‘My people, what have I done to you?’

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Utloang Kajeno

IN the Old Testament book of Micah 6:1-4, it is said: (under the aptly titled “The Lord’s Case against Israel”,

“Listen to what the Lord says:

Prime Min Pakalitha Mosisili (2)“Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. Hear, you mountains, the Lord’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth.  For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.  My people, what have I done to you?  How have I burdened you? Answer me.  I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery”. 

In Genesis 1:27 it is said: “so God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female He created them”.  The Holy Bible then goes on to tell that the Lord God breathed into the nostrils of man the breath of life and the man became a living being.

The Bible therefore teaches us that man is created in the image of God. That whatever hardship and wrong a man visits on a fellow human being, he by extension, is inflicting that pain on God himself.  In the book of Micah, previously quoted, The Lord God urges all his earthly creations, including the mountains and the hills, to listen to His case against his people.  It is because His people have forsaken and disappointed Him both by deeds and utterances.

In Lesotho’s snap general elections of 28 February 2015, this nation reposed all powers to govern this country on Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and his six coalition partners, in the same manner that the Lord God brought his people up from the Land of the Pharaohs in Egypt, from bondage, though I hasten to add, the previous government was in no way the proverbial land of bondage.

However, within four months, all the trust that Basotho and the world had reposed in this government has all but come to naught.  Basotho have reposed governmental power in Ntate Mosisili to lead them to prosperity but all they suffer are acrimony, vengeance, violation of human rights, erosion of the rule of law and dismissals at an unprecedented scale.

Even more disturbing is the possible loss of livelihood in the form of jobs to more than 45 000 textile factory workers and their hundreds of thousands of dependents and the possible withdrawal of the second compact of the United States (US) Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCA) assistance that runs into billions of maloti.  This massive loss of jobs to these poor Basotho means that we will have even thousands more Basotho roaming our towns and villages unemployed.  The informal sector of the economy, including the retail industry and thousands of streets vendors, who contribute a lot to our gross domestic product will face virtual closure. There will be no more government revenue from this sector of the economy. The eligibility of Lesotho goods and apparel to enter the US depend on the not so stringent Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) passed by US congress on governance.

The viability and sustainability of these 45 000 plus jobs depends entirely on the huge and lucrative US market. For Lesotho to qualify to access this huge lucrative market, our country needs to promote and uphold certain requirements and standards.  These are but not limited to, governance, rule of law, independence of the judiciary, promotion of basic human rights, civilian control of the security institutions and a free press.  Lesotho has, in recent months, however, failed dismally in these benchmarks thus compelling our major development partners, the US and the European Union, to warn that they will reconsider their co-operation with this impoverished nation.

The MCA has over the years assisted Lesotho with billions of Maloti in the health, judicial, rural development, wetlands rehabilitation, national identity project and many other sectors of our development.  Again, to be eligible for this assistance, Lesotho has to meet the above-mentioned benchmarks.

Dr Mosisili, his coalition ministers as well as his party’s youth league have in the media and in international fora berated these development partners for what they perceive to be unwarranted interference in the domestic affairs of Lesotho. Obviously, this dangerous and uncalled for rhetoric from these quarters spells doom for the entire nation.  In effect, they are showing the proverbial hand that feeds us the middle finger.

The Lesotho Defence Force, under the reinstated Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli, who still has to answer for a variety of offences relating to killings and basic human rights violations, left soldiers under his watch to intimidate members of the judiciary, lawyers and the general public. There is seemingly no end in sight to the abuse and intimidation. For all practical purposes, the rule of law is under siege as heavily-armed balaclava-clad soldiers daily kidnap and frog-march their colleagues in leg-irons, in a menacing conduct before the courts. No one seems to care to rein-in the errand soldiers who have virtually become law unto themselves as mayhem reigns supreme.

To add insult to injury, all the three major opposition leaders have fled to South Africa for their safety.

This is in keeping with the Sesotho idiom that, loosely translated, means, “I will chastise the herdboy so that all his flock may scatter all over with no leadership”.  Indeed, both strategies have worked as both the judiciary has seemingly now been intimidated into submission and there is virtually no opposition in Parliament.  To all these blatant violations of human rights and of the rule of law as well as democracy Dr Mosisili has claimed there is peace and stability, the army is still under civilian control and there is rule of law in Lesotho.

Dr Mosisili is now on a crusade to cleanse key (security) institutions and government ministries as well as parastatals of all key personnel that he perceives as sympathisers of the previous coalition government.  Add to this the ominous fact that investor confidence has plummeted, prime lending rates have declined and foreign investors are taking flight.

Recently, a rally by the three opposition party youths to present a petition among others, that was urging the Prime Minsiter to restore the security situation in the country to normalcy was virtually thwarted by the police at the eleventh hour under the pretext that it would disrupt services and traffic in the capital Maseru.

What is unfortunate is that the Constitution of Lesotho, the supreme law, through which all laws have their legitimacy and validity, guarantees freedoms of the press, expression, association and right to take part in the election of government. It also guarantees that the state shall do everything in its power to ensure the courts are free from interference and indeed aided, by the government in the discharge of their constitutional mandate without fear or favour.

Under the present coalition government, the general public in general and the army and police in particular, leave in constant fear of being abducted and tortured, as well as killed with the result that no investigations are ever undertaken.  The case in point recently, is that of a prominent local business and entrepreneur, Thabiso Tšosane, who was prominent supporter of an opposition party, was brutally gunned-down conducting his daily business. To date, there has been no progress made in investigating this callous killing.

Basotho expect Dr Mosisili to be concentrating on making Lesotho a prosperous country, reducing unemployment, the scourge of HIV/AIDS and stabilising the country’s security institutions.  But lo and behold! his return to power seems to be a poisoned chalice for Basotho.

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