Thanks and goodbye!

Thanks and goodbye!

PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane’s long and colourful political career now looks to have reached a dead end after Parliament finally moved to oust him this week.

His own All Basotho Convention (ABC) party and the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) told the Speaker of Parliament that they have now cobbled a new coalition government.
Thabane is now set to leave office by May 22.

After five decades of service to his country, Thabane is leaving office at a time when his image and legacy have been badly soiled.
After he walked away from his ministerial position in 2006 to form the ABC, Thabane was seen as an astute politician who was determined to root out corruption in government and roll back poverty.

He associated with the poor and made the improvement of their condition his rallying cry. Many Basotho believed him. That is why thousands of people viewed him through messianic lenses.
When he was elected for the second time as Prime Minister in June 2017, Basotho still had a lot of trust in him that he would improve their lot in life by rolling back the frontiers of poverty.

But three years down the line, Basotho are a disillusioned lot. They want him out.
What went wrong?

Those who have worked with Thabane admit that while he could be a suave politician, he could also be very stubborn. It is that stubborn streak that has now proven to be his biggest undoing.
His marriage to ’Maesaiah, a woman 40 years his junior, also proved very unwise on his part. ’Maesaiah, a deeply polarising figure, was accused of interfering in government affairs.

Stories of his wife ordering around government ministers damaged Thabane’s reputation as Prime Minister. Yet instead of chastising his wife, Thabane appeared utterly powerless.
But perhaps the biggest blow came in February this year after ’Maesaiah was formally charged with the murder of Thabane’s estranged wife, Lipolelo, who was gunned down in June 2017.

That charge, essentially meant that Thabane’s position as Prime Minister became untenable within his own party. Not only was the case an embarrassment to Lesotho but it brought into question whether he was still fit to continue to hold the highest office in the land.

When his own party and the opposition called for his resignation, Thabane ignored the writing on the wall and dug in.
The result has been a war of attrition against senior figures within his own party that has severely damaged the government’s image and held back progress.

When the epitaph on Thabane’s gravestone is finally written, it will probably read: “He lies the first sitting Prime Minister of Lesotho who was brought down by his wife”.
That is not a pleasant sight.

But that is the legacy that Thabane is leaving. Years after the dust has settled, he will be remembered as a Prime Minister who had to be hounded out of office after damaging allegations linking him to the murder of his wife.

That is why the politicians must not grant him any form of immunity from prosecution when he eventually leaves office.
Thabane must have the chance to explain himself in a court of law. If the courts find him innocent, and good luck to him, he will be able to salvage the little respect that he still commands.

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