Yes we are hopelessly poor. Yes, our little Kingdom is an impoverished backwater. But that does not matter for now as we have proved beyond any doubt that we are a beacon of democracy in wretched Africa. We are collectively rich in spirit and soul. This is the time for every Mosotho to hold their heads and shoulders very high. Our political leaders have done us proud. We have done ourselves proud. Yes we have been experiencing our self-inflicted difficulties. But sometimes it’s not the challenges that a nation faces that defines its destiny, but how it overcomes these.
At one stage, I was afraid. Very afraid. With rumours swelling that the ABC was contemplating a court challenge of the February 28 election results and contemplating refusing to pass on the button, I thought Cyclone Tom was indeed going to try everything to resist giving up power. Imagine how difficult and stressful it can be for an old man to suddenly be asked to vacate the grandeur of State House after only two years in power and with a young pretty concubine in tow.
I genuinely feared that Ntante Thabane would put his interests and that of Liabiloe first. Just imagine how the outgoing “First Lady” had been active on Facebook as the first returns, after election day, promised an ABC landslide, before the ballots from the sheep and goat herders in the mountains started streaming in. From her Facebook posts, it became clear Liabiloe was already consumed in thoughts about the best manicures and pedicures and hairdo for her sugar-daddy’s grand re-coronation.
You see, these pretty young women can exert serious negative influences over their powerful men. I have often read stories that the main reason why that aberration of a leader, Robert Mugabe, still clings to power at 91 years of age is because of his young wife, the vivacious Grace. To keep his young wife, 42 years his junior, on side, the Zimbabwean dictator must stay in power holding keys to the doors of the national treasury, which he treats as his private micro-lender. The young Grace’s shopping appetite is legendary. Instead of being called the First Lady, Zimbabweans now derisively call her the First Shopper. Mugabe’s now enjoys the dubious honour of being the oldest President in the universe, yet Grace won’t let the old man rest. The moment Mugabe goes, so too are all the trappings of power that fascinate the young Grace. Air Zimbabwe passengers are often left stranded while the national airline is commandeered to go and fetch Grace’s shopping goodies from Singapore. Zimbabweans have thus had to bear their old ruler’s long traumatic rule; thanks largely to the influence of Grace.
So it was with good reason and precedent that I feared the lure of the high life might get Liabiloe to try and influence the old man not to let go. I am happy this has not happened and in both Parliament last week and at Setsoto Stadium this week, we saw political maturity and democracy at its best.
I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I saw Messrs Tom Ntabane, Mosisili and the Kingmaker himself, Metsing, clasping like little toddlers at the opening of Parliament last week. You would not imagine that these men had been at each other’s throat only a few days earlier.
If I was Barack Obama, I would have attended Size Two’s inauguration, even without an invitation, in recognition of the best democracy in the world. Where else in this continent, will you ever see an old man with a young pretty concubine in his right arm, who has just served half of his five year term, agreeing to hand over power without any fuss.
Paul Kagame, who has been sending his death squads to murder opponents in foreign hotel rooms, is now butchering his country’s constitution to cling to power. So is that morose boy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who goes by the name Joseph Kabila. Frustrated people of Burkina Faso had to throw stench filled dustbins into State House to get the equally murderous Blaise Compaore to give up power. This is the same Compaore who killed one of Africa’s most favourite though immensely misguided sons, Thomas Sankara, in 1987 and seized power.
Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Eduardo dos Santos in Angola, Paul Biya in Cameroon and many other vile strongmen are now part of their respective countries’ vegetation. They will not give up power. We often delude ourselves into believing that democracy is spreading in Africa because more and more countries are holding elections. But democracy is not just about regular elections. It is also about the states of mind of all key role political players in any given country and their ability to freely embrace the will of their electorates. Despite ubiquitous elections in many of its member countries, Africa remains a perennial laggard on the democracy stakes.
Which is why every Mosotho must hold their heads very high. We have shown Africa the way. What has happened here should thus have caught the entire world’s attention. It should have preoccupied world media. Unfortunately, we are too small to be noticed. Most unfortunately, we have no oil. So coverage of our peaceful transition was zero in the mainstream international media. But have shown the way. We have proved to the world that very bad things can indeed happen in any country but all can be overcome if you have sober-minded political leaders like our very own Size Two and Cylone Tom.
Followers of this column will know that Scrutator has repeatedly acknowledged and fawned over Mr Size Two because of his democratic and mature decision to hand over power peacefully to Cyclone Tom in 2012. Despite the DC’s robust showing in that election, it was deprived of the right to form a government by our generous electoral system. History has now repeated itself. The ABC fared very well by winning 50 percent of constituencies but like the DC in 2012, it has been denied the right to form government by the same generous system.
What is good for the goose must be good for the gander, so it is honourable that Cyclone Thom has acknowledged his loss and handed back power to the man who gave it to him in 2012. Thanks to you my sister Liabiloe for not trying to hang on like Zimbabwe’s Grace and for not influencing Ntante negatively. You are still young my sister. If the Cyclone does not come back, maybe you may come back yourself one day as our first female premier. It all depends on how you conduct yourself now. Try to improve your education and look after the old man well. If you ditch him now because he is no longer in State House, Basotho will condemn you forever as a wretched gold digger and you will never make any come back. So please heed my sisterly advice.
The decision by ABC supporters to walk out of Setsoto stadium just after Thabane had spoken is indicative of just how polarized Basotho remain. Our leaders have thus far shown good political maturity in ensuring a peaceful transition. However, some serious work remains to be done in re-uniting the nation. The biggest responsibility now rests with Mosisili himself, as the man now in power. If I were him, there is one good gesture I would extend to Thabane to try and unify Basotho.
We all know that Cyclone Tom had established a very cozy and clannish desk of Special Projects in the PM’s office to keep young Liabiloe busy, just in case she might stray during working times when the Cyclone is busy blowing away its multitude of enemies into the sea. This in theory became a professional civil service job for Liabiloe even though practically, it was a political appointment. I am not sure whether Liabiloe has packed her bags and vacated her plump office already.
But if I were Mosisili, I would be magnanimous enough and keep Liabiloe in her job. I would nevertheless demand real work and an end to six hour KFC lunches with friends and family around. You see there is no best way to show love to your political opponent than giving their spouse a job. ABC supporters will certainly applaud Size Two for this gesture.
There of course will be need for caution by Size Two and to resist temptation at all costs. My sister Liabiloe is a very pretty woman. Her well-toned legs resemble the best of scrambled eggs. Not only Mr Size Two, but any other man will salivate on passing through her desk, particularly if she is donning that latex mini. So for the avoidance of any future trouble, Scrutator would add an extra commandment to the original biblical 10 and ask Mosisili to observe them religiously. The 11th commandment for Size Two will thus read; thy shall not be tempted to exploit your political opponent’s cake!
If all the rules are observed, I have no doubt Liabiloe and Mosisili will work very well in the PM’s office.
Still on the subject of jobs, Size Two must ensure that his new cabinet comprises of hardworking men and women ready to sacrifice for this country. After a nearly three year hiatus from power, I hope Size Two has learnt a few lessons. Mess up and the Cyclone may re-activate.
I am aware of the fact that the new cabinet must comprise of all the other one seaters who gave the DC led coalition its slim majority. But Mosisili would still have a lion’s share of the cabinet posts. He better put them to good use by avoiding appointing all the dead wood. What a pity that the cabinet was not announced yesterday as originally thought. I would have wanted to share my thoughts on it.
From the cabinet line-up, I shall be able to conclusively determine the longevity of the new coalition.
Please Mr Size Two, we want real hard workers and serious people in the new cabinet. We don’t want any comedians. The task of the new coalition is to govern efficiently. It’s not to partake in Muvhango.
It’s a good thing that Cyclone Tom is still around with a huge presence in Parliament to provide a robust opposition to the new coalition. Effective opposition is the bedrock on which all effective democracies are built. At 75, Cyclone Tom is inevitably reaching the twilight of his political career but still has a significant role to play at least until 2020. In that year, it will be fitting for him to receive my farewell present (many, many boxes of Viagra) for use in his comfortable retirement. Liabiloe will still be young enough.
For now, let’s have a robust government and Parliament and prove to the world that we are not only good at peaceful transfers of power, but good governance as well.