Stop being petulant

Stop being petulant

ELSEWHERE in this issue, we carry a story about opposition parties lashing out at SADC over its decision to deploy troops in Lesotho.
In intemperate language that betrayed their lack of decorum and decency, the opposition leaders basically accused the SADC standby force of being an “invasion army”. The opposition’s argument is that the SADC-driven judiciary, security and civil service reforms do not require the presence of foreign troops in Lesotho.

The parties are now threatening legal action to block the deployment of the SADC troops. Democratic Congress spokesman, Serialong Qoo, for instance, said the troops that are in the country “had been sent to Lesotho by friends of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane”.

Lesotho People’s Congress Secretary General, Bokang Ramatšella, said the fact that there had been no resistance from the Lesotho Defence Force shows that there is no need for a foreign force. We think the opposition is missing the point. It would be an act of duplicity on the part of the opposition to argue that there are no security challenges in Lesotho.

Lesotho’s recent history, particularly after the events of August 30, 2014, clearly shows that this country has been going through political turbulence. We should be debating how we fix the challenges.

SADC, which has stood with Lesotho for years, is now trying to assist. We should not spurn this opportunity.
To project the SADC troops as “Thabane’s friends” who have been sent to Lesotho without the blessings of the regional bloc is a big public relations gaffe of monumental proportions on the part of the opposition.
If the opposition continues to stick doggedly to this narrative, they risk being dismissed by the international community as petty and petulant. They will simply lose the propaganda war.

The decision to deploy troops to Lesotho was arrived at a SADC summit. If the opposition is not happy with the decision to deploy troops to Lesotho, they must pursue the diplomatic option by seeking to influence a change in perception among the SADC leaders.
That to us, unfortunately, is coming too late.

The deployment of the troops appears at present irreversible. This in no way minimises the genuine complaints by the opposition.
Chief among their complaints is the perception that the Thabane-led administration has been on a relentless witch-hunt to arrest and harass opposition leaders under the cover of fighting crime.

Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, and his deputy, Tšeliso Mokhosi, are as a result languishing in exile in South Africa. The two fled the country claiming their lives were in danger.
The opposition argues it is not prepared to cooperate on the SADC-driven reforms until their leaders feel safe to return home.

As we have argued in previous editorials, the government must go all out to ensure the reform process is as inclusive as possible. That is what the opposition must be pushing for. That should be their focus. It must secure its interests during the reform process. To seek to scuttle the reform process would be self-defeating. To seek to scuttle the reforms through litigation will also not endear the opposition to SADC which has gone out of its way to assist Lesotho for years. Its patience must be wearing thin.

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