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Stop the catfight

by Lesotho Times
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FOR the past three weeks we have watched in horror as the country teetered on the brink of political mayhem. The country was virtually on knife-edge.

We saw how opposition political parties, emboldened by Sir Ketumile Masire report, sought to take on the government on the streets.

The government of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, which the opposition accuses of crass arrogance, refused to bow to the opposition demands.

In fact the government told the opposition parties to “go hang”.

We feared the worst under those circumstances.

From our assessment, the indefinite stay-away called by the opposition this week, flopped. Thousands of government workers ignored the stay-away which has since been called off.

There are important lessons that we can all draw from this week’s events.

We would be grossly irresponsible as the media if we were to fail to sound a word of warning to political leadership of the country.

The first lesson as a nation is that we must proceed with caution in dealing with the volatile issue surrounding the dispute over the proportional representation seats.

We are happy that the government and the opposition have begun a process of dialogue to deal with the election dispute.

We think it is critical to deal with that issue so as to avoid a repetition of the 2007 political imbroglio.

This is what the government and the opposition should have done in the first place.

But it is still not too late to begin dialogue in the search for peace.

The second lesson is that we need to change the manner we do our politics in Lesotho.

Moshoeshoe I, the father of our nation, was a brilliant statesman. We owe our survival as a nation to Moshoeshoe’s brilliant diplomacy.

But it would seem we have learnt nothing from our great ancestor. We have on the whole miserably failed to live up to Moshoeshoe’s lofty ideals.

Is this why we seem to be a nation at war with each other?

It looks like we have over the past four decades entrenched and perfected the politics of acrimony and confrontation at a great cost to our long-suffering people.

When Masire was asked which side was difficult to work with during the dialogue process the former Botswana president is reported to have jokingly said: “Basotho are difficult.”

In the first place why would we need foreigners to come and mediate in a simple dispute such as the one we have been grappling with?

We should be humble enough to sit down and talk to our political rivals for the sake of peace.

Even the worst of political enemies sit on the same table and talk.

We gain nothing as a people from doggedly pursuing the politics of acrimony. Now is the time to bury the hatchet and give real dialogue a chance.

It is easy for the government to gloat over the spectacular failure of this week’s stay-away.

The temptation for the government would be to want to rub it in and tell the opposition that “we told you so”.

We hope the government will resist that temptation and accord the opposition some dignity to save face. This is not about point-scoring. It is about doing what is best for the country.

Our politicians must harness all their powers and strengths for the national good.

There are a lot of issues in our country that are desperately crying for attention.

Our political leaders would do a lot of good if they stop these cat-fights and concentrate on improving the general lot of the people.

Thousands of our people are wallowing in abject squalor.

Some do not have clean drinking water in their homes despite the country exporting the precious liquid to South Africa.

Twenty three percent of our people are infected with HIV, thousands others are unemployed and live on less than one United States dollar a day.

Isn’t it time that our political leaders stop the catfight and concentrate on delivering on the real issues affecting Basotho?

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