Open let­ter to govt

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis -

THIS is an open let­ter to Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Science and Tech­nol­ogy Min­is­ter, Khotso Let­satsi and to the writer us­ing the pseu­do­nym, “Le­fokot­sane” fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of the ar­ti­cles, “Gov­ern­ment dis­misses se­cu­rity con­cerns” and “US en­voy bet­ter off re­strain­ing him­self” in the Le­sotho Times, June 4, 2015 edi­tion.

I nor­mally do not like re­spond­ing to parochial, my­opic and brazen politi­cians but their ut­ter­ances merit a timely re­sponse be­cause if not ar­rested, they will en­sure this coun­try hur­tles down the precipice to obliv­ion. In­deed, when seag­ulls fol­low the trawler they think sar­dines will be thrown into the sea but that is only a red her­ring.

Honourable Min­is­ter, you are re­ported in the ar­ti­cle as say­ing the se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion in Le­sotho was be­ing “blown out of pro­por­tion”, in­sist­ing the rule of law still sub­sists in Le­sotho.

“Mr Let­satsi told the Le­sotho Times that it was ‘ ab­so­lutely not the truth’ that the coun­try was now in ‘a state of law­less­ness’, point­ing out such claims were only meant to cre­ate con­fu­sion among the peo­ple,” read the ar­ti­cle.

Rights group Trans­for­ma­tion Re­sources Cen­tre (TRC), Le­sotho Coun­cil of Non-gov­ern­men­tal Or­gan­i­sa­tions (LCN), Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho (CCL), Euro­pean Union and Amer­i­can Em­bassy are among some of the or­gan­i­sa­tions that had ex­pressed con­cern at the coun­try’s “wor­ry­ing” se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion. For­tu­nately, Mr Min­is­ter, the leader of your coali­tion gov­ern­ment, Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili, is re­ported prior to ap­point­ing new min­is­ters, to have re­quested ev­ery po­ten­tial min­is­ter to sub­mit their cur­ricu­lum vi­tae. I there­fore pre­sume Sir, at least to be way be­yond ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion such that un­doubt­edly you will easily grasp the un­for­tu­nate con­se­quences of your re­marks, be­ing the gov­ern­ment’s chief spin doc­tor.

Kindly be re­minded, Mr Min­is­ter, that rule of law is uni­ver­sally de­fined as nomoc­racy, the le­gal prin­ci­ple that law should gov­ern a na­tion, not in­di­vid­ual gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. It pri­mar­ily refers to the in­flu­ence and au­thor­ity of law within so­ci­ety, par­tic­u­larly as a con­straint upon be­hav­iour, in­clud­ing the be­hav­iour of gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. Rule of Law means supremacy of the law and em­bod­ies the ab­so­lute pre­dom­i­nance of reg­u­lar law, so that the gov­ern­ment has no ar­bi­trary au­thor­ity over the citizen; the equal sub­jec­tion of all (in­clud­ing of­fi­cials) to the or­di­nary law ad­min­is­tered by the or­di­nary courts; and the fact that the citizen’s per­sonal free­doms are for­mu­lated and pro­tected by the or­di­nary law.

Mr Min­is­ter, the doc­trine of rule of law is con­comi­tant with the prin­ci­ple of ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence. The lat­ter prin­ci­ple is de­fined as “the ca­pac­ity of the courts to per­form their con­sti­tu­tional func­tion free from ac­tual or ap­par­ent in­ter­fer­ence by, and to the ex­tent that is con­sti­tu­tion­ally pos­si­ble, free from ac­tual or ap­par­ent de­pen­dence upon, any per­son or in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing, in par­tic­u­lar, the ex­ec­u­tive arm of gov­ern­ment, over which they do not ex­er­cise di­rect con­trol”, ac­cord­ing to the au­thor­i­ta­tive Aus­tralian Law Jour­nal (1995).

Mr Min­is­ter, these rights groups, namely, TRC, LCN, CCL and lately the Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho (NUL) com­mu­nity as well as the EU and Amer­i­can Em­bassies are wor­ried about the ero­sion of the rule of law and ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence, yet you boldly chas­tise them.

The Le­sotho De­fence Force sol­diers (LDF) have vir­tu­ally in the past month been, with­out due process of law, ab­duct­ing, tor­tur­ing and some­times tak­ing their hand­cuffed col­leagues to court in leg-irons, deny­ing them le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Dr Mo­sisili is likely to have wit­nessed these events court while at­tend­ing court as a wit­ness in another trial. Med­i­ca­tion and vis­i­ta­tion by close rel­a­tives and friends were also be­ing de­nied by their cap­tors.

Some LDF mem­bers have also been ac­cused of storm­ing the Courts wear­ing bal­a­clavas and in­sult­ing as well as threat­en­ing court staff and the gen­eral public. In fact, they once stormed into a judge’s cham­bers in this fash­ion. The Courts are the last bas­tion of hu­man rights pro­tec­tion and free­doms and if they are in­tim­i­dated, we are doomed as a na­tion. Do you, in all fair­ness, Sir, call this rule of law and ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence? Are not the courts be­ing in­tim­i­dated?

Surely, on the ba­sis of the above, re­tract your state­ment, be­ing an avid Chris­tian, as I know you.

Sir, you go on de­clare: “We can­not en­gage in how the army deals with its rogue mem­bers. We should keep this in our minds that we are talk­ing about a dis­ci­plined force here. They have their own way of dis­ci­plin­ing them­selves.” Mr Min­is­ter, for lack of a bet­ter ref­er­ence, and with re­spect, this is ut­terly un­ac­cept­able. No one will ever care to be­lieve that be­cause you know fully well you are be­ing dis- in­gen­u­ous. Is it dis­ci­pline when the army takes over pris­ons from cor­rec­tional ser­vice per­son­nel?

The Con­sti­tu­tion of Le­sotho, 1993, the Supreme Law of con­sis­tent with and there­fore de­rives its le­git­i­macy, pro­vides un­der sec­tion 19: “Ev­ery per­son shall be en­ti­tled to equal­ity be­fore the law and to the equal pro­tec­tion of the law.” On the ba­sis of these Sir, how do you jus­tify the supremacy of the Le­sotho De­fence Force Act, 1996 over the 1993 Con­sti­tu­tion?

Sir, a prom­i­nent busi­ness­man and op­po­si­tion party sup­porter, Thabiso Tšosane, was killed in a heinous act of bru­tal­ity and three prom­i­nent op- po­si­tion lead­ers flee the coun­try to es­cape mur­der, you say gov­ern­ment is con­cerned about the lives of ev­ery Mosotho and as­sure the na­tion that gov­ern­ment is go­ing to meet these lead­ers to en­sure their safe re­turn home.

Sir, your gov­ern­ment with­drew the po­lice se­cu­rity de­tail to for­mer premier Thomas Tha­bane a few weeks back. Days prior to the snap gen­eral elec­tions, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mothe­joa Mets­ing vowed in public, hold­ing aloft his le­betlela (tra­di­tional fight­ing weapon) that all those against him will take to their heels with the new gov­ern­ment hot in pur­suit. How can the same gov­ern­ment now turn around and en­sure their safety. In­com­pre­hen­si­ble! Sir, is the dog wag­ging the tail or the tail wag­ging the dog? Is this not a typ­i­cal case of the hounds run­ning with the hare? I reckon it is, Sir.

Sir, I guess as a pro­to­col in the public ser­vice, now that I imag­ine you have re­al­ized the folly of your un­for­tu­nate state­ment, as the gov­ern­ment’s spin doc­tor, it is ap­pro­pri­ate to minute this let­ter to your Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, for on­ward trans­mis­sion to “Le­fokot­sana”, who ap­pears to be a die-hard Congress loy­al­ist. Just kindly send this copy to him and warn him stren­u­ously not to com­mend but just to note it, as al­ready his un­war­ranted base­less at­tacks on the Amer­i­can Am­bas­sador Matthew Har­ring­ton is likely to land this im­pov­er­ished na­tion in se­ri­ous trou­ble. Granted yes, Le­sotho is a sov­er­eign coun­try but vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights like war crimes, tran­scend in­ter­na­tional borders, Mr or Ms “Le­fokot­sane”, you must know this.

Le­fokot­sane, please keep your un­qual­i­fied sup­port for congress pol­i­tics to your­self. Your views are laden with brinkman­ship and kamikaze-type pol­i­tics. To say they are sui­ci­dal is a mis­nomer be­cause you might dan­ger­ously take the whole na­tion down with you.

Sir, you are re­ported as say­ing: “The am­bas­sador goes on the try to hold Le­sotho at ran­som by claim­ing that “…. These are is­sues that should be ac­counted for as they would be con­sid­ered by De­cem­ber when the Mil­le­nium Chal­lenges Cor­po­ra­tion Board re­assesses, the el­i­gi­bil­ity of Le­sotho for a sec­ond com­pact….”.

You go on the claim; “If Am­bas­sador Har­ring­ton is al­ready lob­by­ing his gov­ern­ment not to en­dorse Le­sotho’s el­i­gi­bil­ity just be­cause he sup­ports Dr Tha­bane and his ilk, let him do so, and our demo­crat­i­cally-elected gov­ern­ment will do its part.

For heaven’s sake “Le­fokot­sane”, cast your mind back a lit­tle to 1986 or years just prior to that. You will no­tice that, Dr Le­abua Jonathan, for­mer Prime Min­is­ter of Le­sotho, was ar­gu­ing that he has opened the borders, while South Africa’s apartheid gov­ern­ment, a min­now by Amer­i­can stan­dards, had closed its borders. Within hours his gov­ern­ment had been top­pled by the Le­sotho Army.

Sir, do you know that if Amer­ica sneezes then the whole world, in­clud­ing Ja­pan, EU, China and the Asian-tiger eco­nom­ics catch a cold or is it a flu? Sir, how naïve and anti-le­sotho can you be? For your in­for­ma­tion, there is what the US calls the African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act (AGOA). That piece of Leg­is­la­tion en­sures duty-free en­try of goods into the large and lu­cra­tive US mar­ket of goods from the rest of the third world, Le­sotho, in­cluded. Be­tween 35 000 and 45 000 textile work­ers and their de­pen­dents de­pend on AGOA for their sur­vival. What will you, “Le­fokot­sane” do if they all lose their liveli­hoods just be­cause you de­cided to show the US the mid­dle fin­ger.

The bedrock and cor­ner­stones around which AGOA, is guar­an­teed, “Le­fokot­sane” are en­sured to con­tinue in Le­sotho, thereby sus­tain­ing our public ser­vants’ salaries, be­cause South­ern African Cus­toms Union (SACU) has vir­tu­ally var­nished, health ser­vices, textile in­dus­tries and the rest of the rule of law, gov­er­nance (in­clude erad­i­cat­ing cor­rup­tion) trans­parency, hu­man rights and demo­cratic prin­ci­ples.

“Le­fokot­sane”, I will never ar­gue with you, be­cause with peo­ple like you at the helm of this coun­try or worse still, the ideas you prop­a­gate this im­pov­er­ished na­tion will per­ish be­fore our very own eyes. You are the rab­ble-rouser of the high­est or­der.

In con­clu­sion, Mr Min­is­ter, as an avid Chris­tian read: Zepha­niah: 3:19-20:

“At that time I will deal with all who op­pressed you. I will res­cue the lame; I will gather the ex­iles. I will give them praise and hon­our in ev­ery land where they have suf­fered shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you hon­our and praise among all the peo­ples of the earth when I re­store your for­tunes be­fore your ev­ery eyes”.

As for “Le­fokot­sane”, also read Ex­o­dus 4:21 and 8:1-2 “The Lord said to Moses, “when you re­turn to Egypt, see that you per­form be­fore Pharaoh all the won­ders I have given you the power to do. But I will har­den his heart so that he will not let the peo­ple go”.

“Then the Lord said to Moses”, go to Pharaoh and say to him, “This is what the Lord says: let my peo­ple go, so that they may wor­ship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole coun­try. The Nile will teem with frogs”.

Per­haps these Scrip­ture will be sem­i­nal to your fu­ture po­lit­i­cal ar­gu­ments, and you will dis­sem­i­nate to the rest of your brethren.

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