Time for vi­sion­ary lead­ers in Le­sotho

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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-

sight mis­sion.

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.

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