Opinion

Threats should have no place in our politics

By Utloang Kajeno

It is being widely reported in the media that some elements have threatened to kill the two All Basotho Convention (ABC) Members of Parliament (MPs) for Stadium Area and Koro-Koro constituencies.
The two MPs, Mophatho Monyake and Thabiso Litšiba, have declared their allegiance to the Parliamentary Working Alliance of Parties and Individual MPs, thereby turning their backs on the ABC. This alliance seeks to pass a vote-of-no-confidence in the coalition government of ABC, Lesotho Congress for Democracy and Basotho National Party.

Monyake alleges he was told by an informant that his life was in danger, while Litsiba alleges that while he was away on parliamentary business in Gauteng, South Africa, his wife found two bullets on their doorstep.
While I do not agree with the disturbing step the two MPs took in deserting their party, effectively backstabbing their constituents in their time of need, we cannot stand idly by and look disinterested when some faceless people are threatening these leaders.

It goes without saying that the two MPs did a reprehensible act.

They were elected to that august house on the ABC ticket through the first-past-the-post election, and on the vote of thousands of electors of their respective constituencies.
That the electorate is outraged is understandable. After all, it is they who put these two gentlemen in office.

Yet two years down the line, these MPs betray the very people who elected them.

In my book, they never asked for the mandate of their constituents in embarking on this step that has far-reaching repercussions.
That they thought they were the know-it-alls who will decide for the electorate, is regrettable.

The former MP for Lithabaneng constituency will bear me out in this regard. The backlash from the voters more often than not, spells political demise for such MPs. Come 2017, I will be borne-out.
However, much as this move is disturbing in the extreme, we cannot tolerate these threats, as a nation.

These rudderless individuals do not enjoy the support of their party leadership because this country has a far mature, responsible and law-abiding leadership across the political spectrum. Our leaders will never, under any circumstances, associate themselves or the parties they lead, with such despicable acts of intimidation from people who masquerade as their supporters.
They are simply crazy and deserve unreserved and outright condemnation. The sooner law-enforcement agencies get to the bottom of this, the better and we dare say, they should speedily serve their dues in prison or in cold Siberia.

People who pursue the agenda of intimidating those they do not see eye-to-eye with politically, do not deserve any space in our politics. Allowing them any space or audience would lead to disastrous consequences for our democracy.

Freedoms of expression and association are enshrined in our Constitution. For as long as it is done within the confines of the law, nobody should dare, irrespective of how aggrieved they feel, threaten those basic freedoms.

Every self-respecting and law-abiding citizen and leader across the globe cherishes and promotes these freedoms, and those who seek to undermine or threaten these basic human rights and freedoms belong to the Stone Age.

In fact, by right, they should go and take their well-deserved place in the animal kingdom. Yet, even animals nowadays, have basic freedoms that can land anyone in hot water, if they dare trample upon them. Even animals have a sense of being, you know, and are sensitive and territorial, just like humans.

We should never allow the acceptance of these barbaric tendencies in our society, otherwise the only word that would reign supreme in this country is violence. Now is the opportune moment for the political leadership, and other opinion leaders including the media, to step-up to the plate, and be counted in condemning in the strongest possible terms any forms of intimidation, from whatever quarter they might emanate.
At least, past experience shows that our leaders in every sphere of our lives, will stand-up and be counted. No country on earth, let alone Lesotho, can let these rudderless individuals run the political show. We must never succumb to a handful of mad men whose only agenda is intimidation. To have reached this far in our democratic ideals, a lot of our people made huge sacrifices. All our collective contributions to our cherished democracy would be futile if these despicable acts go unpunished.

To the skeptics out there, who believe the two MPs are only on a mission to make political mileage out of a non-existent threat, the evidence is there for all to see. Lesotho is not Utopia. But people with different political opinions should co-exist.

Anything can happen in the political battlefield, to the extent that adversaries can sometimes lose their lives. These death-threats should, therefore, be treated with the seriousness that they deserve and be investigated thoroughly by the relevant agencies.

They cannot just be wished away as if they never existed. Political fanatics can be heartless and ruthless if they feel their agenda or party is being undermined. These threats should, therefore, be nipped in the bud without further delay.

We are cognisant of the sad reality that government cannot afford to provide round-the-clock security for all politicians and others who are entitled to such security or all those whose security is under threat. The financial and manpower implications of such a venture would be unbearable on the fiscus. But surely the security agencies can, at least, do something to arrest these worrying developments. The bare minimum that is at least, done in this regard will allay, to an extent, our fears that our security, as a nation, is taken seriously. But we need to reiterate we are aware our security agencies and resources are overstretched.
We are fortunate in this country because we have a political leadership and security agencies that still enjoy the trust of our people. We, therefore, fervently hope the powers that be will get to the bottom of this new scourge which threatens to gnaw at our moral and political fibre as a nation.

Any modicum of instability scares away investors, thereby decreasing job opportunities. The interest of any investor is to invest in an economy that is politically tolerant and a stable democracy. We are sadly a nation that straddles the bottom rungs of the world economic order. We cannot afford any more threats to our economy by people who are hell-bent on pursuing their own selfish political agendas. This nation is crying out for stability and economic development.

We have, on several occasions, indicated that there are lawful peaceful means of unseating unpopular leaders. We are, as a nation, still nurturing our young democracy, and cannot afford even a scintilla of instability and intolerance.

It is not unheard of for politicians, of whatever persuasion, to cross floors or do the unthinkable and join opposition ranks.
That is why there are mechanisms in place for the electorate to register their displeasure –– at the polls. This is done under legally-stipulated terms to prevent chaos. Threats of violence or violence itself, only breed further violence.

There are countless examples of political foes who unleash violence on their foes only for them to be at the receiving end of the same violence in the future.
No nation can pride itself on being violent. If anything, violence begets further violence.

We should never leave a legacy that future generations will look at with disdain.
Neither can we let a bunch of lunatics hold this nation to ransom with their violent bellicose conduct.
The sooner the authorities get to the bottom of these unfortunate incidents and the culprits are brought to book, the better for our fledgling democracy.

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