WE only know of one instance where the biblical Joshua successfully petitioned God to make the sun stand still and not set until he had defeated his enemies.
Could it be that our leaders and Lesotho’s development partners have also stumbled on that secret formula to justify their snail’s space in the current reforms process?
How else can it be explained that with only 11 months to go before the May 2019 deadline set by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for the implementation of constitutional and security sector reforms, our politicians are only meeting now and agreeing with the development partners on a project which has an 18 months’ timeline for the creation of a conducive platform for the building of trust and consensus on the reforms process?
We are referring to the Monday agreement between the government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to launch the Lesotho National Dialogue and Stabilisation Project (LNDSP).
Among other things, the LNDSP seeks to have “reduced the tensions and divisions within and among the security agencies in order to enhance the participation of the (security) sector in the national dialogue and reforms processes by 2019”.
Another expected outcome of the LNDSP is that by December 2019, there should be a “more informed Lesotho constituency that is actively participating in political reforms and reconciliation efforts due to greater access to timely and accurate information on the national dialogue and reform processes”.
The government officials and other stakeholders took turns to congratulate each other over the launch of the LNDSP. Words of optimism and hope were never in short supply as speaker after speaker articulated the challenges to the reforms process and underscored the importance of the LNDSP in building a climate that is conducive to the success of the reforms process.
There is no denying that the LNDSP is a noble and necessary initiative as it seeks to build trust and consensus among all stakeholders to ensure an all-inclusive reforms process.
We must state that we fully support all the initiatives that are aimed at achieving lasting peace and stability without which our beautiful but troubled Mountain Kingdom would not realise any meaningful socio-economic development.
We however subscribe to the truism that time waits for no man and as such, whatever actions are contemplated by the government and its partners should be undertaken with a view to meeting timelines, especially those that the country has committed itself to achieving.
That is why we are at a loss as to why such a noble project is only being launched now with an 18 month timeline when we have only 11 months to have fully crafted and implemented the reforms. There can be no doubt that SADC has lost patience with Lesotho. If nothing has been achieved at the end of the stipulated May 2019 timeframe, the organisation could pack its suitcases and leave.
Eighteen months from now will be December 2019. SADC made it clear at its April 2018 Summit in Angola that we should have fully implemented the constitutional and security sector reforms by May 2019.
A cursory glance at the LNDSP project outcomes reveal a strong tendency towards the use of the present continuous tense through words and phrases like “are”, “enhancing”, “there is”.
This use of the present continuous tense suggests an ongoing process to create a conducive atmosphere for the reforms. It all begs the question; When will the actual reforms be finally implemented if we are going to be seized in a long drawn process to “create a conducive atmosphere for the reforms”?
Will the trust and consensus-building be achieved in time for Lesotho to have implemented the constitutional and security sector reforms by the May 2019 deadline prescribed by SADC?
While we would love to stay on the side of hope and optimism, we think this will not be possible and come May 2019 another opportunity to achieve peace and stability would have been missed.
Time is of essence. For the majority of the poor citizenry who continue to bear the brunt of unreformed national institutions, it must be enervating to learn that our politicians are still busy trying to find each other and to build trust when they should have long been seized with crafting the actual reforms needed to restore lasting peace and stability in the Kingdom.
WE urge our politicians to pay attention to the latest Afrobarometer survey. They will learn that most Basotho have spoken out against a constitution which allows politicians, who lose the elections, to be smuggled back into power through the back door of proportional representation.
They would also know that the majority of Basotho are not happy with a constitution that somehow allows the security agencies a greater involvement in the politics of the country than elected representatives.
The army and the police have a recent history of repression and extra-judicial killings of civilians which can only be prevented through a comprehensive reforms agenda.
The reforms must therefore happen now and not in the future where the time lines are not even clear.
We therefore call upon the government, opposition and the development partners to take heed of the ancient wisdom that time waits for no man. Basotho cannot wait forever to achieve lasting peace and stability. The reforms process must be treated with the urgency it deserves. Those politicians hell-bent on abusing this process for their narrow politicking ends must be treated with the contempt they surely deserve.