We must not  burn bridges

We must not burn bridges

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Lesego Magkothi went ballistic last week as he attacked SADC envoy Justice Dikgang Moseneke for what he said was interference in Lesotho’s domestic politics.
Justice Moseneke invited Magkothi’s ire after he suggested that the government should reinstate suspended Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara.
Magkothi’s response was uncharacteristic, reminding the “good retired judge” that they are in charge of government’s affairs.
The foreign affairs minister’s response was useful in so far as it exposed the fault-lines between the SADC envoy and the coalition government.
All can tell that all is not well between the two sides.

We are not surprised that the opposition is gloating over what it says is a fall-out between the government and SADC.
Yet, if there any differences, the government must raise such issues to Justice Moseneke and his team through the normal diplomatic channels. We are confident that such issues can be ironed quietly rather than engage in an unhelpful discourse in newspapers.

Such copy is great for newspapers but bad for diplomatic relations.
With the reform process almost dead in the water, the deterioration in relations between the government and Justice Moseneke must spur SADC to urgently intervene at the highest levels.
It is pretty evident that we have a problem here. Both the government and the opposition have dug in and are refusing to shift from their positions.

The opposition has vowed not to participate in the reforms until certain key demands, which include the return of exiled opposition leader Mothetjoa Metsing from exile in South Africa, are met.
The government says the reforms must proceed with or without Metsing. The deadlock must now be broken. We need a strong hand within SADC to whip the two sides into line.
None of the two sides – the government and the opposition – are without fault though.

The two sides appear keen to score cheap political points, to the detriment of Lesotho.
It seems that it is not in our nature as Basotho to cooperate for the greater good. Locked in our toxic politics of the past, we still see each other in black and white terms, which is tragic.
If we cannot agree on simple issues to kick-start the reforms, we shudder to think what will happen to us when much more contentious issues surrounding the new constitution are brought up later on.

The current opposition parties, which were still in government then, have also not forgotten nor forgiven Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his coalition partners for torpedoing the reforms the last time.  But we should not be held to ransom by our bitter past. That is why we think SADC must now come in and lay down the law.

After years of trying to mediate in our political dispute, we cannot put it past SADC that some of our regional leaders have had enough. They must now be suffering from some bit of fatigue.
We hope they will not decide to walk away and leave us to our own devices. We can only shudder to think what can happen when we are left on our own.
We can expect a bloodbath. We are not being alarmist; we are only being realistic. That is why it is critical that we allow the SADC process to proceed unimpeded. Time is fast running out.

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