Mosisili ran a good race

Mosisili ran a good race

VALARIE Jarrett argues that “each generation has an obligation to pick up the baton. We want young people to feel a sense of responsibility to take that baton and run with it.”

Former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili did an honourable thing when he remembered that he is running a relay race and he can never finish the task nor solve all our problems by insisting on running it alone.

He is leaving active politics at a time when our country is a mess. Government reserves have depleted and revenue streams keep on shrinking.
These problems are exacerbated by high levels of unemployment, lack of private investment and a sharp decrease in food production. The construction industry which is among biggest employers in the country is in doldrums while the service sector is stuck in the slow lane.
There is no single sector that is thriving.

Part of the reason for our economic stagnation is that we have leaders who have reached their sell-by date. Such leaders are no longer up to the colossus task of reviving our ailing economy. They have neither the energy nor the skills to take this country forward.
Sadly, some still insist on playing active role in our politics even though they have aged. They want to remain captains to a ship they have run aground.

Labour regulations say you should retire at 60. Yet those who professionally retired at 60 start their political careers. We are a sick society to expect such people to perform well in political office.

At least Mosisili has gracefully passed on the leadership baton. For that, he deserves some praise.
I was in high school when Mosisili became education minister in Ntsu Mokhehle’s administration that had only 12 ministers. I used to attend congress rallies and I happened to be there when Mokhehle passed on the baton to Mosisili. At that age, I was still grappling to understand politics but I was mesmerized by Mosisili’s speech. Since then I became an ardent follower of his speeches. Now an adult, I learned to appreciate them even more.

In my short political journey, I had opportunities to hear speeches of many great political leaders in Lesotho but I have never heard one with such magical power as Mosisili.

Mosisili was totally committed to the political ideology and principle of the congress movement until the day he retired.
Elections exist as a cornerstone of democracy that empowers people to participate in the selection of their political representatives. Mosisili always made sure Lesotho goes for elections after every five years. As Mosisili retires we bask in a sense of pride that we have achieved an unparalleled record of success when it comes to holding free and fair elections every five (5) years in our country.

The images most etched in our minds and in history are those multitudes of Basotho queuing for hours in every part of our villages and cities- proud to make history and meaningfully participate in our democracy by putting their mark on a ballot paper.
I can testify that Mosisili cared for ordinary Basotho. He introduced the free primary education that helped thousands of poor families send their children to school.

Although he had failed as a Minister of Education, he managed to improve the salaries and benefits of teachers as the prime minister.
I was part of the Democratic Congress (DC) campaign team in charge on communications and marketing.
I have briefed Mosisili on several occasions when he was supposed to address people at a rally or go live on radio or television. It’s very flattering to have the former Prime Minister and leader of DC listen carefully and take notes as I spoke.
He is an enigmatic leader who shall remain an inspiration to many and a reminder that politics is meant to be a humble and honourable profession. Mosisili is indeed very humble.

I recall that we were having by-elections in Thaba Moea and Thaba Phechela where the odds were against us as the opposition.
Refiloe Litjobo and I came up with campaign strategies that would bring us victory. One of the strategies was for the leader to come a week before the planned rallies and stay among the people and visit different villages surrounding the area.
Litjobo and I arrived in Thaba Moea a week earlier to make preparations. We identified a family that could host Mosisili.
The women’s league representatives however rejected the house, saying it was not fit for the leader. It was embarrassing because we argued in the presence of the host family.

The women’s league immediately called the campaign director, Semano Sekatle, and convinced him that the house is not fit for the leader.
The driver was told to start the car because we were going to hunt for an appropriate guest house worthy of our leader.
Litjobo and I were disappointed. I felt bad for the family that was supposed to host Mosisili. I knew we had lost the whole village in the coming by-elections because of that unfortunate decision. We went to Mantšonyane and found a place woman’s league were comfortable with. Mosisili was scheduled to arrive the following day.

Late in the evening Sekatle called us back, he had consulted Mosisili on the issue and informed us that the leader said he will be staying with the family that was initially identified. I was humbled by his humility.
Mosisili played an important role in championing the supply of antiretroviral in the country’s fight against Aids. In fact Stephen Lewis, the 2003 UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa observed of Mosisili’s leadership that “The little country of Lesotho has a most impressive political leadership, but is absolutely impoverished. If it had some significant additional resources, with which to build capacity, it could begin to rescue countless lives”.

But his leadership was not perfect. His last term which lasted two and half years was replete with controversies. He allowed corruption to flourish under his watch. Many will recall the fertilizer tender, police uniform tender and Bidvest saga.
He could have handled many issues better than he did. In his government there were too many opinions, too many discussions and not enough decision making.

Weak management meant there was a lack of consistency among cabinet members: everyone seemed to be working on their own pet project rather than doing anything together as a team. Mosisili was a very weak manager. Mosisili also overstayed his welcome.
Still these flaws don’t make him a terrible leader. They are minor stains in what I think is a sterling political career.

Ramahooana Matlosa

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