Is govt building or restoring peace?
life and still claim that they do so in the name of peace. Perhaps, this conceptual debate would be incomplete without bringing in what states normally understand by violence. Before coming up with effective ways of dealing with violence, conceptualisation should not only be progressive but be relevant and commensurate with the dynamics through which it manifests.
Violence takes different forms; there is direct violence which in the form of physical or verbal abuse, or the threat of abuse of one party by another. Clearly this is not the only form of violence because, beyond physical injury or infliction of pain, people still experience torture.
This refers to structural torture, which is the maintenance of dominance by one group at the centre of power over another at the periphery through structures set to maintain that kind of skewed balance and asymmetrical power relationship perpetually. Structural violence is built-in within social and cultural institu- tions, political as well which play within the accepted framework, sometimes legally to advance oppression. Taking a practical example, when Basotho did not give any party, both in 2012 and 2015, a popular mandate to govern and politicians sought a technical mandate, were they guided by those who voted them in choosing coalition partners? Besides the reality that the law does not condone it, politicians claim that it would be impossible to consult their voters at that point. While the law and practicalities may be used as justification, is it not dictatorship at its best within a democracy that people who vote party A as a way of removing party B from power are not consulted when their votes are used to remove from power the party they wanted in power or retain in power the one they wanted to remove?
It is quite clear that politicians would prefer a scenario that gives them unrestricted power and turn that into an acceptable practise within the so called democracy while many voters are likely to look for options that empower a voter in a democracy. So it should be clear when government talks about peace.
Positive peace is inclined towards human development, liberation and fulfilment. In this way peace does not really depend on the ability of the system to control the behaviour, interests and potential of subjects to go to war, to mount protests, to oppose or advance ideas completely different from those propagated by the authorities, but rather on the activism of the system in making people free, live harmoniously together, enjoy their rights and freedoms and meet their life necessities.
This is peace and for it to exist; there must be infrastructure which has never been instituted in this country. So the question is whether the government wants to restore or build peace.
Building peace should go along with the commitment to build institutions that are aimed at promoting that culture of peace while restoring goes back to the rhetoric when it will be political gambling, today it exists because one is in power and tomorrow it does not because the other is in opposition.
The United Nations defines the culture of Peace as ”a set of values, attitudes, modes of behaviour and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations”.
This resonates well with policy intentions that Lesotho needs comprehensive peace architecture for the promotion of peace and effective management of conflicts at various levels of society. So which route will it be?