Le­sotho: A na­tion un­der threat

Lesotho Times - - Leader - Makha­bane maluke

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.

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