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CCL speaks out on ‘deepening political crisis’

Pascalinah Kabi

THE Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) has warned that the infighting within the parties in the governing coalition is breeding a political crisis which, if not well managed, could overthrow the Thomas Thabane-led government.

The CCL said it was concerned by the conflicts which were “visible signs” that the country could go for fresh elections much earlier than their due date of 2022.

The religious body said this at a press conference in Maseru this week. Although the CCL did not name a specific party, its concerns were in obvious reference to the current political skullduggery in Prime Minister Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) in the aftermath of its national executive committee (NEC) elections on 1 and 2 February 2019.

National University of Lesotho Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao, who was elected deputy leader at the party’s elective conference, and his allies, have been shut out by the old national executive committee (NEC) and have not been allowed to take office.   The infighting in the ABC has escalated since the elective conference with a court challenge of Prof Mahao’s victory and the firing of ministers who supported him.

“The church is increasingly worried by the current self-serving, self-enriching politics that are never people-centred, so much that when there are conflicts, Basotho choose not to solve issues but instead they go their separate ways and destabilise both the government and the country,” CCL Heads of Churches Member, Bishop Daniel Rantle, read from a prepared statement on Monday.

CCL chairperson Archbishop Tlali Lerothol (O.M.I) said the clergy were especially worried by the political disputes that had been taken to the courts of law.

“In as much as we are the clergy, it must be understood that we are also Basotho and the national governance issues, especially those political issues that have been taken to the courts by our political and government leaders have left us worried. We are in a crisis,” Archbishop Lerotholi said.

On his part, the CCL’s deputy chairperson, Reverend Tšeliso Masemene, said the coalition government’s future was dependent on the stability of the main coalition partner (in this case the ABC) and history had taught … that infighting within the main coalition partner would have direct impact on the stability of the government.

“This is not the first time that we are issuing a warning as we did so during the previous government. The minute a leading coalition partner experiences internal fights, the fights never end within the party but they spill into the national governance and we all know that this does not sit well with Basotho.

“We also draw from the historical background of this country that when that happens, some people end up losing their lives. Very painful things happen in this country due to the political instability and while all these political fights are taking place, the country becomes poorer.

“We all know that elections are now coming after every two to three years but no one ever sits down to ask if we ever budgeted money for the elections. Where do we get the election money from? Do we really want to go back to the elections again? We will end up being an election-oriented country that never has a time to deal with social issues affecting its people. We are a prophetic voice and ours is just to advise,” Reverend Masemene said.

He advised politicians to always remember that the needs of the people were bigger than their internal disputes. He said the politicians should be more tolerant of each other and calmly discuss and resolve their internal issues.

“They (politicians) should ask themselves tough questions like, ‘is this (decision) in the best interest of the country or for my own survival,” he added.

On his part, CCL secretary general Bishop Adam Taaso said they had sought audience with the government to discuss several issues but in vain.

“We have done everything possible to meet with the government but what I have realised is that politicians quickly forget when they are in power. Their tone always change immediately after being voted into power but when things are not going right for them, they come running to the CCL for mediation. We cannot force people to listen to us or even be part of our talks but we know that politicians have short memories. They only remember the CCL in times of trouble,” Bishop Taaso said.

CCL member, Reverend ‘Mapeete Mokhosi, said the previous government ignored advice from the CCL to explore other means of settling disputes and chose to go for elections.

“No one listened to us because going for elections is good for politicians. They really don’t care about the costs of elections and that money could have been invested in the social development agenda,” Reverend Mokhosi said.

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