Fix the politics

Fix the politics

On Tuesday next week, Lesotho will celebrate its 50th independence anniversary.

Tragically, instead of uniting the nation the celebrations have provided yet another chance to drive a wedge amongst ourselves as a people.

That is why the 50th anniversary of independence has evoked different feelings among individual Basotho depending on who you speak to.

There is no denying that the independence celebrations are coming at a difficult period for Lesotho, a period that has been marked by acrimony and bitter divisions.

Yet, we wish to argue that we would be engaging in a deliberate form of intellectual dishonesty were we to posit that it has all been doom and gloom for Lesotho over the last 50 years.

That is certainly not true.

We have had brighter moments along the way as a nation. For instance, during the dark days of colonialism, Lesotho played a major role in the decolonisation agenda on the continent.

The country provided succour to thousands of liberation war cadres and refugees who were fleeing political persecution in apartheid South Africa in the early 1980s.

We also stand among the few countries on the continent where political power has changed hands peacefully. That it has happened twice is a measure of the maturity of our political leadership.

Basotho, who are generally a peace-loving people, have acquired a fairly decent level of education, thanks to successive governments’ policies on education.

But it is on the issue of how we handle our politics that we have dismally failed. There is no denying that all of Lesotho’s problems stem from politics. Once we fix our politics, we would have gone a long way to correcting what ails this country.

As we celebrate our independence on Tuesday, it is important that we put all hands on the deck in pushing for greater reforms on the political front to ensure we nurture and defend our democracy.

We must address the structural flaws that have so often impeded our national development.

As a result of the acrimonious way we do our politics, it would be tempting to start thinking that Lesotho needs yet another coalition government to address its current woes.

That, in our opinion, would be providing a very simplistic solution to what is a complex matter.

As long as Lesotho has not addressed the issues of governance and its electoral model, we believe we will still find ourselves in a cul-de-sac. We must fix the structural flaws as part of the proposed political reforms.

The singular fixation with politics and elections will not do us any good as a country though.

Because we are always in election mode, too often our leaders find themselves being side-tracked from other key governance issues such as providing basic social services to the people.

From the time we got our independence in 1966, we have never had a decade of peace. We have hopped from one crisis to another.

That must also change.

True peace is a foundation for real economic development. Look at Botswana and Rwanda.

In the spirit of oneness we wish to call on Basotho, on both sides of the political divide, to embrace a spirit of national reconciliation. We must learn from the mistakes of the past 50 years and allow this country to move forward.

We should never fall into the same vacuous thinking like the Bourbon dynasty in France after the abdication of Napoleon who “learnt nothing and forgot nothing” from history.

We must learn from our mistakes over the past 50 years and fix what is wrong for the sake of posterity. Unless we do so, we are doomed.

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