Dr Fako Johnson Likoti
RECENTLY, we have read with great interest the political analysis by Professor Mafa Sejanamane, whether on his Lesothoanalysis blog, Tweeter, thepost and Lesotho Times newspapers. He has been very scathing and prolific in condemning the current coalition government’s performance since it took over administration of the country. However, some of his criticisms even went as far back as 30 August 2013. He does not only challenge the democratic standing of the current government but its governance record. It is these issues that I will address for now.
Professor Mafa Sejanamane
Once upon a time, the professor was an active member of the All Basotho Convention (ABC). He became an office bearer after being elected to the position of deputy publicity officer that is if I recall very well. His boss was one Thabo Thakalekoala who later became our former prime minister’s able spokesperson. My point here is that sometimes I fail to comprehend whether he makes political analysis as a professor or as an ABC propagandist. This stems from the fact that his political analysis on governance issues in this country is so paralysed, to the extent that one begins to wonder why a man who studied political science for nearly 10 years at various universities can be so biased in his views of political events. I expect better than this paralysis of analysis from our esteemed professor.
He correctly alluded to the strength of our democracy in Lesotho and the fact that we went through peaceful democratic elections in 2015, which were recognised by the whole world as free, fair and credible. I agree with him on this point. Democracy is regarded as indispensable and is very special. It is special because it is put forward as the main reason why we should obey the rules and laws of political systems. We obey these rules because they are democratically made. Most SADC countries these days are fully democratic. Democracy is understood and respected by all. In fact, in a democracy, coups are not allowed. There are no foreign interventions. Governments are only removed through elections and not by regional interventions. After all, the current political science readings inform us that democracies do not fight democracies. It is a fallacy to expect that a regional body like SADC can be so thoughtless to send a foreign army to disarm the Lesotho Defence Force.
Professor Sejanamane makes an assumption in his latest Lesotho analysis that President Jacob Zuma was even suggesting that he will send an army to come to Lesotho to disarm what the professor terms lawless soldiers. That would be a declaration of war of which there is not even an iota of evidence to suggest that. Lesotho and all SADC member states enjoy cordial relations. Therefore, talk of war is far-fetched. Lesotho does not have lawless soldiers. We have a highly professional army which has become the envy of the region of which Basotho are very proud. Foreign armies can only come if the current government makes such a request. No foreign army can come to Lesotho without government endorsement. To even assume that this can happen is not only wrong but just a figment of his imagination that will not happen.
He talks about Lesotho being sanctioned, and that the government will collapse within a month. My advice to him is this government will complete its mandate of five years. So he might as well get accustomed to that reality.
Maybe some regional examples would suffice here. Take the current ongoing civil war in Mozambique that started in January 2016 where over 100 people, including Members of Parliament have so far died. Have any sanctions been imposed on Mozambique? Two Mozambican independent papers recently published extracts from interviews conducted on purported members of the country’s Special Forces Rapid Intervention Unit. They claimed that they carry out extra-judicial executions of the government’s political enemies. The Star of 29 March 2016 claimed that the two gentlemen even alleged that they have orders to eliminate opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama.
In fact, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Malawi is currently housing more than 12 000 refugees from the Mozambique civil war. The Star newspaper also claims that refugees at the Kapisi refugee camp on the Malawian-Mozambican border have told the NGOs that Mozambican Defence and Security forces carried out summary executions, rape and burning of houses and barns in their villages. The leader of the official opposition is languishing under house arrest as we write. We do not see any SADC army going to Mozambique to disarm that country’s military. So where does the professor get this wild imagination that SADC is going to disarm members of the LDF?
Despite these terrifying developments, Mozambique has managed to keep itself off the SADC agenda. But what is clear is that Mozambique needs SADC help more than any other country in the region.
The Republic of Seychelles pulled out of SADC in the early 2000s and is back again. The last examples that I will like to give is that of Madagascar, which governed without SADC support and many people were killed during the coup in that country. I do not want to give examples of Zimbabwe or Angola. But the above is just a sufficient illustration of the fact that these myths that the professor is propagating will not happen in Lesotho.
Government fear of Lt-Gen Kamoli
In a democracy, when a prime minister takes an oath of office, this simply means that he or she will follow democratic rules and protect the independence of state institutions under his watch. This does not mean he has to fear them. After all, governance processes dictate that the buck stops with him. For a person of a professor’s calibre to allege that the premier fears a head of a government institution is not only mischievous but downright embarrassing. Firstly, Professor Sejanamane accuses Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of supporting army commander Lieutenant-General Tlali Kamoli’s unconstitutional refusal to leave office after being dismissed by Dr Thabane. What is interesting here is that, at the time of the purported dismissal, Dr Mosisili was in the opposition and was not even the leader of the opposition. The question is how did he aid Lt-Gen Kamoli in not accepting his dismissal? Maybe we should be told how he did this.
The fact of the matter is the last government was a coalition just like the current one. Even a first-year political science student knows that coalitions are based primarily on consultation and trust. The principle of consultation in a coalition government is sacrosanct. It is the foundation of this type of government whether in Europe, Middle East or even in Lesotho. Coalition governments thrive and fall on this principle among many. There are many examples in Israel, Germany, Switzerland and India.
Just because the current Constitution of Lesotho was myopically written on this issue without clearly explaining the workings of a coalition government, the professor claims that Dr Thabane had a constitutional right to fire Lt-Gen Kamoli unilaterally. Even Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi says so, a strange phenomenon indeed. That is not how coalition governments operate. A prime minister should consult his coalition partners at all times on major issues such as the removal of the army commander. This principle must be adhered to whether the ABC likes it or not.
This paralysis of analysis must be challenged and the public should not be given this poison. Lesotho had gone for an early election just two and half years after the successful 2012 elections because of this misguided thinking. Elections are not cheap and the country had to spend over M400 million because of this skewed thinking. This type of paralysed analysis should not at all be countenanced by well-intentioned people in this country. Dr Thabane was wrong in dismissing Lt-Gen Kamoli without consulting his coalition partners since he could not act unilaterally in a coalition government.
The claim that Dr Mosisili fears the wrath of Lt-Gen Kamoli is not only big joke, but an embarrassment, from a person of a professorial status. How can a PM fear a mere civil servant like Lt-Gen Kamoli? This is where we query whether Professor Sejanamane is making this claim on behalf of ABC or he just elected to make a skewed analysis. It is this type of paralysis of analysis that one will expect from a low level politician, not a political scientist. Lt-Gen Kamoli is a mere civil servant. He has no power or even constitutional status to order any government around.
All state institutions are legally bound to stick to the laws of the land. That is what institutional autonomy is all about. Maybe we should revisit our political philosophy and democratic readings. People like James Steward Mill and Johns Locke among others can be of great assistance here. The coalition government cannot be analogous to civil servants. It is far above them. It cannot be reduced to Lt-Gen Kamoli’s level. It is this reductionism that I find most unfortunate.
Prime Minister Mosisili and Lt-Gen Kamoli alliance
Professor Sejanamane also alleged that Dr Mosisili established an alliance with Lt-Gen Kamoli. In political science lexicon, there is no such an alliance between a political party leader and an individual let alone between a serving prime minister and a civil servant. Where the esteemed professor got this from is baffling. The 2014 Maseru Security Accord that was administered by SADC mediator, South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, and signed by the head of the Lesotho Armed Forces, Political parties, Christian Council of Lesotho and NGOs, clearly stated that, the next 2015 February government was going to make determination about the fate of these three individuals.
Subsequent to the 2013 Maseru Security Accord, Lt-Gen Kamoli became a mobilising issue among political parties vying for political office. That is if we still believe in democracy. ABC and its alliance parties (note the proper usage of the word alliance), stated clearly, to their supporters that if elected into office, they would reinstate Maaparankoe Mahao and former police commissioner Khothatso Tšooana while the Democratic Congress (DC) and its alliance parties preferred Lt-Gen Kamoli. Congress parties were duly elected on that mandate and there was no secret about this. Voters voted for the DC alliance on that basis. They knew and expected a DC-led government to reinstate Lt-Gen Kamoli. The February 2015 elections came. Of course the rest is history. Is this where the so called alliance comes from? I hope the professor still recalls these events clearly. It is a mistake and politically incorrect to claim that the current prime minister is in an alliance with his civil servants. He is their boss and he will remain so until the end of his term.
From coup d’état to attempted coup
Since November 2014, most people in government started complaining that Mr Ramaphosa did not address security challenges in Lesotho. These people who were complaining were not in opposition but in power. What was surprising has been that they were even claiming in their rallies that Lt-Gen Kamoli had toppled their government on 30th August 2014. Strange enough, the government then, did not prefer charges of this heinous act in a democracy to Lt-Gen Kamoli but agreed to sign the Maseru Security Accord. Even after losing elections, their song was “Kamoli toppled our government”.
Both Professor Sejanamane and Dr Thabane have now termed the events of 30 August 2014 as an attempted coup. Professor Sejanamane hastened to argue that the South African government was not going to countenance a coup in their midst. In the Lesotho Times story “Thabane vows not to return until Kamoli is fired” (24 March 2016) the former PM stated that “If SADC does not provide me with security the way they did after the coup attempt (of August 2014), then those soldiers will surely assassinate me once I am back in Lesotho.” So now the narrative has changed from coup to attempted coup. We may recall that after the opposition realised that they had failed to form government, they started selling the coup and security story to everybody. They claimed that Lt-Gen Kamoli must be charged for high treason for toppling a legitimate government in August 2014. By the way, even the Phumaphi report said so recently. This is amazing indeed.
Among all these claims of coups and attempted coups, nobody gives us the essential elements of an attempted coup. We all know that attempted coups must be resisted by revolutionary means or by force of arms. All these were not attainable during that period of the purported coup. If the professor and company can at least give us the characteristics of an attempted coup at least we would put this matter to bed. If only he can expatiate how that military operation qualifies as the attempted coup.
What we know and what most people do not want to talk about was the impending bloodbath that was going to ensue on 1 September 2014 during the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and its congress alliance parties march for lifting prorogation that was so undemocratically evoked by the former PM had the army not mounted that operation of disarming some police elements in the Special Support Unit (SSU). It is wise to discuss developmental issues rather than these imaginary coups and attempted coups.
The aid thesis
The professor now ventures into another controversial issue of aid. We all know that aid is fungible. It is a highly contested terrain. You win some you lose others. For example, in early March 2016, Lesotho got the highest aid from the US government for combating HIV/AIDS. I wonder what is going to be said this time around. We have won now, tomorrow we might lose, and who knows and life goes on. Of course we want to win aid all the time, but it is not always the case. We may recall that the professor’s leader and our former PM, never discussed the HIV/AIDS pandemic in his rallies, it was a taboo.
To be fair to our former PM, he never said anything of substance in his rallies. He is a very amusing character who immensely enjoys entertaining his followers. Never talks about policy or developmental issues apart from looking down on women. In other words he lacks the substance and political finesse of a mature politician.
Death of Westphalia State Sovereignty.
I’m really shocked by the Professor’s paralysis of analysis. He is suggesting that state sovereignty is dead. But we all know that despite the ravages of globalisation, the state sovereignty has resisted. Otherwise why are we consistently urging countries to elect leaders in free and fair and credible elections? To rule who? Over what? Of course the Westphalia state has been altered, but not to the extent that the 600 war changes that brought about the Westphalia treaty is totally meaningless today. I think the professor has lost the plot here. The state sovereignty has stubbornly resisted globalization and its regional relatives. SADC will never impose itself on Lesotho or even appoint, dismiss any army general. That is entirely in the hands of the Lesotho government not as the professor suggests. SADC respects the sovereignty of Lesotho and that will not change. But SADC is here to assist Lesotho by all means. That does not at all mean it will dictate to Lesotho, Basotho and their government. Professor Sejanamane must understand this clearly. The Westphalia State Sovereignty is very much alive today.
In conclusion, let me put it clearly to Professor Sejanamane; Prime Minister Mosisili has no fear for anyone but God and the Constitution of this country and its nation. He does not need your good wishes but respect which the Constitution of this country demands from you. So keep your good wishes to yourself, but respect is what you morally must give to everyone in this country rather than misleading them and making paralysis of analysis.
Dr Likoti is the Adviser Economic and Political Affairs to the Rt. Hon Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho