Rous­ing wel­come for Pres­i­dent in Le­sotho

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Law­son Mab­hena Harare Bureau

“IT is bet­ter to mis­gov­ern our­selves than to be gov­erned well by oth­ers.”

These are the words of Le­sotho’s found­ing fa­thers that were re­peated yes­ter­day when the king­dom — in pageantry, el­e­gance and tri­umph — cel­e­brated 50 years of in­de­pen­dence at the Se­sotho Sta­dium in Maseru.

Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili said this while nar­rat­ing Le­sotho’s painful yet suc­cess­ful his­tory, dur­ing an event that was led by King Let­sie III.

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe re­ceived a thun­der­ous wel­come from more than 20 000 Ba­Sotho on ar­rival at the venue, and so did Sadc chair­per­son and Swazi monarch, King Mswati III.

Botswana Pres­i­dent Seretse Khama Ian Khama was also one of the dig­ni­taries, as well as South African Jus­tice Min­is­ter Jeff Radebe, who stood in for Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

The colour­ful pro­ceed­ings kicked off in style with King Let­sie re­ceiv­ing the royal salute.

The 21-gun salute was fired to the spec­ta­cle of the King in­spect­ing the Guard of Hon­our, be­fore he did a “lap of hon­our” in an open­top Land Rover De­fender.

The Chris­tian Coun­cil of Le­sotho — a group­ing of var­i­ous de­nom­i­na­tions — led in prayer shortly af­ter the King took to his seat be­tween Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe and King Mswati. PM Mo­sisili was first to the podium. “Le­sotho’s jour­ney of 50 years of in­de­pen­dence has been a tor­tur­ing jour­ney full of chal­lenges, fail­ures but also full of suc­cesses,” he said, be­fore chron­i­cling the coun­try’s his­tory of civil strife, tran­scend­ing a 20-year dic­ta­to­rial rule un­der Chief Le­abua Jonathan, and a mil­i­tary regime.

“You might have no­ticed that we now have the third na­tional flag. That again is an in­di­ca­tion of the tur­bu­lence of the jour­ney of Le­sotho.”

De­spite these chal­lenges, PM Mo­sisili said the king­dom has recorded mas­sive devel­op­ment.

“The Bri­tish left us with 1km of tarred road. The tarred road was con­structed dur­ing King Ge­orge’s (VI) visit in 1947, and the 1km was from the rail­way sta­tion to his res­i­dence,” the Prime Min­is­ter said, be­fore giv­ing a num­ber of ex­am­ples of in­fras­truc­tural and po­lit­i­cal devel­op­ment.

“We’re now in the sec­ond coali­tion gov­ern­ment. The first coali­tion gov­ern­ment lasted two and a half years and con­sisted of three par­ties. The cur­rent coali­tion gov­ern­ment con­sists of seven par­ties.”

Speak­ing on be­half of the re­gion, King Mswati con­grat­u­lated King Let­sie and his sub­jects, urg­ing them to “leave a legacy that will stand out” even when they are all gone.

“A key cat­a­lyst to achiev­ing sus­tain­able devel­op­ment for all is peace and sta­bil­ity,” he said.

“Let us keep peace at all times to avoid re­vers­ing the in­de­pen­dence gains, which we’re all here for. We en­cour­age the Ba­Sotho to find home-grown so­lu­tions for prob­lems that hin­der progress.”

King Let­sie took the op­por­tu­nity to thank Sadc for timely in­ter­ven­tion dur­ing in­ter­nal con­flicts.

“Le­sotho like most, if not all, post-colo­nial African coun­tries has faced a num­ber of chal­lenges. Through tenac­ity and hard work we’ve been able to over­come most of these chal­lenges.

“Your Majesty King Mswati III, through you as Sadc chair, we would like to thank the re­gion for the timely in­ter­ven­tion,” he said. Le­sotho was un­der Bri­tish rule for 91 years. The coun­try was united by King Moshoeshoe I who fought a se­ries of wars with Boer set­tlers be­fore Queen Vic­to­ria es­tab­lished a Bri­tish pro­tec­torate over the then Ba­su­toland in 1858.

On Oc­to­ber 4, 1966 Le­sotho gained full in­de­pen­dence.

Mean­while, Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe, who re­turned yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, was re­ceived at the Harare In­ter­na­tional Air­port by Vice Pres­i­dents Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Min­is­ters Syd­ney Sek­era­mayi and Kembo Mo­hadi, ser­vice chiefs, as well as Chief Sec­re­tary to the Pres­i­dent and Cabi­net Dr Misheck Sibanda, and other se­nior Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

The Pres­i­dent was ac­com­pa­nied by For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sim­barashe Mum­bengegwi.

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