False diagnosis, wrong prescription

False diagnosis, wrong prescription

REPORTS that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane sent an emissary to offer Professor Nqosa Mahao a diplomatic post in Brussels is yet another vivid illustration of the politics of poverty now at play in Lesotho.
The stunning revelation could also reflect how far some people within the party are likely to go to push their agendas while at the same time neglecting to address the fundamental issues that are threatening the stability of the party.

By seeking to send Mahao to “political Siberia”, the Thabane camp hoped to knock out the Mahao group which has proven to be not just an irritant but a formidable threat to their grip on power.
But Mahao, an astute professor of law, saw through the charade and rejected the offer off-hand. He told this newspaper last week that he is not a child who can be bought by mere trinkets.

It is sad to note that Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) party has spectacularly failed to resolve a bitter leadership row that broke out in February.
With each passing day, we have seen the two sides harden their positions as they spew vitriol against each other.
While the mudslinging in going on, we find it strange that there is a group within the Thabane camp who think political opponents who are raising genuine issues can be bought and silenced through trinkets.
They must not see Mahao as an irritant.

By offering Mahao a diplomatic post, it would appear Thabane and his backers within the ABC see the professor as the source of their grief and would therefore want him out of the country, pronto.
If that is so, then they are missing the point.
That false diagnosis could also lead to the wrong prescription. As we have argued in previous editorials Mahao and his camp are not the problem.

The issue is the party’s apparent lack of adherence to democratic principles.
Unless the party deals with the fallout of the February elections that saw Mahao and his backers seizing control of the National Executive Committee, the dispute might never be resolved.
By failing to resolve that leadership wrangle, Thabane risks failing to put the party back on a strong footing before he hands over the baton. The consequences for the party will not be good.

At 80, Thabane is in the sunset of his long and illustrious political career. It is therefore obvious that the issue of leadership renewal has become extremely urgent for the party and for his own legacy.
As a party that purportedly upholds the tenets of democracy, it is imperative that the ABC respects electoral outcomes, whether internal or national. The will of the people must be seen as sacrosanct.

Thabane can therefore not be allowed to handpick his successor.
The successor must come through a credible, democratic process that reflects the will of the majority.

Thabane must also realise that he does not “own” the ABC despite playing a pivotal role in its formation in 2006.
That means he cannot be allowed to ride roughshod over the will of the majority.

While this back and forth is going on, the Mahao camp is under tremendous pressure. It might not survive this onslaught unless the camp is united.
There are already rumours of behind the scenes manoeuvres to buy individuals from the Mahao camp. The next few weeks and months will provide a stern test for the Mahao group.

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