Church leaders bemoan political crisis
THE Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) has expressed concern over the power struggle in Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), saying the resultant political instability could scare away investors and affect socio-economic development.
CCL chairperson Archbishop Tlali Lerotholi OMI said they were in talks with the warring old and new national executive committee (NEC) factions of the ABC to end the infighting which had spilled into government and compromised its ability to deliver services to the nation.
He said thus far they had held four meetings with the two sides and more would follow as “talks are a process and a breakthrough can’t be achieved overnight”.
He said this at press conference in Maseru which was also attended by fellow church leaders.
The church leaders’ remarks were made against the background of the ongoing power struggle which has seen ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane refuse to endorse the election of Professor Nqosa Mahao and others into the party’s NEC at the party’s 1-2 February 2019 elective conference.
Talks aimed at ending the impasse began as early as February and despite the mediation of the CCL, the two factions do not appear to be any closer to reaching any agreement. Instead, everything points to a split which is likely to collapse the government and precipitate fresh national elections just two years into the governing coalition’s five year term.
The infighting appears to have spilled into government and affected its capacity to deliver services and resolve multi-faceted socio-economic crises as seen by the government’s failure to address the civil servants demands for salary increments and improved working conditions. In one year, teachers, magistrates, nurses and factory workers have all struck while police are also threatening to go on strike over unmet demands.
Wool and mohair farmers recently brought the capital to a standstill with the “mother of all protests” to force the government to reverse its controversial regulations which bar the farmers from selling their produce from the country of their choice.
It was against this background that the CCL recently addressed the media and expressed concern that the infighting within the ABC had caused the country so much suffering.
“We are currently in talks with ABC as we feel it is our obligation to intervene and help bring both sides together. We are concerned about the infighting because it is spilling into the government as a whole,” Archbishop Lerotholi said.
He said rather than make divisive utterances, ABC leaders should work for peace and unity.
“We are quite surprised by some of the utterances by some political leaders which divisive and are inciting enough to bring the country into disrepute. We therefore appeal to all leaders to refrain from making such statements.
“We also appeal to the security agencies to remember their primary mandate of providing security and protection to all Basotho. Be vigilant lest you fall into temptation and tarnish your country’s image.”
He further appealed to the media to desist from sensational stories as these could aggravate an already combustible situation.
On his part, Bishop Daniel Rantle said they were “gravely perturbed by the instability and grievances voiced by the different sections of society”.
He said the grievances, which centred on issues of governance, education, wool and mohair farming, poverty, unemployment, human trafficking, had caused unrest in the country.
“We therefore call upon all political leaders, the nation and non-governmental organisations to remember that Basotho are all about patriotism, peace and stability, the protection of property, the development and welfare of the nation and the respect of human rights.”
He said the instability could scare away investors and affect socio-economic development.
“Let the leaders be reminded that democracy is governance of the people by the people for the benefit of the people,” Bishop Daniel Rantle said.