Kindly stop messing-up Lesotho

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UTLOANG KAJENO

 

THIS is an open letter to Communications, Science and Technology Minister, Khotso Letsatsi and to the writer using the pseudonym, “Lefokotsane” following the publication of the articles, “Government dismisses security concerns” and “US envoy better off restraining himself” in the Lesotho Times, June 4, 2015 edition.

I normally do not like responding to parochial, myopic and brazen politicians but their utterances merit a timely response because if not arrested, they will ensure this country hurtles down the precipice to oblivion. Indeed, when seagulls follow the trawler they think sardines will be thrown into the sea but that is only a red herring.

Honourable Minister, you are reported in the article as saying the security situation in Lesotho was being “blown out of proportion”, insisting the rule of law still subsists in Lesotho.

“Mr Letsatsi told the Lesotho Times that it was ‘absolutely not the truth’ that the country was now in ‘a state of lawlessness’, pointing out such claims were only meant to create confusion among the people,” read the article.

Rights group Transformation Resources Centre (TRC), Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (LCN), Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL), European Union and American Embassy are among some of the organisations that had expressed concern at the country’s “worrying” security situation.

Fortunately, Mr Minister, the leader of your coalition government, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, is reported prior to appointing new ministers, to have requested every potential minister to submit their curriculum vitae. I therefore presume Sir, at least to be way beyond tertiary education such that undoubtedly you will easily grasp the unfortunate consequences of your remarks, being the government’s chief spin doctor.

Kindly be reminded, Mr Minister, that rule of law is universally defined as nomocracy, the legal principle that law should govern a nation, not individual government officials. It primarily refers to the influence and authority of law within society, particularly as a constraint upon behaviour, including the behaviour of government officials. Rule of Law means supremacy of the law and embodies the absolute predominance of regular law, so that the government has no arbitrary authority over the citizen; the equal subjection of all (including officials) to the ordinary law administered by the ordinary courts; and the fact that the citizen’s personal freedoms are formulated and protected by the ordinary law.

Mr Minister, the doctrine of rule of law is concomitant with the principle of judicial independence. The latter principle is defined as “the capacity of the courts to perform their constitutional function free from actual or apparent interference by, and to the extent that is constitutionally possible, free from actual or apparent dependence upon, any person or institutions, including, in particular, the executive arm of government, over which they do not exercise direct control”, according to the authoritative Australian Law Journal (1995).

Mr Minister, these rights groups, namely, TRC, LCN, CCL and lately the National University of Lesotho (NUL) community as well as the EU and American Embassies are worried about the erosion of the rule of law and judicial independence, yet you boldly chastise them.

The Lesotho Defence Force soldiers (LDF) have virtually in the past month been, without due process of law, abducting, torturing and sometimes taking their handcuffed colleagues to court in leg-irons, denying them legal representation. Dr Mosisili is likely to have witnessed these events court while attending court as a witness in another trial.  Medication and visitation by close relatives and friends were also being denied by their captors.

Some LDF members have also been accused of storming the Courts wearing balaclavas and insulting as well as threatening court staff and the general public.  In fact, they once stormed into a judge’s chambers in this fashion.  The Courts are the last bastion of human rights protection and freedoms and if they are intimidated, we are doomed as a nation. Do you, in all fairness, Sir, call this rule of law and judicial independence?  Are not the courts being intimidated?

Surely, on the basis of the above, retract your statement, being an avid Christian, as I know you.

Sir, you go on declare: “We cannot engage in how the army deals with its rogue members. We should keep this in our minds that we are talking about a disciplined force here. They have their own way of disciplining themselves.”

Mr Minister, for lack of a better reference, and with respect, this is utterly unacceptable.  No one will ever care to believe that because you know fully well you are being disingenuous. Is it discipline when the army takes over prisons from correctional service personnel?

The Constitution of Lesotho, 1993, the Supreme Law of consistent with and therefore derives its legitimacy, provides under section 19: “Every person shall be entitled to equality before the law and to the equal protection of the law.” On the basis of these Sir, how do you justify the supremacy of the Lesotho Defence Force Act, 1996 over the 1993 Constitution?

Sir, a prominent businessman and opposition party supporter, Thabiso Tšosane, was killed in a heinous act of brutality and three prominent opposition leaders flee the country to escape murder, you say government is concerned about the lives of every Mosotho and assure the nation that government is going to meet these leaders to ensure their safe return home.

Sir, your government withdrew the police security detail to former premier Thomas Thabane a few weeks back. Days prior to the snap general elections, Deputy Prime Minister Mothejoa Metsing vowed in public, holding aloft his lebetlela (traditional fighting weapon) that all those against him will take to their heels with the new government hot in pursuit.  How can the same government now turn around and ensure their safety.  Incomprehensible! Sir, is the dog wagging the tail or the tail wagging the dog?  Is this not a typical case of the hounds running with the hare?  I reckon it is, Sir.

Sir, I guess as a protocol in the public service, now that I imagine you have realized the folly of your unfortunate statement, as the government’s spin doctor, it is appropriate to minute this letter to your Executive Secretary, for onward transmission to “Lefokotsana”, who appears to be a die-hard Congress loyalist.  Just kindly send this copy to him and warn him strenuously not to commend but just to note it, as already his unwarranted baseless attacks on the American Ambassador Matthew Harrington is likely to land this impoverished nation in serious  trouble. Granted yes, Lesotho is a sovereign country but violation of human rights like war crimes, transcend international borders, Mr or Ms “Lefokotsane”, you must know this.

Lefokotsane, please keep your unqualified support for congress politics to yourself. Your views are laden with brinkmanship and kamikaze-type politics. To say they are suicidal is a misnomer because you might dangerously take the whole nation down with you.

Sir, you are reported as saying: “The ambassador goes on the try to hold Lesotho at ransom by claiming that “…. These are issues that should be accounted for as they would be considered by December when the Millenium Challenges Corporation Board reassesses, the eligibility of Lesotho for a second compact….”.

You go on the claim; “If Ambassador Harrington is already lobbying his government not to endorse Lesotho’s eligibility just because he supports Dr Thabane and his ilk, let him do so, and our democratically-elected government will do its part.

For heaven’s sake “Lefokotsane”, cast your mind back a little to 1986 or years just prior to that.  You will notice that, Dr Leabua Jonathan, former Prime Minister of Lesotho, was arguing that he has opened the borders, while South Africa’s apartheid government, a minnow by American standards, had closed its borders. Within hours his government had been toppled by the Lesotho Army.

Sir, do you know that if America sneezes then the whole world, including Japan, EU, China and the Asian-tiger economics catch a cold or is it a flu? Sir, how naïve and anti-Lesotho can you be?

For your information, there is what the US calls the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). That piece of Legislation ensures duty-free entry of goods into the large and lucrative US market of goods from the rest of the third world, Lesotho, included.  Between 35 000 and 45 000 textile workers and their dependents depend on AGOA for their survival.  What will you, “Lefokotsane” do if they all lose their livelihoods just because you decided to show the US the middle finger.

The bedrock and cornerstones around which AGOA, is guaranteed, “Lefokotsane” are ensured to continue in Lesotho, thereby sustaining our public servants’ salaries, because Southern African Customs Union (SACU) has virtually varnished, health services, textile industries and the rest of the rule of law, governance (include eradicating corruption) transparency, human rights and democratic principles.

“Lefokotsane”, I will never argue with you, because with people like you at the helm of this country or worse still, the ideas you propagate this impoverished nation will perish before our very own eyes.  You are the rabble-rouser of the highest order.

In conclusion, Mr Minister, as an avid Christian read: Zephaniah: 3:19-20:

“At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you.  I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honour in every land where they have suffered shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home.  I will give you honour and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your every eyes”.

As for “Lefokotsane”, also read Exodus 4:21 and 8:1-2 “The Lord said to Moses, “when you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do.  But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go”. 

“Then the Lord said to Moses”, go to Pharaoh and say to him, “This is what the Lord says: let my people go, so that they may worship me.  If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country.  The Nile will teem with frogs”. 

Perhaps these Scripture will be seminal to your future political arguments, and you will disseminate to the rest of your brethren.

 

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