A small country with big problems

A small country with big problems

A little country with big problems.
That is how some have characterised my beloved country Lesotho.
Over 20 years ago, I vividly recall a BBC correspondent when he famously said “the small country (of Lesotho) had started again” while reporting about the 1998 political mayhem.
As a country, we have always been associated with a fragile political landscape and incessant turmoil.

Our army has built a reputation of occasionally making forays into the political arena with devastating consequences to our reputation.
When I listened to the BBC journalist in 1998, I was of course not happy that he would refer to my country as a “small country” even though I had very little appreciation of the political dynamics then.
But as I think about that incident 20 years on, I have only begun to understand why journalists would refer to my country in such disparaging terms.

We have indeed proved beyond all doubt that we are a small yet troubled country. We are a country that seems not to know any peace despite our national slogan that espouses the principles of peace and national harmony.
Just last month, we saw our MPs behaving like errant school kids when they refused to pass the Reforms Bill in Parliament.
Instead, the MPs decided to play hide and seek as they felt it was time to ensure that the “minority government” toes the line and respects them as the opposition by deciding the Bill should first be viewed by the relevant committee.

The government, feeling hard done and somehow embarrassed after being defeated by the opposition during the vote, decided to close Parliament sine die, thanks to the help they received from the Speaker of Parliament.
The decision to close Parliament was seen by the opposition as the last kicks of a dying horse as Prime Minister Thomas Thabane moved to dodge the motion of no-confidence against his government.
Fortunately, SADC mediator, Justice Dikang Moseneke came to our rescue like a principal in a troubled school. The retired judge soon cracked the whip and all fell into place.

Parliament was reopened and the Bill was discussed by MPs and subsequently passed. Justice Moseneke managed to nip the chaos in the bud. Had he not done so, I am sure the reforms agenda would have been dead in the water. We must be grateful for the judge’s firm-handedness in dealing with the matter.

However, what happened in the last week could have threatened the peace and serenity that we thought we were enjoying. Our tranquillity has been busted. This time by forces within our visibly limping government.
The breach of protocol and security of the acting Prime Minister Hon Keketso Rantšo has opened a can of worms that the government has been trying but in vain to hide.
We may not know in-depth what really happened with regards to the security details of Hon Rantšo but what has been shared on media does not look good at all.

There have been claims that the military failed to provide the acting Prime Minister with security during her tenure in office. That issue must not be overlooked as it could have threatened our stability.
For the umpteenth time First Lady ‘Maesaiah Thabane has been accused of interfering with the running of government ministries. We must find a quick remedy to this matter.

These two issues, firstly of the military allegedly ‘neglecting their responsibilities’ and laying the blame on ‘M’e Keke and secondly, of the First Lady and her interference in government business are not in the best interests of peace and stability in Lesotho.
‘M’e Keke’s party may not have made much contribution to the coalition government with her one seat, but it is still valuable contribution.
The current status-quo within the All Basotho Convection Party (ABC) is a clear indication that no seat is minute or unimportant for the survival of this government.

The fact that the government was recently defeated by the opposition during the debate on whether the Reforms Bill should be deferred to committees or just be passed as legislation in the House is another red flag that no seat is insignificant.
As such, it is upon all the coalition partners to make sure that the issue around Hon Rantšo’s security and of course the use of official cars is settled as soon as yesterday if they value this government.
We cannot have a situation where the Prime Minister of the day is thrown from pillar to post by senior government officials, the military and the First Lady to get what is due to her. If our legislation is not clear on how an acting Prime Minister should be treated, that should be corrected as a matter of urgency.

Also there is an even more urgent need for the current government to ensure that none of the duties and responsibilities of the First Lady clash with the government’s official business. This has been left on for far too long and is causing too many problems for our very fragile government.

Lastly, I believe as soon as Prime Minister Thabane and his partners come back to Lesotho, heads must roll and those responsible for causing so much headache for Hon Rantšo must be held liable.
We cannot have a country where a Prime Minister, whether acting or not, is forced to defend herself on social media against those bullying her in the line of duty.

Kelello Rakolobe

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