SADC flexing its muscles will have limited impact

SADC flexing its muscles will have limited impact

Lesotho is the black sheep amongst the member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). A nuisance. A pain in the butt. A bad rash that won’t go away.
It had to be reined in.  So, at the 38th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government, Member States decided they had had enough of our nonsense.
Lesotho can’t be allowed to continue to misbehave. There is a lot at stake. Not just for Lesotho but for the SADC region as well.
SADC has invested several millions of dollars to support our efforts to fix the mess we have created in this country. They expect a return on their investment – political and constitutional reforms. That’s one of many reasons they want Lesotho to succeed – even more than we do.

Another reason is that the citizens of the region would rather their Governments spend time finding solutions to current regional challenges: high youth unemployment, low economic growth and investment in the region, poor infrastructure, food insecurity etc: not waste time and scarce regional resources on Lesotho’s chronic instability.
While the 38th SADC Summit acknowledged and praised positive developments taking place elsewhere in the region e.g. DRC, Madagascar, Angola, Zimbabwe, when it came to Lesotho, there was no praise. There was concern. Lesotho was told in uncharacteristically undiplomatic and uncompromising language to “pull their finger out.”
Member States lamented the “very slow” progress being made to implement the Reforms Roadmap and National Dialogue. Evidence of yet more piss-poor performance by Team Lesotho at a SADC summit.

The fact that SADC says “no further delays” will be entertained, suggests no serious hurdles exist why the reforms should not be more advanced or why they should not proceed more speedily.
It boils down to poor leadership of the Reforms Process by the Thabane-led-coalition or to lack of political will on their part. Or both. Whatever the case, our Government is failing us just as the Mosisili-led coalition made us the laughing stock of the region.

Opposition parties though, are not completely absolved of all blame. Their determination to disrupt the reforms process is exposed (not for the first time). They were first exposed when they were running Government – saying SADC recommendations are not binding and therefore delayed implementing critical resolutions.
These same politicians now in opposition, appear more determined that the reforms should fail. Their tactic (setting ridiculous pre-conditions to participate in the reforms) does not only threaten good governance, it is also unpatriotic.

Here are just two examples. They demand that the Leader of the LCD Mr Mothetjoa Metsing be first given immunity from prosecution for alleged CORRUPTION. They also demand that a MURDER charge and a court case against Mr Tšeliso Mokhosi be dropped. A murder charge? Be dropped?
What rubbish is this?

A more sensible demand would be that the cases against these two individuals and the others (let alone that many of these have nothing to do with the reforms), not be delayed so they can clear their names through correct judicial processes.
That’s what people who respect the rule of law and who love their country would make their top demand. Not this other nonsense — immunity from prosecution for corruption and the dropping of murder charges.

The SADC communique says nothing about any of the demands by the Opposition. This includes their call for a Government of National Unity. This is because their demands are a ruse. Delaying tactics. Derailment antics.

Instead, SADC calls on all stakeholders including those who reside outside Lesotho to participate in the National Leaders Forum.
To make clear their resoluteness on this, SADC urges Member States to take necessary measures against those who delay or derail the reforms (which is precisely the effect of these silly pre-conditions by the Opposition).

All this tough talk by SADC is welcome. But it is not going to achieve much. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Even if Government and the Opposition buckle under SADC pressure and toe the line, in the end, they will not deliver political and constitutional reforms that Lesotho requires, and future generations will be proud of.
The reason is obvious.

Our politicians (Government and Opposition) cannot envision a better Lesotho than what we have right now. They have nothing better to put on the table. They claim to want change, but they don’t. They can live with the current mess and chaos.
That’s the reason Government fumbles when they should be leading our reforms, and the Opposition comes up with ridiculous demands.

By: Poloko Khabele

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