Is govt build­ing or restor­ing peace?

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis - So­fonea Shale

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

Con­tin­ued on page 14...

The Coali­tion Agree­ment inked last month does not ex­plain how con­flict will be man­aged and re­solved, opines the writer.

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