Keep eyes on the ball

Keep eyes on the ball

PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili last weekend suggested Lesotho could go for a general election next year to unlock the country’s current political logjam.
Mosisili spoke at the Democratic Congress (DC) party’s special conference where the party suspended deputy leader Monyane Moleleki and nine members of the national executive committee. Having decisively crushed a palace putsch organised by the rebels, a defiant Mosisili appeared to be in a very strong position to re-assert his control of the party. The High Court victory last week and the decision to suspend Moleleki and crew appears to have caught his foes off-guard.

Mosisili told delegates at the special conference that if he fails to keep the coalition government intact, he will call a fresh election sometime next year.
Sadly though, a fresh election appears to be the only way out for Lesotho at the moment. Such an election would come at a huge financial cost for Lesotho.
Monies that should have been used for social development programmes to uplift the standard of living for Basotho will, unfortunately, have to be channeled towards the election.
Perhaps, the best idea would be to combine the local government elections, which are due next year, with a general election to choose a new government. But the cost of the election is not our biggest concern.

Our biggest concern is that the proposed election next year might have to be conducted under the same electoral conditions that have brought us where we are right now.
The result is likely to be the same: another coalition government that will likely face the same challenges as the previous two coalition governments. That would be tragic.
While politicians might haggle over who should lead, we are of the humble view that we should keep our eyes on the ball. As we have argued in previous editorials, Lesotho’s political problems boil down to structural flaws in our institutions of governance.
The proposed constitutional and legislative reforms will effectively take care of these concerns.If Lesotho fails to focus on the reforms, then it is doomed.
However, given the current toxic environment in our politics any reforms done by the current coalition government to the exclusion of dissenting voices in the opposition will likely not receive universal acceptance.

We are of the opinion that an inclusive government must be set up to create an enabling environment for the reforms. No one side can afford to go solo on this matter.
The new constitution must devote more time to providing guidelines on how to manage a coalition government, which is a new phenomenon in Lesotho’s politics.
The failure of the two coalition governments set up in 2012 under former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and the current one formed in 2015 suggests we have a lot to learn in this new sphere.

Political parties across the divide must cast their ideological differences aside and make the reforms their main agenda.
Lesotho needs a strong, progressive and modern constitution to protect its democracy. We need a new constitution with enough checks and balances to ensure we have a thriving democracy.

The building of a new constitution must not be a rushed process. We must take our time to tie in all loose ends.
The current crop of politicians owe it to future generations to set Lesotho on a firm path to democracy and development. If they manage to put together such a national law, they would have done this great country a world of good.

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