The op­po­si­tion is awk­wardly po­si­tioned

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LE­SOTHO is at the point of its 9th Par­lia­ment af­ter the 2015 snap elec­tion. Its few months’ old op­po­si­tion is al­ready on a pro­longed stay-away as a protest over what could best be left to the pro­test­ers to ex­plain.

They did not even bother to at­tend the pre­sen­ta­tion of the 2016/2017 bud­get. That is highly sad­den­ing be­cause par­lia­ment is viewed as the high­est repos­i­tory of the hopes and as­pi­ra­tions of the cit­i­zens. The op­po­si­tion re­mained less con­cerned with the event.

The pro­longed stay-away has de­vel­oped to a stage where it re­flects on par­lia­ment it­self. Con­stituents are likely to won­der if there is any value in go­ing to polling sta­tions to elect MPS only to come to par­lia­ment and stay-away.

Par­lia­ments cre­ated Ethics Com­mit­tees with a hope to pro­tect par­lia­ment against MP mis­con­duct or show of ten­den­cies which are likely to bring par­lia­ment into dis­re­pute.

The ex­pec­ta­tion is for all MPS to avoid bring­ing par­lia­ment into dis­re­pute. The Le­sotho op­po­si­tion ap­pears set to do just that.

Par­lia­men­tary rules and set pro­ce­dures can­not be a guar­an­tee to achieve deco­rum. The best over­seer of in­di­vid­ual MPS’ ways is their con­science. Par­lia­ments have an­other com­mon phe­nom­e­non of tow­ing the party line.

This can be ef­fec­tive but has lim­its. At times, one has to choose be­tween fol­low­ing the party line or the leader blindly. That is when the call of con­science be­comes handy.

The abil­ity to be guided by one’s con­science dis­tin­guishes men and women from mere fol­low­ers. Hu­mans dis­tin­guish them­selves from an­i­mals by be­ing ra­tio­nal.

The on-go­ing stay-away has re­vealed that par­lia­ment has the po­ten­tial to have MPS who can be guided by their con­science.

One op­po­si­tion PR MP showed that her con­science ac­tu­ally guided her. She chose to at­tend one sit­ting be­cause she was con­cerned about predica­ments which had be­fallen her com­mu­nity back home.

She was aware that ob­ser­vance of party line to stay-away could not help her com­mu­nity. One is first an MP, then fol­lows the role of back­bencher or oc­cu­pier of a front seat and fi­nally a mem­ber of one team in the House.

In our kind of MMP elec­toral model, one has to choose whether he/she puts the party be­fore con­stituents.

The model tends to put a po­ten­tial MP at the mercy of the party which de­ter­mines where one is ranked on the Party List if ever one gets that chance.

One sanc­tion a party may mete against an in­di­vid­ual may be to omit one`s name if she/he was guided more by Call of Con­science against party line.

The re­cent out­cry by some civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions against the op­po­si­tion is an­other in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ment.

Some of th­ese CSOS have else­where been por­trayed as ex­tras or ex­ten­sions of some political par­ties.

This un­ex­pected out­cry may be in­dica­tive of the amount of pres­sure felt by th­ese CSOS: they prob­a­bly feel be­trayed by their prin­ci­pals on the on-go­ing stay away.

The na­tion only has to watch whether or not the op­po­si­tion will oblige. See­ing govern­ment sail un­in­ter­rupted in the House may be un­bear­able to some CSOS.

If the op­po­si­tion gives this a deaf ear, that would be in fur­ther­ance of bring­ing par­lia­ment into dis­re­pute; at least in the eyes of the na­tion.

Where a par­lia­ment does not move in the right di­rec­tion, the na­tion will be the loser. No na­tion with good lead­er­ship may choose to be a loser.

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