Leaders of the people and not Messiahs

Leaders of the people and not Messiahs

The three exiled leaders of the ABC, BNP and RCL are returning home this weekend. This is fantastic news not only for the followers of these leaders, but also for all those who truly care about democracy and political stability in Lesotho. Opposition leaders in a multi-party democracy should not languish away in a foreign land. They should be actively engaged in finding and providing solutions to the challenges confronting their country.

That they are coming back home after many months in exile is a definite cause for celebration. The celebrations however, should be brief because time is not on our side. There is much still to be done to build the Lesotho envisioned in Vision 2020.

Basotho are clear that they want a stable democracy, a united and prosperous nation at peace with itself and its neighbours.  They want a country that has a healthy and well-developed human resource base, an economy that is strong; an environment that is well managed and has well established technology.  They want this by 2020 i.e. three years from now. But because there is still so much to do and not enough time, the pressure is on for these two sons and daughter of the soil.

It is critical that they hit the ground running and not be distracted by the singing, ululation and praise singing of their adoring supporters. Being banished in South Africa, undermined the aspirations and hopes of the thousands of Basotho they represent. It is now time to make up for lost time and to get down to work.  Their imminent arrival back into the country is indeed very exciting. It means Lesotho can now use the leadership skills of all its leaders and not just some of its leaders when solving this country’s problems.

  • This is a massive boost to efforts to bring about the peace and stability required to create an environment conducive for high levels of economic growth required to address unemployment and poverty. There is no denying that the seven-party coalition government is struggling to deliver on several of the broad objectives in their coalition agreement.

    They have not impressed;
    To be a reformist government addressing fundamental issues of development in the Kingdom of Lesotho
    To restore national peace and political stability
    To deepen democracy and respect for human rights
    To make transparency and good governance a hallmark of the government
    To drive economic growth with a view to leading Lesotho out of the group of least developed nations within ten years
    To place a greater focus on consultation and citizen participation
    To enhance equality of opportunity for all citizens
    To eliminate corruption at all levels of society and government
    To make government more accountable to the people
    To deepen national pride amongst Basotho
    To deepen the relationship with regional and international partners
    Their performance even on specific commitments has been lacklustre e.g. growing the economy faster through constitutional reforms, infrastructure development, adopting a “Lesotho Now” approach to drive economic development and create employment by results oriented procurement practices.

So, the country definitely needs all the help it can get from all its leaders.  To digress, I doubt whether (two years on) even the most optimistic amongst the seven leaders is happy with what they have achieved so far.  Not unless of course the Coalition Monitoring Group (this should have been set up three months after the signing of the coalition agreement) has reviewed and evaluated delivery of the Coalition Government’s work programme more favourably than many people do.  I encourage them to make public their evaluation of the Coalition Government’s performance since ascending to power. Unless they do this, the perception that they are underdelivering will persist. The consequences will be dire.
To get back on track, the current state of affairs underscores the important role and contribution the exiled leaders have to play to help move the country forward especially to hold Government accountable where they underperform.

As they come back to take up their rightful positions in the political landscape in Lesotho, they will find that things are now more challenging than before they fled.
The ruling seven party coalition has ruptured resulting in a breakaway faction of the DC forming the AD, there is unprecedented crises in parliament which has the potential to create further uncertainty and instability when parliament reopens, there is unremitting international pressure to fast-track the implementation of the Phumaphi recommendations with dire economic consequences for Lesotho unless this is satisfactorily done, International Development Partners are tightening purse strings and this will affect the government’s ability to provide services effectively and to proceed with the reforms process inclusively and transparently and there are widespread concerns about the independence of the judiciary.
These are by no means minor issues. These are big and difficult challenges. Thousands of Basotho however are pinning their hopes on these leaders to rescue the country. Their expectations are of course misplaced.

These three leaders are not messiahs but just leaders of the people. Because they are incapable of performing miracles, it is incumbent on every Mosotho to not absolve themselves of their individual responsibility but do their own bit to build the country they want for themselves and for future generations.
The reality of Vision 2020 is not in the hands of these three leaders and the other leaders in the country but in theirs.
So after all the singing and dancing this weekend, we must all roll up our sleeves and get to work. The Lesotho we have now falls way short of what we deserve. Yes, good leaders will point a clear way forward but the ultimate responsibility is ours.

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