Over to you Ntate Le­hohla

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

As we break for Easter, let this be a mo­ment of deep re­flec­tion for our pro­fes­sional politi­cians. This coun­try is at the cross­roads. But it can still emerge with the prover­bial Solomonic wis­dom if our po­lit­i­cal elites will it.

Scru­ta­tor is deeply en­cour­aged by a pact bro­kered by the Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho (CCL) and signed by our count­less po­lit­i­cal par­ties last week.

The pact or dec­la­ra­tion en­joins our po­lit­i­cal par­ties to work to­gether after 3 June to foster the much needed con­sti­tu­tional and se­cu­rity re­forms re­quired to end the peren­nial bick­er­ing that has made our King­dom a laugh­ing stock of the world.

Three elec­tions in five years! That is a bit rich for a small coun­try with more goats than peo­ple.

We might be just on the cusp of open­ing a new chap­ter to be­gin the jour­ney to po­lit­i­cal free­dom and eco­nomic pros­per­ity if our politi­cians can stick to what they have agreed to in the pact.

Just con­sider this im­por­tant para­graph in the pact; “Whether our po­lit­i­cal par­ties shall be in gov­ern­ment, op­po­si­tion, out­side of Par­lia­ment and or in lo­cal gov­ern­ment bod­ies, we shall give the high­est pri­or­ity to im­ple­ment­ing re­forms which shall in­clude, but not be lim­ited to, con­sti­tu­tional par­lia­men­tary, se­cu­rity sec­tor, ju­di­cial and pub­lic ser­vice re­forms, all based on a process of na­tional dia­logue and in­clu­sion of all po­lit­i­cal par­ties and all other stake­hold­ers rep­re­sent­ing the Ba­sotho na­tion.”

This surely rep­re­sents the wis­dom and ma­tu­rity that has been so pal­pa­bly lack­ing in Le­sotho’s pol­i­tics hence our peren­nial trou­bles.

But some­thing in me fears that the pact might not hold. Could it might end up not be­ing worth the pa­per on which it is writ­ten?

This will def­i­nitely be­come the case if the out­come of the June 3 polls is con­tested. If any of our ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties feels it has been cheated and ral­lies its sup­port­ers, then another round of the Cyril Ramaphosa-led me­di­a­tion process will be­gin on June 4, lead­ing to another coali­tion gov­ern­ment and to yet another elec­tion. Mean­while, or­di­nary Ba­sotho will con­tinue scrap­ping a liv­ing from the dump-sites. When will it all end?

It will all end if the CCL bro­kered pact holds. That’s why this pact is so im­por­tant. That’s why the CCL needs com­men­da­tion for gath­er­ing the 29 po­lit­i­cal par­ties reg­is­tered with the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) to sign the pact.

I am happy that this po­lit­i­cal pact gels with my re­cent ad­vice to bon­tate Tha­bane and Mo­sisili to put this coun­try first and con­vene soon after the June 3 polls to unite the coun­try and chart the path for re­forms re­gard­less of who, be­tween the two of them, leads the next coali­tion.

Since there is a greater chance of the Lord Cre­ator mov­ing Le­sotho to be­come part of North Amer­ica, than there is of any of our other nu­mer­ous po­lit­i­cal “party” lead­ers lead­ing the next coali­tion, the task of mov­ing this coun­try for­ward will squarely rest on ntate Tha­bane or ntate Mo­sisili’s shoul­ders.

As one of them will in­evitably lead the next coali­tion (as­sum­ing both will still be alive be­fore, on and after June 3) their ini­tial co­op­er­a­tion is in­dis­pens­able.

But who­ever leads the next coali­tion will also re­quire the sup­port of the en­tirety of Ba­sotho. Even Ra­mat­sella and his quar­ter fac­tion “po­lit­i­cal party” will de­serve a seat on the ta­ble.

It would have been im­mensely en­cour­ag­ing if the po­lit­i­cal pact had been signed by the lead­ers of all the po­lit­i­cal par­ties in­stead of their rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Al­ready by send­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives to sign such a mo­men­tous pact, in­stead of ap­pend­ing their sig­na­tures in per­son, one can as­cribe a cer­tain amount of ar­ro­gance by the lead­ers, es­pe­cially those of the main po­lit­i­cal par­ties.

That alone sig­nals some form of con­tempt for this crit­i­cal pact by the key lead­ers. How­ever, the pact must be saved at all costs.

The best way of achiev­ing that is to en­sure that the June 3 snap polls are prop­erly run and pro­duce a le­git­i­mate out­come.

Con­sid­er­ing the in­ex­haustible pen­chant of Ba­sotho to bicker about just ev­ery­thing (in­clud­ing over such mun­dane sub­jects about whether the earth is flat, rec­tan­gu­lar or round), there is only one way to foster the less ac­ri­mony needed for the po­lit­i­cal co­op­er­a­tion re­quired for the much needed con­sti­tu­tional and se­cu­rity sec­tor re­forms after June 3; it is by en­sur­ing that the hold­ing of the im­pend­ing polls and their out­come is be­yond re­proach.

Who­ever con­tests the out­come must be warded off with em­pir­i­cal, ver­i­fi­able ev­i­dence that the elec­tion was not rigged.

To this end, can be added another caveat; Be­fore the fu­ture of the King­dom rests with bon­tate Mo­sisili and Tha­bane, it will first squarely rest on the shoul­ders of ntate Ma­hapela Le­hohla, the highly re­spected chair­man of the IEC and our former chief jus­tice.

Luck­ily, the IEC has al­ways con­ducted our elec­tions prop­erly. I can­not find any fault with how the IEC has run elec­tions. The 2012 and 2015 elec­tions were run im­pec­ca­bly. They were all highly cred­i­ble.

The IEC has been an ex­em­plary body. I am proud of the IEC. Un­like elec­tions in coun­tries like Zim­babwe, which are run by ghosts, en­sur­ing the same out­come for decades, or elec­tions in coun­tries like the Congo and Nige­ria, in which frogs are al­lowed to vote, Le­sotho elec­tions have been well run.

But still the IEC must not take any­thing for granted. There are a lot of vested in­ter­ests in the out­come of this par­tic­u­lar elec­tion.

We have a bunch of al­leged criminals who have com­mit­ted a lot of atroc­i­ties against Ba­sotho who might want to use ne­far­i­ous meth­ods to sway the elec­tion.

They may want to in­ter­fere with IEC pro­cesses. Ntate Le­hohla and his team must stand firm. They must re­main stead­fast in main­tain­ing the in­tegrity of our elec­toral process. They must not give in to any in­tim­i­da­tion.

Above all, they must re­ject any in­ter­fer­ence, if such is of­fered, from an or­gan­i­sa­tion called Nikuv.

This du­bi­ous or­gan­i­sa­tion has wrecked­havoc in all African coun­tries in which it has worked. I just will never un­der­stand why this en­tity is so wel­come in Le­sotho and is still en­trusted with pro­duc­ing our IDS, pass­ports and other crit­i­cal doc­u­ments, all pre-req­ui­sites for vot­ing.

Nikuv has been at the fore­front of al­legedly help­ing Mu­gabe in Zim­babwe by pro­duc­ing ghosts to both run Zim­babwe’s elec­tions and vote dur­ing polling. How else can a 107 year de­struc­tive ruler in the mould of Mu­gabe, who has made his peo­ple so poor that they now sell re­cy­cled con­doms, have been able to cling to power?

Late last year, an Is­raeli court con­victed Nikuv of brib­ing our former Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary of Home Af­fairs Retšelisit­soe Khetsi to win the pass­port ten­der.

That Nikuv of­fi­cials and Mr Khetsi are still strut­ting their stuff in Maseru’s shop­ping malls de­spite their be­ing con­firmed as criminals is a sad in­dict­ment of our pros­e­cu­to­rial sys­tem.

It an­noys me to the skies that Nikuv seems to have long cap­tured our Min­istry of Home Af­fairs. The best chance of elim­i­nat­ing this crim­i­nal en­tity lay with Joang Mo­lapo since he had in­her­ited the mess from his pre­de­ces­sor and ini­tially made all the right noises against Nikuv.

But alas, noth­ing hap­pened. I was an­gry with Mo­lapo for not get­ting rid of Nikuv as he had ap­peared he would do. But histri­on­ics aside, Nikuv is bad for our coun­try. Wher­ever it op­er­ates, it tries to ap­pease those that pays it by tin­ker­ing with the elec­toral sys­tem.

For­tu­nately, we have our fiercely in­de­pen­dent IEC who will re­sist any ma­noeu­vres from Nikuv, if at­tempted.

I have no doubt Ntate Le­hohla will also ward off any pres­sures from whom­so­ever to in­flu­ence his run­ning of the elec­tions. We need a cred­i­ble elec­tion that will be not be con­tested.

Only then can we fo­cus on the CCL bro­kered pact to push for re­forms al­ready rec­om­mended by SADC and the Com­mon­wealth un­der ei­ther Ntate Tha­bane or Ntate Mo­sisili, un­less a mir­a­cle hap­pens and we end up with Ntate Mo­lahleli Let­lotlo (as leader of a new fac­tion to soon splin­ter from LCP ) in State House.

We are at a cross­roads. But it is high time we Ba­sotho rise to the oc­ca­sion and save this beau­ti­ful King­dom. The re­spon­si­bil­ity rests on the shoul­ders of Ntate Le­hohla first be­fore it falls on Bon­tate Mo­sisili and Tha­bane.

Else­where in this news­pa­per is a story about a South African con­man who has been prey­ing on young Ba­sotho women promis­ing to take them to all man­ner of beauty pageants in South Africa after which they would be­come in­ter­na­tional mod­els. After lur­ing the girls to SA, this con­man would then sex­u­ally abuse them.

What a pity that many young girls fell vic­tim to this scam. What is it about beauty pageants that im­presses Ba­sotho so much? I am dumb­founded by par­ents who think their off­spring can earn a liv­ing through these pageants.

Even as­sum­ing that these pageants were le­git­i­mate, how can any par­ent send their girl to an event at which she will be asked to un­dress to a skimpy bikini and show­case her body with­out think­ing of the das­tardly con­se­quences there­after?

Moreso in a for­eign coun­try in which a woman is raped ev­ery 19 sec­onds. Even moreso in a coun­try ruled by a danc­ing, singing, laugh­ing, gig­gling, phi­lan­der­ing Pres­i­dent with nine wives, 28 girl­friends and 67 chil­dren in­clud­ing five chil­dren with a woman from far flung Ukraine.

A ruler who has just earned his coun­try two junk rat­ings from rat­ing agen­cies earn­ing him­self the most un­flat­ter­ing ep­i­thet; junk pres­i­dent.

Please Ba­sotho, keep your chil­dren from these scam pageants. In­stead send your chil­dren to col­lege. Even here in Le­sotho, there are just too many pageants. I am told there now even ex­ists a body to reg­u­late these pageants.

Is this go­ing to be our sec­ond most vi­able in­dus­try after the car wash in­dus­try? I hope not.

I hope you all en­joyed read­ing the cur­rent gov­ern­ment’s di­a­tribe against me to the African Union (AU) last week.

So hi­lar­i­ous was it that I de­cided to pub­lish in last week’s col­umn ver­ba­tim. I also want to ex­press my grat­i­tude to the mighty cre­ator that apart from my­self, he also cre­ated a few other Ba­sotho work­ing in the gov­ern­ment who can write proper English.

I now await the out­go­ing gov­ern­ment’s pos­si­ble re­fer­ral of me to the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil be­fore June 3. Till Then. Ache!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IEC Chair­man Jus­tice Ma­hapela Le­hohla.

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