Lesotho: A nation under threat
BASOTHO of our time are not aware that they are under threat. They no longer deserve a label that they are a peace loving nation ( sechaba sa khotso). This could be why the architects of the Lesotho Vision 2020 even wished it to have an objective on Lesotho to be at peace with itself by 2020.
This expressed wish did not even urge Basotho to reconsider their ways: it remained business as usual. They instead seem to politically drift in the wrong directions. We have lost the way: there are some voices even calling for Lesotho to be the 10th province of South Africa in their efforts to battle it out politically.
Scriptures have it that humans are a creation of God. Suppose one day God the Almighty chose to mould all the adult persons, who are Basotho by birth and who remain citizens of Lesotho, into a single person. The result would be an oversized Mosotho.
How that product behaves would reveal the current picture of Basotho. One thing;\ that product would be restless it would even speak and gesture, in its sleep etc.
The immediate move could be to take this product for medical examination to detect what renders it restless. It would surface that the compounded humans fail to combine into a single whole because of the dominance of one never spoken about problem of the current population of adults: lack of cohesion, unity and purpose. It is this that is a threat to Basotho. Every other threat remains secondary.
Basotho deserve to be cured. Who, actually, can presently be pinned down as responsible for the promotion of national unity of Basotho? Who carries a blame for failure in this regard?
We have to cease to view this as just another cross-cutting issue to be left to anyone in the line-up of governance. The Lesotho Vision 2020 document ought to precisely allocate the assignment to have Lesotho at peace with itself to a specific agency to initiate action.
How this matter of national cohesion has been handled all along can be likened to a medical practitioner’s test on a patient; breathe in, and out. Basotho have become a patient whose health deserves to be continuously monitored. The breathe in and out ex- ercise will never be a cure. Only expertly prescribed medications can be relied upon to have this nation to be at peace. Waiting for Basotho to be at each other’s throats first, and to mediate thereafter is just like a breathe in and out exercise.
The purpose of this article is not to list all the ailments but to suggest that a Cohesion and Integration Commission be established.
This could be an organisational addition to national prayers, persuasive talks by powers that be, remembrance of ancestors, including interventions Lesotho is now accustomed to. Its mandate could be the promotion of national unity and purpose; to foster a general understanding of the concepts of national cohesion.
These can never occur spontaneously. Morena Moshoeshoe left Lesotho a legacy in the form of a nation. Even the Apartheid Foreign Minister Pik Botha knew this well. He described Basotho in Sesotho: “sechaba sa mor’a Mokhachane”.
Who of our politicians ever made such a mention? This was said at the Pitso Ground during the signing of the LHW Treaty in 1986.
There has not to be a stop in the journey towards a cohesive nationhood. Some authority has to be assigned to push this agenda.
Readers may agree with some contention that in Lesotho, hate speeches or hateful comments are now a cheap weapon which promotes the damage to the otherwise essential national dialogue.
There ought to exist an institution whose function would be to flag down even local papers which run anonymous articles and use pseudonyms. Do they do this due to fear or wish to remain disguised spoilers? What could be the cause of this fear? Why does one wish to disguise to express a genuine idea? This commission could be on the lookout for all these.
One sad truth is that Lesotho is very much under the influence of what happens elsewhere. It is doubtful if there is any nation anywhere which would like to politically emulate Basotho.
Lesotho undertakes study tours to learn how others do business. During the 8th Parliament coalition, the nation talked excitedly about a tour of New Zealand, some urging that what was learnt there be implemented expeditiously; while others had concerns that NZ could be a complex system for Lesotho to imitate.
The latter preferred well considered alternatives. There had been another tour to Kenya during the 6th or 7th Parliament, to learn the workings of its “Rainbow” parliament.
Rainbow had been coined to flag the significance of many political parties and alliances in parliament and government. Basotho continue to assess how the current coalition fares in comparison to its predecessor which literally failed.
With the kind of a nation Lesotho has (some politicians characterized by their greed for state power), attempts to try every possible transplant from elsewhere is likely to breed new problems.
Failure of the previous coalition government will unfortunately always be a cited example. Its rule was never in the public interest. It deserved to break sooner, because of the “me”— “we” — and — “they” attitude of its actors .
Attainment of consensus was not possible without adequate consultation which strained relations. The seemingly sad experiences generated through social media recently reveals another sad
side of Basotho: there are those who survive on misinformation, with a purpose to unseat opponents. That is a threat to stability.
Residents in towns scramble for local newspapers. Those in rural locations endlessly complain about various radio stations for frequently failing to reach them, eager to timely know the latest political developments like which political parties are due to split? Who has fled into exile? Who has returned home from exile etc?
Lately, Basotho have developed interest in matters of litigation: who presides over which case? Which counsel have been picked up by the respective litigants?
All this interest may be a response to the immediate past attempts by the government of the time to panel beat the judicial system into a desired shape. The rate of influx of foreign judges to hear cases in Lesotho shows that all has not been well in Lesotho. This is very threatening to a sovereign state.
The suggested Commission could be another 21st century nation building institution which has not to be equated with commissions of inquiry which Basotho are now very familiar with.
The latter have had their various reports; the suggested commission would be a tool of democratic governance to guide the development of the nation and not to witch hunt.
Nation building deserves to be another area in which a sitting government may wish to be judged at election time.
It could be another show of political will and wish to get this nation into a desirable shape to reclaim its original label as a peace loving nation.
As a member of the African Union whose mission is to work to achieve an Africa of its dreams, Lesotho has to have its own dreams; including that of a nation/country at peace with itself. 2020 targeted by the Vision is just around the corner but Basotho seem to be in the wrong gear: colors of blankets lead to group fights/killings.
Even Accordion music (question- ably referred to as “Famo” whose original meaning does not reflect well to women dancers) is used by some troupes to express provocative messages. Basotho are very much under threat and that has to stop. The recommended commission could have some major role and input into this.
One simple test of the state of our nationhood will be the forthcoming 50th Anniversary of Independence. How much excitement will the nation show?
Even before that, our ears can already pick murmurs by some who have no keen interest in the success of this jubilee. They argue that this ceremony can be handled concurrently with what goes with Local Government elections. This only reaffirms the amount of greed for power, and feel offended if opportunities they are anxious for a reasonably postponed for a national purpose. Their aim is to attain power soonest possible.
Maluke is a former Deputy Principal Secretary: Ministry of Law, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs (BCP government); Clerk of Senate (2002-2010) and member of the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments and of the Society of Clerks-at-the-table of Commonwealth parliaments and of the SADC Parliamentary Forum. MP for Bobatsi No.80 constituency, 8th Parliament on DC ticket.