ON two occasions outgoing Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has ridden to power on the back of popular discontent against incumbent governments. On both occasions he has failed to last the distance due to his own failures to fulfil his electoral promises of achieving stability and growing the economy, among other things.
That ought to be an instructive lesson to incoming prime minister Moeketsi Majoro. Basotho are impatient political animals. They expect results. If they don’t get them, they answer in similar currency. This is in a way, a very good thing. Countries ruled by the same person or same party over long periods of time tend to stagnant. Leadership renewal is always a better bet.
But more importantly, as Mark Twain, the American humourist, entrepreneur and publisher, trenchantly commented; “Politicians are a lot like diapers. They should be changed frequently, and for the same reasons”.
A prime minister and his government simply need to work hard to ensure peace, stability and improve the lives of citizens. Its more than five decades after Lesotho attained independence. Our people still wallow in abject poverty.
Mr Thabane got a chance to reverse it all. Not once but twice. He failed dismally. His second government has now prematurely collapsed just a month shy of its third anniversary. At the rate at which he was going, and concentrating on the trivia, there was no other outcome.
Unlike on previous occasions where Mr Thabane and another former prime minister Pakalitha Mosisili have lost power, there will be no elections this time. Thanks to the Lekhetho Rakuoane initiated constitutional amendment that clips prime ministers of the gratuitous discretion to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections at a whim. The country now awaits a smooth transfer of power to a new All Basotho Convention (ABC)/ Democratic Congress (DC) led coalition. Mr Thabane owes it to this country to ensure he throws no further spanners in the works.
It is a good thing that prior to dislodging Mr Thabane, the parties laid the proverbial ducks in a row. As Mr Thabane’s popularity waned, they did not behave hysterically. If they had rushed to oust him in a no confidence motion, we would now be mired in yet another round of unaffordable snap elections. But in an unprecedented show of unity, the parties joined forces to unanimously approve the constitutional amendment bill that ensures that an unpopular premier will no longer fall back on the time-honoured technique of advising the King to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections to save their own skin.
The DC and ABC, the former arch foes have now inked a deal to form a new government which excludes the veteran leader and Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD). Eight other parties have thrown their weight behind the ABC-DC deal. This is a damning indictment on Mr Thabane as it shows how far the once popular leader has lost it in just under three years in charge.
It seems like yesterday when he returned to exile in 2017. Such was his popularity upon his return that at his first rally at the racecourse, the whole area became a veritable kaleidoscope of gold, red and green (the colours of the ABC).
The masses hung on his every word. But that seems like another lifetime now. Instead of enabling us some gold, everything Mr Thabane touched during his tenure became hoary.
Yes, he founded the ABC. But he made the mistake of seeing himself as having become larger than the party. His unnecessary acrimonious battle to try and dislodge Professor Nqosa Mahao as deputy leader, despite that the latter had been elected at a properly convened conference spoke volumes of a man who had not only lost his marbles but also all of his political depth.
His greatest crime would be to abdicate his responsibility of running the government to his unhinged and semi-literate wife.
Several people including his old comrades like outgoing Social Development Minister Motlohi Maliehe warned him against the noxious role that his wife was playing. Mr Thabane looked the other way. The so called First Lady would humiliate all manner of people in public and in full view of Mr Thabane. The premier would look the other way. But all the people who were being humiliated are human beings. They also have feelings. No wonder few shed any tear for the so called First Lady as she stood in the dock the other day to answer to murder charges.
Even as Zimbabwe provided a telling example of the tragic consequences of having a toxic woman as First Lady, Mr Thabane would simply not be bothered. As unhinged as ever, the so called First Lady even insulted ABC supporters over their paltry membership subscription fees.
Instead of reining her in, the premier stoutly defended his wife and effectively told everyone to mind their own business with their own wives. It is not surprising that both are now accused 1 and 2 in the murder of the premier’s ex-wife, Lipolelo. There are therefore many lessons for Dr Majoro to learn from as he steps into Mr Thabane’s shoes. He should avoid emulating just about everything his predecessor did in office.
Dr Majoro stands as a beneficiary of the discontent against Mr Thabane. That is not a blank cheque to rule as he pleases. There are expectations that he will try to re-unite the ABC. But this unity must not be at all costs. The charlatans who have steadfastly stood with Mr Thabane – even when they should have spoken truth to power – must be jettisoned if they will not respect Dr Majoro’s new place as premier. Dr Majoro must see the completion of the reforms process. Above all, he must now pursue an aggressive economic policy to create jobs and better the lives of Basotho.
At this stage, every Mosotho must support Dr Majoro and his new coalition. He deserves a chance. But he is herewith guided accordingly.