Come get your milkshakes
. . . now that you are back in Parliament
CONGRADULATIONS, congradulations, congradulations opposition Mps. You have done the right thing by returning to Parliament. I know in proper English, we must say Congratulations. But for the sake of emphasis, I have decided to make a Sotho adaptation of the English word Congratulations to read and mean Congradulations. I have substituted the “t” in congratulations with a “d”.
This emphasis is meant to underline my gratitude, elation and happiness at your wise decision to return to Parliament. You see a “d” conveys a deeper meaning in Sotho than a “t”. That is why we pronounce our “l” in Sotho as a “d”. “D” denotes some high meaning, respect and honour. So well done MPS. But for any students reading this article, please don’t adopt the term congradulations in your exams. It’s Scrutator’s own adaptation for the purpose of this article only. Just stick and keep on using the term congratulations if you ever have to make reference to it in your exams.
You will all recall that I have been harping about the need for opposition MPS to return to Parliament over my several previous columns. I want to thank you all of you opposition MPS for listening to my advice. Please come and I give you all your milkshakes as promised. But you have to come to my office one by one and not as one large group. I cannot handle a group of 40 something people at once even if you form an orderly queue.
Returning to Parliament is a wise decision. Your decision to boycott Parliament had become as sterile as it was ineffectual. Let me repeat myself again. Boycotts can be a good strategy if they are aimed at achieving something.
But boycotts become sterile and ineffectual when they become an end in themselves. In your case, your boycott was now depriving you of the use of the most important platform to air your views on all pertinent issues.
For the long periods that you stayed away from Parliament, you did not achieve anything. King Kamoli, your number one nemesis, became an Emperor. Your leaders remained ensconced in exile. None of the things you demanded happened. Continuing with the boycott thus became spurious.
Now that you are back in Parliament, you have a proper platform to highlight your issues. You can stand on the roof of the National Assembly and shout your concerns.
You can toyi-toyi in the House to vent your anger. You stand a better chance of getting listened to while in the National Assembly than shouting in bars in Khubetsoana or in Mafeteng under the pretext of boycotting.
You can also heckle Ntate Mosisili in the National Assembly with better effect than doing so away from the gaze of the public.
The most immediate thing to be done now is for ABC MPS to dispatch a telegram to Ficksburg and implore good old Ntate Motsoahae and his beloved Liabiloe to pick and appoint a shadow cabinet.
The shadow cabinet ministers should then shadow all their current counterparts in the government and hold them accountable.
We follow the British Westminster tradition and it baffles all logic that Cyclone Tom shuffled to Ficksburg without appointing a shadow cabinet. Any appointed shadow ministers must nevertheless avoid the risk of becoming real shadows. They must do some serious work in scrutinizing all the work of those they are shadowing and devising counter policy proposals where these are needed.
If Ntate Motsoahae is not coming back soon, then he must also designate his deputy, Ntate Khasu, to become the official leader of the opposition in Parliament. Ntate Khasu can then shadow the Prime Minister, Ntate Mosisili.
I am assuming Ntate Khasu did not defect to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD). If Ntate Khasu does indeed proceed to rejoin the LCD, then Ntate Motsoahae will have no option but to end his long Ficksburg vacation and return to Parliament.
Otherwise, he will come back one day to discover he has no party left to lead. You can only rise on a wave of public sympathy for so long.
Depending on how this government performs, the goodwill and sympathy that the opposition garnered as a result of recent misfor- tunes like Ntate Maaparankoe’s brutal killing might dissipate.
People would then make their choices on the basis of real bread and butter issues. A party without proper leadership to pronounce on these issues might then suffer some severe setbacks.
Now that the opposition MPS are back in Parliament, let’s have robust debate on policy matters aimed at lifting Lesotho from pe- rennial squalor. Let’s have the opposition MPS critiquing the recently delivered budget or even tabling their own rival one to prove how good they can be at governance. Since Auntie Keke cannot appoint a shadow cabinet with her one lone ranger MP.
And neither can Ntate Thesele with his handful of MPS who can be counted on one palm, I suggest a proper opposition alliance between the All Basotho Convention (ABC) , the Basotho National Party (BNP) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) to constitute a shadow cabinet to track the efforts of the seven party coalition government.
If the ABC decides to go it alone, there is a risk that the BNP and RCL might then become irrelevant as they don’t have enough MPS to shadow everyone in the govern- ment.
If a proper opposition coalition shadow cabinet is forged, then Scrutator hopes that Ntate Motsoahae will not regularly spring up to dispatch telegrams from Ficksburg firing shadow ministers willy-nilly.
We need robust debate and intraparty engagements in the National Assembly. Shadow Ministers must settle in their shadow portfolios and be allowed time to understand issues and proffer alternative ideas.
This is more so after the long protracted boycott during which many MPS would have lost touch with the realities of government and governing.
For us to move our blighted country forward there has to be some level of decorum and single-mindedness in how matters are handled in Parliament. There are issues over which there should be no dispute like the much needed security sector reforms.
King Kamoli and his men must be confined to the barracks and they should not be involved in policing matters which must be a preserve of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service.
There are many other contentious issues over which consensus will be required. The fate of King Kamoli himself being one of them.
However, I believe with all political parties actively participating in robust National Assembly debates, some common ground will eventually be reached on most, if not all, of the contentious issues.
So once again, congratulations or rather congradulations to all you opposition MPS for deciding to return to Parliament. That is the right thing to do.
Now, please shows us substance and shadow all serving ministers and keep us informed about where you agree with them, where you disagree with them and why. That is the essence of a functional democracy.
Remember, being in opposition does not mean trashing everything that incumbents are doing. Give credit where it is due and dish out criticism where it is deserved.
I hate institutions and people who speak with forked tongues. I thus believe that the European Union (EU) is being grossly disingenuous in explaining why they are withholding nearly M500 million in budgetary support to the government.
Iam not questioning the right of the EU to withhold or give their money to whomever they want. Since this is money that had long been pledged to Lesotho, and some of it had already been disbursed, I think the EU should be clear on why they are withholding this budgetary aid.
Having read the EU press statement on the matter, I am not sure I was left any wiser. In suspending this aid package, the EU proffered some vague explanation, accusing the government of not having fully implemented agreed reforms in the public sector financial management arena.
In announcing their decision to suspend the budgetary support, the EU did not even bother to outline what reforms had not been implemented so that we are all in the know. The EU’S statement was very cryptic.
This left Scrutator wondering whether the EU’S decision had anything to do with a desire to see the recommendations of the SADC commission report into Lesotho’s instability fully implemented before any money is released.
If this is indeed the case, then I think the EU owes it to everyone to explain this issue in a straightforward manner and in sufficient detail.
Simply accusing the government of not having done certain things without outlining in great detail what these unfulfilled things are is simply grotesque if not preposterous. It does not promote accountability.
But that’s of course a story for another day. My main concern this week is my elation with the decision of opposition MPS to return to Parliament.
Let’s hope their return fosters the robust discussions and debate about issues affecting this country.
So once again MPS, come get your milkshakes as per my promise last week.
ABC MPS sing in Parliament while protesting against the SADC report tabled by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in this file picture.