‘GNU a bril­liant con­cept but . . .’

Lesotho Times - - Big Interview -

THE Demo­cratic Congress ( DC) fac­tion aligned to deputy leader Monyane Moleleki last week signed a coali­tion pact with the tri­par­tite op­po­si­tion bloc meant to oust the cur­rent seven-party gov­ern­ing coali­tion and form a government of na­tional unity (GNU). Un­der the pact ti­tled “The Coali­tion Agree­ment for Na­tional Unity and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” with the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) and Re­formed Congress of Le­sotho ( RCL), Mr Moleleki would head the coali­tion for the first 18 months upon form­ing government.

The mem­bers of the new al­liance also in­vited all po­lit­i­cal par­ties to join the coali­tion meant to end the barely two-year reign of the Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili-led government.

This week, Le­sotho Times ( LT) re­porter Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane caught up with for­mer DC stal­wart and now co-founder of the Ma­jalefa po­lit­i­cal move­ment Rama­hooana Mat­losa to dis­cuss the new de­vel­op­ment on the po­lit­i­cal scene.

LT: What is your opin­ion on the re­cently-signed coali­tion agree­ment be­tween Mr Moleleki’s DC fac­tion and the op­po­si­tion bloc?

Mat­losa: Per­haps we should first ac­cept that the cir­cum­stances that gave birth to this pact were in­sti­gated by con­flict be­tween two peo­ple (Dr Mo­sisili and Mr Moleleki). It had been ap­par­ent for quite some time that they don’t see eye-to-eye any­more. Hence, we now see part of the DC form­ing a part­ner­ship with the ABC, BNP and RCL. But again, we should go fur­ther back and re­flect on what re­ally is the prob­lem with congress par­ties.

The congress par­ties have been split­ting since 1997 when the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) was formed from the Ba­sotho Congress Party (BCP). At a later stage, the Le­sotho Peo­ple’s Congress (LPC) broke away from the LCD ahead of the 2002 elec­tions. The ABC was also formed in 2006, and in 2012, the DC was formed. Now, as the ma­jor congress party, the DC is ob­vi­ously head­ing for yet an­other congress split.

When congress par­ties came to­gether to form the cur­rent seven-mem­ber coali­tion government fol­low­ing the 2015 elec­tions, Ntate Mo­sisili vig­or­ously stated that the congress par­ties were hum­bled by the out­come of the elec­tions which could not pro­duce an out­right win­ner.

You would as­sume the elec­tions were a les­son for Ntate Mo­sisili and the rest of the congress peo­ple, but un­for­tu­nately, it ap­pears not to be the case con­sid­er­ing what’s hap­pen­ing right now. Again, Ntate Mo­sisili him­self has con­tin­ued to state that those who can­not re­mem­ber the past are con­demned to re­peat it.

With the cur­rent state of af­fairs, you would ask your­self whether it is Ntate Mo­sisili him­self who doesn’t re­mem­ber the past or the other group of the DC lead­er­ship. It begs the ques­tion of why the congress par­ties have al­ways fallen into the same trap since 1997?

LT: The lead­ers of the new coali­tion are call­ing for a government of na­tional unity. Do you think it’s a good idea?

Mat­losa: As Ma­jalefa, we would ap­pre­ci­ate that as Le­sotho en­ters into the next 50 years of its in­de­pen­dence we can ven­ture into that type of government. It’s a bril­liant con­cept that brings to­gether all par­ties. We can then for­get about the past and, most im­por­tantly, do away with po­lit­i­cal par­ties’ in­ter­ests but ad­vance the na­tional in­ter­est. A GNU can then eas­ily fa­cil­i­tate con­sti­tu­tional, par­lia­men­tary, public and se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms.

This would be a good foun­da­tion in the next jour­ney of 50 years. As Ba­sotho, we al­ways at­tempted to build some­thing on cracked foun­da­tions. We keep ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the cracks be­cause the foun­da­tion is wrong. Let’s re­con­struct the whole con­sti­tu­tional struc­ture to make way for eco­nomic growth and trans­for­ma­tion for a com­pletely new era Ba­sotho can be proud of. Our econ­omy can only thrive if the coun­try is sta­ble and in peace.

LT: You sound like you doubt the con­sti­tu­tion. What ex­actly is wrong with it?

Mat­losa: Our con­sti­tu­tion has al­ways been abused by our lead­ers since we re­turned to democ­racy in 1993. In fact, even be­fore 1993, the for­mer prime min­is­ter and BNP leader Dr Le­abua Jonathan first sus­pended the con­sti­tu­tion in 1970. In 1997, the founder of the congress move­ment and also for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Dr Ntsu Mokhehle took ad­van­tage of loop­holes in the con­sti­tu­tion and formed LCD out of BCP.

By so do­ing, Ntate Mokhehle stole the peo­ple’s vote from BCP and took power un­der the um­brella of the newly-formed LCD. In other words, he smug­gled the BCP votes. In the past 50 years, we have had a se­ries of events where our lead­ers abused the con­sti­tu­tion be­cause of the loop­holes it has. These are the cracks I am re­fer­ring to.

For in­stance, one of the ma­jor cracks in the con­sti­tu­tion is a pro­vi­sion that when government is formed a party or coali­tion of par­i­ties that have a ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment will pro­vide a head of government. That is the only time a coali­tion of par­ties is men­tioned in the con­sti­tu­tion.

The con­sti­tu­tion does not even pro­vide some point­ers as to how a coali­tion of par­ties can be es­tab­lished. It doesn’t say any­thing about the coali­tion agree­ments. We should there­fore take ad­van­tage of the en­vis­aged GNU to ur­gently re­view the con­sti­tu­tion and oth­ers laws.

Maybe it is also high time we adopt the Amer­i­can elec­toral model by en­shrin­ing in our con­sti­tu­tion that for every politi­cian to qual­ify as head of government of Le­sotho his or her party should win at least half of the 80 con­stituen­cies the coun­try has. I am say­ing this be­cause I also sus­pect we are where we are to­day be­cause Ntate Mo­sisili was made prime min­is­ter with his party hav­ing won only 37 con­stituen­cies out of 80. Though the DC, his party, was voted by a larger num­ber com­pared to its im­me­di­ate com­peti­tor, ABC, the lat­ter had at least man­aged to win 40 con­stituen­cies. So we ended up with Ntate Mo­sisili as the prime min­is­ter in­stead of Ntate Tha­bane due to the elec­toral model we are us­ing. You can­not eas­ily ex­pect sta­bil­ity in a sit­u­a­tion like that.

The other sig­nif­i­cant change we can make in our con­sti­tu­tion is to al­low the prime min­is­ter to choose his cabi­net min­is­ters even from out­side par­lia­ment. At the mo­ment, our con­sti­tu­tion al­lows the prime min­is­ter to only ap­point the min­is­ters choos­ing from peo­ple in par­lia­ment, that is both the Se­nate and Na­tional Assem­bly.

But you see there can be a big­ger pool if the prime min­is­ter is not con­fined to make the ap­point­ments from par­lia­ment only. Most of our par­lia­men­tar­i­ans don’t have diver­si­fied cre­den­tials to hold min­is­te­rial po­si­tions. For in­stance, most of them are teach­ers. We don’t have economists, sci­en­tists, en­gi­neers and so on in our par­lia­ment.

LT: But what ex­actly is this GNU, if you can clearly de­scribe it?

Mat­losa: The GNU, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, is mostly ap­plied in na­tions that have ex­pe­ri­enced dire in­sta­bil­ity. It’s in­sti­tuted to en­sure a heal­ing process and re­forms to be quick­ened. In other places, the GNU is es­tab­lished fol­low­ing civil wars or pro­tracted po­lit­i­cal ten­sion.

Like I said, the GNU com­bines all par­ties to form one government. It is a unique government where en­e­mies come to­gether and com­pro­mise their per­sonal in­ter­ests for the greater good of the en­tire na­tion. But the most im­por­tant part about the GNU is that it is meant to re­store sta­bil­ity, peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. These are fun­da­men­tal in­gre­di­ents of the GNU. It is def­i­nitely a good con­cept.

LT: From what you have just said, do you think this is the right time for Le­sotho to have a GNU?

Mat­losa: It is def­i­nitely the right time. Like I said, we don’t want to waste an­other 50 years with all sorts of po­lit­i­cal ten­sions desta­bil­is­ing the na­tion. How­ever, our only con­cern, as Ma­jalefa, is that the ABC and DC pact doesn’t re­ally re­flect a GNU as the lead­ers claim. It has a lot of short­com­ings and falls far from the fun­da­men­tal re­quire­ments to form a GNU. For in­stance, the pact has al­ready iden­ti­fied Ntate Moleleki and Ntate Tha­bane as heads of government in the en­vis­aged new government. Their so-called GNU ex­cludes the other six par­ties in government, in­clud­ing the DC leader Ntate Mo­sisili.

If you are truly ad­vo­cat­ing for GNU, you can­not ex­clude even a sin­gle party in par­lia­ment. Every­body else should put their dif­fer­ences and per­sonal in­ter­ests aside and com­mit to a part­ner­ship that will ben­e­fit all Ba­sotho. This is not about po­lit­i­cal par­ties with sim­i­lar prin­ci­ples, or re­la­tions be­tween cer­tain po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, but the GNU has ev­ery­thing to do with na­tional in­ter­ests; sta­bil­ity, peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

You can even set up a plat­form for par­ties that are not in­cluded in par­lia­ment, so the en­tire process is in­clu­sive in the truest sense. In my view, this is rather a pro­posal for a grand coali­tion type of government. Un­like GNU, the grand coali­tion mostly has the ma­jor par­ties form­ing the government. It ex­cludes other smaller par­ties.

Ma­jalefa move­ment co-founder Rama­hooana Mat­losa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.