and BNP leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane has come to an end.

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