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Political leadership — a cause of instability?



Continued from last week

In the fighting that followed, approximately 40 LDF soldiers died resisting SANDF troops who attacked Katse Dam and Makoanyane barracks.
Focussed on this resistance, SANDF failed to prevent fleeing demonstrators and soldiers from looting and putting parts of Maseru, Mafeteng, Mohales’ Hoek, and Roma to the torch.
The country would take years to politically and economically, recover from this man-made calamity.

One-party Dominant System, 2002-2012

Attempts to deal with a part of the causes of political instability—First Past The Post (FPTP) (the electoral model that the country had adopted since independence) and its perceived ‘tendency’ to ‘exclude’ from parliament parties with a sizeable following and a culture of disputing and contesting election results— all led to the establishment of the Interim Political Authority (IPA) in 1998 to create a more appropriate electoral system.
The IPA came with proposals for a new electoral model, namely, the Mixed Member Proportional which is a mixture of FRTP and Propositional Representation (PR), with a view for parliament to be inclusive.

This is the context against which the 2002 general elections were held, the outcome of which was a landslide victory for the LCD winning 79 out of 80 constituencies, the exact number it had won in the 1998 elections, which, had resulted in chaos and political instability in the country.
The difference was that at this time the size of the parliament was 120—constituted by 80 FPTP members and 40 PR members.

The enlargement of parliament was done, in large part, to appease political elites with hope that political stability would be established. The cost of an enlarged parliament to the fiscus was huge but the question was whether the price of peace was not better than that of war.
However, as we all know, despite the huge costs Basotho paid and are paying for political stability, Lesotho political elites’ greed and struggles for power continue to exacerbate political instability.

In many ways, the 2002 elections provided an opportunity for Lesotho to establish a stable democracy and to erase, from its history, the instability that had dogged the country since independence.

The general acceptance of the new electoral model as inclusive and representative of all shades of political opinion was hailed as its main achievements. Prime Minister Mosisili would describe it as “molleloa” meaning ‘the best (ever)’ in one of his political rallies. The elections’ outcomes of 2012 and 2015 would show the fallacy of this description, as will be seen below.

Scholars of elections, such as Makoa,(2012: 4), however, observe that “ the advent of the MMP system may have just heralded a shift in focus or opened a new side of political conflict in Lesotho rather than being a cure for it.”
Six years later, and following the 2007 general elections disputes, political instability ensued as losing parties wrangled over the allocation of propositional representation parliamentary seats because the new model was abused by the political elites. LCD went into an alliance with the National Independence Party (NIP) and won the poll.

The newly formed All Basotho Convention (ABC), which went into an alliance with Lesotho Workers Party, challenged the election outcome. As a result strikes, stay-aways and protests followed as the opposition sought to overturn seat allocation.
Violence ensued as supporters of government and opposition supporters clashed. Elements of the army were also reported to be involved in this violence on the side of the government.

SADC, in the person of former Botswana President Quett Masire, visited the country to mediate disputes on allocation of parliamentary seats. His mission failed and he withdrew.
In the midst of this impasse, political instability manifested itself, as Prime Minister Mosisili survived an apparent assassination attempt when the State House was attacked by mercenaries in the dead of the night in 2009. The same mercenaries had, on the same night, attacked the Makoanyane barracks and seized army vehicles.

Three mercenaries were killed in the exchange of fire with the police on the outskirts of Maseru the following morning while seven were charged in connection with the attack on Mosisili and found guilty and jailed.
As these events were happening, the ever-present power struggles within the congress ‘movement’, characterised by internal wrangles within the LCD as two factions, Lija-mollo and Litima-mollo, supporting the Leader of the party, Mosisili and the Secretary-General, Metsing respectively, fought pitched battles to capture the party. When the leader and his supporters realised that they would not win, they split from the LCD and formed the Democratic Congress (DC) which hived away a large number of members of parliament to form a minority government. Political stability was a casualty.
It was also during this period that the LCD government, in order to buy support from parliamentarians, not only increased their remuneration but also introduced a lot of obscene perks.
These included the interest-free loan of M500 000.00 from commercial banks, guaranteed by the government. There was also the purchase of government vehicles by the ministers and Principal Secretaries, at the nominal price of M4 000 for Mercedes Benz sedans, and M2 500 for luxury Toyota sedans after three years of use (Lesotho Government Gazette Extraordinary, 19th June, 2006).
These ‘perks’ were justified by saying that increasing parliamentarians’ remuneration was in order to attract persons of high calibre to national politics. In fact, the opposite has happened.

Instead of attracting persons of integrity, national politics has attracted a majority of persons willing to play sycophant to the few who exercise real power. Further, the perks have attracted, to Lesotho politics, individuals—‘political leaders’ and their supporters—of greedier dispositions who are driven more by motives of self-enrichment than public service.

During the life of the LCD government, instances of public funds being laundered through tenders for both party and personal gain were investigated by the Lesotho National Assembly Public Accounts Committee. The results of that investigation are a matter of public record.
The report shows that nepotism, kickbacks, opaque and irregular procurements, and conflict of interest were used by the political elite to fund themselves and their parties in complicity with several dirty corporations.

It was during this period, 2007-2012, that a conducive environment emerged in which the investigative institutions such as auditors, police, anti-corruption agencies acquiesced to this skulduggery.
In such an environment, many public servants felt free to also indulge in this gluttony, masquerading as independent suppliers and overcharging government for goods and services illegally supplied. For example, the Prime Minister’s office reportedly bought a consignment of cans of fruit juice for each of which the government was charged M100, instead of the normal retail price of less than M10.

Unstable Coalition Governments, 2012-2016

The first coalition government was formed after the 2012 general elections which produced a ‘hung parliament’, where no single party had a majority to constitute government. Coalition partners ABC, LCD and BNP had 30, 26 and 5 seats respectively, forming a simple majority of 61 seats out the 120 seats that constitute the Lesotho National Assembly.

The four years of Coalition governments which followed the ten year one-party dominant government was a welcome change to most Basotho. It was hoped that the political elite had, at last, come to their senses and were then committed to an inclusive nation-building process and economic development. Alas, that was not to be, as political instability became more pronounced than ever before in the political history of the country because political elites vied for power at the expense of the people and embarked on bitter and mostly bloody struggles to get on top.

Examples of these self-serving struggles from the first Coalition (2012-2015) were the prorogation of parliament in June, 2014, the attempted coup of August, 2014, by the Commander of LDF, Tlali Kamoli, following the decision by prime minister to fire him and replace him with Brigadier Mahao, the LDF night attacks of the 30 August, 2016, on Police headquarters where Sergeant Ramahloko was brutally killed, attacks on Mabote police station, on the home of new Commander of LDF, Lieutenant- General Mahao, and on the State House.

The latter resulted in the Prime Minister Thabane and the Minister of Sports, Chief ’Maseribane, fleeing to South Africa.
The first coalition government effectively collapsed in June 2014 when the LCD signed a new alliance with the DC, which had won 48 seats in the 2012 elections. Before the 2012 elections, the LCD had ruled out the possibility of a coalition with the DC in the event of a failure to secure the requisite parliamentary majority.

The ABC-led coalition was a marriage of convenience which was driven by an “anti-Mosisili sentiment.” Both the ABC and LCD were hostile to working with the DC or expanding the coalition to anyone else.
This arrangement was inherently unstable because the coalition faced challenges of governing with a one seat majority; it was difficult to pass legislation requiring two thirds majority and factional politics subsequently characterised the coalition driven by their historically antagonistic relationship.

More importantly, this “coalition became personality-driven with a standoff between Thabane and Metsing over the division of spoils” (Motsamai, 2015:7).
The second Coalition government of 2015-2017 was equally unstable because of its exclusion of the ABC which had won 46 seats. Within three months of a new coalition government being formed, Thabiso Tšosane, a prominent businessman, and a member of former Prime Minister Thabane’s party, was killed by unknown people in May 2015.

This event was followed by the execution of Lieutenant-General Mahao, former LDF Commander, by the elements of the LDF, in June. Fearing for their lives, three opposition leaders, Thabane, ’Maseribane and Rantšo fled to South Africa, while a number of LDF members were rounded up, arrested and brutally tortured for alleged mutiny. Other LDF members fled into South Africa.

These are signs of political instability since 2012. SADC has been occupied with efforts to manage and resolve the perpetual conflict in Lesotho. In fact, Lesotho has been a prominent conflict agenda item at SADC Summits and Extraordinary Summits to-date.

Following the murder of Mahao, SADC, (at the invitation of the Coalition government), established a Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi from Botswana. It sat for three months in Lesotho and South Africa and presented its findings. During its investigations and after presenting its report, the coalition government threw all manner of obstacles either under its own hand or using agents, particularly the army, to frustrate and tarnish the image of the Commission.

To-date, only one of the Commission’s recommendations, namely, the release of Lt. General Tlali Kamoli from the Command of the LDF, has been implemented. Makoa’s (2012:2) observation on the first Coalition that the key motivation behind its formation was the quest for office and state power applies to the second Coalition, perhaps to a very large extent.

For example, while in the first Coalition the combined number of cabinet ministers and deputy ministers increased from 23 to 30, in the current Coalition the number has increased to 38. The payoffs and the spoils, or benefits, of cabinet positions have been captured by Mboweni (2014:2) when he observed that:
In this country (Lesotho), which is poor and with a small economy, control of the government is key to the most primitive forms of wealth accumulation. Access to a ministry means the ability to loot the state’s resources in order to enrich oneself. It is as crude as all that.
Once someone becomes a minister, their social status changes, their control over tenders and other state resources is enhanced, and “aluta continua!”
So the very thought of losing state power drives even the best men and women to go absolutely berserk. That is the fundamental basis upon which we should understand the continuing instability in Lesotho.


Based on the events of the last five decades, it can, arguably, be said that Lesotho is confronted with a significant leadership challenge which has been at the centre of the country’s political instability. That leadership challenge needs to be urgently addressed and elevated as a priority issue of concern to all Basotho—ordinary citizens, political parties, civil society groups—regional and continental bodies, as well as development partners.

Collective action is required to stop and reverse the trend of poor leadership and generate a new crop of leaders. Currently, all those at the helm of the Lesotho state seem oblivious to the fact that “leadership is a privilege and an opportunity to serve others . . . (rather than) an instrument to assert their dominion and oppression of others” (Murithi, 2007:9).

Lesotho needs leaders who demonstrate ability to manage state affairs conscientiously and efficaciously, a consistent commitment to advancing the conditions of their compatriots, selfless devotion to the principles of democratic governance and an attitude of service.
Granted, that Lesotho’s problems cannot be reduced to poor national political leadership alone. However, men and women who have ruled Lesotho since independence have been so obsessed with self-advancement and have been so lacking in the sense of national duty that they have had neither the will nor the talent to face squarely this nation’s other problems.

Current national political leadership prefers the status quo and have been completely blinded by self-interest and by the benefits that accrue to them from the status quo.

T. H. Mothibe

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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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