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Can Lesotho survive? The political economy of a fragile state



This chapter discusses Lesotho’s political economy while assessing the country’s prospects as one of Africa’s emerging fragile states. It focuses mainly on Lesotho’s present and future prospects given that Lesotho’s history and its political and economic legacies have been covered fully in other chapters in this book. The structure of the chapter is as follows; it briefly reviews the scope of Lesotho’s Futures research agenda. Then global concerns about State fragility and sustainable development challenges are discussed and applied to Africa.

The relevance of the human security paradigm is also discussed. Lesotho’s current challenges of development, fragility, instability and governance arethen discussed through a review of Lesotho’s governance and development challenges from 2000 to 2016. The chapter then discusses the role of Southern Africa Development Community, SADC, Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation (PDSC) system in addressing Lesotho’s chronic instability.  The paper concludes by addressing prospects for Lesotho’s survival as a small and fragile State in Southern Africa. Scope of Lesotho’s Futures Research Agenda This chapter is a component of a Lesotho Futures Project being implemented to mark the 50th anniversary of Lesotho’s Independence.

It is a futuristic project that is dedicated to current and future generations of Basotho who are inspired by the concept of human security and the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want campaign that was launched by the AU in 2015[1].In this context, the Lesotho We Want campaign is informed by the need to address Lesotho’s challenges with a conscious linkage between short, medium and long term governance and development challenges.

In order to enable Lesotho to effectively address the interlinked challenges of consolidating democracy, attaining stability, human security and development, a robust research agenda is needed that will inform  a public policy dialogue process which reflects on the past in order to manage the future.As a Small State in Southern Africa that marked its 50th Year of Independence on 4th October, 2016, Lesotho is currently at a crossroads as all concerned citizens, particularly the youth, assess the country’s performance in the last 50 years and articulate their concerns about governance and development challenges in an environment of serious contestation about possible futures for Lesotho.

Our expectation is that the output of the Lesotho Futures Project should enable citizens to discuss Lesotho’s current and future governance and development challenges and provide a framework for emerging popular coalitions for change to engage with the proposed constitutional, governance and security sector reforms process. The research agenda will apply scenarios methodology to determine strategic options for Lesotho given the uncertainty about its future prospects. An initial scenarios exercise was undertaken with Lesotho’s Business Community in pre- election dialogue sessions, February, 2015.[2]This process is inspired by the well-known wisdom that ‘the best way to predict our future is to create it’.

Global Concerns about State Fragility and Sustainable Development Challenges This research agenda on the political economy of Fragile States is undertaken in the context of universal concerns within the international development community about challenges posed by Fragile States in general and State fragility in Africa.[3]  Towards this end, the World Bank and the United Nations (UN) organised a high level Fragility Forum held in Washington DC – USA, March 2016, under the theme, Take Action for Peaceful and Inclusive Societies, which was inspired by Sustainable Development Goal 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions.

This timely forum discussed the sustainable development agenda in a world affected by fragility, conflict and violence.In his key note speech given at the Fragility Forum, the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim expressed his concerns as follows: Hope for the future of development assumes a world where nation states are secure and stable and where citizens, are not confronted by fragility, conflict and violence. While the rest of the world makes progress, the world’s poor will increasingly be concentrated in fragile and conflict-affected countries, estimated to reach almost half of the global total by 2030.[4]

These globally expressed concerns are a testimony to the challenges posed by State fragility to the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) and need to pro-actively identify its early warning signs to prevent the eventuality of State failure and adverse impacts on affected societies. Defining State Fragility According to Cilliers and Sisk (Cilliers and Sisk 2013: 2-3), fragility is characterised by low state capacity and poor state performance with respect to security and development.

“A State is fragile when it is unable to provide basic human security and or create the public goods and conditions needed for a minimum of human development.” The drivers of fragility are clustered into four dimensions; Poor or weak governance; high levels of conflict and violence; high levels of inequality and economic exclusion and high incidence of poverty. (Cilliers and Sisk, 2013: 2-3).While Lesotho was not included in the 26 fragile African States listed by Cilliers and Sisk, yet they emphasised the need for a research agenda to forecast fragility using the four dimensions outlined above.According  to the OECD States of Fragility report (OECD, 2016), fragility is defined as “the combination of exposure to risks in five areas—economic, environmental, political, and social and security—and the insufficient capacity of the state or national systems and sub-regional inter-governmental systems to manage, absorb or mitigate those risks”.[5]

In applying this typology to Africa, the OECD report identifies 35 African fragile States, including Lesotho.  Analysis of Africa’s Fragile States A major study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Africa’s Fragile States (IMF,2015)[6], undertook an extensive review of the theoretical and empirical literature and identified key  factors that contribute to fragility as follows: “Weakness (and lack of legitimacy) of government institutions, a poor and unstable economic environment, and a divisive and non-inclusive political context”.

According to the IMF (IMF, 2015), recent research focuses on the multiple dimensions of fragility and instability, where conflict is a possible outcome with linkages to other aspects of fragility.  These multiple dimensions interact and reinforce one another in a vicious circle.Hence, countries are identified as fragile using key indicators that assess economic performance, governance, political stability, and institutional quality. Some of the key indicators identified in the IMF Report (IMF, 2015) are the following:

l         The economies of fragile countries are weak and vulnerable to shocks. Fiscal balances are in deficit, and high debt often encumbers economic prospects.l         There are large internal disparities in income and wealth and in access to services.l         Institutions are not able to provide a stable and fair environment, and the rule of law and enforcement of property rights are weak.l         Corruption is prevalent and the judicial system is ineffective.l         Controls on executive power are also ineffective, as the legislative branch of government, the press, or civil society struggle to hold the government accountable.l

At a social level, ethnic, linguistic, religious or political divides may undermine the development of a national consensus and an awareness of shared interests.l         Education, health, and social security systems are poorly organised, underfinanced, and unevenly accessible. The factors identified above do indicate that fragility has multiple dimensions which have been monitored by international and regional development agencies especially in Africa.Given the prevalence of State fragility in Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB 2014) has also developed a Strategy for Addressing Fragility and Building Resilience in Africa for the period 2014-2019[7].

It is based on an understanding of fragility as a condition of elevated risk of institutional stress, instability and possible societal collapse. In terms of this approach, the AfDB recognises that there is no hope of achieving Sustainable Development Goals in Africa without successfully addressing fragility and building resilience in the continent.

The relevance of the Human Security Approach This chapter also seeks to highlight the relevance of the human security perspective in the analysis of Lesotho’s insecurity, instability and fragility problems. The human security concept was first used in the 1994 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report, and identified seven human security components including economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security dimensions.

Currently in fragile African States, such as Lesotho, citizens experience insecurity as a result of linked and mutually reinforcing challenges of stability, governance, human security and fragility which undermine prospects for sustainable development.In the SADC region, the devastating impact of climate change is already being observed through extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, shrinking rivers, reduced crop yields and increased water insecurity.

Lesotho remains vulnerable to the impacts of climate change that are associated with regular and recurrent floods and droughts. The floods, in 2011, were the largest in the country since the 1930s, while the drought, in 2015 and 2016 periods, was the most severe on record. All the climate models indicate that average mean surface temperatures will rise, but precipitation projections vary greatly.In the medium to long term, these adverse trends are predicted to impact on human security through intensifying competition for scarce national resources which may be aggravated by economic crisis and humanitarian disasters.

These threats all have national and regional implications and require urgent rethinking about African human security strategies which more effectively links all these factors. The major observation here is that, if national governance systems are not transformed and are pre-occupied with State Security concerns as is the case in Lesotho, then the multi-dimensional challenges of human security will not be fully addressed.

In contrast to a narrow focus on State security, that is security of and for the state, a human security approach therefore seeks new answers to the traditional questions such as security for whom and from what? Hence, a human security model takes people to be at the centre of the security challenge.This approach should take us beyond the limitations of the current State Security approach in the SADC region which is mainly concerned with the survival of regimes and which safeguards those with vested interests in the status quo. In the light of the above review of recent state fragility literature, the human security paradigm and the concerns of the international development community, the chapter seeks to apply these insights to Lesotho’s situation, while highlighting the linked challenges of stability, human security and sustainable development. Review of Lesotho’s Governance and Development Challenges, from 2000 to 2016  This section of the chapter discusses the development of Lesotho into an emerging fragile state by reviewing its governance and development challenges at least since 2000. Lesotho’s governance and development aspirations are described in the National Vision 2020 document, which is based on a national consensus that was agreed to in 2000/2003.

The Lesotho national visioning process was initiated in the aftermath of the post 1998 post elections crisis in Lesotho and the need for an inspiring long term vision that could establish foundations for national healing and social cohesion[8].The Lesotho Vision 2020 document which was launched in 2003 outlines the long term aspirations of the Basotho and states inter alia; By the year 2020 Lesotho shall be a stable and prosperous nation at peace with itself and its neighbours.

It shall have a healthy and well developed human resource base, its economy shall be strong, its environment well managed and its technology well established. This Vision 2020 statement was formulated and endorsed at a well-attended and representative multi-stakeholder national dialogue.[9]The commendable initiative to develop a long term National Vision was inspired by major internal and external determining factors. Internally, the aim was to stabilise Lesotho’s vulnerable democracy and lay foundations for a united and stable nation in the context of post-conflict peace building following on the 1998 elections crisis.

Externally, the visioning process and methodology was inspired by the African Futures Project of UNDP for implementing National Long-Term Perspective Studies (NLTPS) in Africa.[10]The NLTPS strategy was a response to the poor performance of previous development management approaches in Africa such as the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) that were prescribed and driven by International Finance Institutions in the 1980’s and 1990s.[11]

Lesotho also had the experience of implementing a structural adjustment programme and Enhanced Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP), supervised through 6 successive IMF/WB Policy Framework Papers from 1988/89 to 1993/94.[12] Even though these IMF/WB SAP and ESAP frameworks stabilised GOL public finances, they, nevertheless, had no significant impact on the serious poverty situation in the country. As proposed by the African Futures Project, the NLTPS recognised  . . . the strategic importance of a shared national vision, long-term thinking and a stable policy environment for development.

Accordingly, any national vision must provide the people with a sense of direction, discovery, and destiny and must become the guiding framework for national development action.[13] The success of the NLTPS approach is therefore determined by sustained political commitment, visionary leadership, political stability and the creation of relevant institutions to support the national vision initiative.

National leaders within the public and private sectors are expected to think and act strategically within the framework of a long term vision. In the case of Lesotho, a justifiable critique is that a State-centric approach to the National Vision implementation process has limited the scope and impact of this process. With the year 2020 approaching, there is need to assess the performance of Vision 2020 in terms of its goals and objectives.

Lesotho National Poverty Reduction Strategy Lessons, 2004 to 2012 In order to realize the goals of the Vision 2020 document, Lesotho implemented a poverty reduction strategy (PRS) from 2004 to 2007/08 after the endorsement of the PRSP by the executive boards of the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September, 2005.[14]

This was followed by an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (I-PRS) from 2007/08 to 2009. The Lesotho PRS consisted of eight priority areas and three cross-cutting issues and the Public Sector Improvement and Reform Programme (PSIRP).These PRS priority areas were: employment creation and income generation; improving agriculture and food security, developing  infrastructure, deepening democracy, governance, safety and security; improving quality of and access to health and social welfare services; and improving quality of and access to education. The cross-cutting issues identified under the PRS were HIV and AIDS, gender, children and youth.

The transition from the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (I-PRS) to an Interim National Development Framework (I-NDF) was ultimately agreed to by Government of Lesotho (GOL) and its Development Partners, in 2009. The I-NDF was used to guide the budgeting and planning processes in the interim until the proposed National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) for 2012-2017was finalised.The National Vision 2020, the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS),

Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy (I-PRS) and Interim National Development Framework (I-NDF) and other related development policy papers such as the National AIDS Strategic Plan (NASP) have therefore served two crucial functions. Firstly, as long and medium term development strategy papers, and, secondly, as major frameworks for development cooperation between Lesotho and its bilateral and multi-lateral Development Partners including the World Bank (WB) and  International Monetary Fund (IMF).Summary of Poverty Reduction Strategy implementation lessons: l

The PRS was based on extensive nationwide consultations which involved 20000 Basotho citizens in 2003, yet this process raised unrealistic expectations without any general and tangible pro-poor outcomes for citizens.l          These extensive nationwide consultations were also encouraged by Lesotho’s Development partners (DPs) to demonstrate national ownership and broad-based participation without clear commitment by the DPs to scaling-up development funding.l The extensive nationwide consultations did not necessarily establish a culture of effective dialogue and dynamic partnership between GOL agencies and non-state actors.l

The expected magnitude of additional resources in the form of poverty reduction support grants (PRSG) were not made available by development partners as expected.l          The PRS and I-PRS were therefore weakened as development frameworks since prioritised action plans were externally driven and too ambitious in relation to funding constraints.l The GOL still lacked institutional capacity to drive change, effective implementation and service delivery. Consequently, there were also absorptive capacity problems despite the declared interest in increasing development funding to Lesotho.l          In identified areas of good performance such as in the National HIV/AIDS response, this was mainly due to effective partnerships between selected GOL implementing agencies and committed Development Partners.  l

An economic growth strategy with an enabling environment for private sector development within the real economy which is so crucial for broad based growth, job creation and poverty reduction was not prioritised. In assessing the actual impact and outcomes of these various PRS frameworks, the World Bank[15]indicates that between 2002 and 2010 Lesotho made virtually no progress in reducing extreme poverty.

The headcount poverty rate was 57.1 percent in 2010 (national poverty line), accompanied by high inequality, measured at 54.2 percent by the Gini coefficient, itself an obstacle to poverty reduction. Lesotho’s economic structure and poorly targeted social protection policies are at the heart of high and stagnant poverty and inequality. Low-productivity agriculture remains the main source of income for over 1 in 3 households. The benefits of well-paid public sector jobs mainly flow to the most affluent households. (World Bank, 2016).

Sehoai Santho

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Harnessing imagery in writing



All writing is imaginative. Every piece of writing reflects the artistry and mental resourcefulness of the writer.

Effective writing also reflects the colourfulness of the writer’s mind and heart; their ability to paint the world to the reader and their capacity or facility of taking the reader with them to beautiful mental and physical and picturesque journeys.

In this piece we focus on how we can hone our creative abilities through the use of imagery and the effect of using colourful and evocative imagery in writing. Let’s go! What if I say, “Learn to prepare wisely and meticulously in time,” you will still grasp the message in a very clear way, isn’t it? But would that be interesting and colourful?

But what if we put it in a colourful manner, “Make hay whilst the sun still shines,” you really grasp the colour and the full import of the message, isn’t it? That’s what imagery does to your writing; it allows you to feel, touch and smell what you are reading.

There is no doubt that the proverb, “make hay whilst the sun still shines” has taken you to the countryside, in a farming community. You hear the bleating of sheep and the neighing of horses.

At the same time, you visualise the good farmer gracefully at work, cutting grass which he is piling in orderly stacks, preparing fodder for his animals in the future. The sun’s rays buoy his attempts and ensure that the hay is prepared with care and colour.

Thus, the point of good imagery is to capture in full detail a world that allows the reader to grasp and enjoy using their five senses. Let me give you a small but beautiful extract which further drives home the point.

“With his machete he detached a brittle clod, broke it on a stone. It was full of dead twigs and the residue of dried roots that he crushed in his fingers.

“Look, there isn’t anything left. The water has dried up in the very entrails of the mountain. It’s not worth while looking any further. It’s useless.” Then, with sudden anger, “But why, damn it! Did you cut the woods down, the oaks, the mahogany trees, and everything that grow up there? Stupid people with no sense!”

Thando struggled for a moment to find words. “What else could we do, brother? We cleared it to get new wood. We cut it down for framework and beams for our hearts. We repaired the fences around our fields. We didn’t know ourselves. Ignorance and need go together, don’t they?”

The sun scratched the scorched back of the mountain with its shining fingernails. Along the dry ravine the earth panted. The countryside, baked in drought, began to sizzle.”

What a colourful piece! The extract aptly paints a countryside’s pulse and the rhythms of seasonal and climate change and how that affects the livelihood patterns of the inhabitants. Have you seen how the sun has been endowed with human-like features?

And the description of the earth assuming human-like features, for instance, “the earth panted.” No doubt, you have seen the earth subdued by the intensity of heat in a way that is similar to a person who is panting.

To paint excellent images the writer needs to have the gift of observation. He/she should be able to observe quite a panorama of things around him and immerse them in the soil of their imagination. Let’s see another good extract where you can discern the link between good images, excellent description and the power of observation.

“It’s in the morning, the fourth watch, to borrow from biblical discourse. It’s damp outside. I brace the slicing chilly weather to go outside. There is a drizzle, constant showers seeping deep down. I pace up at least 400 metres from my hood. I see lined-up, almost cubicle-like houses.

I keep walking, with a spring in the step buoyed by the damp aura wrought by the incessant downpours. I take a deep breath, and step back as it were.

I want to be deliberate. I want to take in everything in my environment; the colours, the diverse hues and plethora of landscape contours. I notice a woman, almost in her forties, from my eye-view assumptions. She is grabbing a basket clutched tenaciously almost close to her big bosom.

She is going to Mbare Musika, the famous agricultural market wherein she intends to buy items for her stall. Behind her, there is a big strapped baby covered in velvet. As she briskly walks, I see her jumping a poodle of water as she observes her stall. I also observe a man, clad in sportswear running trying to cure a big belly.

As I keep watching, I see a woman sweeping her small veranda. I keep walking. I see a woman, plump tending to her garden. She seems animated by the drizzle, thanks to the rains.

I hear another woman, especially her piercing voice, she is selling floor polish. Her voice fills the air. As I drown in the sweet voice, I notice a man staggering. He is filthy. He could have calloused the whole night. He is holding a Black Label quart, speaking gibberish in the air. I keep watching.”

So here were are! Writing is a matter of painting with words, carving images and allowing the reader to experience the impact of all the senses so as to fully grasp the sense of what is put across.

Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school.

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Politicians’ propensity to score own goals



Lesotho politicians are often in the habit of scoring own goals. For example, look at the circus that took place in the country at the opening of parliament after the winter break. These events remind me of the article that I wrote with the title ‘Scoring own goals’.

This article appeared in this publication dated March 18 – 24, 2021. It argued that Lesotho’s politicians had a propensity to score own goals.

Many say that education and academia should not involve themselves in politics. This belief is a fallacy. The two are intrinsically intertwined. Education and politics link in a complex way.

For instance, parliament is an organ that passes laws that govern and guide national education policies. The interconnectedness includes the curricula that educational institutions and schools teach. Now, if the National Assembly’s focus is misplaced, important legislative decisions may stall or be derailed by lack of action.

I must make a disclaimer though. I am not promoting any view about a political party. I am writing this article purely as a concerned citizen.

I revisit the own goal tendency of those in authority by assessing the drama that unfolded in politics and governance. I review the recent events that culminated in the failed vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane and his government.

I use arguments from research to demonstrate the fluidity of Lesotho’s democracy. Some politicians often take advantage of this fluidity for selfish gain. I contest that the Prime Minister and his government should treat their adversities as stepping stones to meeting their targets.

A constitution is a living document. Accordingly, to keep Lesotho’s constitution alive, current and relevant, parliament should regularly amend it.

However, in so doing, parliament must be careful that tinkering with the country’s constitution does not compromise the essence of democracy they champion. National and democratic principles must form the dogma that underpins the improvements and amendment exercises.

Personal aspirations, ambitions and creed must not underpin the amendments.

The recent events in and out of the National Assembly make one question the perceptions of the different roles players in the democratic playground in Lesotho have.

First, there was a vote of no confidence that the Speaker ruled to defer subject to the high court’s decision.

Second, there was the allegedly drunken MP’s own goal.

The third is the press conference led by the Commissioner of the Lesotho Mounted Police Services flanked by the head of the Lesotho Defence Force and the Director General of the National Security Services.

It is already a hat trick of own goals. Fourth, there was the statement of the Prime Minister claiming an attempted coup.

The fifth own goal is the moratorium that prevented parliament from holding a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister before the lapse of three years of his inauguration.

The sixth is the practice of shirking responsibility by MPs. MPs often refer political matters to the national courts for decisions. The seventh, and the mother of all own goals, is the electoral system that Lesotho elected to pursue. The National Assembly has 120 MPs. There are 80 MPs representing constituencies and 40 proportional representatives.

The Commonwealth suggested that Lesotho review the modalities of the PR nominations. Sekatle and the Commonwealth agree that the PR system introduced plurality but at a cost. The cost is what scholars and commentators term minority rights and coalitions.

Also, it compromises accountability and transparency. It undermines the collective intelligence of the voters. Chief Jonathan warned against coalition governments by citing their instability. Political instability plagues Lesotho today.
Sekatle and the Commonwealth cited the overreliance on a threshold in awarding PR seats in parliament, cheapening them.

The PR system ballooned parliament unnecessarily. By comparison, Botswana had a population of 2.6 million in (2021). Lesotho had 2.3 million (2021). Botswana parliament currently has 65 seats, and Lesotho has 120.

A consequence emanating from the PR system in Lesotho is a hung parliament. Since 2012, there has not been an outright majority in the National Assembly. The results yielded chaos. Over that period, PMs constantly look over their shoulders. All these coalitions imploded.

Democracy is about the majority. Politicians must be persuasive to attract votes to achieve the majority. In other words, the PR system rewards failure.

The own goals cause stagnation. MPs score these own goals by serving their selfish interests. They waste time and energy on trivial things. And yet, they receive full-time salaries and earn allowances such as sittings and petrol allowances. How, then, would one explain that the external urging of parliament had to engage in the reforms exercise?

Today, reforms are lying latent. Politicians use the reform programme as an excuse for ensuring that they retain or access power. In the recent correspondences to SADC, the government and the opposition cite reforms and democracy to justify their actions. But as I write this article, there is nothing much that is happening along the lines of these very reforms. Why?

The starting point of any achievement is desire and definitiveness of purpose. The definitiveness of purpose is more than goal setting. It is one’s roadmap to achieving the overall objectives. Elsewhere, I took the definition of desire as explained by the author, Wallace Wattles.

According to Wattles, ‘Desire is possibility seeking expression, or function seeking performance’. All desires began as a thought. Expressing their desires through a manifesto is a means by which parties attempt to concretise them (their desires).

The starting point of an election campaign is the expression of political intentions and goals through manifestos. A manifesto is a public declaration of aims and policy by a political party or candidate. Political parties express their desires for what they will do in their manifestos.

After elections, these desires become the guiding principles and laws. Politically mature voters would then elect political candidates based on these manifestos.

Who instigated and drove the reforms in Lesotho? The contemporary history of Lesotho reveals that external forces pushed the reforms. Basotho merely reacted. They do not own the reform process. High on the list of their drivers are SADC, the US through AGOA and the European Union.

The practice contradicts Wattles’ definition. According to Wattles definition, desire must emanate from inside the individual, or in our case, from Basotho and be expressed outward through actions.

I do not want to comment too much about the involvement of the security agencies in politics. In my view, the relevant bodies, namely, the Law Society of Lesotho, the media and the opposition parties dealt with their involvement adequately.

Former PM Leabua Jonathan often described democracy as the government of the people by the people. But, the meaning of the construct of democracy is fluid and elusive, depending on the position of governance in Lesotho’s political arena.

Authors Hughes, Kroehler and Vander Zanden explain that democracy is a system in which the powers of government derive from the consent of the governed, namely the masses who vote, in which regular constitutional avenues exist for changing government officials.

The authors characterise the system as one which permits the population a significant voice in decision-making through the people’s right to choose among contenders for political office. Also, the system allows for a broad, relatively equal citizenship among the populace.

Lastly, it affords the citizenry protection from arbitrary state action.

Now, the question is whether the recent activities fit all the three criterias. Are the actions of the MPs who moved for the vote of no confidence in the PM’s government acting in line with Lesotho’s constitution and democracy?

This definition of democracy says that regular constitutional avenues exist for changing government officials. The no confidence vote exists in Lesotho’s constitution. But the PM and his security agencies questioned this. They claim the move by the members of the opposition to dethrone the government was a coup attempt.

The drama began when an MP from the ruling Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), Thabo Moea MP, sought an order from the High Court to delay the motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister until after the completion of the reforms process.

The opposition contests that the prayer by Moea stifles a democratic process for self-serving ends. Subsequently, the Speaker cited this impending case to defer the matter.

The constitution of Lesotho stipulates that the legislature is to pass laws, the executive is to approve and execute them, and the judiciary is to expound and enforce them. But a scholar, Nwafor, claims that the courts in Lesotho often intrude into the functions of the other arms of government.

Lesotho ‘s constitution confers powers on three arms of government in such a manner as would ensure cooperation and coordination in governance. The courts ought to bear in mind that the effective discharge of the responsibilities of the courts largely depends on the effectiveness of the other arms of government.

Nwafor brings up the issue of encroachment. He asserts that the powers of the different arms of government in such a manner would guarantee a coordinated discharge of government responsibilities to the nation. But, parliament overly relies on the courts to make political decisions. The practice encourages the risk of overreaching.

The PR electoral system denies Basotho the right to choose their representatives among contenders for political office. Instead, parties ‘hand pick’ these representatives in the pretext of the constituency elections outcomes. Often, these PR members are the ones who lost their constituency elections.

These are the politicians whose constituencies rejected them. They represent their parties and not the voters. They do not account to the voters.

Both the PM and the opposition made presentations to SADC. They overlooked the electorate. Why would SADC have power and not the electorate that elected the politicians to office? Running to SADC, an outside organisation, to settle Lesotho’s internal problems is not a solution. It is scoring an own goal. Lesotho, with its 57 years of independence, should be able to solve its internal problems.

Nonetheless, I have a completely different take from Mokhothu on the issue of the protest march by the RFP. It is unimportant to find the instigator of the protest march. The people to persuade are the voters, the people who put governments into power in a democracy, not external bodies such as SADC.

Napoleon Hill’s creed reads: ‘Every adversity brings a seed of equivalent or more benefit’. Any business person knows that business is a solution to an economic problem. So, the PM and his colleagues in his party who are business people must look at the adversity emanating from the opposition as a seed of equivalent or better benefit.

The government must dig deep to find how the problem may benefit them.
They must identify their failures and use them as stepping stones to success.

Elsewhere, I presented the views of an American scholar and activist, Anderson, who suggested that marginalised communities must cease granting candidates blank cheques. Instead, the electorate must draw their expectations and demand the campaigning party or candidate promise to meet them.

This practice is called quid pro quo. It enforces accountability and transparency.

You scratch my back, and I scratch yours. Quid pro quo is an example of one of the universal laws that demonstrate reciprocity. Reciprocity is the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. The universal law is the Law of Cause and Effect. It means that for every effect, there is an equal cause. You plant a seed, so shall you reap.

Both the government and the opposition ran to SADC for help. Remember, Matekane is a successful businessman. He has, on more than one occasion, explained that he wanted to use his prowess in business to take Lesotho forward. As a businessman, Matekane has faith in his ability.

Words that come to mind here include self-confidence and trust in himself. He believes in himself. Running to SADC does not display this faith in his ability to deal with problems emanating from his opposition.

Hill argues that riches, or any form of success and achievement, begin with a thought. Faith removes limitations. Matekane must apply his faith as a businessman to become a successful politician.

To summarise, the article explores the events emanating from the fiasco of the no-confidence motion. The individuals who ought to champion constitutional democracy in Lesotho betrayed Basotho by scoring hordes of own goals.

I explored the meaning of concepts that helped me unpack some of these own goals. These were democracy, faith and desire. Also, I coupled these with scholarly research views on the constitution of Lesotho.

I contest that while the opposition may argue that they are within their rights to ruffle the government, the PM must use different tactics. He must display faith and confidence in himself and trust Basotho.

The move to influence the voters to back him deserves a big WOW! He must hold more campaigns to persuade voters to support his government. Voters may make or break him.

MPs waste time in discussing trivial issues that have no bearing on the national agenda. Often, they focus on self-serving matters. The RFP promised to refocus Lesotho towards national development and improving the quality of life.

The article also shows that the PR system does not benefit Lesotho. It diminishes accountability and the principle of quid pro quo. Also, it ballooned the numbers in parliament unnecessarily. It increased political instability by forging formations of coalition.

Politicians must refrain from abusing the judiciary by making them make political decisions. Involving the courts in making political decisions leads to encroachment. Encroachment defies democracy.

In conclusion, Matekane must not allow his detractors to derail his mandate. The same is true for the opposition leaders who attempt to dethrone him. No party campaigned on removing sitting PMs.

Also, the MPs must take the responsibilities that Basotho entrusted them with. It is high time that they make the political decisions instead of shifting them to the judiciary or external bodies.

Matekane, his business associates and technocrats in his government should revisit attributes that made them successful. One such attribute is their faith in their abilities. They must remember that riches (and success) begin with a thought, and faith removes limitations.

Dr Tholang Maqutu


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Painting mood effectively



Writing is not different from beautiful artwork. Just like a skilled painter holding a brush with its broad strokes, the writer occupies the same place and vocation in life. Writing is a work of painting life’s experiences, its hues and beautiful unfolding internal journeys. In this piece we focus on mood and how it can be achieved. Many students struggle with understanding and contemplating the scope and ambit of mood in writing.
It is hard to define and frame the scope of mood in writing. What really constitutes mood? Generally, mood encapsulates the totality of the “air” or “spirit” or “aura” that a certain work of art evokes in the human mind, feeling or sensibility. There is a certain dominant feature or streak associated with a certain work of art, place or person.

There is something which is evoked in our hearts which is associated with a certain place, person or event. Every place or event or person carries or imbues with him or her a certain mood or sensibility; and there is a panorama of sensibilities; for instance, a happy or sombre or whimsical mood. We will now focus on a certain extract and discern how it paints mood.

“He quickly rights himself and keeps walking, but there is an unsteadiness to his knees. He has been given many looks in this quarter – dirty ones, blank ones, sympathetic ones, annoyed ones. For the most part, he had learned to tolerate those than can be tolerated, and ignore those that should be ignored, but the look this woman gave him is not a look one gives to humans but to flies, ticks, cockroaches, fleas…Thato feels anger, then humiliation, then something nameless. If he were in his own country he would turn and confront the woman; but now he’s hurt, wounded, a part of him wishing he were invisible. Breathing evenly, he walks with care, only lifting his eyes once he reaches his own quarters, among his own people. He proceeds to his shack. He could stop by Thapelo’s, his neighbour, where he knows that men and women are already congregated to watch videos from home. Yet, no matter the promise of good fellowship and laughter, Thabo does not join them. Watching videos is a form of forgetting; the 2008 elections, the police with batons, the soldiers with guns, the militia with machetes. Do you remember? Limbs broken. Roofs blazing. I remember.”

This extract is characterised by the intensity of feeling and evokes feelings of sadness, despair and pain. The excerpt paints a harrowing and blood-curdling account which produces a sombre, dull and subdued mood. Thato, the protagonist in the story is in a foreign land. He was impelled to leave his country as a result of political violence which saw many people lose limbs and lives. He feels lonely and unwanted in the foreign land. He feels lost and alienated.

There are sentiments of xenophobia expressed through the glances of citizens of the foreign country he is in. Even if he were to entertain himself together with his countrymen residing in that foreign land, Thato still felt a deep and nagging feeling of being an outcast. Thus, we have made very deep and broad descriptions of the circumstances in which the protagonist finds himself with a view to demonstrate how mood is created in a narrative. The creation of mood feeds into the description of the character’s circumstances, his mindset and the space and place in which he finds himself.

Mood, as we have demonstrated from the portrayal of Thato’s experience, has a link with pathos. Pathos is that streak of sadness which pervades a story and creates empathy in the reader. The aim of effective writing is to move the reader and to impel him towards certain sensibilities which are of an affective kind. Mood, when effectively created, allows the reader to grasp meaning which is not directly said in the story or composition.

Meaning in a story is an interaction between the words in a text as read together with the effect of the words, the tone used and the created mood. There are certain words in a text which do not just communicate, but etches in the reader’s mind certain thoughts, viewpoints and feelings. These words would be so evocative. One such word describes Thato’s deepest sense of alienation in the extract given above.

The word describes him as nursing a wish of invisibility, he felt or wished he were ‘invisible.’ His wish for invisibility is of great importance. It portrays how he was deeply affected by the loathing expressed in the eyes of those looking at him with hate and disdain.

So, here we are! Creating a mood is a craft which takes time to acquire and hone. But when achieved, it makes effective reading and allows the reader to get meaning which goes beyond the text.

Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school. Send your comments and questions to:

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