Thabane’s Kaleidoscope: Analysis of Lesotho politics

By Jim Solo

A YEAR and a half, almost two, have passed since the coming into power of the colourful coalition government.

Somehow, the bitter tastes in the mouths of some politicians have mellowed.

A new page has been turned, though in a short space of time it seems to be yellowing with age.
Three years before the next elections, the political landscape continuously changes colour, as though the seasons are a toy owned by a psychedelic brat.

Imagine a typical Lesotho summer where we would have early rains at the end of spring. Meanwhile, autumn is at its peak, and the leaves fall in earnest as the showers insist on the green.

Thus, we are trapped in a stagnant time warp. At the helm of government, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has is a ray of hope for some.

To others, however, the government has become a hindrance to the political and economic progress that was realised in the previous regime.

Some civil servants, ministers, principal secretaries, army officers and politicians await their fate as the prime minister goes on a rampage to clean the “dirty quarters”.

It is poignant, therefore, to echo the words of writer LBBJ Machobane when he says about Thabane that he has “traversed the ranks of the civil service, with a personality that swung from genuine mirth to friends and to utter fury against perceived enemies”.

Thabane’s supposed “reign of fury” has cast him in a grim light and as an antonym to a democracy, according to his detractors. In a country riddled with corruption and political maneuvers, however, Thabane has established a new dialogue; that of transparency.

Even when he is accused of settling old scores, many who may have amassed wealth through ill-gain are now at pains to explain the origins of their fortune.

As Minister of Home Affairs during former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s reign, and at that time with the Police Service under his control, Thabane became the Robin Hood of Lesotho, dealing with villains.
The notorious “stock thief” Makhoathi faced such fury when he was shot dead by police in a raid at his homestead.

When the coalition government assumed power cases of alleged corruption were taken to court, with some ministers who had been in the past government facing serious allegations.

Added to this, a senior judge’s legitimacy is questioned; former ministers are charged with fraud, and so many other cases emerge.

I wonder if Thabane’s partners in the coalition government in tandem with him on this quest to wipe out what he terms corrupt elements in the echelons of government?

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), which is the second largest partner in the coalition, and also the former ruling party, entered gingerly in this partnership to unseat Mosisili.

One of its ministers has been charged with corruption, and even removed from office. Interestingly enough, even with its status as the former ruling party, they make no statements for or against the erstwhile rulers.

Meanwhile, clear tensions have emerged between the army and the high office. The Prime Minister has given instructions for the dispersal of a court martial.

In the midst of this is an army brigadier whom the court martial is questioning over irregularities of practice.
In his capacity as a senior member of the army’s command, he has apparently threatened a junior captain over an alleged ouster of the army commander.

The courts of law seem vulnerable to oppressive powers, while in the cracks of this broken wall we see the need to save a failing justice system?

All these occur while an observant audience reserves its criticisms.

After many years trying to reform the police into a service and not a force, new reports are emerging of the harassment of journalists.

The principles of free operating media are left with a few favourites. Certain radio outlets that seem to promote particular political interests are given mileage, while all others remain constrained.

As power is being manipulated for the interests of the ruling few, and scores settled with old enemies, we the ordinary citizens are left to our opinions. The Prime Minister has reshuffled cabinet, fired ministers, and in the eyes of some, abused and harassed his opponents.

The former Minister 0f Natural Resources was arrested again, this time an ailing man who is unfit for such treatment.

It begs the question: What has happened to our growing democracy?

Is it a fallacy in which we live? Three parties are part of the coalition. The largest party of these, that is led by the Prime Minister, is suffering internal strife. Two ministers were recently fired from office without explanation.

The army has continued with its court martial despite the Prime Minister’s command that it disperse.
The nation swells in this tension and the high office dispels the concerns as what some might call hogwash.

And the place of the electorate remains with the ballot box, while they manufacture consent.

 

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