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Molapo calls for ‘smart politics’

by Lesotho Times
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Home Affairs minister says the BNP, LCD and ABC can “comfortably” win the next parliamentary election in 2017 should they decide  to merge and contest the poll as “one strong party”.

Tsitsi Matope

The deputy leader of the Basotho National Party (BNP), Joang Molapo, says the three ruling parties can “comfortably” win the next parliamentary election in 2017 should they decide to merge and contest the poll as “one strong party”.

Chief Molapo, who is also the Minister of Home Affairs, told the Lesotho Times in a wide-ranging interview this week that should such a merger take place, the BNP and its government partners namely the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and All Basotho Convention (ABC), would enter the election a formidable force capable of mustering the required majority seats to remain the country’s government for another five-year term.

However, Chief Molapo said while such a move would be a significant political development that could promote more collaboration at government level and other areas, the situation would demand the concerned parties to “deal with their egos”.

One of the major advantages of such “smart politics”, he said, would be the fact that the parties are already working together — a test the BNP stalwart said they could pass if they all prioritised the interests of the nation.

The BNP, LCD and ABC formed a coalition government after the 26 May 2012 general election had failed to produce a single party with the required 61 minimum
parliamentary seats to form a government on its own.

“There are so many positive arguments around how, if the coalition government decides to form a merger at party level, this would help bring diversity in thinking, which is supported in both local and international quarters. If you look at the numbers in terms of constituencies and Proportional Representation seats, we can comfortably win with a two-thirds majority. However, this can happen if our egos are kept out of the way and also if there is that greater understanding that the political landscape is changing locally,” Chief Molapo said.
According to the minister, “long-term strategic thinking” would be needed to make the political merger happen.

“In its simplest form, (ABC leader) Prime Minister Thomas Thabane can lead the new party for the first four years and after that, when the party has settled, we can go back to the structures and decide who takes the country forward,” Chief Molapo said.

While there are chances that this might not happen soon, it would be a matter of time before such a development happens naturally, the BNP deputy leader said.
“As seen by the current coalition government, we are also moving towards a scenario where political parties might need to merge to become stronger, more effective and competitive. Importantly, our situation could be telling us that there is strength in numbers.”

Chief Molapo further said the changing global political trends were a result of the new socio-economic demands, which require a different way of thinking.
“They are based on the deepening understanding of new knowledgeable societies that now understand the role they play in shaping and deciding the qualities of governments they need. This is what now makes the art of politics unpredictable and even more demanding.”

Chief Molapo further said while it was going to be difficult for some political parties to understand that the art is no longer that of “I would rather fail on my own”, it is only building individual parties in a smart and innovative way or going the collaboration and partnership way that would help create competitiveness and relevance.

“I think people are becoming smarter and what it would take is greater ability to understand the significance of what is right in front of them. Right now, we are on the verge of a major political transformation in our country. This is because all the leaders of the four major political parties, the coalition government parties and the Democratic Congress (DC) have somehow interacted and some of them were once one entity before. The LCD and BNP are from the era of post-independence politics and the other two, the ABC and DC, were born from splits in the congress movement.”

The political changes, he further explained, would continue with the new, future political understandings formulated on the current working relationships between the different parties.
“What happened in the past is no longer impacting on how we relate to each other now as political parties and certainly not in the future. We have outgrown the past and what defines us now is our refusal to be programmed into carrying over a negative historic past. That is why we now have a coalition government. We understand that although we are different political parties, our supporters are not fighting each other.
“What we have become is a people who think through our problems and dared to formulate a coalition government, which some negative people have described as water and oil that can never mix. At this point in time, I can say we might disagree on some issues yes, but we are working together,” Chief Molapo said.

He also noted while there is criticism of the coalition government in some quarters, it was also clear from the current dispensation that the electorate would not keep following certain individuals blindly as was the case in the previous elections — but would follow ideologies.

“I think many people now can see through mere rhetoric. They understand the advantages of having a government that provides more space for the exploration of a multitude of diverse ideas. It’s also good to note that people can even comment about certain appointments of senior civil servants because they know they have a say in governance issues and prefer competent people or those with proven track records.”
Chief Molapo also said the current “open-minded and analytical sort of society” had placed quality leadership skills and good governance at the centre of the current political dispensation.
“Our current situation demands that we have high-performers in our government because without the right people, that would affect all aspects of our development programmes. Failure to emphasise on quality

leadership at ministerial level, can also affect how we contemplate decisions.”
According to Chief Molapo, the people have a critical role to play to ensure the politics of the country continue to become more and more performance-based.
“Our politics should also be about empowerment and problem-solving innovations and not spoon-feeding schemes that perpetuate poverty,” Chief Molapo said.

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