Time for visionary leaders in Lesotho
mandated the government to produce a road map towards implementation of the commission’s recommendations. As of the end of February, no discernible progress has been recorded.
The only step that Prime Minister Mosisili has taken is to present the report to Parliament, where he neither outlined its contents nor indicated what the intention of Government was towards processing, implementing or disseminating its findings and recommendations. Debate on his presentation is yet to take place in either House of the legislature.
This leaves the public and Lesotho’s external partners in the dark over whether the report has provided the expected beginning of a process of resolving Lesotho’s current crisis: it is business as usual in Lesotho.
In addition: l The police have not resumed the Mahao investigation, and no word has been forthcoming on this; l Kamoli remains Commander of LDF and no soldier has been suspended in connection with criminal investigations; l Institutional and/or constitutional reform has only been hinted by government officials and politicians, but no action is apparent; l Both military detainees accused of mutiny, and those in exile, remain in limbo; and l The SADC oversight committee remains a statement of intent.
Opposition leaders remain in exile and their war of words with government continues unabated in the media. Those still in Parliament remain suspended after their unruly behaviour during Mosisili’s first attempt to present the Phumaphi report.
In the meantime, a series of “redherring” debates have heightened controversy over the report, over issues such as whether the report has been watered down through the excision of names of people and whether the recommendations are now binding on government by virtue of their acceptance and adoption by SADC.
Prospects for the Future:
More of the Same? A number of factors, current and historical, cast doubt over whether Lesotho’s political elite will take the opportunity that the Phumaphi Commission report provides to recalibrate governance and provide new legitimacy to national political processes.
This is despite calls from civil society quarters to speedily, resolutely and fully implement the recommendations. The calls have been manifest in open letters, public statements and position papers issued by no fewer than 20 such national bodies, including trade unions, professional and humanitarian organisations.
Firstly, the commission still re- mains threatened by the Hashatsi challenge, which has now gone on appeal. Secondly, the commission may still suffer the fate of being ignored by the executive: the mantra that “a recommendation is (just) a recommendation” is gaining currency. Thirdly, Parliament might choose to implement its recommendations only selectively. This possibility is heightened by the absence of the opposition from deliberations due to their continuing boycott of Parliament.
There is also a deafening silence from SADC, through its physical absence from Lesotho and through its failure to state its position after the January communiqué urging the government to act. Room remains for pressure from the region, not least by acknowledging progress made (if any) and by demonstrating continuing support for reform, especially by setting up the long-promised over-
Lastly, on whatever side the commission’s report places the weight of blame, there is bound to be displeasure within society. Given the current depth of rancour and the prolonged wait for action, managing reactions is going to be a nightmare. Could this concern be what is paralyzing government?
In the current absence of leadership that is not bent on political pointscoring, the Phumaphi Commission is likely to continue being a political football for politicians, amidst a public still ignorant of its contents. Closure, reconciliation or identification of the way forward out of the current morass, all remain a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained.
Perhaps it is time for a visionary, uniting and organic leadership to emerge. Will Lesotho produce such a leader from the current crop of politicians? l Tšoeu Petlane is director of the Maseru-based NGO, Transformation Resource Centre. He writes in his personal capacity.