Thabane should go now

Lesotho Times
10 Min Read
Outgoing Prime Minister Thomas Thabane

IN its last edition for 2021, the Sunday Express reported on former Prime Minister and current All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane’s attempts to pre-empt court processes by submitting a bail application before he had even been formally charged and asked to plead to charges that he orchestrated the murder of his ex-wife.

Mr Thabane certainly outdid himself and surprised all and sundry. Rightly so, Judge ‘Maseforo Mahase dismissed the premature application.

We have no intention of going into the details of the unsuccessful application save to say that it contained some disclosures by the former premier which lend even more weight to our calls for him to just walk away from the political scene and allow his ABC deputy and current Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro to finish his term.

For those who might have missed the Sunday Express exclusive, Mr Thabane, who stands accused of the 14 June 2017 murder of his ex-wife, Lipolelo, attempted to pre-empt any attempts to remand him in custody when he is eventually charged in March 2022.

He begged Justice Mahase to grant him bail on the grounds that he was a sickly old man who was living out his last days.

He said he suffers from various terminal illnesses including hypertension, dementia, carcinoma of the prostate and hypothyroidism.

In his own words, Mr Thabane said, “the petitioner is a sickly old man who is 82 years old.

“The petitioner’s health situation is fragile and he suffers from a medical condition that requires specialists in Johannesburg where he attends the medical services frequently (sic). The petitioner needs the specialist medical services to sustain the last stages of his gracious life.

“The matter is urgent as the petitioner will not be able to access the medical services if he is remanded in custody. The petitioner’s life will be in danger in circumstances where he is unable to receive treatment for his medical condition.”

It is not for us to cast aspersions or any doubts on his claims. We must however, advise him that his behaviour and role in the ABC infighting, which has destablised the country,  is hardly in keeping with an incapacitated sickly man  seeing out the last days of his gracious life.

He appears to have summoned his reserves of vast energy to burn the midnight oil in ABC meetings aimed at ousting Dr Majoro , 22 years his junior,  from power.

He continues to cling to the ABC leadership amid indications that he even wants to lead the party into next year’s elections. He even chaired the 2 December 2021 ABC national executive (NEC) committee meeting which voted to recall Dr Majoro and replace him with now fired cabinet minister, Nkaku Kabi.

Our advice to him is to step away and allow Dr Majoro to finish his term which ends next year.

We are not huge fans of Dr Majoro because his 19 months in power have so far failed to yield the hoped-for socio-economic stability in the country.

It is not that we were expecting miracles but more than a year and half since his advent in May 2020, service delivery remains as poor as ever, if not worse. Service providers are still owed huge sums while his clueless government sits on the massive Special Drawing Rights (SDR) 66, 9 million allocation (about US$93, 6 million) from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The money could be used in various developmental programmes but up to now the ministry of finance says it has not yet decided what to do with it. We hope though that the money has not disappeared into the deep pockets of graft.

Poverty continues to grip the nation while murders and other violent crimes have worsened. Hardened criminals, emboldened by the police and judiciary’s failure to punish them, have upped the stakes and they are now targeting police officers for elimination. Seven police officers were murdered in just three months up to August this year. In a nutshell, Dr Majoro’s government hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory.

Therefore, we will not be sad to see him eventually go. But having said that, we see no benefit in attempts to unseat him when the next scheduled general elections are just around the corner.  Lesotho has had many elections in the past decade. They have not brought food on the tables of most Basotho.

The challenge is to have the current multi sector reforms completed and hopefully have elections with a real purpose; to produce a coherent government based on the will of the people and not predicated on fulfilling the whims and caprices of politicians.

The reforms process is perhaps the most momentous issue in the entire history of Lesotho. All hands should be on the deck to ensure that we mould reforms that bring stability and direction to this country.  One would have thought that our politicians would grasp this obvious point. But alas, they are all too invested in their endless power plays. And Mr Thabane, a rock of ages in the system, who should know better, appears unbothered about his legacy.

If Mr Thabane is as sickly and as incapacitated as he outlines in his bail papers, the honourable thing for him to do is to quit and fend for his health. The very destructive role that he is now playing in the final days of his gracious life – as he describes it – will only do more harm to his legacy.

Let Dr Majoro remain in power until the next elections. Not because we have any fondness for him but because cold hard logic shows that the decision to oust him is not premised on addressing long-suffering Basotho’s socio-economic miseries. It is simply about revenge and getting one over a political rival.  As the Basotho Action Party (BAP) has correctly summed it, the Thabane faction’s call for a government of national unity is a ruse.  It is a subterfuge call to help a faction of a party fight its political battles.

At 82 and ailing, Mr Thabane has had his time. He should relinquish the ABC leadership which he continues to cling to and which he is abusing to settle personal scores with his party rivals at the cost of national stability.

He may have formed the ABC along with others in 2006. He is revered and rightly so as the party’s founding leader. But that does not give him the licence to treat the party and by extension the country as his personal fiefdom.

It has been said that age comes with wisdom and it is our sincere hope that Mr Thabane will quickly realise that the longer he stays on the political arena and even attempts one last shot at the premiership, the more he will ruin what is left of his legacy.

To borrow the words from the satirical song about former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe by South African band Freshly Ground, there was a time when Mr Thabane was “noble, a conqueror, and a supernova”.

But like Mr Mugabe who had to be dragged out of office kicking and screaming by his own army, Mr Thabane is no longer a spring chicken.

He must now leave the stage to much younger politicians who might possess fresh ideas to take Lesotho out of its quagmire. He must also desist from allowing avaricious power-hungry ABC politicians to hide behind his coattails and use him as a front when fighting their own battles.

Do the honourable thing Mr Thabane while you may.  Drop this GNU nonsense and let Dr Majoro lead us to the next elections which will hopefully produce a better, coherent government not another self-serving coalition of avaricious politicians.

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