Thabane should act fast

Thabane should act fast

THERE is no doubt that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane is an astute strategist who honed his skills in the most vicious political battles over more than a half a century.

He was there when Leabua Jonathan’s Basotho National Party ripped the constitution and stole power.
He was there when Jonathan was toppled by the army.
Thabane was there when Major General Justin Lekhanya was later toppled by his own army.
Since then, he has seen Lesotho return to democracy (1993) and then tip into chaos (1998).

The Basotho Congress Party ruled for a while before it was undone by internal fights that birthed the Lesotho Congress for Democracy which became government and an instant political powerhouse.
He formed the All Basotho Convention (ABC) in 2006 when even the most insightful politicians and political scientists did not think it was possible to dislodge a congress party from government.

Today he is in his second stint as prime minister, having tactfully outwitted his nemeses.
To do that, he has cobbled alliances with congress parties, first the LCD and then the Alliance for Democrats.
Who would have thought that Thabane will ever join hands with Monyane Moleleki to form a government?
The exponential growth of the ABC over the past decade is what has bought a chair at the highest table. Yet we should not underestimate his abilities as a politician.

But something seems to have changed about him since he returned to power in June 2017.
Although he remains a hugely popular figure and has not lost his powerful oratory skills, Thabane seems to have slowed down a bit. He seems always raring to go on but age seems to have slammed the brakes on his behalf.

A younger Thabane would not have allowed himself to be caught up in the factional fights that are tearing the ABC apart. He would have either whipped the factions into line or forced them to make peace before things got out of control.
The Thabane of five years ago would not have had his name mentioned in connection with a particular faction in the party. He has always steered clear of the power battles in his party.
And even when he had a dog in a fight, he somehow managed to keep it to himself, lest he be accused of rooting for another team.

Today Thabane stands accused of having pushed the party to the edge of a precipice.
Although he is still venerated, there is evidence that his grip on the ABC is weakening faster than he would want to admit. The young turks in the party are openly challenging him.
He faces a rebellion that could undo his legacy.

The role of saving the party remains his as the founder and leader. He should rise above the factional fights and allow the current battle to unfold as he waits to be the uniting force that he has always been in the party.
He might not have the same energy he used to have but he sure still possesses the wisdom to help his party ride over this storm and emerge stronger. It’s not too late for him to save his party from what looks like an imminent split, but time is fast running out and the damage is spreading.

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