Democ­racy for whom the bell tolls

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis -

IN hap­pier or griev­ing times, we love say­ing the Ba­sotho na­tion founder Moshoeshoe The Great, as Vic­to­ria’s Lon­don re­ferred to him in archived cor­re­spon­dence, named peace his sis­ter.

You hear it in tech­ni­cal work­shops like the so-called na­tional dia­logue con­fer­ences such as the Vi­sion 2020 one of Jan­uary 2001, or at tragic con­junc­tures like the Septem­ber 1998, June 2007 and May/june 2015 wa­ter­sheds, but never in calmer, less ex­cited mo­ments.

The present be­ing one of the near-tragic con­junc­tures, I have de­lib­er­ately de­cided to ad­dress democ­racy as hu­man and not an ab­stract phe­nom­e­non.

A fort­night ago I wrote in this news­pa­per against triv­i­al­i­sa­tion of death via its tech­ni­ci­sa­tion, i.e re­duc­ing a killing of a hu­man be­ing to a tech­ni­cal glitch that can be fixed by a tech­ni­cal fid­dling like a so-called re­forms roadmap and work­shop; plus a self-pity­ing amnesty bill.

It is in that spirit that I want to take death of democ­racy, (which I read about here on 5 Jan­uary 2017) as death of one of us, as a hu­man death, which should be mourned as such. For death of democ­racy has been ac­com­pa­nied by our own death, and there­fore it is our own death.

Above ev­ery­thing else, the cen­tral nerve of democ­racy is ac­count­abil­ity. Ev­ery­thing else in the in­fra­struc­ture of democ­racy is meant to as­sist the dis­charge of ac­count­abil­ity.

Sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers is about that, the ju­di­ciary is about that (who killed who/what, for what rea­son?), the over­sight duty of par­lia­ment over cabi­net, and of each min­is­ter over na­tional cor­po­ra­tions, etc. are about that.

So it is not only the au­di­tor-gen­eral whose func­tion is con­cerned with ac­count­abil­ity; moli re­fused to tes­tify in pub­lic at the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion, he cited “sen­si­tiv­ity” of his sta­tus as “cus­to­dian” of na­tional se­cu­rity.

He didn’t even un­der­stand that the min­is­ter, and not him­self, was the cus­to­dian of that se­cu­rity. The min­is­ter him­self said he was “a mere politi­cian”, not fit to shep­herd the army, whereas it was his duty to so do!

At the height of po­lit­i­cal fric­tion and con­flict in the 1980s, prom­i­nent op­po­si­tion ac­tivists (of the fold of cur­rent rulers) and a lead­ing “anti-state” news­pa­per ed­i­tor were seized from their homes in the dead of the night by uniden­ti­fied per­sons and later found dead in the wild.

The hideous acts were cred­ited to a pre­sumed state death squad which cit­i­zens named koeeoko, which was sup­posed to be a myth­i­cal beast of sim­i­lar pro­file. Be­tween 2007, through 2014, and the mo­ment of writ­ing, our se­cu­rity forces, es­pe­cially the army, have been ex­hibit­ing man­ners that (seek to) em­u­late the koeeoko.

It can­not be that when we seek an­swers for the same, we are re­ferred to the ex­e­cu­tion­ers, who in turn spit in our face, hav­ing first told their civil­ian over­lords that they are “mere civil­ians”, as the Phumaphi Com­mis­sion and other pub­lic tes­ti­monies have since re­vealed.

When re­cently the po­lice ar­bi­trar­ily de­tained the Ba­sotho Na­tional Party spokesper­son Mach­esetsa Mo­fo­mobe for a whole day they re­fused to give him rea­sons or charges, and po­lice spokesman Clif­ford Molefe said this was proper and reg­u­lar way of work­ing.

They re­peated the same with the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion stal­wart Mon­toely Marks Ma­soetsa, and still his pub­lic protes­ta­tion of the un­ex­plained or­deal only met a thun­der­ous si­lence.

When pri­vately clad ri­fle­men in an “un­reg­is­tered” ve­hi­cle stormed the Alliance of Democrats youth pres­i­dent Thuso Litjobo and hauled him away to a “bush” po­lice sta­tion, next tried to kid­nap him to­gether with Mo­fo­mobe, and still later ac­tu­ally kid­napped and tor­tured Litjobo’s fel­low youth lea­guers, Molefe af­firmed the same as typ­i­cal po­lice­and-army op­er­a­tion when the tar­gets/vic­tims cited no­to­ri­ous Military In­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tives among their pur­suers.

He pub­licly af­firmed the op­er­a­tives’ re­fusal to pro­duce (MI) pos­i­tive iden­tity, and use of uniden­ti­fi­able ve­hi­cles in these joint op­er­a­tions, as rou­tine and ac­cept­able.

These have hall­marks of known MI acts over this decade, now with an af­ter-fact po­lice le­git­i­ma­tion — a pos­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion of Molefe’s fum­bling and fury when the me­dia asked him ques­tions.

Molefe said the rea­sons why this un­usual con­duct of the army and po­lice couldn’t be ex­plained was be­cause that would com­pro­mise its goals.

If doubt­ful you should call po­lice hot­line, he says, in the heat of the pur­suit!

You might not with­hold co-op­er­a­tion for the os­ten­si­ble du­bi­ous­ness and fraud­u­lence of this con­duct, says Molefe, for you’ll be ob­struct­ing the law!

Your be­hind be­longs to any man to take and keep for him­self, who­ever he is, with bless­ings of Molefe’s of­fice!

Our politi­cians of­ten con­sciously ac­cept sub-op­ti­mal deals from their in­ter­locu­tors for fix­ing our democ­racy, whereas such poor throw of the die can only pro­duce fur­ther prob­lems and com­pli­ca­tions in fu­ture.

Con­tin­ues on Page 14

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