Democracy for whom the bell tolls
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