Le­sotho’s own Con­gress­gate

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis -

THE United States (US) had the Water­gate scandal. Brazil has the im­pend­ing im­peach­ment of a sit­ting pres­i­dent and South Africa has Nkand­la­gate. Not to be out­done, Le­sotho now has its own ver­sion of th­ese sandals; what I aptly-named Con­gress­gate.

On 30 May 2016, ra­dio lis­ten­ers and so­cial media afi­ciona­dos, woke up to an au­dio record­ing that will surely have far-reach­ing con­se­quences on the po­lit­i­cal fu­ture of Le­sotho, in par­tic­u­lar the Congress move­ment.

To bring a fuller un­der­stand­ing of the seis­mic pro­por­tions of the ef­fects of the Le­sotho record­ings, I pur­posely drew com­par­isons with the US, Brazil and South Africa to fully as­sess the far-reach­ing mag­ni­tude of this record­ing. Let me, there­fore, briefly re­count for your as­sess­ment, what the three scan­dals en­tail.

Sim­i­lar­ity to US Water­gate Scandal Firstly, the Water­gate scandal in the US led to the res­ig­na­tion of then Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon on 8 Au­gust 1974. Water­gate is one of the plush­est ho­tels in the Amer­i­can cap­i­tal, Wash­ing­ton.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Water­gate that led to the res­ig­na­tion of the Pres­i­dent are a case study in the op­er­a­tion of the Amer­i­can Con­sti­tu­tion and po­lit­i­cal val­ues.

The Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee of the US Congress con­sid­ered the im­peach­ment of Nixon, by ac­cept­ing three of the four pro­posed Ar­ti­cles of Im­peach­ment.

The fi­nal blow came with the de­ci­sion by the Supreme Court to or­der Nixon to re­lease more White House tapes. One of th­ese be­came known as the “smok­ing gun” tape when it re­vealed that Nixon had par­tic­i­pated in the Water­gate coverup as far back as 23 June 1972, lead­ing to calls through­out the US for the 37th Pres­i­dent to re­sign.

The term “Water­gate” is a gen­eral term used to de­scribe a com­plex web of po­lit­i­cal scan­dals be­tween 1972 and 1974. It is a term that has en­tered the po­lit­i­cal lex­i­con as a term syn­ony­mous with cor­rup­tion and scandal. It was at this world-fa­mous ho­tel that bur­glars broke into the Demo­cratic Party’s Na­tional Com­mit­tee of­fices on 17 June, 1972. If it had not been for the alert ac­tions of Frank Wills, a se­cu­rity guard, the scandal may never have erupted.

Po­lit­i­cal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Water­gate be­gan in 1973, Fe­bru­ary, when the Se­nate es­tab­lished a com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate the Water­gate scandal. The pub­lic hear­ing of the Com­mit­tee were sen­sa­tional, in­clud­ing the ev­i­dence of John Dean, Nixon’s for­mer White House Coun­sel. The Com­mit­tee also un­cov­ered the ex­is­tence of the Se­cret White House tape record­ing, spark­ing a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal and le­gal bat­tle be­tween Congress and the Pres­i­dent.

Water­gate had pro­found con­se­quences in the US. There was a long list of con­vic­tions and other ca­su­al­ties. For ex­am­ple, the af­ter­math of Water­gate ush­ered in changes in cam­paign fi­nance re­form and a more ag­gres­sive at­ti­tude by the media.

Sim­i­lar­ity to Brazil’s Petrobas Scandal Se­condly, in Brazil, af­ter months of de­ter­mined re­sis­tance from Pres­i­dent Dil­mar Rouss­eff, the Brazil­ian Congress fi­nally voted to have her im­peached for cor­rup­tion in­volv­ing bil­lions of dol­lars and for en­gag­ing her pre­de­ces­sor as her chief-of-staff, pre­sum­ably to shield her­self and the pre­de­ces­sor from pos­si­ble pros­e­cu­tion.

To this day, as I put pen to pa­per, the re­ver­ber­a­tions through­out Brazil are still send­ing shock­waves, with the pres­i­dent claim­ing it is a coup by the Brazil­ian Congress to oust a demo­crat­i­cally-elected pres­i­dent. We are still await­ing the out­come of the im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings, in

LCD Spokesper­son Te­boho Sekata.

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