IT is really sad that at a time when Basotho and this country’s well-meaning development partners should have been celebrating the second anniversary and achievements of the governing coalition, we are now staring at the possibility of the premature collapse of yet another governing regime.
We ask and Basotho ask. Everyone who wishes this country well also asks; why do our governments never last? When will our leaders ever learn that national interests trump all other considerations?
One would have thought that the Thomas Thabane administration had come of age, having learnt the bitter lessons from the collapse of its first administration in February 2015 and the subsequent collapse of the successor Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties’ coalition on 1 March 2017.
Wiser heads than our own have repeatedly spoken of the madness and folly of doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. For a country that has leaders who are not mad, it remains a mystery why they always shoot themselves in the feet through infighting when they are fully aware that this vice has reduced former gigantic political parties to unrecognisable shells of their former selves.
We have previously criticised, admonished and pleaded with the governing parties to get their act together, bury their internal differences for the sake of the country. Our message has so far fallen on deaf ears and this week we repeat the same appeal.
Some people might say we have travelled this road before and so what if the power struggles ravaging the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) lead to the split of the party and ultimately the collapse of government. They argue that there is nothing new in all this and we will have a new government and simply carry on as we have done before when three governments collapsed in the space of five years from 2012 to 2017.
But we argue that there is something different about the looming collapse of this government and if allowed to play out, the consequences are likely to be far more disastrous than anything that we have ever witnessed before. The damage to our administrative institutions, our judiciary and our executive will be far worse than anything we have ever seen and known. Restoring the public confidence in these institutions will be much more than a herculean task.
Yes governments have collapsed but the events that are currently playing out as this government marches towards its destruction is something that borders on cataclysmic and Armageddon proportions.
We have had the usual strikes by teachers, nurses, factory workers and other civil servants but more telling we are currently witnessing an unprecedented strike by police officers- the very arm of the executive that should be enforcing compliance and maintaining law and order.
It is unheard of for police to strike but clearly the situation in Lesotho has scaled new and frightening levels. It is as if the Pandora’s Box has been opened just to unleash all the furies on this country with the prospect of never-imagined suffering for citizens.
This strike, which threatens to unleash total mayhem and turn this country into a criminals’ paradise, is happening at a time when our leaders are so distracted by their intra-party power struggles. There has not been any official communication from the powers that be concerning the strike and the measures to deal with it. As we reported in our sister Sunday Express publication this week, the strike affected our beloved King Letsie III’s birthday celebrations as some of the police officers withdrew from the rehearsals to protest the government’s failure to pay them six percent salary increments.
Before this strike, we saw the equally unprecedented and dumbfounding strike by the country’s 50-plus magistrates. Where else in the world does anyone hear of police and magistrates going on strike? But here in Lesotho, magistrates have gone on strike twice in the space of a year.
This is why we say that there is something different, dark and more sinister about the events preceding the likely collapse of this government. Even the wool and mohair farmers converged in their thousands in Maseru to stage the “mother of all protests” against the government’s decision to stop them from selling their produce from South Africa. The events currently bedeviling this government are unlike any other that have preceded the collapse of previous governments. Service providers are currently not being paid by the governing coalition whose four parties are all distracted by internal fights of varying magnitudes with the power struggle pitting Dr Thabane and his party deputy Professor Nqosa Mahao being the pick of them.
We do not need the Biblical signs of the sun refusing to give out its light, the moon turning into blood, the stars losing their lustre or even earthquakes to know we are facing troubles of Armageddon and cataclysmic proportions. Unprecedented strikes by police, magistrates and the highly influential wool and mohair farmers as well as the government’s failure to pay service providers are enough to show us that we are experiencing crises which will not be easily resolved even by future generations. Once again, we call upon the leadership to refrain from the Neronic behaviour of fiddling while the country is burning. Let the leadership put the nation first. Resolve your internal differences so that you can rightly focus on the bigger tasks of spearheading socio-economic development. We just cannot go on like this.