Govt, op­po­si­tion talks a wel­come de­vel­op­ment

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

MOVES by the govern­ment and op­po­si­tion to map out a frame­work for the re­turn of ex­iled political lead­ers de­serve ut­most com­men­da­tion.

As re­ported in this edi­tion, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the op­po­si­tion bloc con­sist­ing of the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion, Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party yes­ter­day met with govern­ment of­fi­cials in Mod­der­port, South Africa to dis­cuss the modal­i­ties for end­ing their lead­ers’ in­vol­un­tary stay in the neigh­bour­ing na­tion.

The meet­ing, which was con­vened by the govern­ment at the urg­ing of the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC), con­sti­tutes a coup for the re­gional bloc in its slow but sure ap­proach to re­solv­ing the political im­passe in the Moun­tain King­dom.

How­ever, it is our lead­ers who de­serve a pat on the back for fi­nally sit­ting down by them­selves to chart a way to­wards end­ing the im­passe. De­spite its many pow­ers, SADC could not have co­erced both par­ties to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble. The na­tional in­ter­est, in our view, could have been the driv­ing fac­tor.

An­other pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment is that the talks were not held in se­cret, which shows that both par­ties are pre­pared to fol­low the process through.

In pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions when such talks were held, they we held in se­cret giv­ing room for the ne­go­tia­tors to abruptly pull out with­out any ex­pla­na­tion. Pic­tures pub­lished in this edi­tion of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives con­vers­ing in a cor­dial man­ner in Mod­der­port are a wel­come sight and speak a thou­sand words about their com­mit­ment to the talks.

As has been stated on this col­umn on many oc­ca­sions, protest and boy­cott pol­i­tics have their lim­its how­ever ef­fec­tive they may be in the short-term. On its part, the govern­ment needs the op­po­si­tion to play its role of hold­ing them to ac­count.

How­ever dys­func­tional the ar­range­ment may be, all the play­ers need each other to make the coun­try op­er­a­tional. This is more so given the chal­lenges be­fore this na­tion.

Else­where in this edi­tion, the Euro­pean Union (EU) has an­nounced that it would not dis­burse €26.85 mil­lion (about M454.96 mil­lion) in bud­get sup­port to Le­sotho due to the in­suf­fi­cient progress made in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of agreed pol­icy re­forms.

With all the hag­gling that has char­ac­terised the body politic of this na­tion for much of the pre­ced­ing years, it is no sur­prise that lit­tle progress was made on the eco­nomic front. Added to that, the coun­try is in the throes of a se­vere El Nino-in­duced drought that has made a lot of Ba­sotho food in­se­cure.

All th­ese chal­lenges re­quire a govern­ment and op­po­si­tion fo­cused on the task of al­le­vi­at­ing the peo­ple’s suf­fer­ing and not at each other’s throats. An all hands on deck ap­proach is the rem­edy Le­sotho needs to emerge from its log­jam.

With­out doubt, th­ese talks have the po­ten­tial to be a turn­ing point for the na­tion. De­vel­op­ment part­ners who are mulling over their con­tin­ued sup­port of the coun­try given re­cent un­savoury de­vel­op­ment would cer­tainly be won over by a govern­ment and op­po­si­tion speak­ing with one voice with re­gards to the na­tional in­ter­est.

While we are un­der no il­lu­sions on the enor­mity of the task be­fore the ne­go­tia­tors, we are cau­tiously op­ti­mistic of a frame­work that would bring not only the ex­iled lead­ers home, but other ac­tivists and Le­sotho De­fence Force mem­bers.

The talks will be a give and take af­fair, with no party likely to get ev­ery­thing they would want. How­ever, the over­rid­ing ob­jec­tive for all par­ties in­volved needs to be end­ing the im­passe so that fo­cus can re­turn to de­vel­op­men­tal is­sues.

Af­ter all, Le­sotho ur­gently needs to grow and di­ver­sify her econ­omy to be able to weather the storms of global down­turns and other shocks.

Lead­ers from across the political di­vide should not re­gard each other as oil and wa­ter, but as Ba­sotho first and fore­most. With time the congress and na­tion­al­ist ide­olo­gies will be­come ar­chaic, but Le­sotho will re­main.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.