Likoti’s insults demean PM’s office
Nthakeng Pheello Selinyane
PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Economic Political Advisor, Dr Fako Likoti, is in the habit of taking liberties of entering the fray of political debates, which is beyond his call of duty; and also insulting our respected public figures and statesmen in the press. We are aware of his terms of reference, which are universal in developed jurisdictions where this creature was copied. None of such officers engages in public combat with politicians, activists, and religious opinion leaders – that is, beyond occasionally clarifying the reasoning behind policy choices, at the behest of his/her principal.
Yet Dr Likoti would seem to be a loose cannon, acting of his own volition, and on a streak of raw, partisan political emotions. I thus conclude because it would be both disappointing and frightening if the prime minister either sent him to do the same or sanctioned the contend of his insolent salvos. The latest is his intervention in the respected statesman and former National Assembly speaker Sephiri Motanyane’s interpretation of the controversial pact of the then faction of the Democratic Congress (DC) and the opposition bloc with a possible inclusion of other parliamentary parties (“Motanyane should enjoy his retirement”, Lesotho Times 8 December 2016).
Dr Likoti might have an opinion on matters political, but that is beyond his call of duty outside the four walls of the prime minister’s office, which vocation constrains him to stay out of this turf, the way it does the members of the security forces. As a student of statecraft, he should know better, but he has led an ultra vires and dirty-handed intrusion of servants of this office in this sphere. The temptation to play a part in the factional wars of the main ruling party has gotten the better of him. While claiming to be non-partisan, he spoke as if he was a member of the Democratic Congress in an interview with a local English weekly earlier this month referring to its former deputy leader Monyane Moleleki and his followers as “rebels”.
Despite his formal certificates, Dr Likoti also sees himself as wearing the mantle of the state, as ruling together with Dr Mosisili; hence in his address to the Alliance of Non-State Actors (ANSA) which should have been addressed by his boss, he kept saying “we are working on that…”, the same manner of speaking adopted by the prime minister’s Senior Private Secretary Mamello Morrison. Perhaps the advisor takes himself as a collective in the royal sense, for even in his combat of Ntate Motanyane, he refers to himself as “we”. Engaging the statesman’s “distorted observations” and “so-called expert advice to the current speaker” in relation to the “anti-Mosisili alliance” Dr Likoti needlessly and conveniently says of Ntate Motanyane, “indeed your brain has seen better days”. If this is not an outright insult of a so verily revered man, then I don’t know what constitutes such.
For one in such high office to insult in the media one of the nation’s elders who has just left such elevated office without blemish, it shames the country among nations. In rebuttal of claims that transfer of Mr Moleleki from being minister of police to being a minister in the prime minister’s office was a demotion, Dr Likoti said in that memorable interview that this was in fact a promotion to the highest political office in the land and could be seen as a sign of grooming Mr Moleleki for succession. I don’t care whether Mr Moleleki needs grooming, but the import of this statement that if Dr Likoti resides by call of duty in that office as an adviser then returns to thus insult the elderly statesman that is Ntate Motanyane it, it speaks very ill of us as a nation among nations. What do the remaining resident embassies and the United Nations envoys in Maseru take us for?
Dr Likoti also accuses the former speaker of bringing “distorted facts” and “fallacious facts”. Yet Ntate Motanyane was merely asked of what was happening, and never injected his own facts in the narrative. But it is Dr Likoti who infuses distorted facts here in order to achieve the objective of swearing at the statesman, charging that “you are tired and your account of facts cannot be rational”. This goes straight to suggestion of infirmity. Ntate Motanyane did not leave the office of speaker “some years ago” but in February 2015. To suggest that a person who entered parliament as the youngest legislator in 1965, and returned from 1993 – 2015 cannot advice the incumbent speaker because he served in that office as captain for two and a half after serving is at best balderdash.
As one with at least a formal certificate in political science, he should be in a position to know multiple political systems and their professor without entering parliament. Such is the status of the Commonwealth professors who have been intermittently fielded here to assist us with such affairs. In any case, what is the value of experience when you are a “spoiler” speaker that the like of our incumbent and Baleka Mbethe of South Africa? If our courts functioned like those of South Africa, I suspect National Assembly Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai would be sharply excoriated by the bench the same way that Ms Mbethe was this year done by the constitutional court of the republic for blocking the implementation of the remedial measures ordered by the Public Protector against President Jacob Zuma. In our case, the then acting justice ruled in a case of Ms Motsamai and the BNP in the sixth parliament that parliament was a separate sphere whose actions the courts didn’t have to interfere with. Dr Likoti further claims that the statesman is too far down the line to claim any knowledge of parliamentary procedure. Oh, now the statesman even knows nothing at all, despite his cumulative 27 years in parliament, including being deputy speaker and speaker?!
Dr Likoti has thrown consistency or logic, what matters to him to disparage the former speaker at all costs, in an unbridled and anti-civil fashion, including smearing him with outright falsehoods, from the prime minister’s office for that matter! At Ntate Ntsukunyane Mphanya’s funeral, Ntate Mosisili said Ntate Motanyane was one of the people who inspired him as he was growing up. Is Dr Likoti not too far down the line, in statecraft and age alike, to so use the prime minister’s office to stage unsolicited onslaught on the statesman?
Dr Likoti further reprimands Ntate Motanyane to stop being “mischievous”, and not abuse his freedom of speech – a warning that is usually spared for the seditious or peddlers of naked insults and hate speech. This is the threat issued at the authors of the “anti-Mosisili alliance” pact by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing recently, which has caused Dr Likoti to proverbially rear his ugly head against the statesman. For a student of political science to interpret a procedure for testing the firmness of government, even change it, as an inimical alliance, is emotional and impulsive act, which is contrary to social science; and it is via this route that Likoti arrives at heaping denigration on the statesman. Just like the deputy prime minister, Dr Likoti also says the statesman acts like one with an intent to destabilize the country. Dr Likoti’s political activism makes him lose track of logic, but again this does not seem to be the commodity his trades in. He can simultaneously charge that as a speaker Ntate Motanyane didn’t act on the DC-LCD agreement to form a new government to replace the first coalition government of 2012, and yet he recognizes the Moleleki-Thabane deal which was cobbled by only a section of the NEC of the DC; yet he can only remember that the 2014 deal of the LCD and DC was never brought to parliament, it was similarly done in the alleys of Maseru and not in the House.
To close, I don’t think the statesman is infallible, and I don’t think he is even earthly beyond reproach; but I think the office of prime minister should not be used by his advisor to heap insults on our elders of the stature of the former speaker. I have avoided referring to Dr Likoti as the prime minister’s “political and economic” advisor because I think he is neither, i.e. not capable of comprehending either politics or the economy, but I have not come anywhere near insulting him the way he did the statesman and our national elder. I might not even care if that is how Likoti would like to be remembered, but I care that he does that from the highest political office, and the prime minister would seem to tolerate if not applaud that.