We are – as a nation – sitting in our last chance saloon. If we bungle the current reforms process, then we are doomed forever. So, I will remain on my theme of last week. We don’t need more proportional representation (PR) seats. Instead, we must eliminate them.
I am encouraged that more and more Basotho are speaking against Ntate Pelele Letsoela’s mad proposal to reduce the number of contested constituency seats from 80 to 60 and then boost the number of gratuity seats (PR seats) from 40 to 60. This to accommodate more women and disabled people.
I repeat, this mad proposal must be resisted at all costs. If we adopt it, we are doomed forever. We cannot afford to mess up with the current national reforms process. It is the only opportunity we have to save us from ourselves.
Who in the first place appointed Ntate Pelele Letsoela to chair the National Reforms Authority (NRA). I did not know, until yesterday, that Ntate Letsoela leads something called the Basotho Democratic National Party (BDNP). In fact, I had never heard of such a party until this week? And therein lies the crux of the problem. Ntate Letsoela seems hell bent on abusing the NRA to further his own political nest. That Ntate Letsoela moonlights as leader of a political party should not have been a problem in itself. Ntate Letsoela is free to pursue a career in politics if he so wishes.
What is totally unacceptable is for him to abuse his position as NRA chair to want to give life to the BDNP through the creation of more gratuity unelected seats. The more gratuity seats we have, the more our problems will increase. In fact, if Ntate Letsoela gets his way and spirals gratuity seats to 60, the more political parties we are likely to have. That can only mean one thing; more unwieldly coalitions.
Perhaps, Ntate Letsoela knows that it is only through increased gratuity (PR seats) that him, his wife and one of his daughters or nieces can end up in parliament via the BDNP. This explains why it’s wrong to have entrusted the auspicious job of leading the NRA in the hands of a leader of a small party or even a bid party. Ntate Letsoela is clearly hell bent on using the NRA to smoothen his “political party’s” road to parliament and political prosperity. That is wrong.
I am not particularly fond of retired judges. Particularly those who have lots of white hair and drink and smoke too much. But I would have been happy for the NRA to have been led by a person with at least some semblance of neutrality like a retired, partially sober judge. We just cannot afford to bungle this process. We will live to regret it. Having the NRA chaired by a politician was also going to create the risk of having it abused to push narrow, partisan political agendas.
Basotho have already pronounced themselves on the issue of these PR seats. They don’t want them. The only purpose of the PR seats has been to resurrect dead political careers that should have long been buried and forgotten. Think of the careers of Mothetjoa Metsing (Lesotho Congress for Democracy), Thesele Maseribane (Basotho National Party), Kimetso Mathaba (National Independence Party), Thulo Mahlakeng (Basotho Congress Party), Moeketse Malebo (Marematlou Freedom Party) Molahlehi Letlotlo, and even Machesetsa, Thesele’s successor?
Ntate Letlotlo even managed to sneak into cabinet in the second Pakalitha Mosisili administration as a Minister of Social Development under the banner of something called the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC). Now tell me, where else in this world will you get a politician of Ntate Letlotlo’s calibre serving in cabinet? Thanks to PR seats, it is all possible in Lesotho.
We need reforms that enhance elective democracy. Democracy is all about people choosing their leaders. Not about MPs being brought to life via the backdoor of PR seats. Ntate Metsing for instance won only one seat in the last elections and then got 10 freebies. Where else in this world can you get such nonsense. All Ntate Metsing needs to do is retain his seat in the next elections and he will probably be back as deputy prime minister on the back of the generous gratuity seats that have sustained him for years now. What bollocks?
If he presses with his zany ideas, Basotho would need to mobilise and reject Ntate Letsoela’s mad ideas in any referendum on the new constitution. It will need to be rejected in toto. This business of creating quotas for disabled people and for women is a mad idea. Democracy is not about creating quotas. It is about creating a government based on the will of the people.
If Basotho decide their interests are best served by electing one eyed creep into Parliament, that should be their prerogative. If they decide they want an all women parliament, it should be via elections not quotas. Nothing stops any women from standing for election on behalf of a party or as an independent.
When all is said and done, democracy is best served by electing competent people based on their knowledge, education and ideas. These must be selfless people who have the interests of the people at heart.
We need democracy for economic development. And to achieve development, we need coherent government. The PR seats have only bred unstable and purposeless coalitions which are a drain on our body politic.
Another mad idea from Ntate Letsoela is his proposal to tighten the criteria of ousting a prime minister by requiring a two thirds majority instead of a simple majority. Where is Ntate Letsoela’s getting all these wacky and zany ideas from?
What if because of the intricacies of our electoral system we end up with a skunk as prime minister in the future? Or in the words of Rodrigo Duterte (the Philippines President), we get a son of a b***h as prime minister in the future? How will we get rid of him or her if the criteria of changing premiers are tightened? The reason being advanced for tightening the criteria of removing a prime minister is to try and secure the tenure of any sitting prime minister. That is a load of bollocks. Doesn’t Ntate Letsoela know that politicians like him are like diapers and they should be changed as often and for the same reason? Just imagine if we get a Kamoli like prime minister who will begin a killing spree and we then cannot remove him because of a tightened threshold? We will all perish.
Any prime minister must secure his tenure through delivery and hard work. In fact, what is needed is a loosening of the criteria to make it easy to remove incompetent premiers. Imagine if the plan to make it difficult to remove prime ministers had already been in place? We would still be stuck with Lady Dee, much to our detriment.
PR seats are at the core of the instability in this country because they make it possible for every Tom, Dick and Harry to slither into parliament. They have made it impossible to produce coherent single party governments elected on policy merit. They should be done away with.
Someone ought to remind Ntate Letsoela that Basotho rejected PR seats during stakeholder consultations. They have also voiced their contempt for these seats in the scientific surveys carried out by the respected AfroBarometer institution. For Ntate Letsoela to now want to abuse his position to foist more PR seats down our collective throats – perhaps as the best way of bringing his nyatsi into parliament – equates to unforgivable treason.
Yes, Basotho mem have brought much havoc and suffering on this nation and in individual homestead. But that does not justify wacky proposals. I am even opposed to the idea of forcing parties to field more female candidates as proposed by other analysts.
Our focus must be on making politics attractive for good, competent and selfless people. This can all be disabled candidates without feet or whole legs. It can all be skinny or large women with heavy behinds. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is whoever they are, must be products of free, fair democratic elections and not Letsoela quotas or gratuity seats.