May the best candidate win!

May the best candidate win!

We are watching with excitement what is likely to be an explosive leadership contest within the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party.
Last week, National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice-Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao threw his hat into the ring. Mahao will contest for the deputy leader’s position at the party’s elective conference in February.

He will likely face stiff competition for the post from Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro and the acting deputy leader Prince Maliehe.
It is highly likely that whoever triumphs in the contest will succeed party leader Thomas Thabane who at 79 is now in the sun-set of his long and illustrious political career.
That individual will also have a shot at the country’s top job as Prime Minister.

It is this obvious realisation that will likely trigger an explosive contest at the elective conference in February.
Like most of Lesotho’s political parties, the ABC has remained beholden to Thabane since the party’s formation in 2006.
The ABC is Thabane and Thabane is the ABC.

Unless the party shirks off this “cult of personality”, it risks stagnation and eventually fall into political irrelevance.
The discussion of who might eventually succeed Thabane is however coming way too late. The ABC should have had that discussion five years ago.
But that did not happen largely because there was an apparent moratorium on any talk of succession under a mistaken belief that any talk of succession was a betrayal and an attack on Thabane.
That was a mistake.

To help the party get out of the current imbroglio, Thabane must come out in the open and actively promote the discussion of the succession issue.
That would go a long way in protecting his own legacy within the ABC.
That advice is equally true for every political party in Lesotho.

Lesotho has had a few individuals who have dominated the country’s politics for decades. They are now old.
A new generation of leaders, with fresh ideas to take this country forward, must now step in.
Thabane, Pakalitha Mosisili, Vincent Malebo et al, have all done their part and must now step aside.
We are also fully aware that any electoral contest is likely to leave the ABC badly fractured.

The ABC must ensure it creates a level playing field for all those seeking to contest for leadership positions.
It must also resist the temptation to block “newcomers” into the party under the guise that “they do not bear any struggle scars”.
Such toxic ideas will drive away talent and stifle the growth of the party.

The result will be extinction. We all know that political parties that fail to implement effective succession plans eventually die.
The ABC needs all talented Basotho as long as they satisfy the party’s minimum requirements to contest. At the end of it all, the ABC must come out stronger and ready to fulfill its electoral mandate.

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