Deal with the issues

Deal with the issues

PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili last weekend delivered an impassioned plea for unity to his comrades in the Democratic Congress (DC) party.

The special conference in Maseru came at a time when his DC party is going through turbulence with rival factions fighting to position themselves for a strike at the country’s biggest job.

In an emphatic speech to party delegates, Mosisili said he was prepared to step down for the sake of the unity of the party.

Mosisili reminded the party faithful that he was still in charge not because he is a power-hungry demagogue but because they had begged him to stay on.

To deal with the succession issue, the Premier advised the party delegates to call a special conference to elect a new leader.

We agree.

This was by far Mosisili’s most robust call to heal the party that has been torn by infighting and factionalism.

We are not sure though whether the party will succeed in healing itself given the manner of how the divisions have played out in the public.

It would appear that a lot of mudslinging has been allowed to go on within the DC to the extent that even the party leader himself has not been spared from the heckling and insults from supporters.

Much more will need to be done for the party to heal. But that will only depend on the party allowing unfettered debate on the contentious issue of succession which we believe is at the root of the DC’s troubles.

Senior officials within the DC have told this newspaper that while there was a semblance of unity at the conference, the burning issues that had hogged the limelight over the past couple of weeks – factionalism, the succession issue, allegations of corruption and the general squabbles in the party – were conveniently not discussed at the conference.

There was a big risk that the conference could degenerate into violence and chaos if those issues were tackled last weekend.

What this means is that the DC merely postponed issues that might come back to haunt the party if they are left unaddressed. The party must set up another date to deal with the issues on the table.

Unless it does so, observers might conclude last weekend’s conference was an opportunity that was lost.

While we admit it would be next to impossible to tackle all the issues given their importance, the party could at least have come up with indicators of how it was going to move forward to deal with the matters.

The reality of the matter is that the DC is grappling with a major crisis. Experts in crisis management say the first rule under such a situation is to admit there is a problem and only after a correct diagnosis would a solution be found.

For us the diagnosis points to the issue of succession. This is time for the party to stipulate in its constitution how power is transferred from one leader to the next.

The DC does not have the luxury of time given the magnitude of the problems it is facing. It must tackle the issues or risk fragmenting.

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