Political par­ties can re­solve in­sta­bil­ity

Lesotho Times - - Opinion -

Since in­de­pen­dence in 1966, Le­sotho has ex­pe­ri­enced political dis­tur­bances which are rel­a­tively more than its tiny ge­o­graph­i­cal size.

There have been coups, at­tempted coups and political kid­nap­pings and as­sas­si­na­tions.

Sev­eral so­cial com­men­ta­tors have at­trib­uted th­ese political chal­lenges to the con­trol of the armed forces by the politi­cians.

They also ar­gue that if the Le­sotho De­fence Forces (LDF) and the Le­sotho Mounted Po­lice Ser­vices (LMPS) could be de­politi­cised, there would be political sal­va­tion in the Moun­tain King­dom.

i tend to partly agree with th­ese as­ser­tions but pro­pose what i think would be the panacea to our so­cio-political ills. When there are political dis­tur­bances in any cap­i­tal­ist econ­omy, mar­kets suf­fer and in­vestors pull out their in­vest­ments and cap­i­tal and in­ject them else­where where they think that their in­vest­ment is in safe hands. Th­ese leave much to be de­sired in the aban­doned econ­omy. Peo­ple lose jobs, bud­gets are left strained and de­vel­op­ment part­ners pre­scribe dic­ta­to­rial terms and con­di­tions for their de­vel­op­ment grants and loans.

What has hap­pened in Le­sotho in the re­cent past is not as a re­sult of an un­pro­fes­sional de­fence force or po­lice ser­vice or rather their in­sub­or­di­na­tion. it is as a re­sult of a sys­tem­atic fail­ure to pre­scribe term lim­its in our re­spec­tive political par­ties for our lead­ers.

Our pop­u­la­tion de­pends too much on pa­tron­age to sur­vive and the longer we help our lead­ers to cling to power in the par­ties is the more we en­cour­age political in­tol­er­ance on the part of oth­ers who want to put their hands in the na­tional fis­cus cookie jar.

We have a sys­tem where our na­tional re­sources are so scarce that a ticket of the rul­ing party in any par­tic­u­lar time is a ticket to a job or a govern­ment ten­der. Th­ese days, we do not ex­pect ser­vice de­liv­ery from the rul­ing elites per se, but we need them to re­turn favours be­cause we claim that we have put them where they are.

Who­ever is in op­po­si­tion benches would also cause political dis­tur­bances so that the rul­ing klep­to­crats would fall and he/she would take the levers of power for their ben­e­fit too.

We have be­come a na­tion so lack­ing of morals that were it pos­si­ble for our found­ing fa­thers to see our state as a na­tion, they would turn in their graves. My main ar­gu­ment is that we usu­ally find our­selves in the wrong side of good gov­er­nance be­cause of our en­trenched bad cul­ture of not re­mov­ing our political lead­ers who stay in power in our par­ties even af­ter they out­live their wel­come.

i know i am go­ing to make more en­e­mies than friends in pen­ning this com­men­tary, but let’s talk frankly. Were it not be­cause of old men and women at the helm of our political par­ties, Le­sotho would be on the right road to­wards its Vi­sion 2020. The old boys club have no in­ter­est in the fu­ture of this coun­try be­cause they are al­ready liv­ing in their ex­tra time.

They are only in­ter­ested in them­selves and their cronies. it is high time that we, the youth, join th­ese political par­ties and wage a rev­o­lu­tion to take over from the old stock.

Some peo­ple have ar­gued that this cul­ture of lead­ers who oc­cupy party se­nior po­si­tions un­til death do them part was cre­ated by the two most es­teem fa­thers of Le­sotho’s mod­ern political tra­jec­tory viz Morena Le­abua Jonathan and Dr ntsu Mokhehle.

Many ar­gu­ments could be made about them about this is­sue of cling­ing to power till death; it does not mat­ter, at least to me. We would do our coun­try a great dis­ser­vice and in­jus­tice if we con­cen­trated on what who did when and not con­sider mak­ing right their wrongs. it is time that we stand up and cor­rect this prac­tice.

Let’s look at the top four political par­ties in Le­sotho in terms of the num­ber of votes each got in 2015 gen­eral elec­tions and look at how many leader they have had since their for­ma­tion.

i) Demo­cratic Congress: The Dc was formed in 2012 un­der its cur­rent pres­i­dent, Dr Pakalitha Mo­sisili. in the 2015 elec­tions, it got 218 573 na­tional votes and it had the pop­u­lar vote. it has only had one leader whose term ex­pires some­where around 2017/2018.

While we can­not con­clude that Dr Mo­sisili has stayed for long in the lead­er­ship of the Dc, we all know that he stayed for some 14 long years as the leader of the LCD from 1997 to 2012. Al­though it might sound un­fair to him, i think he should con­sider leav­ing ac­tive pol­i­tics for fresh blood at the ex­pi­ra­tion of his cur­rent term as leader of the party. Founders are not eter­nal fa­thers nor life lead­ers.

ii) All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion: The ABC was formed in 2006 un­der the lead­er­ship of its cur­rent pres­i­dent Dr Thomas Tha­bane. The ABC was the se­cond high­est party in terms of the num­ber of votes in 2015 elec­tions. it gar­nered 215 022 votes na­tion­ally. it has had only one leader since its for­ma­tion nearly 10 years ago. Maybe we could say that 10 years is only two five-year terms, but look­ing at his age, i think he should call it a day and go and en­joy old age.

iii) Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy: - The LCD was formed in 1997 by the late Dr ntsu Mokhehle. He passed the ba­ton to Dr Mo­sisili who jumped ship and the ba­ton was taken by Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing since 2012.

in com­par­i­son to the above two lead­ers, Mr Mets­ing is fairly young and has only four years at the helm of any political party. Let’s give him an­other chance, maybe he will per­form well in gar­ner­ing sup­port for this party which saw its worst per­for­mance ever in the last gen­eral elec­tion.

iv) Ba­sotho Na­tional Party: The BNP was formed by the late Dr Le­abua Jonathan in 1959. He led it till his death in 1987. it was then led by Morena Retšelisit­soe Sekho­nyana who passed the ba­ton to Ma­jor Gen­eral Mets­ing Lekhanya who then passed it to Morena Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane. Morena Th­e­sele is fairly young too and he has not led the party for too long. Let’s give him a fair chance to prove him­self. He has done some com­mend­able work of in­creas­ing the party’s elec­torate for the past two na­tional elec­tions. The BNP got 31 508 na­tional votes in the last 2015 elec­tions.

Look­ing at the above in­for­ma­tion, it is clear that mem­bers of the Dc and the ABC should change their horses’ jock­eys and elect new younger lead­ers. The cur­rent ones are old and should pass lead­er­ship wis­dom to fresh blood. This could gen­er­ally lead to sta­ble par­ties which in turn lead to a sta­ble coun­try.

The na­tional re­sources would then be dis­trib­uted fairly across the board and ben­e­fit more peo­ple than few con­nected in­di­vid­u­als. it would as­sist in deep­en­ing democ­racy in our political par­ties where po­ten­tial suc­ces­sors would be groomed in time for sta­ble tran­si­tions both in the par­ties and in the coun­try. Sta­ble and peace­ful political tran­si­tions are good for mar­ket or in­vestor con­fi­dence in an econ­omy.

in con­clu­sion, let’s be the cham­pi­ons of our political fu­ture for the sta­bil­ity of our coun­try. Let’s change the old guard with the new boys and girls in our political par­ties and ul­ti­mately in our coun­try.

This would con­trib­ute in a sig­nif­i­cant way in mak­ing our coun­try po­lit­i­cally sta­ble and en­hance in­vestor con­fi­dence in in our eco­nomic sta­bil­ity. The LDF and the LMPS are not our prob­lems, old guys dis­in­ter­ested in our fu­ture affairs are. Let there be peace, let there be rain, let there be pros­per­ity for Le­sotho. God bless Le­sotho. God bless Ba­sotho.

l Kele­bone Lekunya is a Ngoa­janebased so­cial com­men­ta­tor.

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