Over to you Ntate Lehohla
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.