Is govt building or restoring peace?
THOUGH the Coalition Agreement was not expected to be an all-encompassing blueprint, there are conspicuous issues that just cannot be ignored. Several issues have been raised since the publicising of the agreement on its purported limitations, relevance and potential.
While the opposition has not clearly elucidated its stance, the Speech from the Throne and other parliamentary avenues provide an opportunity for the electorate to know the take of opposition to the Coalition Agreement.
Interestingly, various sectors are involved in this programme and the government should better be ready to open up and engage, since there is no other choice. There are issues which the Coalition Agreement does not mention or show how government will deal with them yet they are so central to what the government intends to do. Part of what is not clear in the programme is how the government intends to deal with keeping the peace.
The Coalition Agreement does not make any mention of how conflict will be managed and resolved in this country. Defections and the proliferation of political parties in Lesotho are a result of a number of factors but conflict and the way it is handled top the list. The demise of the previous coalition government cannot be accurately defined without reference to the inadequate conflict management methodologies. The phased out Poverty Reduction Strategy, the National Vision, the National Strategic Development Plan and the National Action Plan of the African Peer Review Mechanism articulate institutionalisation of conflict management and peace work as part of what a government would do to effectively deal with political conflicts that nor- mally lead to the political instability that has characterised this Kingdom. Though the Coalition Agreement mentions peace among its “Broad Objectives” by committing to restore national peace and political stability, it is not clear which peace it refers to. In the context of contemporary global peace conceptualisation, the coalition government should be pushed to explain.
Why would the coalition government, which is coming to power under these circumstances, exclude peace architecture in what it will do as part of its reforms? Has it been left by design or default?
Restoring peace means reclaiming a situation that once existed. The question is not only whether peace ever existed in Lesotho or not but what it takes to build peace. Politicians normally complain about the absence of peace when they are not in power and claim it is there when they are in power. But what is peace? Simplistically, peace is perceived as the absence of war.
For scholars, peace is either negative or positive. The former refers to absence of war while the latter is a particular form of relationship that needs to be established, nurtured and strengthened. In the negative orientation, peace warrants heavy artillery and the army to ensure it prevails while in the positive aspect it exists without the necessity of ammunition.
For states, peace is entrenched in the con- viction that military methods and organised violence are the primary source of the ability to defend, protect, safeguard and recover it where it has been broken. This explains why governments will continue to spend resources on live bullets, armoured cars and general military equipment that destroy property and
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The Coalition Agreement inked last month does not explain how conflict will be managed and resolved, opines the writer.