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‘Lesotho needs to avoid Mugabe scenario’

by Lesotho Times
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Pascalinah Kabi

THABA-BOSIU Principal Chief, Khoabane Theko, says the new constitution should impose a two-term restriction on the office of the prime minister to promote democracy and prevent a Zimbabwe-style scenario which allowed that country’s President Robert Mugabe to remain in office for almost four decades.

Speaking at the opening of the second meeting of the first session of parliament on Tuesday, Chief Theko said it was important for Lesotho to enact laws that would preserve democracy for future generations and ensure the country does not go the Zimbabwean route of instability caused by having long-serving leaders.

“Our constitution is silent on the tenure of the Prime Minister and as a country we must enact a law that specifically states that an individual can only be prime minister for two terms to avoid a situation like that of Zimbabwe where President Mugabe is now moving to make his wife vice president,” Chief Theko said.

President Mugabe (93) has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980. He had appeared on course to appoint his wife, Grace to the vice presidency and possibly to succeed him after the recent dismissal of Emmerson Mnangagwa from that position.

However, this has likely been forestalled by the army which announced early yesterday that it had taken over power.

Zimbabwe introduced a new constitution in 2013 which imposed a two-term limit and Mr Mugabe was returned to power for what was the start of a likely two terms in office in terms of the constitution.

However, he may not finish his first term which was due to end next year after the army reportedly placed him under house arrest after taking over in the crisis-ridden southern African nation.

Mr Mugabe’s looming ignominious exit will bring the curtain down on a controversial career which was tainted by human rights violations including the violent and deadly expropriations of land that was owned by the country’s then 6000-strong white commercial farmers.

Opposition supporters were also tortured and subjected to various forms of intimidation and violence to coerce them to support the nonagenarian leader and the country’s economy virtually collapsed under his watch.

And Chief Theko also urged Lesotho to continue with its own reforms to avoid such scenarios.

He said last month’s post–election national dialogue that was organised by the Lesotho Council of Non-governmental Organisations (LCN) should resuscitate the long-drawn out multi-sectoral reforms process.

Lesotho committed to constitutional, judiciary, security, public service and media reforms that were recommended by the 2015 Southern African Development Community (SADC) Commission of Inquiry.

The SADC Commission of Inquiry that was headed by retired Botswana judge, Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi, was set up after the then Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, asked SADC to probe the fatal shooting of former Lesotho Defence Force commander, Maaparankoe Mahao.

Lt-Gen Mahao was fatally shot by fellow soldiers on 25 June 2015 just outside Maseru. The Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) subsequently announced Lt-Gen Mahao was resisting arrest when he was killed, which the family has dismissed as untrue.

The 10-member commission carried out its investigations between 31 August and 23 October 2015 and recommended, among other things, the multi-sectoral reforms.

Chief Theko also implored the Upper House to consider a law that would make King Letsie III the Commander-in- chief as part of efforts to de-politicise the army.

He also said the Council of State was rendered a toothless dog by former Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, who bypassed it in March this year and advised His Majesty to call for snap elections which were subsequently held on 3 June.

This was after Dr Mosisili and his then seven parties’ coalition government had been defeated in the 1 March 2017 no confidence motion in parliament.

“The former PM misused his powers, went straight to His Majesty to endorse the decision for fresh elections, wasting millions of money,” Chief Theko said.

“It is time senators asked tough questions like ‘why the Council of State was rendered powerless and cannot we correct this through the reform process?

“Council of State members are in the pocket of politicians and this must be corrected,” he said.

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