Monaheng Joseph Mahlatsi
IN contemporary Lesotho, we hear more about the issue of holding a National Dialogue at schools, colleges, and radio stations. We also read about it in newspapers and electronic social media. We watch it in both national and international television programmes. More importantly, there are different reasonable legal and political justifications of this cardinal event. The call for the holding of a National Dialogue and its various justifications is indicative that Lesotho is in dire need of social transformation that is imminent.
Given that there are legal and political justifications for holding a National Dialogue, philosophical justifications seem to have been overlooked. Indeed, legal and political justifications on their own are not enough without philosophical justifications. If the justifications remain legal and political only, the envisaged social transformation through National Dialogue will remain rhetoric. Therefore, the aim of this article is to give a philosophical justification of holding a National Dialogue in Lesotho. The article will not discuss legal and political justifications.
The situation on the ground
Change is certain. Winds of change are indeed blowing strong and wide in Lesotho. The driving force could be Justice Phumaphi’s report that culminated into the recommendations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) that are well known. Perhaps, there could also be unnoticed supernatural or metaphysical change behind the observed physical change.
The formation of the new coalition government known as “4×4” following the recent national assembly election on 3 June 2017 certainly pronounces this change and with it comes big dreams and expectations on the part of the people. But looking beyond, we are confronted by two interrelated parameters that are even greater and more threatening, which are underpinning the picture given above. On one hand, it is definite that government cannot realize this big dream of holding a National Dialogue and other big expectations for us on its own. On the other hand, our unkind history has molded us into a society that is truly sick, torn apart and stripped of its true Botho (humanness), identity, unity, peace, love, hardworking and productive characteristics.
As we stand, we are a society that is characterized by ailments such as lack of faith and good spirit, self-centeredness, greed, fear and desperation, anger, hatred, crime and corruption, laziness and disillusion as well as separation amongst us as one people. In a nutshell, we are a society stripped bare of its moral and ethical values. Given that the government cannot afford to bring social change on its own, it needs partnership with stakeholders such as political, educational, legal, civil, religious, business, traditional and youth to mention a few.
Chances are high that with this kind of partnership, we will be able to realize our big dreams and expectations together for the well-being of our nation. Indeed, there has to be a concerted effort that is to be made to transform our people for the better, to nurse them back to life, torment of the past and renew our moral and ethical values that are based on Botho. In this regard, a National Dialogue is necessary as proposed by many people inside and outside Lesotho.
The philosophical justification
It is not an easy task to determine what is bad or good, right or wrong. The reason is that, what is bad or good, right or wrong is subjective. That is to say, what is bad or good, right or wrong according to one is not necessarily bad or good, right or wrong according to another person. For example, what is bad or good according to a politician or Lawyer is not necessarily bad or good according to a Philosopher. However, the existence of the subjective thinking does not mean that the objective thinking does not exist. There are many things which are objectively bad or good. For example, hatred is objectively bad in itself and by itself while love, justice, peace, patriotism and respect are both subjectively and objectively good in themselves and by themselves.
The holding of a National Dialogue in Lesotho is both subjectively and objectively good hence it is worth doing. According to the Utilitarian point of view, an action or behavior is good as long as it maximizes the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people. In other words, an action is good as long as it promotes the well-being of people. On the contrary, an action or behavior is bad as long as it produces pain or suffering. There is no doubt that the holding of a National Dialogue will promote the well-being of people and reduce pain and suffering.
The dialogue will maximize the greatest pleasure for the greatest number of people if it could be more inclusive than representative for the purpose of giving all Basotho the opportunity to determine the new Lesotho they want. The Basotho people should have enough time to discuss their similarities and differences so that they may identify and agree on what is not needed and needed for their well-being. Put simply, they should determine their way of life. The dialogue by itself will reduce pain and suffering that is felt amongst the Basotho people. At its climax, it is hoped that the National Dialogue through consultation will produce a National Transformation Charter and Code of Good Morals and Ethical Values that will map the way forward. This will add more value to the national well-being.
The philosophical justification of the holding of a National Dialogue is that it will promote the well-being of the Basotho people as well as to reduce pain and suffering that prevail in this country. Indeed, Lesotho is desperately in need of social transformation that requires a National dialogue. However, the government cannot afford to do it on its own. It needs partnership with all stakeholders from the beginning of the transformation process to the end. The holding of a National Dialogue in Lesotho should be the first step towards a true and sustainable social transformation.
Bothopele Foundation Mahlatsimojo7230@gmail.com