Govt’s top gaffes of the year
“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.