Lesotho’s own Congressgate
As a consequence reminiscent of the Brazil saga, the whole scandal still reverberates across South Africa even to this day and similarly won’t go away. Opposition parties always call on the president to resign as a result of the court’s ruling.
Lesotho’s Congressgate Now herein lie the parallels between the three scandals above and what last week transpired in Lesotho. The famous audio recording of a prominent political party spokesperson and an as yet unidentified other participant in the telephone conversation.
This conversation went to the very heart and foundations of the incumbent government, particularly, its two biggest political parties, their relations, their machinations and confirmation of the intense infighting and jockeying for positions within these parties.
It brought to the fore the infighting within the respective parties in government and in their relations with their biggest rivals. It brought squarely into the public domain the thinking of the major role players in Lesotho politics that have hitherto been publicly denied by the major role players. For weeks now there was widespread speculation that there was intense infighting within the ruling parties and intense jockeying for positions.
As fate would have it, the lid was blown away by an audio clip and some shrewd aggressive and investigative journalism. Now these recordings had, so to speak, let the horses to bolt. As a result of the release of the recordings the whole country is awash with speculation, accusation and counter-accusations and disapproval and efforts to whitewash the seismic impact of the recordings. In addition, they have led to what one may safely term, a knee-jerk reaction from some quarters.
What the recordings contained In the recording, the party stalwart alleges that the infighting in the Democratic Congress (DC) had intensified to the extent that its deputy leader has held several secret meetings with the former premier Thomas Thabane in Durban, South Africa, to iron out an agreement for an alliance to oust the current seven-party coalition agreement. He further claims there is a high possibility that the incumbent premier will defect back to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) if the factionalism in the DC continued.
He opines that the DC deputy leader would be left in a weaker position as he has the support of only Proportional Representation (PR) members of Parliament, thus being left in the opposition and the premier making the LCD the stronger ruling party
Futility of the LCD’S denial Hot on the heels of these recordings, the LCD issued a press statement distancing itself from the utterances. However, the damage had already been done and there was a half-hearted denial that there was indeed, intense infighting in the DC. As if to acquiesce with the utterances, the LCD just warned the concerned party stalwart to refrain from expressing views on other parties in the coalition. This censure in effect subtly acknowledged the veracity of the statements in the recordings. It was therefore a futile disowner.
The recordings likely impact It is important to note that weeks prior to the leaked recordings, there was intense infighting between the DC’S Women’s League and DC’S Youth League, a factor that had now come into the public domain. The recordings were therefore a crystallisation of the intense infighting in the DC, critically this time, coming from the analysis of their strongest ally in the coalition government. The utterances came from someone who had the benefit of the inside track, so to speak.
It has therefore stoked further the internal mistrust and suspicious in the DC. The recordings had in effect pitted uneasy allies against one other. All factions across the congress divide no longer trust each other. To make matters worse, these came from a very close ally who most definitely was speaking his fair analysis of the situation albeit he never in-
tended these to be public knowledge.
There is a Sesotho an idiom that, loosely-translated, means those who rustle under cover of darkness are always spotted unwittingly by passers-by. Similarly, this recorded party spokesman was expressing the disparaging remarks unaware that he was being recorded by a third party. His remarks were therefore, either his official party line albeit not for public knowledge at that stage or was his brutal assessment of the unravelling scenario within the congress alliance, that was later to be discussed at the (parties) party level for possible execution. Therefore despite determined efforts to dismiss this recording, the hammer blow has been done to the mutual trust within both the DC and the LCD and their future inter-party relations. There will forever be undercurrents of mistrust.
Future scenario No one can predict with certainty what the future holds for the two major coalition parties in government, LCD and DC. Indeed on 11 June, the DC is holding an important indaba to map the way forward. No doubt the recording will form part of the debate.