Demo­cratic gov­er­nance and fear

…Mo­sisili’s co­nun­drum

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis - Prof Mafa M Se­jana­mane

In­tro­duc­tion

JUST over a year ago, Le­sotho went through gen­eral elec­tions that all in­ter­na­tional elec­tion ob­servers con­cluded had been free, fair and trans­par­ent. With no political party achiev­ing an over­all ma­jor­ity, it was clear that coali­tion pol­i­tics was the only game in town.

A mot­ley of seven political par­ties ul­ti­mately man­aged to cob­ble a coali­tion govern­ment un­der the lead­er­ship of Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili. In his in­au­gu­ral speech the premier promised milk and honey but, more im­por­tantly, spoke about how he would re­store the good name of the coun­try which was con­stantly be­ing tar­nished by the un­savoury things done by his de­feated com­peti­tors. Dr Mo­sisili promised good demo­cratic gov­er­nance and ac­cepted the re­form pack­age which had been sug­gested by the Com­mon­wealth Spe­cial En­voy to Le­sotho, Dr Ra­jen Prasad. It was an op­ti­mistic pos­ture, which those un­fa­mil­iar with Le­sotho pol­i­tics could have been im­pressed with.

The ele­phant in the room how­ever was army com­man­der Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Tlali Kamoli, who had been dis­missed by the pre­vi­ous govern­ment but backed by those who had cob­bled a seven-party coali­tion govern­ment. Al­most all those who formed the govern­ment had in one form or an­other sup­ported Lt-gen Kamoli’s un­con­sti­tu­tional re­fusal to leave of­fice when a govern­ment in power dis­missed him.

Dr Mo­sisili had there­fore cre­ated, even be­fore go­ing into of­fice, a co­nun­drum which faces him up to to­day. It was fear of the wrath of Lt-gen Kamoli who was his ally when for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane fired him; it was also the fear of los­ing the sup­port of some of his coali­tion part­ners who would not have coun­te­nanced be­ing in govern­ment with­out Lt-gen Kamoli. It would not have worked. LtGen Kamoli him­self would not have ac­cepted that since he is the one who ef­fec­tively dis­patched the pre­vi­ous govern­ment by pro­tect­ing and sanc­tion­ing sev­eral un­con­sti­tu­tional acts like keep­ing a min­is­ter who had been dis­missed like him by force in the Min­istry of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

On the other hand, Dr Mo­sisili now has to face a strong SADC de­mand that he undo his al­liance with Lt-gen Kamoli. Fol­low­ing the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion Re­port which SADC has en­dorsed, and de­mands im­ple­men­ta­tion of its rec­om­men­da­tions, Dr Mo­sisili is now faced by his fear of Lt-gen Kamoli and also fear of the col­lapse of his coali­tion on the one hand; and on the other hand he has to deal with the un­com­pro­mis­ing stance of SADC. He must fire Lt-gen Kamoli and have the sol­diers who have been shielded from the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem ar­rested. His co­nun­drum is real! It is how­ever a self-in­flicted wound.

Le­git­imis­ing an At­tempted Coup Dr Mo­sisili’s dou­ble fears must be prop­erly un­der­stood. His first fear, is that of Lt-gen Kamoli. When in Au­gust 2014, Lt-gen Kamoli made a con­certed at­tempt to stage a coup which was bound to fail as a re­sult of the South African govern­ment’s stance, the stage was set for long-term con­fronta­tion with what­ever govern­ment that came in power in Le­sotho. Lt-gen Kamoli’s “coup” did not suc­ceed, and he stayed in power by force of arms af­ter his dis­missal. He was ul­ti­mately coaxed to go on what was called a leave of ab­sence out­side the coun­try un­til af­ter the hold­ing of the 2015 elec­tions by SA Vice-pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa un­der the Maseru Se­cu­rity Ac­cord.

Two de­vel­op­ments are im­por­tant here in or­der to un­der­stand the prime min­is­ter’s dilemma at present. When Lt-gen Kamoli was fired by Dr Tha­bane, his deputy, Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing, im­me­di­ately went on Le­sotho Tele­vi­sion and de­clared that he does not recog­nise Lt-gen Kamoli’s dis­missal be­cause he was not con­sulted. The is­sue how­ever was not about con­sul­ta­tion, but about the con­sti­tu­tional right of the prime min­is­ter to fire the com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force.

Af­ter Dr Mo­sisili came to of­fice in March 2015, he thanked the mil­i­tary for en­sur­ing that he was back in power. Since then, he has on sev­eral oc­ca­sions pub­licly backed LtGen Kamoli and re­it­er­ated his grate­ful­ness to the army for sup­port­ing him. The ques­tion how­ever has al­ways been whether an armed man who has pre­vi­ously vir­tu­ally taken a govern­ment down could ever be con­trolled by any suc­ces­sor regime. This is es­sen­tially the foun­da­tion of Dr Mo­sisili’s fear. Could Lt-gen Kamoli also do to him what he did to Dr Tha­bane?

Dr Mo­sisili also has to con­tend with the fear of the po­ten­tial al­liance be­tween Lt-gen Kamoli and his coali­tion part­ner, Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy, which no longer has any sig­nif­i­cant fol­low­ing in the coun­try but is firmly en­sconced in the army. With Tšeliso Mokhosi as De­fence and Na­tional Se­cu­rity min­is­ter and Mr Mets­ing as deputy premier, like he was un­der Dr Tha­bane, Dr Mo­sisili has to con­stantly won­der whether they could re­move him from power at the time of their choos­ing. The con­stant dec­la­ra­tions by Dr Mo­sisili that he trusts Lt-gen Kamoli are es­sen­tially an in­di­ca­tion of his in­se­cu­rity.

Dr Mo­sisili’s fear there­fore is that both Mr Mets­ing and Lt-gen Kamoli could over­throw him even though he ac­tively abet­ted the at­tempted coup and the un­con­sti­tu­tional re­fusal of Lt-gen Kamoli to leave of­fice when he was fired. Bring­ing back to of­fice of Lt-gen Kamoli there­fore was log­i­cal and in­evitable, be­cause of fear of his ret­ri­bu­tion if he was ig­nored.

SADC de­mands on Mo­sisili In an un­prece­dented move dur­ing its sum­mit in Gaborone in Jan­uary 2016, SADC de­manded that Lt-gen Kamoli be fired and that all those im­pli­cated in the ac­tiv­i­ties of Au­gust 2014 be brought be­fore the courts; those who have com­mit­ted mur­der and have been shielded by Lt-gen Kamoli must be sus­pended and brought to the courts to an­swer for them­selves; the ex­iled Ba­sotho should be brought back to the coun­try, par­tic­u­larly the

lead­ers of the op­po­si­tion political par­ties; and the free­ing of the de­tained sol­diers in line with the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Phumaphi Re­port.

In a fol­low-up meet­ing be­tween Mozam­bi­can Pres­i­dent Filipe Nyusi, Chair­man of the SADC Or­gan on Pol­i­tics De­fense and Se­cu­rity and the Le­sotho del­e­ga­tion led by Mr Mets­ing, the sit­u­a­tion was put bluntly to the Le­sotho del­e­ga­tion.

Le­sotho has a dead­line to im­ple­ment the de­ci­sions of SADC. Fail­ure to com­ply will lead to se­ri­ous con­se­quences.

Need­less to say that Mr Mets­ing was told in no un­cer­tain terms that there are no two ways about the mat­ter.

Le­sotho has to im­ple­ment the de­ci­sions. Mr Nyusi in­formed the deputy prime min­is­ter “…..the Chair­per­son stressed that in line with the 18th Jan­uary 2016 SADC Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit de­ci­sions, in the event that there is no progress on the above is­sues, SADC will con­sider con­ven­ing a Dou­ble Troika Sum­mit to de­lib­er­ate on the mat­ter.”

This is not an or­di­nary state­ment. It is un­am­bigu­ous and those who at­tended the meet­ing knew that it was an in­di­ca­tion that SADC is fo­cused on ac­count­abil­ity. An ex­ter­nal el­e­ment of the fears of Dr Mo­sisili has now been made clear.

Dr Mo­sisili’s fears are how­ever not only con­fined to what steps SADC will take. Two re­lated is­sues are ever loom­ing in the back­ground.

First, is the pos­si­bil­ity of los­ing even more in­ter­na­tional fund­ing from ex­ter­nal sources in ad­di­tion to the with­drawal of bud­get sup­port by the EU which has re­cently been an­nounced.

Se­cond is the pos­si­bil­ity of los­ing an even big­ger chunk of money from the US un­der the Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion which made the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Phumaphi Re­port rec­om­men­da­tions a con­di­tion for con­sid­er­ing Le­sotho’s ap­pli­ca­tion.

With­out the dis­missal of Lt-gen Kamoli, there is no chance of Le­sotho be­ing granted the funds.

Will Mo­sisili break the dead­lock? The is­sue at hand is that Dr Mo­sisili has cre­ated a co­nun­drum for him­self. He brought Lt-gen Kamoli back from the cold and he is now fear­ful of any ac­tion which he might take.

He fears both his deputy and Lt-gen Kamoli. At the same time, he fully knows that he can­not defy SADC. In the mean­time, Le­sotho grinds to a halt while prime min­is­ter pon­ders his next move.

It is thus not sur­pris­ing that for al­most a month, Dr Mo­sisili has dis­ap­peared from the scene.

The last time Ba­sotho have heard about him and his where­abouts was when he was re­ported to have gone on a two week hol­i­day in In­dia.

But whether he is still in In­dia or en­sconced at State House, his co­nun­drum awaits him.

He has to take the chance to dis­miss his ally or else he has to face up to the fu­ri­ous SADC lead­er­ship which will meet af­ter 31 March 2016 to de­cide how to im­ple­ment the de­ci­sions with or with­out him.

I wish him well!

Premier Pakalitha mo­sisili

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