The end  of an era

The end of an era

PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili resigned last week after a thumping loss in the June 3 election. That loss could potentially end Mosisili’s long and colourful career in politics. Having presided over that shambolic loss, it is clear that the sun could be finally setting for Mosisili.

As reported elsewhere in this issue, the Democratic Congress (DC) secretary general, Semano Sekatle, says the party will carry out a thorough post-mortem to establish what went wrong.

It is also clear that the party miscalculated badly in the run-up to the election particularly in the manner it handled the issue of succession. As a consequence, the party has now paid heavily for its indiscretions.

Even after Parliament passed a no-confidence vote against the government, Mosisili and his backers in the DC were still confident they would retain power in an open election. It was a gamble which they have now lost.
Having been in power since 1997, critics say Mosisili’s biggest fault was his failure to groom a successor and discern when to hand over power.
The bitter succession issue fed the numerous power struggles that played out in the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and later the DC. The absence of a clear succession plan has proved the DC’s biggest Achilles heel.
The party has dithered over the succession issue over the past decade. Nothing much has come out of it in what the party says is a mark of respect for the party’s traditions.

The result has been that key individuals who could have added value to the party have left. The splits have effectively weakened the DC. The party is much poorer and much weaker without its erstwhile colleagues.

Without the damaging splits within the DC and its election partner, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, the party would still have retained power. What this record will do for Mosisili’s legacy, we cannot tell. But beyond this aspect, the DC could have lost power merely because voters were fed up with the status quo. They simply wanted change and the narrative of change pushed by the opposition proved too enticing for voters.

The June 3 election is also significant at yet another level. This is the third time in the last five years that power has changed hands in Lesotho without a fuss. Although young, ours is proving to be a beautiful democracy. That must be commended.
We have bucked the trend where strongmen in Africa refuse to hand over power even after they suffer thumping defeats at the polls.
On the other hand, Prime Minister-elect Thomas Thabane comes into office with his plate full. He faces a tricky balancing act to deal with issues some of them stemming from his first stint as premier.

He will need to be magnanimous in victory and resist the temptation to play to the gallery by going after his former tormentors.
Thabane also appears to come into office with a lot of goodwill from the international community. He must not squander that goodwill. It is also evident that Thabane still has a lot of unfinished business from his first term which he could not finish when he lost power in 2015.
His biggest test, however, will surely come from how he handles the SADC recommendations. Basotho expect sound leadership in dealing with the myriad of challenges facing the nation.

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