Govt’s top gaffes of the year

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“Fur­ther­more, just as they did not think it worth­while to re­tain the knowl­edge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what ought not to be done. They have be­come filled with ev­ery kind of wicked­ness, evil, greed and de­prav­ity. they are full of envy, mur­der, strife, de­ceit and mal­ice.

“they are gos­sips, slan­der­ers, God-haters, in­so­lent, ar­ro­gant and boast­ful; they in­vent ways of do­ing evil; they dis­obey their par­ents; they have no un­der­stand­ing, no fi­delity, no love, and no mercy.

“Al­though they know God’s right­eous de­cree that those who do such things de­serve death, they not only con­tinue to do th­ese very things but also ap­prove of those who prac­tice them.” Th­ese words are quoted from the Epis­tle of Saint Paul to the Ro­mans, 1: 28-32.

In cel­e­bra­tion of the com­ing to earth to teach us hu­mil­ity, love, right­eous­ness, tol­er­ance, com­pas­sion, gen­eros­ity and all that is Godly, of Je­sus Christ, I con­sid­ered it pru­dent to quote this para­ble as Christ Him­self fa­mous the world over for us­ing para­bles. This is in ref­er­ence to the present sev­en­party coali­tion govern­ment as I take stock of its 10 suc­cesses or rather gaffes thereof, as we bring 2015 to clo­sure.

Of course, my de­trac­tors might feel obliged to take um­brage at my overview of this govern­ment.

How­ever, like a true demo­crat and pa­triot, I in­vite them to pub­licly de­bate healthily on the pos­i­tive achieve­ments of this govern­ment over the past 10 months it has been in of­fice.

In fact, I was piqued by Dr Pakalitha Mo­sisili, the Prime Min­is­ter (PM) on the morn­ing of Christ­mas, in his mes­sage to the world and the na­tion to high­light the fol­low­ing mon­u­men­tal fail­ures of his govern­ment. The PM briefly said in his ad­dress that since his govern­ment came to power many no­table suc­cesses have been achieved as op­posed to the pre­ced­ing govern­ment.

Un­der­min­ing rule of law Since the ad­vent of demo­cratic rule in Le­sotho in 1993 no govern­ment has so un­der­mined the rule of law as the in­cum­bent one. Rule of law, pop­u­larly called the supremacy of law, is ex­pounded by pro­fes­sor Dicey who ar­gues that it em­bod­ies three con­cepts namely: a) the ab­so­lute pre­dom­i­nance of reg­u­lar law, so that the govern­ment has no ar­bi­trary au­thor­ity over the ci­ti­zen, b) the equal sub­jec­tion of all (in­clud­ing govern­ment of­fi­cials and in­sti­tu­tions) to or­di­nary law ad­min­is­tered by or­di­nary courts and c) the fact that the ci­ti­zen’s per­sonal free­doms are for­mu­lated and pro­tected by or­di­nary law. In essence, the the­ory pos­tu­lates that no one or in­sti­tu­tion is above the law.

How­ever, im­me­di­ately upon as­sum­ing of­fice the present govern­ment en­cour­aged or ac­qui­esced with the Le­sotho De­fense Force (LDF) to in­tim­i­date the en­tire ju­di­ciary by in­vad­ing the High Court heav­ily armed, wear­ing bal­a­clavas, in­sult­ing the pub­lic, lawyers, judges and staff while frog­march­ing cap­tured fel­low sol­diers thereby un­der­min­ing the sacro­sanct prin­ci­ples of the rule of law and ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence, in the process rou­tinely de­fy­ing le­git­i­mate court or­ders. To this day, the govern­ment has nei­ther con­demned th­ese ne­far­i­ous deeds nor brought those re­spon­si­ble to book.

In­tim­i­da­tion of political op­po­nents Im­me­di­ately af­ter as­sum­ing power, govern­ment’s political op­po­nents fled across the bor­der where they are still holed-up to this day in­tim­i­dated by el­e­ments of the LDF who are per­ceived to be loyal to the new ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Among those who fled to South Africa were three main op­po­si­tion lead­ers. In­stead of fa­cil­i­tat­ing their safe re­turn from ex­ile, the govern­ment poured scorn on their plight by ridi­cul­ing them that they were run­ning away from their own shad­ows.

To say this re­mark was reck­less, ir­re­spon­si­ble and stir­ring-up more hard­line tac­tics is an un­der­state­ment. To this day, govern­ment has nei­ther promised any re­ward or in­ves­ti­ga­tion lead­ing to the ar­rest of the per­pe­tra­tors, let alone con­dem­na­tion.

Killing of Lieu­tenant-gen­eral

Maa­parankoe Ma­hao To demon­strate that the govern­ment’s re­mark spurred-on the killings and per­se­cu­tion of political op­po­nents and sol­diers on spu­ri­ous charges of mutiny against the LDF Com­mand, the LDF on Thurs­day, 25th June 2015, killed the for­mer com­man­der of the LDF, Lieu­tenant-gen­eral (Lt-gen) Maa­parankoe Ma­hao in broad day­light.

Be­cause the govern­ment had at least ac­qui­esced to the LDF be­com­ing a law unto them­selves, the LDF, ad­mit­ted in open court filled to the rafters, that it killed the Lt-gen. As has now be­come the ac­cept­able norm in Le­sotho, no se­ri­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions or ar­rests nor pros­e­cu­tions were un­der­taken by the govern­ment.

SADC — Phumaphi Ju­di­cial Com­mis

sion of In­quiry In an at­tempt to whitewash the cold-blooded killing of the Lt-gen, govern­ment rushed to the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) to os­ten­si­bly re­quest the lat­ter to es­tab­lish a ju­di­cial com­mis­sion of in­quiry to en­quire into chiefly, the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the killing of the Lt-gen and other mat­ters.

How­ever, even be­fore the com­mis­sion started its work, govern­ment in claim­ing to be fa­cil­i­tat­ing the work of the com­mis­sion, in­cor­po­rated Terms of Ref­er­ence (TOR) that were wholly con­trary to the spirit of the com­mis­sion.

SADC as ex­pected, re­jected the govern­ment’s Tors and fi­nally made the Tors that were in keep­ing with the spirit of the re­gional bloc, af­ter pres­sure from SADC.

Hav­ing failed in this stratagem govern­ment went on a pub­lic re­la­tions ex­er­cise to dis­credit the com­mis­sion.

When this gim­mick failed, govern­ment and its in­sti­tu­tion, chiefly the LDF and Min­is­ters, by con­duct and in their tes­ti­mony re­fused to as­sist the com­mis­sion to un­earth the truth which could as­sist it in reach­ing jus­ti­cia­ble find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions.

Mean­time, un­con­firmed ru­mors did the rounds that dur­ing the com­mis­sion’s pro­ceed­ings Judge Mphaphi Phumaphi was threat­ened and had to “flee” the coun­try tem­po­rar- ily to re­port this to his prin­ci­pals.

When nei­ther of this stratagem suc­ceeded govern­ment then used, as an ex­cuse, a court case that was filed by Lieu­tenant-colonel Tefo Hashatsi in the High Court that ef­fec­tively would deal a fa­tal blow to the en­tire com­mis­sion thereby ren­der­ing it dead in the wa­ter.

This would ef­fec­tively, through the ef­fec­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion of govern­ment that though cited as re­spon­dents in­clud­ing the PM, never filed any op­pos­ing pa­pers, deny Ba­sotho, SADC and the world the right to know what ac­tu­ally tran­spired.

Talk about govern­ment be­ing com­plicit in deny­ing the world the truth. This is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of such chi­canery that is govern­ment chas­ing with the hounds but run­ning with the hares.

To this day, two months af­ter it had been com­piled, the com­mis­sion’s re­port has still not been re­leased be­cause govern­ment is us­ing all flimsy ex­cuses to block its re­lease per­ma­nently. Only govern­ment knows why it is stalling its re­lease.

Trash­ing the econ­omy Within months of its in­stal­la­tion, govern­ment has trashed the econ­omy by pay­ing all the loans plus in­ter­est of all the MPS of the Eighth Par­lia­ment, thereby dent­ing the econ­omy to the tune of M32 mil­lion.

As if that was not enough, it ter­mi­nated be­fore their ex­piry, the con­tracts of all prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries it per­ceived to be sym­pa­thetic to the pre­vi­ous govern­ment.

To add in­sult to in­jury, govern­ment has ter­mi­nated, though there is still a court chal­lenge to this move, the con­tracts of vir­tu­ally all Le­sotho’s di­plo­mats abroad, thereby dent­ing the econ­omy fur­ther to the tune of mil­lions of mal­oti.

It has also in­creased ret­ro­spec­tively salaries of all statu­tory po­si­tion-hold­ers, with the econ­omy in­cur­ring mil­lions of mal­oti worth.

Disas­ter pre­pared­ness Due to the fact that the govern­ment is con­stantly en­gaged in bat­tles that have noth­ing to do with the so­cioe­co­nomic up­lift­ment of the cit­i­zenry in Le­sotho’s in­ter­na­tional stand­ing and in­tegrity, it was only a few days be­fore Christ­mas, long af­ter the El Nińo phe­nom­e­non had taken hold on Le­sotho with its at­ten­dant star­va­tion, drought and sti­fling heat that govern­ment only de­clared a State of Emer­gency thereby un­block­ing the myr­iad of aid ear­marked for the ma­jor­ity of the cit­i­zenry, the el­derly, the vul­ner­a­ble and the ru­ral poor.

We un­for­tu­nately have a no­to­ri­ously self­serv­ing govern­ment. Iron­i­cally, in declar­ing the State of Emer­gency, the PM had just two days be­fore, reck­lessly and bel­liger­ently told the world’s only su­per­power eco­nom­i­cally and mil­i­tar­ily, the US, to go away with the more than 4 bil­lion mal­oti aid that it has re­cently ren­dered to Le­sotho.

Brinkman­ship or Toy­ing with dan­ger The PM’S in­ces­sant, dan­ger­ous and self­de­struc­tive pub­lic fights with de­vel­op­ment part­ners, chiefly SADC and the United States (US) and by ex­ten­sion the Euro­pean Union (EU), have led the US to de­fer re­s­e­lec­tion of Le­sotho for bil­lions of mal­oti, spur pri­vate sec­tor de­vel­op­ment, HIV/AIDS pan­demic, health sec­tor re­forms and gen­er­ally poverty al­le­vi­a­tion and ru­ral wa­ter sup­ply as well as wool san­i­ta­tion projects.

The PM is show­ing all the De­vel­op­ment Part­ners and fun­ders the middle fin­ger merely be­cause his govern­ment can­not al­low the Phumaphi re­port to be re­leased, can­not em­brace the rule of law, ac­count­abil­ity, gov­er­nance, ba­sic hu­man rights and demo­cratic ideals and prin­ci­ples.

He also can­not bring to book the per­pe­tra­tors of crim­i­nal con­duct which took place on 30 Au­gust 2014 and 25 July 2015. His peo­ple and the whole coun­try would rather per­ish in or­der to pro­tect his co­horts.

In ad­di­tion, as a re­sult of the PM’S big­otry, 50000 tex­tile in­dus­try jobs that sus­tain nearly 250,000 de­pen­dents are in dan­ger of be­ing lost as they de­pend on the African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act (AGOA) of the United States. As a re­sult the whole coun­try is on the brink of perdi­tion.

Lack of fo­cus To­wards the end of 2015 signs of a bit­ter in­fight­ing have be­gun to emerge of a dis­as­trous feud be­tween the rul­ing Demo­cratic Congress (DC) and big­gest coali­tion part­ner youth league that will inevitably rub-off on the par­ent big­ger na­tional DC in the run-in to the party’s na­tional elec­tive con­fer­ence in the first month of 2016.

This in-fight­ing, cou­pled with the govern­ment’s run-in with SADC and US over their fu­tile ef­forts to sup­press the re­lease of the Phumaphi re­port are hav­ing a ter­ri­ble neg­a­tive im­pact on Le­sotho’s political and eco­nomic land­scape.

Govern­ment will there­fore never con­cen­trate on bread and but­ter is­sues of so­cioe­co­nomic up­lift­ment for Ba­sotho.

On the ba­sis of the above, it is only fair for the PM to be man enough and ac­knowl­edge that his govern­ment, from in­stal­la­tion till to­day, has faced se­ri­ous chal­lenges and he hopes to ad­dress them head-on.

Multi-mil­lion mal­oti Bid­vest deal Im­me­di­ately af­ter as­sum­ing of­fice govern­ment can­celled the multi-mil­lion mal­oti ve­hi­cle sup­ply and main­te­nance con­tract with AVIS and awarded it to Bid­vest of South Africa nat­u­rally, one would have ex­pected Ba­sotho to be given pref­er­en­tial treat­ment in the award of the ten­der. To this day, this con­tract is mired in con­tro­versy.

Pre­dic­tion On the ba­sis of the above sce­nar­ios, un­less a se­ri­ous can­did change of heart and vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship emerges or de­vel­ops in 2016, a de javu of all the 2015 events or worse is go­ing to re­peat it­self.

One can only hope if I ad­vise the PM to wave pol­i­tics good­bye, he does not re­tort: “Where is pol­i­tics go­ing?”

How­ever, for­ever an op­ti­mist, I can only hope for the best in 2016. Wish­ing Le­sotho a pros­per­ous 2016.

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