The gravy train needs no talk­ers

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis - Ma­hao Ma­hao

IN a morn­ing pro­gramme on Har­vest FM last week, one of the lieu­tenants in the cur­rent govern­ment was on air to share with the na­tion what had tran­spired at a rally con­vened by Pop­u­lar Front for Democ­racy (PFD) in Leribe the pre­vi­ous Sun­day. PFD is spe­cial in two ways in the cur­rent con­text. Firstly it is a party that was founded in 1991 with the late Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao be­ing one of its found­ing mem­bers.

It may have there­fore come as a shock to many PFD sym­pa­thiz­ers that the party ended up join­ing a con­glom­er­a­tion of congress splin­ters to emerge with the most heav­ily patched up govern­ment in Le­sotho’s his­tory. Even a bro­ken leg with seven patches can no longer be called a leg; am­pu­ta­tion would be its only saviour. This is a govern­ment that stands tall in the lit­eral mean­ing of the ex­pres­sion.

Se­condly, PFD is spe­cial in that a govern­ment they are part of is the one whose army as­sas­si­nated its found­ing mem­ber Lt-gen Ma­hao. There shall for­ever be doc­u­mented his­tory to this ef­fect; whether it be­comes a source of pride or shame for the cur­rent lead­er­ship of PFD, it is for them to weigh, an­a­lyse and syn­the­sise. In a prin­ci­pled so­ci­ety where con­science, ac­count­abil­ity and the rule of law reign supreme, PFD would have long pulled out of such a govern­ment.

But this is Le­sotho where neg­a­tive talk is banned once you have com­fort­ably set­tled on your seat in the gravy train. Where the train is head­ing for does not mat­ter; what mat­ters is that you are in it and en­joy­ing the lux­u­ri­ous ride. From time to time, a small makeshift ta­ble in front is folded up and a sump­tu­ous meal is served.

Those on a jour­ney in this train have to show the best of ta­ble man­ners by shut­ting their mouths oth­er­wise they might choke or spill the con­tents of the plate in front of them. All they wish for is that the train does not stall or stut­ter, or worse chuck some of them out of their com­fort­able ride back to the re­al­ity that they seem to for­get as soon as they grow long wings of power.

What most Ba­sotho do not know is that Tha­bang Kholumo who was on Har­vest FM last week, was the same man who turned up at the home of Maa­parankoe’s brother — just af­ter the heinous as­sas­si­na­tion to tell the fam­ily and those present that evening what his Prime Min­is­ter had said about the cir­cum­stances of his killing.

De­spite hav­ing lis­tened to the fam­ily ver­sion of events, he still ap­peared more in­ter­ested in the shame­less lies that were be­ing prop­a­gated by his beloved govern­ment. He was nearly chewed up alive that evening. I am not sure what saved him.

The wounds were still fresh at the time and to lis­ten to a mem­ber of PFD, the party that Maa­parankoe had founded, show sol­i­dar­ity with a govern­ment whose army (prob­a­bly un­der in­struc­tion by some in the same govern­ment) had just com­mit­ted mur­der was un­be­liev­able.

You need not go far to dis­cover how political al­le­giance breeds politi­cians who sing far louder than the choir mas­ter him­self. A clus­ter of min­is­ters around Ja­cob Zuma has en­sured his con­tin­ued stay at the helm of state power de­spite his scan­dal-rid­den his­tory along with the self­ishly waste­ful Nkand­la­gate that re­fuses to go away and has re­leased a fart that seems to linger for­ever in the at­mos­phere.

The one shin­ing bea­con in this saga is Thuli Madon­sela, the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor (Om­buds­man in Le­sotho) who stands firm and does not in­tend to yield to the pres­sure ex­erted on her by those who con­tinue to sup­port Zuma’s com­pro­mised per­son­al­ity. There is a vast ar­ray of vo­cab­u­lary to de­scribe the type of peo­ple Zuma sur­rounds him­self with: lap­dogs, lack­eys, hangers-on, op­por­tunists, boot-lick­ers and many more. Th­ese guys will lick the mas­ter’s boots no mat­ter what has soiled them.

They can­not risk priv­i­leges for the sake of prin­ci­ples and good gov­er­nance. Usu­ally th­ese are the type of peo­ple who would strug­gle to get jobs any­where else in the na­tional econ­omy ex­cept where they cur­rently are hence the fear of los­ing the bread that’s but­tered on both sides is not too in­con­ceiv­able.

As the PFD and other (even smaller) par­ties — to­gether with the nu­mer­ous govern­ment spokesper­sons — con­tinue to shout that the rec­om­men­da­tions by the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion are not bind­ing to the govern­ment, one senses a pro­tec­tion of priv­i­leges as op­posed to rep­re­sent­ing good prin­ci­ples and gov­er­nance, in­tegrity, ac­count­abil­ity and the rule of law.

All th­ese group­ings would rather sup­port a com­pro­mised govern­ment and its army than lose the priv­i­leged life­style they cur­rently en- joy. They will con­tinue to back up a govern­ment whose pants are al­ready at the knees and show greater propen­sity to go fur­ther down than up­wards.

Those who lis­tened to Har­vest Ra­dio last week may have also heard when PFD sud­denly reg­is­tered their con­dem­na­tion of the as­sas­si­na­tion of Lt-gen Ma­hao. This was very in­ter­est­ing com­ing ex­actly six months af­ter his death.

The most ob­vi­ous ques­tion, of course, is why only now? What PFD will not tell the na­tion is that they are a party un­der im­mense pres­sure from some of their key al­lies both at home and abroad. Some of the lat­est de­vel­op­ments have to do with Le­sotho Teach­ers Trade Union (LTTU), a long-time sym­pa­thizer of PFD.

This Union had, for many years, pledged its sup­port to PFD but have lately made the party aware that they will not be sup­port­ing them in view of how they han­dled the Maa­parankoe killing and their con­tin­ued al­le­giance to a govern­ment that re­mains one of the chief sus­pects in his death.

The de­ci­sion by LTTU is al­most akin to that of the Na­tional Union of Metal Work­ers of South Africa (NUMSA) who with­drew from COSATU, a long-time tra­di­tional ally of the rul­ing ANC, due to fac­tors such as the ex­pul­sion of Zwelinz­ima Vavi, the bloody state-spon­sored Marikana mas­sacre and the com­pro­mised and scan­dal-plagued Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

Per­haps the abrupt u-turn by PFD to con­demn the killing of Maa­parankoe is a re­sult of sud­den aware­ness that loss of pub­lic sup­port will even­tu­ally re­sult in loss of political power. In case PFD still has doubts over the

Con­tin­ued on page 16. . .

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