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Cry, the beloved country

by Lesotho Times

Utloang Kajeno

LEST I be accused of plagiarism. That is, taking the idea or work of someone else and passing it off as one’s own, without acknowledging it.  I must concede I got this definition from the concise Oxford English Dictionary.

I purposely settled on this title by the late Alan Paton, a renowned South African author, borrowing from his title because the events that are unfolding in our country perfectly fit the theme of the celebrated author’s novel, through it was written more than half a century ago.

In the Old Testament book of Proverb 14:1-2, It is said: “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly, but those who despise him are devious in their ways” (sic).

Further, in the New Testament book of Luke 11:17. It is said: “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: ‘any kingdom divided against itself will be mined, and a house divided against itself will fall’.”

These powerful words will hopefully serve as a lesson to our somewhat selfish politicians who are, true to form, pursuing their own personal agendas to the detriment of this nation. Sadly, they appear to have no sense of social responsibility to this nation. They seem not to be interested in the development and advancement of this nation. All they are interested in is pursuing their own personal agendas and self-aggrandizement. This is despite the untold and incalculable harm they have already caused this nation and its democratic institutions.

They masquerade as democrats yet they know as their actions and words reveal that democracy is anathema to them.  This can be discerned from their bellicose rhetoric. Such utterances are hardly befitting of their status as leaders of political parties and public figures, their bona fides are indeed questionable.  In plain language, they are delusional.

For nearly two decades during the reign of the Democratic Congress -Lesotho for Democracy government (of late I have great difficulty drawing a distinction between the two), when this country was run like a spaza shop, all state functionaries were political appointees. During that era, which was virtually a one-party rule, the country did not progress. No employment opportunities were created nor was there any viable investment climate.

The looting of state coffers was the order of the day, and no one in that regime cared to arrest the rot. A lot of senior public servants and those in the procurement and accounts departments, amassed massive wealth that was disproportionate to their earnings.

Under the former regime’s watch, opportunities for work and better living conditions for the masses dissipated at an alarming rate. All institutions of state, including the private sector, had become dysfunctional. Corruption had reached unprecedented levels, particularly in the civil service and it continued unabated.

A cursory look at the wealthiest individuals, barring a few, will reveal that most of them are civil servants. Yet no noticeable prosecutions against corruption were ever instituted. Ill gotten wealth, read corruption and fraud, was the operational word for that regime. People jostled for positions in the civil service because that was where wealth could be easily acquired.

When the prosecuting agency investigates corruption and brings the culprits before the courts, they make the country ungovernable. They go to the extent of calling for the revoking of the prorogation of parliament, so they may orchestrate of vote of no-confidence in the government. To them, when Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his coalition government partner, Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane flee the country and when the army attacks the police, killing and wounding many, everything is normal.  Talk about being insensitive.  This is it.

Because they could see their influence in strategic state institutions waning, they made sure they unwaveringly supported the fired commander of the Lesotho Defence Force. Despite a lawful process to terminate his services being undertaken, they still consider him the legitimate army head. Lieutenant General Kamoli is holding this nation to ransom by refusing to relinquish the post. The former regime are, in their own words, threatening a bloodbath should the dismissal be finalised.

If there was any justification to their assertion that Lt Gen Kamoli removal from office was illegal, why don’t they advise him and pay for his legal fees, as they would most certainly do, to challenge his dismissal in a court of law like all citizens. It is because the renegade general and his political party supporters know they have no leg to stand-on in court.

Ironically, the very piece of legislation they are now challenging in the public domain, not in the courts of law, was enacted while they were in control of the legislature. If indeed they feel Lt Gen Kamoli’s dismissal is unlawful as they profess so loudly, let them approach the courts. They should let this important institution of our democracy, the judiciary, rule on the legality or otherwise of the dismissal. They are now endangering our nascent democracy by putting the spoke into our democratic wheel.  They are acting as cheerleaders for the renegade general. Their erroneous view is that only they are destined to rule Lesotho forever.  In fact for their entire stay in power, they misruled the country.

Unfortunately, because of their unfortunate utterances, and at times, outright support for the general and his actions, this country has endured great harm. Investors have left the country in droves and potential investors are afraid to invest in Lesotho because of their utterances and actions.

Oh! Cry, the beloved country, Lesotho. The very people who are supposed to support the country’s economic revival and development are the very people pulling it down into the doldrums. Like the proverbial woman, they are, with their own hands, destroying and pulling this country down.  Through their actions, Lesotho has become a kingdom at war with itself and unless they strop their unfortunate utterances and deeds, we are heading for utter ruin.

The tourism industry has been decimated because no tourist dares visit a country whose former army commander has allegedly ransacked the armory. He travels the streets of Maseru under a guard not even a leading superpower head of state can dream of. Hotel occupancies have significantly lowered while the tourism industry is reeling.  As a result, the tax base is shrinking and government will soon have no funds to fund development and service debts.

It is also a result of their utterances, threats and actions, together with some sections of the army that our democratically-elected prime minister and other senior government officials have to be, to our utter shame as a country, guarded by police from South Africa.

Their remarks and actions also led Basotho to knock-off early from work for the safety of their homes. As a result of remarks to the effect that  they will be a bloodbath and that Lt Gen Kamoli’s backers would fight to the last man, many local businesses have been forced to close early.  They have in effect imposed a curfew on the innocent citizenry, thereby imposing a lockdown.

This is ultimately because their do not want to be investigated and possibly prosecuted for allegedly looting millions of maloti from state coffers. It is also because some of them face serious charges of treason and murder in the courts. As a result, the country has lost millions.

During their relentless march to anarchy, even the country’s courts, one of our pillars of institutionalised democracy, had to close for business.

Even our national team Likuena, on the verge of their historic first-ever AFCON finals could not make adequate preparations for their qualifying matches.

The former regime openly encouraged the renegade general to defy the King, our sole symbol of unity and uniqueness, as a nation, in defying the gazette terminating his appointment.  The institution of monarchy and our constitutional democracy was and is being continuously defied by these unfortunate political parties’ alliance and a small section of the army.

Ironically, a few army soldiers funded by this impoverished nation and in an institution manned by the sons and daughters of this nation.  Yet instead of protecting the Constitution, our democracy and institutions, the few army soldiers have turned against the citizens. This, at the behest of the LCD-DC alliance.  They have turned their guns, bombs and armoured vehicles against the very frightened and traumatized nation they are supposed to protect.

Our international friends, embassies and development partners of goodwill who had come to our country to uplift our people economically and otherwise, after nearly two decades of neglect, have taken to their heels, in fears of their safety.  With them aid and ideas have been denied this impoverished nation owing to well-orchestrated moves and intimidation by the DC-LCD alliance.


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Lesotho’s widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa. 

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