Bel­liger­ent hawks should be stopped

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis - Ut­loang Ka­jeno

EV­ERY last work­ing Fri­day of the month, 40000 tex­tile and gar­ments in­dus­try work­ers knock-off at 12pm to queue in what­ever weather con­di­tions at var­i­ous banks to earn their hard-earned salaries.

Last Fri­day was par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant be­cause it was ar­guably the cold­est day of the year. It was also sig­nif­i­cant for thou­sands of Ba­sotho be­cause that is when their em­pa­thy for these work­ers was at its most pro­nounced. The rea­son for the em­pa­thy? It is not hard to find; it is be­cause their liveli­hoods are all in dan­ger as well as those of the tens of thou­sands of de­pen­dents.

All be­cause some par­ties in the seven-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment had the temer­ity and kamikaze-like at­ti­tude to show the United States (US) the fig­u­ra­tive mid­dle fin­ger de­spite with its bil­lions of mal­oti in aid.

Amer­ica’s ‘Sin’ For weeks prior to their mur­mur­ing reach­ing a crescendo, the two politi­cians, in par­tic­u­lar the first one, had gone over the lo­cal me­dia, ra­dio, elec­tronic and print, to la­bel the US Am­bas­sador a “ter­ror­ist” and “a CIA agent who is hell-bent on see­ing the putsch of the present gov­ern­ment like he did in Zim­babwe”. He went on to call for ul­ti­mate re­call or ex­pul­sion of the diplo­mat from Le­sotho. He went fur­ther to dare the diplo­mat that he was mak­ing it his own per­sonal agenda to make the diplo­mat’s stay in Le­sotho un­bear­able and do his ut­most to ex­pel him, by what­ever means.

Amer­ica’s “sin” is that for any for­eign aid and co-op­er­a­tion with other coun­tries through­out the world it in­sists on about 10 cri­te­ria for el­i­gi­bil­ity for its as­sis­tance that can be en­cap­su­lated in one catch­word: “En­hanc­ing Lives”.

These cri­te­ria can be listed as fol­lows, in no par­tic­u­lar order: (1) gov­er­nance, (2) ac­count­abil­ity, (3) free en­ter­prise, (4) rule of law (5) hu­man rights, (6) job-cre­ation, (7) curb­ing (erad­i­cat­ing) HIV-AIDS, (8) healthy liv­ing, (9) ju­di­cial in­de­pen­dence, (10) duty free ac­cess to the lu­cra­tive US mar­ket for cer­tain Le­sotho goods, no­tably tex­tiles and gar­ments.

Be­cause the US in­sists on ad­her­ence to these cri­te­ria for el­i­gi­bil­ity for its as­sis­tance and co-op­er­a­tion, the two politi­cians felt that it was high time the diplo­mat be ex­pelled from Le­sotho for what they per­ceived to be con­duct that is in­com­pat­i­ble with his sta­tus and mis­sion.

In the cir­cum­stances, the two politi­cians un­der­took to lead a mas­sive protest march to, among others, call for the diplo­mat’s re­call or ex­pul­sion from Le­sotho. (Re­fer to Le­sotho Times, 28 July 2016, “Coali­tion sup­port­ers to hold protest”). Voice of rea­son In the midst of all this hul­la­baloo, there emerged a voice of rea­son, in the form of the Demo­cratic Congress (DC) Youth League. In­ci­den­tally, the DC is the big­gest part­ner in the seven-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment. The Youth League called for a sense of rea­son to pre­vail and urged gov­ern­ment, if it saw valid rea­son for ac­tion, to en­gage the US di­plo­mat­i­cally rather than to hound the en­voy un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously out of Le­sotho.

The Youth League ac­tu­ally dis­so­ci­ated the main coali­tion party from the planned protest march per­haps sens­ing as it was later to de­clare, the mag­ni­tude of the im­pend­ing dis­as­ter that might be­fall Le­sotho should the planned march ma­te­ri­alise.

Un­for­tu­nately, this clar­ion call by the Youth League fell on deaf ears as the main party de­clared over Ra­dio Le­sotho a day later, that it was go­ing to rein-in the “er­rant” Youth League lead­er­ship for what, I term, a dis­ci­plined and well-in­formed sym­pa­thetic stand. The hawks in the coali­tion gov­ern­ment had clearly won. We still ner­vously await the con­se­quences.

Diplo­matic prece­dence and tra­di­tion There are a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional treaties and pro­to­cols that gov­ern the con­duct of diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween coun­tries and treat­ment of en­voys of coun­tries and in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions in the re­ceiv­ing coun­tries. Diplo­mats are by the very na­ture of their man­date a highly pro­tected species, if you ex­cuse the term. Grounds and premises of diplo­matic mis­sions sit­u­ated on the land of re­ceiv­ing coun­tries are in­ter­na­tion­ally by treaties, con­sid­ered in­vi­o­lable.

Diplo­mats are not sup­posed to be ter­rorised, hounded and em­bar­rassed by any­body while on a for­eign tour of duty. They are ac­corded at all times, treat­ment that we, or­di­nary cit­i­zens, are not ac­corded. It is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the re­ceiv­ing coun­try to at all times, of­fer ab­so­lute pro­tec­tion to for­eign en­voys on their ter­ri­tory.it for any rea­son, a for­eign en­voy is deemed to have con­ducted him­self in a man­ner in­com­pat­i­ble with his sta­tus, the re­ceiv­ing coun­try, as is pro­to­col and tra­di­tion, is ex­pected to in­vite or sum­mon such a diplo­mat to its For­eign min­istry to voice its con­cerns.

This is also af­ter nor­mal diplo­matic chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tions to raise the dis­plea­sure have failed. If all these in­ter­ven­tions fail, such diplo­mats are given a cer­tain time frame within which to leave the re­ceiv­ing coun­try. Still this is done as a last re­sort in the event that the en­voy’s home coun­try has failed to rein in or re­call the “of­fend­ing” diplo­mat.

To my knowl­edge and rec­ol­lec­tion, Le­sotho has done none of these about the US am­bas­sador. Le­sotho has not even once raised its dis­plea­sure let alone dis­agree­ment with the US en­voy’s con­duct. If any­thing, it has agreed to pos­i­tively com­ply with the US’S con­cerns as en­cap­su­lated by the SADC de­ci­sions for im­ple­men­ta­tion. This hap­pened dur­ing US In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions.

That the threat­ened em­bar­rass­ment of the US en­voy is done by a se­nior mem­ber of the coali­tion gov­ern­ment smacks of com­plic­ity in this un­for­tu­nate and disas­trous march. It calls on the gov­ern­ment to rein in the fire­brands on the loose. Gov­ern­ment has to demon­strate who is in con­trol by nip­ping this un­called for detri­men­tal ac­tion in the bud.

Gov­ern­ment’s duty to act de­ci­sively That this planned demon­stra­tion to hound the US en­voy out of Le­sotho is cal­cu­lated to em­bar­rass him can­not be de­nied. That this gov­ern­ment’s si­lence and fail­ure to rein in the bel­liger­ent war-like talk about the “ter­ror­ist” en­voy weeks prior to this crescendo is also un­de­ni­able. That this is cal­cu­lated move to de­mean not only the en­voy but also the US in the eyes of the en­tire world is plain for all to see.

That this move is cal­cu­lated to por­tray the US as a su­per­power that wants to play the world’s only po­lice­man is clearly ev­i­dent. That the planned move will be a dan­ger­ous self-in­flicted mor­tal wound on Le­sotho that could have been avoided is as clear as the fact that day fol­lows night.

of the im­mense eco­nomic and other disas­trous con­se­quences of this ut­terly stupid move is be­yond doubt. of the many neg­a­tive ram­i­fi­ca­tions of this dumb and big­oted move is in­dis­putable.

In the light of the above, the only in­sti­tu­tion with the man­date, leg­isla­tive and in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­ity to thwart this is our gov­ern­ment.

The likely domino ef­fect Be­cause the US is ar­guably the world’s only su­per­power with mas­sive in­flu­ence through­out the world, any with­drawal of US sup­port, as­sis­tance and diplo­mats from Le­sotho is likely to have a domino ef­fect on the rest of the world with disas­trous con­se­quences. So Le­sotho be warned: an­noy the US at you own peril, and if the US sneezes the en­tire world catches a cold, as the oft-cited cliché goes.

Mas­sive US aid to Le­sotho As cor­rectly pointed out ear­lier in this col­umn and in the Le­sotho Times com­ment, “Com­plic­ity in Si­lence” (28 July 2016), the US’S as­sis­tance to Le­sotho is hugely im­mea­sur­able and mas­sive. The US is a huge bene­fac­tor of Le­sotho.

Briefly, on the US Africa Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act, that guar­an­tees im­port free en­try of tex­tile and gar­ments into the lu­cra­tive US mar­ket, de­pends 45,000 — off jobs. The US gov­ern­ment sup­ports Le­sotho’s fight against HIV/AIDS through the Pres­i­dent’s Emer­gency Plan for AIDS Re­lief (PEPFAR). Le­sotho has ben­e­fit­ted and de­pend­ing on the so-called en­hanc­ing lives re­quire­ment, stands to ben­e­fit hugely from the US Mil­le­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion (MCC) worth bil­lions of Mal­oti.

The US also funds Jh­piego (male cir­cum­ci­sion to pre­vent HIV/AIDS) and Pop­u­la­tion Ser­vices In­ter­na­tional in Le­sotho, or­ga­ni­za­tions that are geared to fight the HIV/AIDS pan­demic. These are all ser­vices that are geared to­wards in­te­grat­ing health ser­vices in Le­sotho. In ad­di­tion, the US has for decades been pro­vid­ing Amer­i­cans (Peace Corps Vol­un­teers), mostly teach­ers, of good­will to Le­sotho in­clud­ing serv­ing the ru­ral parts of the coun­try to up­lift the lives of a vul­ner­a­ble Ba­sotho.

The huge Me­to­long dam that pro­vides wa­ter for Le­sotho’s ur­ban cen­tres in­clud­ing Maseru, the cap­i­tal, is US funded project, so does the reg­u­lar­iza­tion of Le­sotho’s en­tire land ten­ure sys­tem through the es­tab­lish­ment of the Land Ad­min­is­tra­tion Author­ity (LAA) and the Com­mer­cial Di­vi­sion of the High Court that seeks to main­stream and fast­track com­mer­cial cases to en­hance Le­sotho’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment by pro­mot­ing in­vestor con­fi­dence in our ju­di­cial sys­tem.

These are the ben­e­fits that this im­pov­er­ished na­tion is likely to miss out on should be bel­liger­ent war-like talk from these big­oted self­ish and in­con­sid­er­ate my­opic politi­cians be al­lowed to go on with their re­lent­less prowl.

We, the in­no­cent poor Ba­sotho, are likely to wal­low in poverty for­ever while they live in op­u­lence un­af­fected by the stupid un­called for ram­i­fi­ca­tions of their wan­ton war-talk. If any­thing the US does not stand to lose any­thing by with­draw­ing from Le­sotho but con­versely Le­sotho stands to lose hugely and per­ma­nently.

In con­clu­sion, these bel­liger­ent hawks need to be stopped forth­with in their stupid tracks. They bet­ter be­ware as in Luke 17:1 that: “… but woe to any­one whom they (things that cause peo­ple to stum­ble) come”. I may add, the wicked shall in­cur the wrath of the Lord for they brought hunger, shame and suf­fer­ing to their peo­ple by their reck­less talk and ac­tions.

US Am­bas­sador to Le­sotho Matthew Har­ring­ton.

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