A CLIMATE of fear has engulfed the country following the myriad of killings and attempted murders over the course of this year. In this edition, an opposition legislator fled the country fearing for their safety, while another has gone into hiding for the same reason.
While the government has been quick to dismiss the opposition bloc’s claims of threats to their life, there can be no disputing the recent attacks that have claimed lives and maimed others are real.
Just last month, the daughter-in-law of All Basotho Convention (ABC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Lithoteng Constituency, Lehlohonolo Moramotse, was shot dead as she drove into her in-laws’ Lower Seoli residence.
Earlier this month, Lesotho Times and Sunday Express editor Lloyd Mutungamiri was shot and critically injured at his home as he was returning from work in the wee hours of 10 July 2016.
The incidents listed above are, by no means, exhaustive. There are other cases of shootings which did not garner prominence since the victims would not be as well known. In essence, these instances are just the tip of an ever growing iceberg.
The shooting of Mr Moramotse’s daughter-in-law prompted ABC’s Mosalemane No 19 constituency MP Sam Rapapa to call on the National Assembly to provide legislators with security guards at their homes. The request is certainly not out of hand given the recent events.
It unfortunately gives credence to the claims by the opposition leaders that they will not return until security reforms are effected.
These attacks take this nation backwards in its quest to emerge from a cloud of instability. It is also poignant to note that these unfortunate events continue to happen as the nation prepares to celebrate 50 years of independence.
Political differences have been driven a wedge among Basotho for the bulk of the period since independence in 1966, and are epitomised by the Congress-Nationalist divide. While there are many other origins for the divisions, politics have been the cause of so much strife and instability in this nation. Offshoots of this division are evident in the senseless famo turf wars and other acts of violence that continue unabated at great cost of lives, limb and property.
Government and Basotho should see this problem for what it is; a national crisis. Pretending there is no problem only incenses victims of these senseless attacks.
Addressing this problem should top government’s priority list because no one is immune to the deleterious effects of a gun. No one is safe, and more concerted efforts should be made on the part of law enforcement agencies to nip this trend, which is clearly out of control, in the bud. After all, they say in politics there are no permanent friends but permanent interests.
It does not require a rocket scientist to decipher that such an image is damaging to Lesotho’s efforts to attract foreign tourists and investment for that matter.
Former United States Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired General Colin Powell once described capital as a coward, indicating attracting investment is not easy unless there is an enabling environment.
Dialogue is likely to be the ultimate solution to the logjam in our beloved Mountain Kingdom when our leaders realise this instability is a lose-lose scenario for all involved. The longer this horrid soap opera plays out, Lesotho’s standing among the community of nations continues to go down the drain. With it are the fortunes of our already impoverished economy which is already feeling the strain of the instability.
Meanwhile, opposition legislators who are supposed to serve their electors remain in the trenches with no end in sight to the impasse.