Kudos to the premier
PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane’s address at his weekend All Basotho Convention (ABC) party rally in Mafeteng must be welcomed by all patriotic Basotho who want stability and development in our beautiful but troubled nation.
Only an individual who has just landed from outer space would be ignorant of the fact that ours has become a nation whose tendency to shoot itself in the foot has become a cause for concern for our regional and international counterparts.
For far too long, our instability has been an item on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agenda to the extent that the exasperated regional body has given us up to May 2019 to have fully implemented constitutional and security sector reforms.
For this to happen, the government must play its part by bringing the opposition and other stakeholders to the negotiating and implementation forum.
This is something that the government cannot accomplish when its constituent parts, namely the governing parties are divided within and among themselves.
For the past few months, all peace-loving Basotho held their collective breath and feared for the worst as senior officials from main ruling party, the ABC publicly tore at each other like rabid mad dogs.
We saw ministers having a go at each other over policy issues, including how mines and other resources should be used for the good of the nation.
Last weekend, it was the turn of the party’s chair, Motlohi Maliehe, to rip into a fellow cabinet minister and the Prime Minister’s wife, ‘Maesaiah Thabane.
Such was the acerbic nature of Mr Maliehe’s unprecedented attack that Dr Thabane reportedly issued an unprecedented response of his own.
It is said that Dr Thabane stated that Mr Maliehe should pack his bags and be gone by the time the premier returned from an international engagement in Sudan.
Mr Maliehe who is also Tourism minister- had according to Dr Thabane- fired himself from both party and government with his caustic remarks at his rally in Butha-Buthe.
And for a good measure, the premier reportedly said that those who shared Mr Maliehe’s views were free to follow him out of the party and government.
Not surprisingly the nation was on the edge when Dr Thabane returned home and announced that he would hold a live address to the nation on television. When nothing untoward came out of that address, the worst was still expected to come from his rally which was held over the weekend.
However, what followed is something which should be celebrated by all who hold the peace, stability and the progress of this country dear.
There was none of the expected vitriol and Dr Thabane did not froth at the mouth while denouncing real and imagined foes within the party and government.
His was a conciliatory speech, imploring all the party members to self-introspect, bury the hatchet and work for the good of the country.
He admitted to mistakes in tackling challenges the country is facing. He conceded to the burning anger and divisions within his party.
Most importantly there was no finger-pointing at Mr Maliehe or anyone else. The premier did not even bring up the First Lady’s name and tell those who do not like her to go to hell as he has suggested at previous rallies.
His, was instead a plea for forgiveness from the long-suffering public for the government’s failures when it came to service delivery.
“To err is human’” he said.
“Exchanging angry words on radio by the leadership is a clear sign that we have lost the plot even though we have been entrusted with leading the government,” he added.
More significantly he spoke about the urgent need to “put the house in order” so that the real work of delivering on the electoral promises can begin.
In the end the rally did not become a requiem for the political careers of those party officials who had dared to publicly differ with the premier and his family.
We can only hope that same spirit of reconciliation can be carried over and guide the party and government moving forward.
The business of the day is to kick-start the reforms process and this is not a task that can be accomplished by a government that is at war with itself.
We have a lot to lose from the failure to implement the reforms. It is for this reason and this reason alone that we welcome the statesman-like conduct of Dr Thabane.
The media may have been deprived of the juicy stories of strife and conflict that so often sell newspapers and generate hits on the internet but who can complain when a rally is about nation-building?
The Lesotho we want is one which can stand tall among its peers, boasting peace, stability and development.
It is a Lesotho which can only come when its leaders look beyond self-interest and we hope what we witnessed over the weekend signals the beginning of that kind of statesmanship.