Dialogue can unlock stalemate

Dialogue can unlock stalemate

Catholic bishops from southern Africa who met at Thaba-Bosiu last week ended the conference with an expression of deep concern over what they call a “leadership vacuum” in Lesotho.

The Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA) prayerfully entreated the Almighty to “heal Lesotho” of its political and socio-economic maladies. In a blunt assessment, the Church said Lesotho’s political crises pointed to one thing: a failure of good governance and good leadership.

On the social-economic front, the Church said it is precisely because of a failure of governance that we have so many Basotho who have been forced to emigrate to South Africa to work under difficult conditions in disused mine shafts.

The Church also called on exiled political leaders who fled the country to South Africa last year to return home. They argue that only when those leaders are back will we be able to push a message of true reconciliation for Lesotho.
The statement came at a time when the political environment in Lesotho is highly toxic.
It might be tempting to dismiss the Church’s call as the ramblings of elements bent on fomenting chaos in the country.

Critics will argue the Church should stay out of the political affairs of this world. Yet on the other hand, the Church will argue they have a moral obligation to speak out whenever they think there is an injustice.
Driven by the “theology of liberation”, certain elements of the Church believe strongly that they have an ideological basis, rooted in the Bible, to fight for the rights of the oppressed and downtrodden.

The thinking is that the Church must not shirk from its moral duty to preach a message of liberation, both spiritual and political. We are certain that the statement at Thaba-Bosiu was inspired by such theological underpinnings.

The Catholic Church still wields great influence among Basotho and its message will certainly find resonance among Lesotho’s 1.8 million people.
However, we are of the opinion that the Church’s statement, however constructive it might be, will only find an audience within the corridors of power when it is seen as not adversarial.
There is greater need for the Church to package its message in an attractive way. The message must be persuasive.

If politicians think that the Church is throwing brick-bats at them that message will likely receive short-thrift from an embattled leadership.
Were the Church to adopt such an approach, the political leadership would most likely harden its position and lash out at critics.
We all know that nothing is as difficult as trying to “convert” an obstinate political leadership.

This will of course require that the Church be at its most persuasive. We are convinced that Lesotho’s political leadership, across the divide, has the country’s best interests at heart.
None of the leaders, we presume, would want to pursue Pol-Pot’s scorched earth tactics in the battle for political supremacy.
The spectacular fall-out within the DC has opened up huge cracks with fears the government is on the verge of collapse.

The courts will pronounce their position on the leadership squabble. If Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili loses out in the courts, it would be tragic for his legacy.
We are sure the Premier is deeply concerned about his legacy.
It would be critical for Lesotho to push for a political solution to this crisis. Anything short of dialogue could have a catastrophic effect on Mosisili’s legacy.

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