Selialia missing the point

I AM responding to the views expressed by your columnist, Fetang Selialia, in the Lesotho Times weekly column “As I see it” which appeared in your issue of April 9-15 2009. 

In the column Selialia laments the lack of political vibrancy in Lesotho and ascribes this to the hegemony of one political party which he blames for stifling the political breathing space.

In paragraph two of his column he further maintains that the situation is the same in Lesotho as it is in many other African countries “the current trend in Lesotho sees the dominance of one political party…predictions foresee a further dominance by that party.”    

The columnist goes on to suggest that ruling parties in these states, whom he deliberately omits to mention by name, have to make the political space freer for others to participate in, apparently with the resultant objective of making the political climate more transparent. 

I would like to deal with these points in an attempt to bring some clarity to their structural weaknesses.

Firstly, it is erroneous to suggest that the ruling party, Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), is hegemonic without citing any specific examples to back the claim.

Since Selialia does not make any attempt to provide any proof for his assertion, we are left with no choice but to treat it as nothing but a mere opinion.

My humble view is that opinions must have a basis on which they are founded if they are to be given any serious attention.

But in our case the columnist puts us in a difficult position to debate with him intelligently because he fails to provide us with the basis from whence his opinions emanate.       

Secondly, for Selialia to blame the woes of less successful parties on the success of others who are working hard is less than fair.

If I understand Selialia’s intended but obscure meaning well — and I am subject to correction here — political vibrancy that he is referring to relates to a process where all parties have the right to participate in all democratic processes through open and  transparent campaigning, participate in elections and assume office if elected.

If that is the case, Selialia would be well reminded that this is exactly the kind of political dispensation that we have sought to nurture both in word and deed.

It would be a sad indictment on the LCD and its leadership that we are today seen to have stifled the democratic political breathing space.

Nothing could be as detached from the truth as this opinion.  

Our success at offering the electorate a choice that the opposition seems unable to match can hardly be blamed on the LCD.

It is not our fault; it is our strength.

To us this is democracy at its best. We are convinced that it is in no way contrary to the creation of a healthy climate in which other political players also have the opportunity to vie for the electorate’s vote just as we do.

This is not a miracle; it is just working hard and making a positive difference in the lives of all our people. 

Thirdly, Selialia’s sweeping statement that ruling parties all over Africa are hegemonic and domineering is again misleading.

He does not say which African country or countries are these or what kind of political systems these countries use that make them so hegemonic and domineering.

Again, in the absence of concrete proof for his claims, Selialia’s opinions render themselves unworthy of intelligent argument.

They are not facts and as such cannot be argued for or against. They can only be criticised.       

The democratic credentials of the LCD are well-documented and need no further elaboration.

We are deeply committed to the ideals of political pluralism where all parties have an equal and unfettered chance to participate in the shaping of political consciousness; to democratic principles which dictate that we accept defeat as graciously as we embrace victory; and to freedom and equality without which man’s existence on earth is nothing but a nightmare.   

Let Selialia further be warned that there are hidden “Third Forces” whose origins are surely not African which are active in sowing the seeds of discontent in the African political psyche.

These “forces” are not just questioning the issues that Selialia raises in his article but are insinuating that former liberation movements are an impediment to social and political change in Africa simply because they consistently record landslide victories in general elections.

These biased insinuations make a mockery of democracy. It is in our interests as Africans that we jealously guard against these malicious encroachments which selectively interpret democracy when it suits certain geopolitical interests.

In closing, let me state that I truly enjoy debates such as this one that Selialia has ignited.

It is good for our intellectual growth and good for our democracy.

Likhomo Basotho!                         

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