Two sides must find each other

Two sides must find each other

AS reported elsewhere in this newspaper, SADC has implored the government of Lesotho to urgently convene an all-stakeholders conference to discuss the pressing issue of reforms. Since August 2014, SADC has been intimately involved in the search for a lasting political solution for Lesotho. It wants Lesotho to initiate reforms in the security sector, the judiciary and civil service.

The regional body now wants Lesotho to convene the all-stakeholders conference to kick-start the reforms process. SADC believes only an inclusive process that involves all key stakeholders, including the opposition and civil society, will be able to draw a clear roadmap for Lesotho’s lasting peace.
As we have argued in our previous editorials, we believe the government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane must focus on the constitutional, security sector, and public service reforms to address the myriad challenges facing the country. All other issues are almost a side-show.

Once Lesotho addresses the key reforms, we would have gone a long way in fixing what has been ailing this country over the last 50 years.
However, the government is in a quandary. It can only proceed with the reforms when all key players, including those three leaders who fled Lesotho after the June election, are in the country.

The Thabane-led government finds itself in exactly the same unenviable situation that the former government led by Pakalitha Mosisili found itself in when the then opposition leaders were in exile in South Africa. The leader of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Mothetjoa Metsing, and his deputy, Tšeliso Mokhosi, fled Lesotho in August after claiming that their lives were in danger.

They were later joined in exile by the Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, who also claimed that he was on a ‘hit-list’.
While the government has said it is not in the business of killing its own citizens, it is critical that it goes flat out to persuade these exiled leaders to return home.

The reform process must not be driven by external players. They must be driven by Basotho for Basotho. We must own the process and drive its agenda. Yet if Basotho are to own the reform process, all key players must be on board. They must be allowed the space and freedom to participate in the reforms.

But for them to return, the government must reassure the three that they will be safe. They will need firm guarantees that they will not be molested.
We do understand that the government really needed to act against rogue elements within the former administration to clamp down on lawlessness and reaffirm its commitment to the rule of law. As a result of that thinking, we saw a major crackdown on former government ministers who are accused of various crimes.

The opposition has not taken kindly to the crackdown. It has accused the Thabane-led government of persecuting its leaders. To get the reforms process underway, there will need to be a total cessation of the air of enmity between the two sides.
The government might have to be magnanimous in victory to allow a conducive atmosphere for the reforms. For the opposition, they will need to give the government the necessary space to govern. The two sides must therefore quickly find each other, for Lesotho’s sake.

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