Succession talk not treasonous

Succession talk not treasonous

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane last week told a weekly newspaper that his rivals should stop jostling for his position because he was still in charge and that there was no vacancy in the premiership.
We find that statement staggering at two levels.
Here is a Prime Minister who himself told the nation that he would step down by July 31 if not earlier if his exit package is finalised. Thabane attributed that decision to his advanced age.
He said he had served the nation selflessly and felt that now was the time for him to say goodbye.
That statement only served to confirm what we knew already – that age had rendered the premier ineffectual. At 80, Thabane is fully aware that he is now well past his sell-by date. He has lost the stamina and mental agility of old.

It was that statement to the nation that effectively triggered a search within his own party for a successor.
We would like to believe that there was nothing treasonous in senior party figures expressing a desire to take over.
Thabane, however, appears reluctant to initiate a fair, transparent process to elect his successor. He still wants to have a say on who takes over the country’s biggest job.
And he is wrong.

That desire to meddle in the party’s succession process began in earnest after last year’s elective conference where his faction lost dismally to a rival group led by Professor Nqosa Mahao.
Instead of accepting the new dispensation, he began to lash out at Mahao and his group sparking a virtual split within his own party.
A year after that seminal conference, the ABC still finds itself nowhere near resolving the bitter issues that dogged the party.

Thabane must shoulder the bulk of the blame. Instead of grooming a successor, the ABC encouraged what to us appeared to be the deification of the leader. And now the party is paying the price for that failure to groom a successor.
The second point is that the issue of who succeeds him is now a party issue. It is no longer a Thabane issue. It would be prudent on the part of the premier to step out of the way and allow the party to get on with the business of selecting a new leader.

For obvious reasons, this is a process that Thabane must not lead. He should not be allowed to lead a process to solve a problem he himself created.
By deciding to step aside Thabane had made the right decision. He must now be gently eased out quietly without a fight for the sake of his legacy.
Of course, any word that Thabane says on the issue of succession will likely inflame matters within his own ABC party. His MPs are bitterly divided as to how this matter must be resolved.

Thabane must therefore not be allowed to pull the strings behind the scenes. If he is given that leeway, he would continue to govern through proxies. That would not be a nice thing.
The new sheriff in town must be allowed to drive his own agenda without Thabane’s big shadow hovering in the background.
Thabane’s critics say the premier allowed himself to be controlled by certain individuals who include his own wife.
If Thabane continues to influence who takes over as premier, there is a big chance that his garrulous wife will continue to try and assert control on the levers of power within the government.
And that would be sad.

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