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Coalition leaders should find common ground

by Lesotho Times
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By Utloang Kajeno

FOR all the stinging criticism that we, the general public, level against politicians, the fate of our nation is inexorably linked to them, either of our own choosing or not.
In this regard, we are referring to the leaders of the tripartite coalition government, namely, All Basotho Convention (ABC), Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) and we may hasten to add rather unpalatably, the Democratic Congress (DC).

The sad reality for some observers, is that the DC also want to have their top officials at State House and Qhobosheaneng, the governmental seat.
That is why the DC is throwing spanners in the works to wrestle the LCD from the coalition agreement so they may get back to power.
In our humble view it would be a sad day for this country if the DC, in its present form and with its recent history, were to return to power.

Under Pakalitha Mosisili’s 14-year reign, this country endured spiralling unemployment, a marked decline in living standards, corruption, nepotism, total disregard of the electorate, and utter regression in every facet of life.

That is why all good-intentioned Basotho and we guess, investors, are yearning for the retention of the incumbent coalition government.
Admittedly, there are enormous challenges that lie ahead in the negotiations between the ABC, LCD and BNP. Indeed, it is quite an unlikely coalition because, if anything, the LCD is much closer to the DC; in philosophy at least.

However, for the benefit and prosperity of this impoverished nation, we await with bated breath for the talks to save the coalition.
The DC is probably twiddling its thumbs and lobbying for the talks to fail so that it may regain the reins of power through the back door.
That is why we, as Basotho who have the best interests of this nation at heart, urge the three leaders to, for once, swallow their pride and hammer out a viable solution.
But as we said before, the road ahead is fraught with many challenges that are seemingly insurmountable.
However, with a little bit of self-introspection patriotism, goodwill, benevolence and critically, prayer, the talks will come to fruition.
Anything less will usher the LCD into the gleefully open and awaiting arms of the DC.
The leaders of the ABC and BNP never in their wildest dreams considered entering into an alliance with the DC.
This is because they know all the coalition government’s great strides of the past two years will come to nought.
In fact, the worst scenario would be that the DC-led coalition will reverse everything undertaken by the coalition. We will truly regress. Mark our words.
It is not for nothing that prior to the elections of May 26, 2012, the DC vowed never to get into a coalition with any political party.
So sure were they of not being defeated that Lesotho was almost their fiefdom.

So the three leaders, better be warned to go into those talks with an open mind, to accommodate the diverse opinions and views of the myriad of political philosophies of the other partners for the benefit of the Basotho nation.

The leaders must put the interests of this nation first. They must act like responsible adults and leaders, on who so much rests and realise the enormity of the task ahead.
Coalitions are, by their very nature, cobbled-out of compromises and abandoning previously non-negotiable standpoints if only for the larger population who look up to the leaders for their collective steering role in charting the way forward.

After all, a coalition is a mere temporary alliance of political parties to form a government.
It shows political maturity for a country as small as ours to cobble-up a coalition, moreso with its recent violent past history.
The leaders must understand that coalition partners in governments and political alliances often hold diametrically opposite views and philosophies.
However, for the sake of peace, stability and well-being of the country they need to continue to work together.

For all their respective parties manifestos and constitutions, they need to convene from their varied positions in the name of resolving the challenges that face this kingdom.
It would be wise to stop the blame game, for starters. If they come to the negotiating table with the aim of scoring political points against each other then, therein lies the problem.
There will be no end in sight to the in-fighting thereby creating the chance for the DC, that party which ran this country aground, to resume the reins of power through the backdoor.
The leaders need no reminding about the Sesotho saying, the import of which is that a household or a nation that is at war with itself is bound to fail.
We therefore urge them not to make Lesotho a failed state, as our detractors would like the world to perceive us.
The tripartite leaders need to be reminded that in a coalition there are bound to be differences thereby making way for compromises.
A coalition is only a vehicle that conveys this nation in unity, towards 2017.

There are bound to be turbulent challenges ahead and throughout their tenure in office. After all, that is what we elected them to do; to steer the ship in turbulent waters.
It is a mandate bestowed on them by this nation. They dare not disappoint us and lead us into the proverbial wilderness and purgatory. History will judge them harshly if they dare do so.
We all know that the time for scoring cheap political points when the gloves come-off, metaphorically, is just round the corner in 2017.
After all, we are a nation blessed with capable, erudite and strong political leaders, barring a few, who do not deserve any mention.
Basotho are blessed because we subscribe to mainly one religion, Christianity, language and are a homogeneous nation whose history and culture are common.
There characteristics are, therefore, an added advantage for us over many other nations which are multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious.
Sometimes we marvel at how closely-related Basotho are, one can move from the extreme end of this kingdom to the other end, and find that surprisingly we are all related either by marriage, culture or otherwise.

This is a quality that is virtually non-existent in many other nations throughout the world. Our hope therefore is that while it is an onerous task to cobble together a coalition, it is not impossible.
We just need to swallow our pride for the greater benefit of the entire nation.
Our detractors might opine that now the coalition honeymoon is over.
Far from it! Some of the major democracies on earth have been governed by coalitions for decades.
And they are very stable and economically successful countries.
Italy, since the demise of fascism after the World War II in 1945, has been ruled by coalition governments.
Lately, the United Kingdom is ruled by a coalition government. New Zealand, has for decades, been ruled by coalition governments.
Of course, political challenges differ from country to country but the underlying principle in all these countries is that parties that have different philosophies and manifestos are aligned together to govern their respective countries.

Surely it is not because their leaders are super-humans with super-natural powers and leadership qualities.
That is why the New Zealand trip made by a delegation of Members of Parliament and senior government officials led by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing should come in handy in the administration of coalitions.

We need to take a leaf from coalition government success stories and blend their experiences with our domestic challenges to make our coalition function efficiently.
The world is now a global village in which networking and exchange of ideas is now the norm.

Because we are forever optimistic in the political leadership of the tripartite alliance and the political future and stability of this country, we fervently trust that they will come up with a workable coalition.
Anything short of that will be disastrous. The talks, must of necessity, involve church leaders, civic organisations and other stakeholders, preferably at a neutral venue such as the United Nations House in Maseru.
Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that something positive will emerge for the negotiations. After all the fact that there are negotiations is itself positive.

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