Discord not good for the government

Discord not good for the government

ATTORNEY General Haae Phoofolo last week launched an astonishing attack on a deal signed between the government and opposition to drive the reforms forward.
The deal, among other things, grants immunity from prosecution to opposition leader Mothetjoa Metsing and other individuals who are in exile in South Africa during and after the reforms.
It is this clause that has infuriated Phoofolo and many other hawks within the government’s ranks.

Phoofolo argues the agreement is a vitiation of Lesotho’s constitution “which ensures equality before the law” for everybody.
There is a sentiment that by granting Metsing special “privileges” staying his prosecution until after the reforms, the government sold out.
Phoofolo argues the government sacrificed the need to ensure justice for political expediency. He wants the deal scrapped and a new agreement cobbled up.
We have serious problems with this reasoning.

As the government’s top legal adviser, it is clear that Phoofolo’s statement runs counter to the thinking in government. This is a clear indication that they are not singing from the same hymnbook.
The discord is not good for the government’s image. We would suggest that if Phoofolo has an issue with any position taken by the government he should argue and cajole his colleagues within the ruling coalition, away from the prying eyes of the media.

If he fails to prevail within government, it does not augur well for the government’s image for him to go public with his dissenting opinions.
Phoofolo’s job is to advise the government and when the government does not agree, tough luck.
At another level, we must hasten to add that once the government pronounces its position on a matter, it is political recklessness for anyone within the arms of the government to proffer a dissenting opinion.

That is not stifling democracy and free speech. It is how things ought to work. This deal was signed at the highest levels within the government.
Phoofolo’s statement could also be a clear indication of the deep frustrations some of our politicians have with the political process to get the reforms back on track.
Of course there is no one within the governing coalition or the opposition who is saying the deal is perfect. It was give-and-take on both sides to ensure Lesotho gets on with the reforms.

We believe a huge chunk within the ruling coalition would have loved to see Metsing, seen as the man who triggered the collapse of the last coalition government in 2015, locked up.
But that would have killed the reforms which are so critical to get this country back on a path of political stability. Given a choice between locking up Metsing and fixing this country long-term through the reforms, we would go for the latter.

It is however critical that the government acknowledges the deep-seated anger the deal has caused.
It must now go on a charm offensive to convince the likes of Phoofolo and many like-minded individuals within the government that their desire to see justice being done will be respected.

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