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No-confidence vote: Where are the electorate’s interests

by Lesotho Times
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RECENT developments in the country, following the much-publicised attempt of a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane have highlighted, yet again, the disturbing tendency by some African leaders to desire more time in power no matter how long they have been in the saddle. More about this later as I would like to start with the character who has been at the centre of this so-called vote of no-confidence.

I am not sure how many people in this country take Jeremane Ramathebane seriously except of course those who joined his march prior to the 2007 national elections where he promised widows of mineworkers the cash that is still supposedly held by the mining companies their husbands had toiled for. In hindsight, many of the visibly frail widows could be regretting their decision to join the ill-fated march.

Still, he has been able to garner enough votes to become an MP by proportional representation on two occasions. That should give you all the information you need about some of the voters Lesotho richly possesses. In my view, preying on the gullibility of unsuspecting citizens is an ungodly injustice.

As the nation wonders how Ramathebane has become the ring leader in the attempt to turn the tables against the coalition government, many of us cannot help but think he is just a front for certain individuals in the august house.

Those who harbour the real interests in the government’s collapse appear to be taking the back seat, yet the spoils will be theirs should the dream become a reality. It is public knowledge that a plan for a new cabinet was already being hatched. The old scars of the opposition failing to form a government, despite being the majority party, were about to receive a fresh coat of dressing.

The name of former Premier Pakalitha Mosisili has of course been forwarded as the one to take over in case the Ramathebane-led motion succeeds. Reading one of the local newspapers recently where Mosisili was interviewed, he stated he would not mind taking over again as Prime Minister and even cited examples of those who left office but later made a return. While he may claim that other parliamentarians approached him before bandying his name around, the fact that he agreed simply shows the man from Tsoelike is still hungry for more. If I had been Prime Minister for 14 years, I am not sure what would prompt me to want to extend this period. We are talking almost three terms at the helm in our five-year term system. No leader, no matter how long they stay in power, can accomplish everything. In fact the longer they stay, the less they normally achieve as some tend to become complacent, knowing they will probably get a fresh mandate no matter how inefficient their governments may be. Meanwhile the hapless masses would be watching helplessly as their so-called leaders loot public resources with absolute impunity.

If Mosisili thinks he did a good job leading His Majesty’s government for so long, why can’t he just protect his legacy and stay out of the murky waters of politics? Could it be that he reflects he hasn’t left a proud record and wants to make amends? What exactly does he want? Even my retired mother was befuddled when I visited home recently. I am trying to get into his mind; something obviously extremely hard to do as I am certain he also cannot get into mine.

Mosisili missed Leabua Jonathan’s record twenty-year rule by just six years. Could he be driven by the desire to beat that record?

Unfortunately, we in southern Africa live relatively close to a 90-year-old president in the name of Robert Gabriel Mugabe who, despite hobbling towards his 100th birthday, may be an inspiration to many of his counterparts that as long as they feel healthy and strong, they can cling on despite the many howls of protest to clear the way for young blood or fresh ideas. Such apparent hunger for more is often justified by the “my-people-still-need-me” mantra; the syndrome (a curse even) which afflicts many leaders on this continent.

When Mosisili passed on the symbolic torch to Thabane in the cold Setsoto Stadium almost two years ago, he received local and international accolades for being an exception to some of the African leaders who would rather witness bloodshed than handover power.

That his name is now part of the move to unseat Thabane will not gain him many friends and he risks shedding a lot of the respect he had earned. The agitation of the youth from the three coalition partners at the grounds of parliament during the time when this pot was simmering does not augur well for peace.

Many of those who dipped their fingers in ink with the idea of a change in government may fuel unrest, and the volatility and explosiveness of 1998 still remains fresh in some people’s memories. I wish some of these parliamentarians could project their outlook further than the tips of their noses or they may wake up to discover that Maseru has once again been razed to ashes. We surely don’t want this.

We might justifiably then ask in whose interest this vote of no confidence should be entertained. While parliament statutes allow it, I am not sure it really has anything to do with the general public. If we dig deeper we shall discover that many of those behind it simply have their eyes widely fixed on the many government positions that will be available, inclusive of the lucrative perks, should it be successful.

It is a scramble for the self and nothing else; very much driven by individualism and self-interest as opposed to the public good. Ask how this proposed change will put bread on the tables of many in this country; how it will create employment for those hopeless citizens whose certificates have turned into mere decorations in fancy wooden frames; how it will help the child who daily walks a return trip of over 10 kilometres to access a school; how it will help that remote villager finally see a road reach their village and put a stop to the humiliating desperation of transporting the deceased on horseback; and how it will fight corruption.

We had beamed with satisfaction upon noting that our Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences had been given back its teeth and had started his biting spree in earnest. These are the real issues which affect the general public and I am yet to hear any of them mentioned as catalysts to the groundless vote of no-confidence.

Perhaps some of those in the opposition benches also harbour the hope to embarrass Thabane as the Prime Minister whose term never lasted even more than two years. That, as well, has nothing to do with me or the ordinary citizen trying to make a living out of nothing. The citizen who would rather look forward to their cows’ dung since at least if offers hope that there will be free fuel to cook the same unchanged diet their children are daily subjected to.

Yes, the real voter has no stake in this no-confidence vote which some parliamentarians seem to regard as a matter of life and death while actually pursuing their own personal interests.

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