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Lesotho: Beyond colonial legacy and apartheid



The viability of states constructed on the basis of territorial units established by colonial rule must now be scrutinised. Southern Africans need to look ahead and recommend steps in preparation for establishment of federal state.
In the context of changed world, where the cold war era has long ended and the apartheid system yielded to democratic forms of governance, there is a need to realign the region’s political structures to reflect centuries of history, social coherence and economic activities of the people of Southern Africa.

However, that will be possible if the politicians, policymakers, economists and development planners acknowledge the crude facts of the failures of institutional containers of colonial interests in our region. Although clear statistics cannot be cited, it is a well known fact that economically there are more informal trading activities taking place across the borders between South Africa (SA) and Lesotho, and between Swaziland and SA, than formally recorded activities.

Be it human trafficking or smuggling of counterfeit cigarettes and other goods between the borders of these countries, these activities on their own serve as survival modes of the communities around these areas.
The use of smuggling in economic contexts; each activity on its own, acts as a compensation against the weakness or incapacity of state institutions to protect citizens or advance people’s interests.

The authorities in their public utterances regrettably acknowledge the unacceptable state of affairs and always promise citizens that the state will intensify the policing measures, so that human trafficking and corruption at “our borders” are curbed. But regretting is a way of saying citizens should quiescently accept hunger or be content that the past historical injustices have determined their fate, no one can do anything about it.
Well, this chapter is an attempt to do something, along the same lines which other social and economic analysts who offered their thoughts on realignment of the Southern Africa economic and political structures in the post-apartheid era did.

Tito Mboweni, the former SA Reserve Bank governor, (Business Day, 25th September 2014) once commented that; “They are busy trying to make good out of a deep seated crisis,” in reference to Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) leadership peace efforts in Lesotho.

Instead, he argued that a long term solution to the crisis was; “to start work on establishing a ‘federal state’ arrangement involving SA, Lesotho and Swaziland. The federal arrangements would mean, among others: abolishing border controls and posts between these countries and SA, although Basotho and MaSwati will still carry their own passports to travel outside the borders of the three countries; free movement of capital and labour, instead of the present ridiculous system in which the government systems are far behind the ‘clue’ given the fact that people cross these borders every day without passports.

Instead create a common police border-patrol system for basic anti-crime measures, not people management; create a new revenue/fiscal framework; abolish certain unnecessary ministries and departments in Lesotho and Swaziland and create “federal” ones in Maseru, Pretoria and Mbabane; abolish the defence forces of Lesotho and Swaziland and create a common Swaziland-SA federal force in addition to the SA National Defence Force because Swaziland shares an external border with Mozambique ( Lesotho does not need a defence force) and finally, create “scorpion-type” anticorruption machinery to stamp out corruption and root out predatory and parasitic political class.”

These changes are possible and it appears the events of the last decade of 21st century which brought an end to a long standing political upheaval that divided western and eastern Europe gave the basis on which Southern Africa can rethink and reinvent its future for the generations to come. Any analyst who could predict the imminent disappearance of the Soviet Union in 1985, would have been dismissed as crazy.

However, now years later, it takes a real effort of imagination to recall that such state ever existed. Human beings adapt with remarkable speed to changed circumstances. This simply calls for a process of rearrangement of the intellectual furniture: the unthinkable remains unthinkable only until someone thinks it.

It is therefore useful to recognize how quickly the previously inconceivable can metamorphose into a normal and banal. The changes in the international system, which like earthquakes ultimately result from a slow build-up of underlying forces, characteristically occur in sudden and unpredictable shocks.

Over the years Swaziland’s absolute monarchy insulated himself from any public criticism until the king’s government ransacked the country’s coffers to the point that the regime had to come begging to SA for a bailout in 2011.
Pretoria agreed but with conditions attached to ensure that the money given was to benefit the citizens whose government had failed to pay civil servants salaries and provide chronic medicine.

The crisis subsided but the underlying problems that led to it remained. That is despite simmering political discontent, the regime still has power to swindle the country’s resources as it pleases. This has to come to an end at some point.
While in Lesotho a kinship corporation, disguised as a multiparty democracy had not shown any sign of being able to produce a democratic state responsive and sensitive to the general populace’s interests and protects people’s interests.

In Lesotho unlike in Swaziland, the big problem is not about building democracy by counting the number of political parties participating in the national elections but devising and upholding a state which its citizens will accept and respect it as a valid or worthwhile representative of the people’s needs and aspirations.

The politicians are often the ones harvesting the spoils of kinship corporation through the manipulations of the state, with ingenuity of corruption; and the state organs such as the armed forces being used to ensure that this or that group of politicians and their cronies are not hindered from plundering the resources as they wish. This has been the scenario that had characterised Lesotho up until May 2012 when the country went through general elections that failed to produce a clear winner.

A coalition of convenience was cobbled together but a party with the largest number of seats in the national assembly was left out of the government. However, the coalition fell apart after two years of being in power. Then a crisis ensued and the prime minister ran to Pretoria when it was evident that after three months of suspending the parliament the military was planning to topple his government.

Throughout its postcolonial history, Lesotho has always been an example of an area in Africa where a state designed within the confines of arbitrary colonial partitioning should not be maintained at all cost. Although the country has fixed boundaries, the effectiveness of state fades out into borderlands where actual levels of state control are uncertain.

It is important therefore to also take into account the fact that the territories inhabited by the people of South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Botswana were divided up between the states only in the mid decades of the twenty-first century.
And these divisions became firmly entrenched in the formal conception of the modern international system in 1969, when the Southern Africa Custom Union (SACU) was established. Prior to that period people did not need passports to travel across these territories. It has been easily forgotten how recent the establishment of these boundaries has been but the fragile basis on which their actual governance rests continues be a constant reminder that something has to be done about them.

I sometime think regional or perhaps continental political developments may as well usher in a process of evolution that will ultimately change Lesotho’s current political arrangement. That is, if the position advocated by the proponents of regional integration and the unification of Africa is anything go by. The transformation of Lesotho has throughout history been a process of evolution, not revolution, with much of the changes being determined by the outside factors more than internal interests.

Such changes include the ones observed by Leonard Thompson (1990) in his book The History of South Africa; which shows that since the 1830s when Afrikaner stock farmers began to settle on the high-veld, Basotho had been the Orange Free State suppliers of grain, and during the 1870s the Basotho responded rigorously to new market opportunities in Kimberley, but the tide began to turn in the 1890s.

The arrival of rail and road transport from the ports to Bloemfontein, Kimberley and Johannesburg led to importation of grain from the USA, Argentina and Australia, which could be marketed more cheaply than the grain transported by ox wagon from Basotho farmers.
While that was the case, around the same period, the Orange Free State livestock farmers gradually transformed their farming activities to include grain production. This process, together with the need for male Basotho to contribute their labour to SA mines, reduced Lesotho’s potential growth in commercial agriculture.

The problem was further compounded by the reduction in arable land and further influx of black share-croppers driven out of the Orange Free State after SA’s enactment of the 1913 Land Act, which confined the people of African origin to only 13 percent of the land.
Agriculture has been Lesotho’s economic backbone but with strained land use and able bodies of Basotho men conscripted to work in SA mines, the country was gradually reduced to a labour reserve economy and that significantly compromised Lesotho’s potential in what was the then booming economic and industrial development brought about by the discovery of minerals in the sub continent.

As Thompson points out (1990: 131) “ by 1900, the colony of Basutoland was set on its tragic course from its nineteenth century role as granary of the Orange Free State to its twentieth century role as impoverished labour reserve for white South Africa.”
This situation has not changed even after the demise of apartheid. The powers that be in Lesotho have maintained the same economic and political arrangement that existed before 1994. The subordination of Lesotho to SA economic interest was a gradual and systematic transformation process which took decades and a century to perfect.

Despite the fact that prior to 1994 and during the euphoria that followed the fall of apartheid at the National University of Lesotho and within many progressive movements, there was a debate about the future of Lesotho in post-apartheid SA, and such debate did not yield any fruitful engagements. During these debates several scenarios were proposed, which included a variety of policy options outlining the new future relationship between Lesotho and democratic SA.

Most of the policy options were centred around what form of cooperation or economic integration Lesotho would opt for in a post-apartheid SA. That is, whether the country would opt for a low key sovereignty similar to the one Scotland and Wales have in the United Kingdom or full integration as was the case with West and East Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.

These policy proposals were to set a tone for a National Dialogue among the political stakeholders, who would then set a national agenda that would inform the debate between the two countries. Nelson Mandela, during his 1996 state visit to Lesotho, expressed his support for the national dialogue in Lesotho.

This was a right time for Africans in this part of the continent to determine their own destiny, yet for years now after the demise of apartheid such debate did not yield any fruitful engagements. The International support for such a reconfiguration in Africa is non-existent because the Organisation of African Unity in 1963 guaranteed a continued disunity of Africans by maintaining the same political maps determined by the colonialists.
But many in progressive organisations in Lesotho had hoped it could be put on a bilateral agenda between the two countries. In his address to Basotho nation Mandela expressed the view that Lesotho required the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) to address the effects of decades of economic marginalization by apartheid.

At the time he alluded to Lesotho’s high-level of literacy, a large pool of skilled manpower and a sound current account deficit as positive attributes.
For many members of the ruling elite in Lesotho, this implied “thinking the unthinkable”, but for the majority of Basotho, whose families are divided by these artificial borders, it implied making life easier for them.

However, despite the African diplomatic consensus being firmly opposed to any alterations in the existing boundaries, there are issues of common cause and of a shared common history and cultural heritage, which could not be wished away. It was not a question of thinking the unthinkable because elsewhere in the world, particularly in Eastern Europe political realignment had to be made following the end of the Cold War Era in the 1990s, with East Germany becoming a unified state with West Germany.

Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob (2003:14) in Winnie Madikizela Mandela’s autobiography refers to a twin monster that shaped the future of the people of Southern Africa: of colonialism and deprivation. “The world of the Pondo was prosperous, peaceful and orderly, steeped in the dictates of countless generations.

But it was now changing. Colonisation was followed by an invasion by missionaries from Europe, traders and boers (farmers), and the demand for labour and land.” Bezdrob notes that Xhosas in Pondoland like other kingdoms of Southern Africa were finally subdued and then systemically impoverished as the discovery of diamond and gold towards the end of the nineteenth century and the fledging industries that mushroomed on the Witwatersrand area gave rise to new demands for cheap labour.

Ignoring a need to have political remedies that seek to address these historical injustices by the Lesotho’s ruling elite, when Mandela extended a good gesture was in itself seen as myopic and extremely naive by the then Ntsu Mokhehle’s government. An analysis of the group that supported inaction when the call was made, leaves much to be desired, “the ruling class”, (bourgeoisie) whose lifestyle differs greatly from those of the toiling masses who have to sell their labour in SA mines and as domestic workers.

This group came to constitute itself as bourgeoisie after political independence. Unlike the classical bourgeoisie of western Europe, who were themselves the owners of property and the upward mobile class associated with commerce during the period of industrial revolution, that elbowed the ruling aristocracies out of the way and came to assert their own political hegemony, the Basotho ruling elite has no comparable achievement to its credit.

Therefore with very little private sector opportunities, once some of them came into power their social status changed and the very thought of losing power drives some of them over the edge, and they become prepared to take arms against their fellow citizens. This attitude goes to the core of instability in Lesotho because the control of the government is key to the elite’s wealth accumulation.

The proletariat under their rule, since they cannot get jobs in the formal sector, where over decades they have toiled under discriminating labour practices in the SA mining industry have to fend for themselves as smugglers, petty thieves of cross border live stock and as prostitutes in the city centres of Bloemfontein and Johannesburg.

Lesotho’s ruling elite’s indifference to Mandela’s call was a betrayal of the people. This was despite the fact that in a modern world no nation has its people losing limbs and lives in service of another nation’s economic interest. Theirs was also a betrayal of the cause of history, by disowning a course of history that saw Moshoeshoe 1 seeking protection from the British against the Afrikaners encroachment on his territory in 1868 .

On the 12 March 1868, the British parliament declared the Basotho Kingdom a British protectorate. The Orange Free State was forced to discontinue the war if it was not to raise trouble with the British Empire. Two years after this, Moshoeshoe died in 1870 having saved his kingdom from being overrun by Afrikaners. History records show that there were three distinct wars between Basotho and Orange Free State between 1858 and 1868.
The purpose of these wars was the maintenance of territorial rights in the area between the Caledon and Orange Rivers; from present day Wepener to Zastron, and the area north of the Caledon River, which includes present day Harrismith and the area further westwards.

When apartheid came to an end in Southern Africa in 1994, many of people in Lesotho’s progressive organisations, thought there would be a third way that would lead to the rethinking of new political realignment beyond the social and political confines set by the colonial powers, particularly in the case of a country like Lesotho.

The first road that our region trotted for a century and decades was that of colonialism and apartheid, the second was post-colonial through which slight improvements were made, a third way which has to be piloted for generations to come is the unification of Southern Africa across wider regions, wherein colonial legacy and its enslaving tendencies has to be ended.

Thabo Mbeki’s famous “I am an African” speech resonated well with Southern Africans hopes and aspirations, that the region was beginning to be a wakening giant. By then it was hoped that the South African economy would expand and prosper as the main engine of economic growth for the vast southern Africa region. At least estimates were that the economy should grow at five percent annually.

However, since Mbeki’s exit from power the direction which the sub-region has been taking remains myopic, with the house of the national assembly in SA degenerating into narrow and petty party political debates; thereby reducing the struggle for freedom to limited objectives.
And often these objectives seem to be limited to the use of state machinery to benefit the ruling party and their cronies. That is as long as the interest of the ruling party and their cronies are served through politics of patronage and nepotism, the objectives of a democratic and free society appears to be narrowly met.

African political scientists like Christopher Clapham (1995:3) have driven a point home that there is a need for the rethinking of African states. The historian Basil Davidson (1990;104) argues about a continent deprived of its history and self-determination. There is nothing in pre-colonial Africa that the present day Africa could learn about and build on. That is, Africa is divorced from its past. Both Clapham and Davidson draw a paradoxical contrast between Africa and Europe.

Europe, according to Clapham was founded on strong states based on nationalism sustained by centuries of history. By contrast African states are weak, with artificial boundaries that lack internal coherence, mainly because of arbitrary colonial partitioning that did not take into account the cultures, economic activities and the social dynamics that existed in pre-colonial period within these regions. As a result of this some of these states are dysfunctional even to a point of collapse.

When the aftermath of the 1998 general elections in Lesotho led to the devastation and destruction of shops, Lesotho’s largest private sector employment; I was saddened and angered by how initially South Africa handled Lesotho’s political impasse.
However, it was the late Zambian journalist friend and a media trainer in Lesotho, who made me look beyond the crisis with an optimistic view. His view was, “don’t worry it is a nation, it will find its feet and stand up again.” And looking back to what he said at that time, I realise he was right, any nation can rise from the ashes of doom and gloom.

That is if one considers the fact that countries such as the former Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were able to recover from Mobutu Sese Seko’s years of misrule, Uganda found its feet after years of Idi Amin’s looting and destruction, and Rwanda recovered from genocide, the calamity that befell Lesotho in 1998 was of small proportion in comparison to these countries.

However, are African states like Lesotho and Swaziland resilient enough to survive the kind of challenges that saw European boundaries changed? Or are they living on borrowed time on the edge of an abyss that will soon do to some of them what has already happened to Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and the rest of disintegrated Soviet Union?

A true wisdom points Southern Africa into a direction of rational federalism; a future of organic unities of sensible associations across wide regions within which national cultures, far from competing with each other can evolve their diversities and in them find mutual blessings.
For to continue to cramp and confine the people’s strivings into the nation-state of exclusive and abrasive sovereignties, is to stifle progress and potential development. New institutional containers of national identities rooted in centuries of co-existence of communities in this region need to be constructed, away from accidental historical divisions that divided many communities from their mother culture.
I am talking about the people of Mpumalanga, Free State and south Gauteng who have historical and cultural links with Lesotho and Swaziland respectively.

These proposals at macro-policy level appear to be a workable solution to the problems of governance and new management of the state. But it is at the micro-policy level where a careful consideration should be made, taking into account the fact that Swaziland and Lesotho are largely rural, relying upon traditional institutions to administer issues such as land use and land allocation.
These traditional institutions and the cultures that produced them have taught these societies how to provide some form of public participation on the day to day running of the community affairs.

Ben Molapo

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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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