Political parties need policy direction

Political parties need policy direction

One of the most volatile issues affecting the economic growth and political stability in is Lesotho elections. By elections, this article is not only referring to national assembly elections, but to political party elections as well.
With regard to National Assembly elections, there are always complaints from different political parties that start even before the elections. Some of these complaints include vote buying, misuse of government property such as the media and vehicles by those in power, among others. These grievances have since spilled into the internal party political elections in Lesotho.

Since 1993, two of the main political parties in Lesotho namely the Basotho National Party (BNP) and Basotho Congress Party (BCP) have suffered several splits that have adversely affected them. The BNP ruled Lesotho from 1965 to 1986 when it was toppled through a military coup.
In its heyday, the BNP managed to garner enough constituencies to rule Lesotho. However, after multiple splits, the party now fails to get even one constituency in National Assembly elections.
There is also the BCP, a party that made history when in 1993, they smiled all the way to Parliament with a landslide victory. The same BCP currently has only one MP in the 10th Parliament.
I will not bother talking about the separations that have since occurred in the new age parties, which will take me too much time before getting to the gist of this article. If one could get a chance to ask any of the leaders or members of the splinter parties why they left the mother party, the answer is often about personality clashes caused by lack of policies.

A study conducted by Matlosa and Sello (2005) found that the political parties in Lesotho did not have policies. They further reported that all the political parties when asked to provide the researchers with their political party policies, they produced manifestos and or constitutions. This was an indication that they did not even understand what was meant by policies.
A glimpse into the Constitutions of the Democratic Congress and Alliance of Democrats gives an illusion that these parties will hold policy conferences. The constitutional provision of these parties state that, as soon as the party is in government, there will be a policy conference.
Another constitutional provision is that the parties shall establish a policy committee that will be responsible for among others developing policies as well as policy monitoring and evaluation.
The Democratic Alliance (DC) was in government from 2015 to 2017 but they never held a policy conference. I am not aware of their reasons for not holding such an important conference or at least electing or appointing a policy committee.

But my speculation is that they were comfortable working without policy direction. However, neglecting to have a policy committee and conference was one of the reasons that saw the demise of the government that they were leading. Their followers were fighting over political appointments. There were also squabbles around the politicised allocation of tenders.
Additionally, the lack of a policy conference did not give the DC a platform to introspect and come up with solutions to some of the problems they were facing. The same mistake that the DC made is being adopted by its splinter the Alliance of Democrats (AD).

The AD also has a provision for the formation of a policy committee and the calling of a policy conference. Unfortunately, almost two years into government, the AD has not found it necessary to put this constitutional provision into practice.
The AD is the second largest party in the coalition government. Like its coalition partner, the All Basotho Convention, the AD is also going through internal turbulence.
While the ABC is holding factional political rallies, the AD is witnessing the public battle between its secretary general and public relations officer. The troubles that are hounding the two largest parties in the coalition government can be resolved through a policy conference.

The ABC is holding rival rallies because they do not have policies that guide them. They are holding only onto the constitution which clearly has failed them. The AD is also airing its dirty linen in public for all to see because it lacks policies. For example, one of the main reasons of the infighting is what some of the disgruntled members call unclear ways in which deployment is conducted within the party.
The complaint is that the secretary general favours members of her faction when allocating political posts. The same issue also rocked the ABC where members were complaining that political deployment in the party is done by the First Lady.

I urge these two main political parties in government not to wait until it is too late to get their houses in order. They need to have policy conferences as soon as yesterday.
They should know that a political party without policy direction is like a ship without a radar. We are not yet ready for snap elections. Besides Lesotho has had too many elections and we do not need party factionalism to lead other to another election anytime soon.

Kelello Rakolobe

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