Mod­der­poort – A ray of hope

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IN Isa­iah 1:18-20, it is said: “Come now let us rea­son to­gether,” Says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scar­let, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crim­son, they shall be like wool.

If you are will­ing and obe­di­ent, you will eat the best from the land; but if you re­sist and rebel, you will be de­voured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spo­ken.

Fur­ther, in Matthew 5:23-26, it is said: “There­fore, if you are of­fer­ing you gift at the al­tar and there re­mem­ber your brother or sis­ter has some­thing against you, leave your gift there in front of the al­tar. First go and be rec­on­ciled to that per­son, then come and of­fer your gift. “Set­tle mat­ters quickly with your ad­ver­sary who is tak­ing you to court.

Do it while you are still to­gether on the way, or your ad­ver­sary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to THE OF­FI­CER, AND YOU MAY BE THROWN into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out un­til you have paid the last penny.”

Th­ese sem­i­nal im­pec­ca­ble words truly en­cap­su­late the vi­tal as­sign­ment that faces our lead­ers across the political spec­trum from both the govern­ment and the op­po­si­tion in the midst of the ground-break­ing talks held in the sleepy Free State town of Mod­der­poort not known per­haps for its si­los and agri­cul­tural achieve­ments.

On Wed­nes­day, 2 March, 2016, the at­ten­tion of South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) and Le­sotho was fo­cused on this back­wa­ter town and in the com­ing weeks it will move to yet an­other unim­por­tant South African town, Ficks­burg, in the East­ern Free State, as the tri­par­tite op­po­si­tion com­posed of All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP), and the Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho (RCL) on the one side, ne­go­ti­ate with the seven party Le­sotho govern­ment, on the other, with a view to find a last­ing sus­tain­able and uni­ver­sally ac­cept­able so­lu­tion to Le­sotho’s myr­iad of prob­lems that have be­dev­iled our tiny im­pov­er­ished moun­tain king­dom for the past fifty (50). Yes I say fifty (50), years of in­de­pen­dence.

The above words from the Holy Scrip­ture are there­fore in­struc­tive on our lead­ers to make hay while the sun still shines, so to speak.

The fact that at least they are at last, talk­ing is in­deed en­cour­ag­ing not only to Ba­sotho but also SADC be­cause this is hope­fully with good­will from both sides, the be­gin­ning of greater sus­tain­able political and se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion for Le­sotho.

The im­por­tance of this ex­er­cise can­not there­fore be un­der­es­ti­mated and our lead­ers are urged to grab this op­por­tu­nity with both hands.

To any peace-lov­ing Mosotho and the rest of the world to wit­ness those pic­tures, ( Le­sotho Times, March, 3-9, 2016) of our lead­ers from across the spec­trum chat­ting in a seem­ingly ami­able man­ner are en­cour­ag­ing and will re­main etched in our col­lec­tive mem­ory for years to come.

Iron­i­cally, in line with the old adage that ev­ery cloud has a sil­ver lin­ing, all th­ese ne­go­ti­a­tions were now pos­si­ble thanks to the lately much-ma­ligned Phumaphi/sadc Com­mis­sion of En­quiry into the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the killing of for­mer Le­sotho De­fense Force (LDF) com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao that is in keep­ing with the SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit in Pre­to­ria, June 3, 2015 and sub­se­quent com­mu­niques of SADC urged govern­ment to fa­cil­i­tate and level the play­ing field for op­po­si­tion political lead­ers to re­turn safely to Le­sotho af­ter their flight to neigh­bor­ing South Africa.

I am ad­vis­edly say­ing the Com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions were lately much-ma­ligned be­cause from the time the Com­mis­sion crossed the bor­der to Thaba-nchu, South Africa, govern­ment gave the Com­mis­sion so much flak, to the time it made its find­ings and rec­om­men­da­tions, that govern­ment pub­licly at least, never wanted any­thing to do with this com­mis­sion and as a last straw at the Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit in Gaborone, Botswana, govern­ment had to make a volte face in ac­cept­ing the re­port let alone im­ple­ment­ing its rec­om­men­da­tions.

Sud­denly, from brag­ging about set­ting up this com­mis­sion, govern­ment per­ceive it as the prodigal son that needed to be thrown into the prover­bial dust-bin of his­tory.

It took mas­sive nudg­ing and threat of “dis­en­gage­ment” that govern­ment fi­nally agreed to take the re­port.

As for im­ple­ment­ing its rec­om­men­da­tions there is still a mas­sive con­certed re­sis­tance from govern­ment ar­gu­ing that the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Com­mis­sion which later be­came res­o­lu­tions and in line with SADC Pro­to­cols and Treaties, have now be­come bind­ing.

We need to urge our lead­ers as Ba­sotho that the only way out of this political and se­cu­rity im­passe is through ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Else this im­pov­er­ished coun­try is inevitably go­ing down the precipice. It is all our col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity to tell and write the his­tory of Le­sotho not SADC, not the Euro­pean Union, not the Amer­i­cans but only our­selves. The political his­tory of this na­tion will not be writ­ten in blood but in prayer.

Our lead­ers need to get the prover­bial ele­phant out of the room for this coun­try to move for­ward like the rest of the world.

It is only big­oted and self­ish el­e­ments that can re­sist this paradigm shift in our political, se­cu­rity and con­sti­tu­tional land­scape in the long-term.

The chink in our col­lec­tive ar­mor are those el­e­ments that do not want im­ple­men­ta­tions of the re­port.

It is also worth not­ing that in the let­ter invit­ing the tri­par­tite op­po­si­tion al­liance to the ne­go­ti­a­tions, un­der the hand of the Govern­ment Sec­re­tary, copies of this cor­re­spon­dence were made to Pres­i­dents Ian Khama of Botswana and Filipe Nyusi of Mozam­bique, as the chair­per­son of SADC and the SADC Or­gan on Pol­i­tics, De­fense, and Se­cu­rity Co­op­er­a­tion as well the South African Deputy Pres­i­dent and SADC Fa­cil­i­ta­tor to Le­sotho, Cyril Ramaphosa and SADC Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Dr Lawrence Ster­gomema Tax.

This sig­nal by govern­ment in in­form­ing the top hi­er­ar­chy of SADC and the tri­par­tite op­po­si­tion al­liance in send­ing the deputy lead­ers, se­nior of­fi­cials of their par­ties and the Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho (CCL) in send­ing its lead­ers to the talks demon­strate de­ter­mi­na­tion to see this saga set­tled fi­nally. This is with­out a doubt a wa­ter­shed mo­ment for Le­sotho.

As ear­lier al­luded to, all the par­ties in­di­cated that they would in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the lead­er­ship of the CCL, our spir­i­tual lead­ers as a na­tion, fix the date for the next meet­ing in­volv­ing all the political par­ties.

This is an op­por­tu­nity we dare not spurn. The fu­ture of this na­tion is in the hands of our lead­ers and I do not doubt we have ca­pa­ble will­ing lead­ers from both op­pos­ing sides. In­deed, it is not be­ing too far-fetched and am­bi­tious to say that the whole world is keenly watch­ing our lead­ers on how they con­duct them­selves and ac­quaint them­selves in this crit­i­cal epoch-mak­ing mo­ment in our his­tory.

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