Did politi­cians take heed of King’s speech?

Lesotho Times - - Leader - So­fonea shale

THE 2015 an­nual na­tional ad­dress by His Majesty the King on the oc­ca­sion mark­ing fes­tive sea­son gen­er­ated pub­lic discourse nec­es­sary for en­gag­ing one an­other at least with the aim of at­tain­ing peace that cit­i­zens de­serve. The main chal­lenge is whether Ba­sotho can rise to the oc­ca­sion and use His Majesty’s mes­sage to de­fine con­struc­tive en­gage­ment.

Since politi­cians both in and out of govern­ment are charged with the re­spon­si­bil­ity to lead the na­tion into re­al­is­ing its ideals, en­sur­ing that the na­tional poli­cies are im­ple­mented in line with ap­proved plans and that bud­getary al­lo­ca­tions are ap­pro­pri­ately spent, they are bound to lis­ten to His Majesty not only in the speech from the throne. Have politi­cians heard His Majesty?

His Majesty noted and pre­cisely so that 2015 is re­mem­bered dif­fer­ently by in­di­vid­u­als de­pend­ing on the per­sonal cir­cum­stances peo­ple faced but at the na­tional level, it was mix­ture of prob­lems, suc­cesses, chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties. On gov­er­nance His Majesty in­di­cated that fol­low­ing the fall­out be­tween if not among the lead­ers of the ABC led coali­tion govern­ment, Le­sotho had elec­tions two years ear­lier than ex­pected.

His Majesty went fur­ther to re­mind Ba­sotho that SADC was re­quested to of­fer a help­ing hand in the con­tin­ued post-elec­tion chal­lenges in Le­sotho and ex­pressed na­tional ex­pec­ta­tion and hope that the Phumaphi com­mis­sion will rec­om­mend on the mea­sures that will give Ba­sotho sus­tain­able peace. His Majesty once again warned politi­cians to re­alise that when­ever they stir wa­ters and their con­tes­ta­tions spill over into the se­cu­rity agen­cies, it is the or­di­nary cit­i­zens who suf­fer. His Majesty lamented over lead­ers of op­po­si­tion, mem­bers of Le­sotho De­fence Force, lawyers and me­dia prac­ti­tion­ers who fled the coun­try due to the political and mil­i­tary sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try.

On HIV and AIDS His Majesty ex­pressed dis­may that the sit­u­a­tion is not im­prov­ing and that the King­dom has gone worse in the in­ter­na­tional rank­ings. His hope that re­sus­ci­ta­tion of the Na­tional AIDS Com­mis­sion will im­prove the sit­u­a­tion urges ev­ery­one to work hard to bring ex­pected change. He re­minded Ba­sotho that he once made a call for a pro­gramme to build dams to har­ness wa­ter and he re­peated the call.

Tak­ing His Majesty’s mes­sage holis­ti­cally, one can see a ba­sis for a new be­gin­ning for a peace­ful Le­sotho. If Ba­sotho through their lead­er­ship can ap­ply their minds not only on the is­sues His Majesty raised but par­tic­u­larly on the man­ner of pre­sen­ta­tion, there is no doubt this coun­try can change. But have politi­cians heard His Majesty?

It is quite in­ter­est­ing be­cause the bit in­ward look­ing nar­ra­tion and tone of the Prime Min­is­ter ad­dress­ing the same gov­er­nance is­sues can be tamed and turned ac­com­moda­tive through His Majesty’s per­spec­tive. The Prime Min­is­ter de­scribed rea­sons pre­cip­i­tat­ing elec­tions as col­lapse of gov­er­nance and that af­ter elec­tions things have been brought back to track with the ex­cep­tion of few things that still need to be fi­nalised. The Prime Min­is­ter’s ac­count gives im­pres­sion that things were worse be­fore he came to power and im­proved as he held reigns. Whether he is cor­rect or wrong is an is­sue for con­tes­ta­tion and com­mon ground may not be eas­ily found from the right­eous ap­proach. In political con­tes­ta­tions per­cep­tions and in­ten­tions and not facts per se shape en­gage­ment.

In peace work, man­age­ment if not res­o­lu­tion of con­flicts does not rest on facts by one party rather on how they are per­ceived to be and on how their in­ten­tions are per­ceived by the other. On his an­nounce­ment of the in­ten­tion of the govern­ment to re­vive the Na­tional AIDS Com­mis­sion the Prime Min­is­ter blamed the pre­vi­ous regime for hav­ing caused es­ca­la­tion of HIV and AIDS through its in­ad­e­quate in­ter­ven­tions and reck­less­ness.

Surely this ac­count can­not be ac­cepted by the op­po­si­tion again not so much be­cause it is fac­tual or not but on the ba­sis of its per­ceived in­tended political ben­e­fits. If op­po­si­tion be­lieves that the Prime Min­is­ter seeks pos­i­tive pub­lic appraisal at its ex­pense, not only will Prime Min­is­ter’s ap­peal for re­turn home not be seen as a se­ri­ous call but will in­vite counter state­ment. In fact op­po­si­tion lead­ers are on record de­scrib­ing their stay out of Le­sotho as caused by the post-elec­tion political and mil­i­tary sit­u­a­tion. On the pro­gram­matic in­ad­e­quacy on HIV and AIDS, the op­po­si­tion has al­ready back­lashed ac­cus­ing the Prime Min­is­ter that the Na­tional AIDS Com­mis­sion was dis­banded dur­ing his ten­ure of of­fice. The Prime Min­is­ter is blamed for what he blames the pre­vi­ous regime for.

For those in political sci­ence and pol­icy stud­ies and lately mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion, in­ten­tions are cen­tral in any pol­icy di­rec­tion. If the in­ten­tion is to con­sol­i­date gov­er­nance and set the coun­try in a path for re­forms, the means should re­flect the in­tended end. Though His Majesty’s de­scrip­tion may in the or­di­nary un­help­ful political ori­en­ta­tion not be re­garded high, it ac­tu­ally rep­re­sents the ap­pro­pri­ate be­gin­ning for Le­sotho politi­cians if they want to work for peace.

It is not the ques­tion of what is or not de­sir­able but a fact that the SADC bro­kered elec­tions fa­cil­i­tated regime not political change, Ba­sotho still have to grap­ple with gov­er­nance chal­lenges. Ar­gued fairly, hon­estly and con­vinc­ingly, Le­sotho‘s sit­u­a­tion could not be said to be nor­mal when lead­ers of op­po­si­tion are still out of the coun­try, com­plete the safe re­turn home process.

Gov­er­nance could not jus­ti­fi­ably be said to be in­tact while the post-elec­tion era has been so taunt­ing for the Le­sotho govern­ment. The govern­ment has been un­der pres­sure to ex­plain the state of rule of law in Le­sotho, the ex­tent to which ethos of good gov­er­nance such as ac­count­abil­ity, civil-mil­i­tary re­la­tions and many oth­ers are up­held, ad­dress th­ese is­sues. Or­di­nar­ily good gov­er­nance goes hand in hand with in­ter­na­tional ac­cla­ma­tion; the mes­sage which the then Prime Min­is­ter taught well when Le­sotho was pos­i­tively ap­praised un­der the US Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion pre­vi­ously, keep the teach­ing.

When Le­sotho got as­sis­tance, Ba­sotho were made to be­lieve that such is a re­ward and in­cen­tive for good gov­er­nance un­der the lead­er­ship of Dr Mo­sisili. Would it be fair to the cit­i­zens, tax pay­ers and elec­tors to re­ori­ent them that it is US govern­ment which is un­demo­cratic when Le­sotho is not pos­i­tively ap­praised this time? The Sadc-le­sotho govern­ment stand-off over Phumaphi Com­mis­sion com­mu­ni­cates clearly the in­ten­tions in­volved.

The Op­po­si­tion de­ci­sion to boy­cott par­lia­ment yet hold press con­fer­ences to call for dras­tic gov­er­nance mea­sures like putting the King­dom un­der SADC ad­min­is­tra­tion is equally judged with per­ceived in­ten­tions.

Look at the is­sues and ad­dress them, there is a lot that politi­cians can give to Ba­sotho with­out them gain­ing political mileage at the ex­pense of oth­ers. His Majesty’s mes­sage gives that in­duc­tion. Have politi­cians heard His Majesty?

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