Elections: How the battle was won and lost

Elections: How the battle was won and lost

Strategy is defined as an exact plan of one’s actions which aims at achieving a certain military, political, psychological, or similar, goal, and which takes into account those factors that might influence one’s actions.

The political battle is gone, the election is done, and the country awaits a new government; none of the raging wars of words are present, they lost their meaning on the day the final results of the elections were announced.

The best one hears these days is based on varied perspectives post-mortem; the battle is won for the four (4×4), and the old seven-party coalition government lick their wounds and somehow have to go back to the drawing board, the reality of the moment demands so: for one cannot go and mope at their loss and hope for victory in the next campaign.

Even then, the wise winners rest not on their laurels for the political war is never done, the reality is that a win in the current format of governance does not exactly guarantee that a government can go full term, that is, last the five years as envisioned by the IEC and evidenced by the last two regimes that both lasted less than three years.

The change of the guard comes unannounced these days; at the whim of the new trend enshrined in the popular ‘vote of no confidence’ that has so far deposed two governments.
The claim that the now retired Lieutenant General was hot on their heels led to the three musketeers crossing the Mohokare to seek asylum in South Africa.

This came after the deposition and subsequent death of the previous government’s army commander at the hands of comrades in connection with a mutiny plot, and his death is blamed on his resisting arrest by members of the military police.
Judge Mphaphi Passevil Phumaphi (Chairman of the SADC Commission of Inquiry) put forth the recommendation that the involved parties be investigated and accordingly prosecuted.

The commission sat, but the three political leaders had already fled Lesotho and sought asylum in neighbouring South Africa, a move that necessitated the commission to put forward a list of recommendations.
The crossing of the river by the three political leaders raised eyebrows to the perceived instability in Lesotho’s government, as pointed out by the report.

“That these political challenges if not arrested might spiral out of control with the consequence of failing the current government,” states section ‘p’ on Pages 58-59 of the published online report.

The former commander’s death contributed a large part in the recommendations, and in the public sphere as evidenced by radio discussions, and comments on social media platforms; the death of the former commander did not sit well with a large part of the citizenry, but somehow, it seemed that the state had fallen into some form of catatonia, of a kind that split the public’s opinion into two factions as the events that led to the 2017 elections progressed and finally unfolded with the announcement of the results last week.

There was a man within the recent government whose move is reminiscent to the matador’s thrust of the muleta in a bullfight. Monyane Moleleki and company’s decision to leave government and establish their own parties with the looming elections, and the welcoming ceremony held at the Pope John Paul II podium next to Maseru Mall on the 12th of February 2017 at which he was present presented a clear sign that the seven-party coalition government in power under the leadership of Honourable Pakalitha Bethuel Mosisili would succumb to the now popular “vote of no confidence”, as its predecessor had done 28 months previously under the leadership of Honourable Motsoahae Thomas Thabane.

The turning point in the governance of the Mountain Kingdom came after the prime minister was left with the two options of resigning from his position as prime minister and letting Moleleki take the reins of power, or, to advise the king to call for snap election which would be held within three months.

The latter option played out, elections were held, and here we are as a state; a new government and a change of the guard.
The old reality of a coalition government however remains, as celebrations spirits run high and emotions are still at fever pitch for supporters of the two opposing camps.

And naturally, there are those who believe in the new government, and there are others who vehemently deny its legitimacy even if it is at a level subtle. Lesotho is clearly divided into urban and rural ideologies and these play a significant role in determining the outcome of the elections, but this time one is left wondering if there is a turn in the formerly predictable way of thought in Lesotho.

The rural areas are (or, were) well-established congress party territories, and the convention held the urban areas as their home turf.
An analysis of this year’s election results however reveals a new trend that sees both parties infiltrating each other’s territories, and the ABC comes out as the victor, but their political rivals lose out despite uniting to form a united DC/LCD front just before the snap elections.
The two parties clearly had a strategy to win the elections and one can assume that the campaign rallies had a role to play in determining the outcome, but the campaign rallies have proven an unreliable determinant of party loyalty if one is to compare the attendance figures with the final election results for the parties involved.

There were large numbers of attendees for many of the party rally campaigns, but the turnout at the polling stations stands at less than 50 percent as published by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
The attendance of the rally does not seem to really count, what counts is the pattern of thought of the voter with regard to effecting change through the process of voting.

Excess seems to be the new slogan luring the mob to the rally, for there is excess in terms of promises made that are intended to pull in the support of the party followers and the votes they come with.
Who wins is the political figure that manages to rally both the support of followers in the lobbies and their assurance that they will cast the vote on Election Day.

As said before, the masses at the rally are not the true representation of who will win and who will lose as evidenced by the June 3 snap election results.

The thought of the man and the woman that casts their vote into the ballot box is what matters.
The reality is that the last government went into their leg in government with a 20-year record of interrupted governance, party splits, and a deviation from the original intended manifesto to lift Lesotho out of the poverty of knowledge brought by the previous governments and colonialism.

There are new realities of poverty and unemployed that were in turn exacerbated by global economic recession.
Using old slogans that hint at the wished instead of addressing the real issues only leads to the party losing their following, whose hunger and state of poverty are the more immediate concerns.

Obsession with holding on to the reins of power instead of addressing the immediate concerns of the masses only leads to the politician’s word being lost to the four winds blowing at the rally.

One has seen the rise of a new kind of dictatorship in other states in Africa, and this kind of dictatorship is not of the Idi Amin kind, but it is a system of rule where one party or leader holds the fore seat of government for too long, that is, until their failings become so obvious that they become ammunition for the rhetorical armies of their opposition to shoot them down with.
This is the case with Lesotho, where the congress has had the opportunity to rule for 20 years in which the rise in commodity prices spiked up in tandem with the rise in poverty and unemployment levels.

There has so far never been a government that shows the real concerns of the youth, and this has resulted in a youth that believes none in the words of the politicians who proclaim change on various platforms.

That there is the reality of a youth that has been reduced to beggarhood by poverty, unemployment, through to nepotism despite having the required qualifications, has never seemed the concern of previous government.
The love of the country does not have anything to do with what party the individual follows, but this trend has found root in this country, and its midwife is party politics; where one individual is excluded from salient decision-making activities on the basis of their non-affiliation with the ruling government.

The lame excuses, the shamed darting eyes that never hold one’s gaze when it comes to answering questions on why there are so many qualified graduates languishing in the clutches of unemployment are all part of the political reality that has for some time been observed by the hordes of voters.

Many of those that voted that came across just hold the vague hope that perhaps electing a different individual will bring change, the kind of change that will include all instead of forming cliques and cabals based on party loyalty and membership.
The reality is that politics can only be attractive to the masses if the political government provides incentives, starts initiatives that bear fruit, and provides needed basic benefits.

Previous governments forgot the basics, and this is one of the reasons that they lost.
The political cow has become a strange one to milk these days, for where the empty promises garnered the vote in the past, real evidence of change is the determinant of who will exactly vote this time.

A large part of those who did not vote were simply stuck with the choice of sticking to their old devil or going in with the new, and their hesitation meant that someone lost vital votes along the way.
Where the choice of one means a sure return to the old way of the empty promise never fulfilled, and the election of the other promises some new as yet unfulfilled way of bringing change, the likelihood is that the new promise will be followed by the larger part of society: it is in the primal human character that the new and the mysterious arouses more of curiosity than the known and the familiar (for familiarity often breeds contempt).

One tires of listening to the same old excuse that the global economy is in recession, we know, no one wants to hear that there are no jobs; we have experienced it for many seasons now.
The current political mudslinging will soon be a display the masses get tired of, and the name calling and confession sessions at rallies as seen in this year’s election will be boring spectacle if the opinions of the masses are represented by the vote.
Reputation is determined by the actions of the individual or the group, but reputation alone does not suffice if there is absence of assurance.

The old regime could have lost out because there is a clear legacy of complain in parts of the nation that are in the clutches of poverty and unemployment. This is not meant in a bad way, but if there are more than 10 000 graduates without jobs within the span of the years of a given party’s rule, then it is not assuring for the voter to cast their vote in such a party’s favour.
This lack only provides ammunition for the opposing parties to use in their lobbying for votes; dividing public opinion is dependent on what one does and the next avoids in their deeds.

The new government should take heed and be aware that their promises will fall under more scrutiny than their predecessors.
The malaises of favouritism, nepotism, a seeming lack of general concern for the safety and the security of the ordinary citizen, their basic needs, and to resort instead to uncontrolled abuse of power will surely result in another premature change of the political government’s guard.

The loss of focus on the original mandate as upheld in the party manifesto must never be forgotten if one is to have a lasting government. Old unfulfilled promises are not enough to garner in votes. So some have now learnt.

Tsepiso S Mothibi

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