We’re doomed if reforms stall

We’re doomed if reforms stall

WE are deeply disturbed by the hardening of attitudes between the government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and the opposition bloc.
As explained elsewhere in this issue, the leader of the opposition Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), Mothetjoa Metsing, has rejected the government’s call to return home.

Metsing’s position also reflects the feelings of two of his colleagues who are in exile, former defence minister Tšeliso Mokhosi and Democratic Congress (DC) deputy leader Mokhothu.
In a letter to the Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, Metsing says he feels his life is under threat in Lesotho.
We will not regurgitate some of his arguments in this editorial save to state that some of his views appear quite valid.
Our position as a newspaper is to nudge both sides, the government and the opposition, to do all they can to find each other. To do so, the two sides must invest much more to build trust.

We remain convinced that the two sides can find each other for the good of Lesotho. It would be a pity were the two sides to remain worlds apart while exchanging vicious verbal barbs.
The reality of the matter is that there is a major trust deficit between the two sides. The hawks in government and the opposition might want to harden their position.

That, however, will not help untie this conundrum. It is interesting to note that Metsing and company have not openly rejected participation in the SADC-driven reforms. They surely know that to do so would likely infuriate SADC.
What Metsing and his colleagues are asking for are guarantees about their security and a commitment that they will not be harmed once they set their feet in Lesotho.

In their opinion the government has so far been “clearly placing obstacles” in their way”.
They have accused Thabane of failing to provide guarantees for their safe return but had instead vociferously encouraged the police to beat suspects.
They have even accused the Prime Minister of plotting worse things. They think Thabane is double-tongued. They think he is not a man of his word.
As a result of this trust deficit, Metsing and his two colleagues now want a “SADC mediated return” to Lesotho.

It would appear that nothing short of security provided by SADC will convince Metsing and company to return home.
Without the opposition, the SADC-driven reform process could run into serious problems. It is our hope that SADC will deal with the exiled leaders’ request to ensure the reform process begins in earnest.

Neither the government nor the opposition can go it alone in implementing the security, legislative and civil service reforms. That is why the two sides must quickly find each other. Lesotho’s politicians must do all they can to ensure the reforms proceed as planned. We believe the reforms are the only viable route to hauling Lesotho from the precipice. We are doomed if these reforms fail.

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