WE can only applaud the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC)’s national executive committee (NEC) and the party’s legislators for setting aside their differences and holding a peaceful election to choose Thomas Thabane’s successor as party leader and hopefully Prime Minister.
But with the ABC having morphed into a wholly different animal in recent times, we cannot be certain that Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s “election” settles the intra party succession matrix. Especially after the “election” came so soon after the ABC NEC’s had boldly declared that Sam Rapapa was the successor.
If the elections stands, then all well and good. This kingdom is in dire need of stability. And stability can only start with order in the governing coalition’s lead member. The ABC has become a byword for internal strife and mayhem. That’s not good for the country as long as the party controls the levers of power.
Dr Majoro polled 26 votes to beat Mr Rapapa, the party chairman, who got 18 with ministers Prince Maliehe (Transport) and Samonyane Ntsekele (Water) polling one vote each. Dr Thabane has promised to step down at the end of July after more than 50 years in active politics. Any clarity about his succession is welcome.
And in a country generally bereft of good news, it is certainly a welcome development that the warring ABC factions aligned to Dr Thabane and his estranged deputy, Professor Nqosa Mahao, both agreed that the election of Dr Majoro was legitimate.
Prof Mahao, whose faction had nominated Mr Rapapa, and the latter himself were all magnanimous after the internal poll, telling this publication that they would throw their full weight behind Dr Majoro.
Prof Mahao put it much better when he implored ABC members to close ranks in the aftermath of Dr Majoro’s election and re-direct their energies to fulfilling the party’s 2017 election campaign promises of fighting chronic poverty, high unemployment and ensuring efficient service delivery.
“This (election of Dr Majoro) should unite the party because time is not on our side and we still have a lot to do,” said Prof Mahao.
“There is a lot which lies ahead of us and still has to be achieved in this short time left before the 2022 elections. This includes issues of poverty and unemployment which we have to address. We are also faced with the deadly Coronavirus. We have an obligation to win back the electorate’s confidence so that when 2022 comes they will vote us back into power.”
Similarly, Dr Majoro told this publication that his nomination is only the beginning as there is more work ahead to reunite and rejuvenate the party and the four-party governing coalition to deliver on its promises to the nation.
We couldn’t agree more with Prof Mahao, Mr Rapapa and Dr Majoro. There can be no doubt that this ABC led coalition has been a massive disappointment. And Prof Mahao is right to realise this and warn that time has fast run out for the ABC and its coalition partners. Dr Majoro’s triumph will only be meaningful if it can finally heal the festering wounds of infighting in the largest party in the governing coalition so that energies can be redirected to critical bread and butter issues. . The unity of purpose which enabled the election to proceed on Sunday should be the same unity which should guide the party to focus on the bigger tasks facing the country.
Lesotho has been independent for close to 54 years but chronic political instability and the resultant economic stagnation and poverty have rendered that independence a harvest of thorns.
Governments have come and gone, all failing to fulfil their promises of lifting the country out of instability and penury, while all the while fattening the pockets of politicians.
Former large parties such as the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) have all split into much smaller fragments due to fights over leadership positions. The sole driving purpose of all these fights being the rapacious appetite for access to state-controlled resources. With its infighting which has dragged on for more than a year now, the ABC risks going the same route. Basotho are simply fed up with this party which held so much promise but is slowly becoming a shadow of its former self.
We therefore call upon Prof Mahao and Dr Majoro to heed their own wise words to work steadfastly for the re-unification of their party and refocus energies to issues that matter.
As Prof Mahao rightly points out, there is no time to waste. So much needs to be done in terms of fighting the deadly Coronavirus and implementing stalled government programmes to resuscitate the country’s moribund economy.
All this cannot be achieved with a ruling party constantly at war with itself.