Restraint and compromise key
DESPITE spirited assistance from the SADC region, Lesotho seems to teeter from one crisis after the other. The political logjam which has seen three opposition leaders fleeing the country is finally coming to a head and the regional bloc will not be able to do much about it.
Elsewhere in this edition, Home Affairs Minister Lekhetho Rakuoane has made an impassioned plea for opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) to end their boycott of the legislature, warning that it would plunge the already volatile Mountain Kingdom into another crisis.
This was after opposition MPs had vowed not to parliament when it reconvenes later this month unless their leaders are back from exile and army commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli is no longer in office.
Their three leaders, former prime minister and All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader Thomas Thabane, Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ‘Maseribane, and Reformed Congress of Lesotho leader Keketso Rantšo have been living in South Africa since fleeing the country earlier this year claiming members of the military were out to assassinate them.
For a while, it seemed that Dr Thabane and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili were secretly working out a deal that would ensure the former premier and other opposition officials would return safely. However, from the look of things, the rapprochement seems to be dead in the water. This is more so apparent considering that both sides are digging in and taking more hardline stances.
The contending sides have set terms for each other that would be difficult to acquiesce to without losing face. The opposition bloc has made Lt Gen Kamoli’s ouster a precondition for their return to parliament, while the government continues to detain the 23 LDF members suspected of mutiny despite the High Court ordering their release.
Unfortunately, the quagmire of a political crisis we are lurching towards will be intractable even for the ever dependable SADC. If the opposition MPs continue to boycott parliament and National Assembly Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai is compelled to call for by-elections, it would be a crisis of epic proportions. Not only would another round of elections be a waste of acutely limited resources, the risk of politically-motivated violence and instability would also increase.
Meanwhile, the tag of instability would continue to dog this nation, scaring away potential investors and stymying economic development. Lesotho is already lagging behind other countrie in terms of many development indicators.
As Dr Mosisili’s Political Advisor Dr Fako Likoti rightly noted, it would be a lose-lose for all parties involved. After all, the electorate was unequivocal in their expectations of their elected representatives during the campaign period and the 28 February 2015 general elections.
They want jobs, development and service delivery. Another bout of disputed elections is unlikely to achieve that result.
However, while the opposition deserves some flak for not actively finding a solution to this ticking time bomb, government is also at fault for not meeting the other party halfway.
Their recalcitrant approach is unlikely to elicit a favourable result from their political foes. What Lesotho needs is leaders from across the political divide who choose to put the nation’s interests first. It is apparent there are no angels from both the government and opposition sides, but that should not stop genuine reengagement for the sake of our impoverished nation.
As a nation, we have no choice but to work on strengthening our democracy. The process is certainly not a sprint, but a full-fledged marathon. They will be pitfalls and drawbacks, but none that can justify returning to the era of autocracy.
After all is said and done, only through restraint, engagement and compromise will our seemingly formidable problems be resolved.