Too many PM wannabes signals political immaturity

Too many PM wannabes signals political immaturity

It amazes me how so many politicians in Lesotho think they can only serve this country if they are at the helm of government i.e. they are the Prime Minister. Is this not the reason so many of them want to form their own party?

For the majority of them, a camel has better prospects of going through the eye of a needle than them ever making it to the top job. Nevertheless, our system still allows them to join the race and to form their own party.  Is this a sign that democracy is alive and well or is this a sign that our political system needs fixing?

How you answer depends on whether you consider this proliferation of parties as indicative of the vibrancy and plurality of political views and ideology in Lesotho or whether you believe that our politics has been captured by unscrupulous people who see politics as an easy and quick route to material wealth accumulation and personal enrichment. When you look at the reasons why political parties break up and new ones are formed, it’s never about policy or ideological differences so I am inclined to go with the latter view i.e. our political system has been captured.

Even though couched as other things, the true reasons for splitting almost always have to do with internal power struggles and fighting for positions amongst party cadres. This has to stop. It is in your hands that the content and quality of our politics radically changes i.e. becomes issues-based and not hero worshipping and self-serving. We need to turn to mature democracies such as the USA for lessons about how a party can be true to its ideology and guiding principles but still remain intact despite internal differences and diverse views.

For instance, it is common knowledge what the two major political parties in America stand for. They have different founding philosophies.
Republicans are conservative and right leaning whereas Democrats are liberal and left leaning. Because they have different philosophies, Republicans and Democrats formulate policies for the economy, domestic issues, foreign affairs, human rights and defence issues that are different.

For example on the economy, Republicans take positions which are pro-business and against regulations and bureaucracy. They favour low tax regimes and wages regulated by the market. Democrats believe Government should have a more active role in society in order to improve the quality of people’s lives. They believe there should be minimum wages and higher tax rates for higher income tax brackets.

Domestically, their positions also differ. On health care for example, Republicans believe that private companies provide healthcare more efficiently whereas Democrats support the view that in order to have universal healthcare, there should be strong government involvement.
These differences in ideology are clear. They are not phantoms of people’s imaginations. They are real and not intended to be divisive.  So when voting for either a Republican or a Democratic candidate, an American voter is clear what ideological position and policies they are endorsing for the economy, domestic affairs, foreign relations, military etc.

Can you say the same when voting for your party leader? I honestly don’t think you can because even they don’t know. Be that as it may, key to learn from the Americans is that within the same party, debate and contestation is both encouraged and promoted so that the party rallies behind one person who encapsulates and best represents that party’s beliefs and policies given the prevailing conditions at the time.

They do not regard any one leader as the source of all wisdom and therefore entitled to sole leadership. This is the sort of maturity we need. We need to insist that in our political parties, there is this same level of fidelity to principles and values and not to individuals. We need to insist that those who want leadership positions should have the capacity to formulate and to implement sound policies instead of patronage and empty promises and rhetoric.

Unless we do that, we are complicit in perpetuating a culture of politics which does not advance the national agenda and priorities. We sustain a culture that serves as the gateway for the accumulation of material wealth by a few and not as an avenue to improve the lot of the people.

Leaders who fail to present and to articulate sensible policies to address the pressing issues we face, expose themselves as individuals who think politics is a pathway to personal riches.
They have “fokol” to offer Lesotho. Their objective is to take as much as they can and not to build the country. They must not be followed. But by insisting that politicians engage us at the level of policy positions, we ensure that those who aspire for high political office have pragmatic and realisable solutions to our challenges.

However, their policy positions and actions on key issues such as presented in the list below, must be subjected to public scrutiny. For example, the positions they take on:
l    The Amnesty Bill
l    Public and security reforms
l    Economic growth and job creation including on AGOA
l    The sovereignty of Lesotho vs. International and regional bodies
l    The timing of national and local government elections
l    Appointment and selection of senior public servants
l    Funding and support for State institutions
l    Regulation of the media especially social media
l    Service provision
l    Government tenders
l    The role of the Monarch and traditional leaders in a constitutional democracy
l    Conduct by their elected representatives in parliamentIt’s very important to consider whether the policy positions and actions they take move us closer to or further away from the things we so desperately need as a country i.e. economic growth, jobs, service delivery, good schools for the nation’s children, access to affordable and decent health services, peace and stability and the maintenance of the rule of law and good governance.

It should be upon this sort of consideration that the decision to support a particular leader and their party must be made and not on the basis of liking or not liking specific individuals.
Hopefully this will make All the PM wannabes understand that “less is more”. Lesotho needs fewer parties but more quality parties. What we see happening now does not signal a healthy democracy but rather its absence because the majority of our politicians are driven by selfish interests and not by the desire to lead and to improve the lives of Basotho.
The congested political landscape proves it.

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