TUESDAY’S dramatic events in parliament have deeper implications for democracy in Lesotho.
As reported in our lead story All Basotho Convention (ABC) legislator, Nkhets’e Monyalotsa, crossed the floor to join the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.
Monyalotsa, who was the legislator for Maputsoe constituency, dumped the ABC saying it had lost political direction.
The defection could pile pressure on embattled ABC leader Thomas Thabane. The defection also has wider implications for democracy and the role of opposition parties in Lesotho.
Monyalotsa became the third senior ABC politician to jump ship over the past 12 months.
Among those who have quit the ABC over the past six months are Lehlohonolo Ts’ehlana who was the party’s MP for Mokhotlong constituency.
Ts’ehlana quit the ABC last October to form his own party, Senkatana. He was immediately joined in the rebellion by Eliabe Mokhanoi who is the MP for Lithoteng constituency.
We are sure that there are other thousands of ABC supporters who have followed the two to their new political home in Senkatana.
Monyalotsa raised several issues that influenced his decision to join the LCD. Chief among the reasons is the manner in which the ABC is being run under Thabane.
He alleged that there was gross unprofessionalism in the way the ABC was being run. Thabane immediately shot down the allegation saying his departure was good riddance.
For Thabane the events in parliament on Tuesday were no political earthquake. It was a minor tremor.
For us, however, the defection and recent happenings within the ABC over the past six months are real cause for concern.
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We genuinely believe that Lesotho needs a strong opposition party to keep the ruling LCD in check.
This is the reason why we think we need to step back and reflect over Tuesday’s defection.
We think it is proper to pause and ask: Whither ABC? Are the rails finally off at the ABC?
At its formation in 2006 there was so much hope that the ABC would give the LCD a run for its money.
Indeed the ABC gave the LCD a blooded nose during the poll winning 17 seats out of the 80 that were up for grabs.
It is quite disappointing to note that the ABC has generally failed to live up to expectations since the 2007 poll.
In fact the party has wobbled from one crisis to another.
Hardly three years after its formation the party is engulfed in complete turmoil. The opposition is now a shadow of its former self.
Senior party officials of complained of “undemocratic practices” within the party. Those who have dared raise objections over the way were being done have been summarily suspended.
Surely there is a problem here.
When everything has been said and done the buck will stop at Thabane. As the leader of the party he should shoulder most of the blame for the problems bedevilling the party.
Thabane must accept that as leader of the party he shoulders most of the blame for the sterility and paucity of ideas facing the opposition party.
The turmoil within the ABC raises serious questions about Thabane’s leadership style.
If there was a time for serious introspection over the way the ABC is being run, now is the time.
This should be no witch-hunt. Rather the party should press for an unfettered debate on the way forward. Only such an open approach can save the party from imminent collapse.
The defection presents the ABC with an opportunity to carry out a serious analysis on the way things are being done.
Unfortunately we sense a certain pride and corkiness in the manner Thabane reacts to a crisis. We note that Thabane was dismissive of Monyalotsa’s defection effectively seeing it as good riddance.
We think this was not only unfortunate but was grossly irresponsible.
The defection of a senior party official such as Monyalotsa is a crisis no matter how much you try to downplay it, Mr Thabane.
It would be a tragedy were the ABC to disintegrate and disappear from the face of Lesotho’s political landscape.
We would not want a monolithic party in the form of the LCD battering all the little parties into subjection.
It is in Lesotho’s interests that there be a strong opposition party to keep the ruling party in check and ensure that we have a vibrant democracy.
If the ABC is serious about its plans to govern it must stop its kindergarten politics of constant cat fights and focus on its role as a responsible opposition party.
An opposition party that is constantly engaged in internal fights is hardly positioned to do its job of monitoring the government and give it a run for its money.