SADC flexing its muscles will have limited impact

SADC flexing its muscles will have limited impact

JUSTICE Dikgang Moseneke, who was recently appointed to mediate in Lesotho’s political crisis in its quest for stability, faces numerous challenges.
At the core of the crisis is a culture within our politics that has birthed polarization and bitterness for the past five decades.
If Justice Moseneke is to succeed, he will need all his sharp intellectual powers of persuasion to break that toxic political culture and get the feuding parties to sing from the same canticle.
This assignment will certainly test Justice Moseneke’s skills as a diplomat and negotiator.

While we as Basotho are a homogenous people united by culture and language, we have tended to blow our political differences out of proportion.
Ours are not serious ideological differences but petty squabbles centred around access to economic resources and privileges.
If Justice Moseneke is to succeed, he will need to take into account this stark reality. He will need to acknowledge that Lesotho’s extreme levels of poverty are the centre of our political challenges.
SADC will need to find a creative way of addressing the structural weaknesses within Lesotho’s anaemic economy.

SADC would be scratching the surface were it to address the issues of governance, human rights abuses and reform of the security sector without touching the fundamental issue of the economy.
The regional bloc must understand that the “cake” is small and that all our problems can be traced to this reality.
Sadly, as things stand, the opposition and the coalition government have both adopted a belligerent tone towards each other over the last 14 months since Prime Minister Thomas Thabane assumed the reins of power.

The result has been a demoralising stalemate. No side has been willing to move even an inch. The two sides must now come down the proverbial lofty mountain.
This is where Justice Moseneke comes in. He must cajole and bring the two sides together.
Of course, it would be tempting for the judge to adopt a hardliner’s stance towards the feuding parties. We do not think that would be the best route for Lesotho.

With the benefit of hindsight, the decision by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint Justice Moseneke as mediator in Lesotho, could prove to be a masterstroke.
The retired South African deputy chief justice has impeccable liberation struggle credentials and was at the centre of negotiations that gave birth to a democratic South Africa in the early 1990s under CODESA.

We would advise Lesotho’s politicians, to grab a copy of the judge’s best seller, Dikgang Moseneke: My Own Liberator, to understand who they are dealing with.
Justice Moseneke comes from a country that went through a worse traumatic period than us. He spent 10 of his formative years as a youth as a political prisoner on Robben Island. He was a member of the radical Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) that fought against oppression in South Africa.

Yet at the dawn of freedom, his PAC missed the boat. It initially refused to be part of the talks with the apartheid regime and when it finally joined in, the momentum was with the ANC.
Lesotho’s opposition parties must not miss this golden opportunity to take this country forward. If they do, they risk being confined to the dustbin of history.
It is our hope that Justice Moseneke will use his immense experience in the talks that led to freedom in South Africa to educate and persuade our own politicians here in Lesotho never to miss the boat.

He comes from a country that was a direct result of negotiations. He can use that experience to help Lesotho’s politicians understand that a hardline stance in politics will not always work.
Every political dispute will have to be resolved through negotiations.

“You see, in my view the PAC behaved like a pine tree. A pine tree is tall and firm even where there is strong howling wind. It stands erect until it is felled down and broken by the wind. We, in the ANC, were like the willow tree. It bends in the face of headwinds . . . tactics are sometimes more important than principle,” – Nelson Mandela, quoted in Dikgang Moseneke: My Own Liberator, Page 287

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