This article proposes an approach of governance that could lift Lesotho out of the dungeons of hunger, poverty and unemployment. I draw from an African-American activist and scholar, Claud Anderson. As Anderson asserts, the solution to any marginalised economy is community empowerment.
One must first understand the socio-economic dynamics at play in any constituency. Historically, Lesotho adopted its system of governance from its former colonial power. The colonial government treated Basotho as their enemies.
The system pushed Basotho into the dungeons of poverty, misery and diseases. Unfortunately, this system led to a vicious cycle of the triple tragedy of hunger, poverty, and unemployment for ordinary Basotho.
First, there is a need to understand the founding blocks that the proposal builds on. Anderson argues that a community is the starting point of economic and political emancipation of the marginalised. I seek to derive the meaning of the concept of ‘community’ in the context of a constituency in Lesotho.
A constituency is a primary structure that citizens may hold politicians accountable for. A community must desire to economically and politically liberate its members. Also, I will demonstrate that this structure will emancipate communities from the triple tragedy of hunger, poverty and unemployment. The workers in a community must earn a decent living.
A constituency community must seek to build collective thinking, bargaining and behaving as ‘we’. ‘We’ here denotes community members as a collective. To achieve ‘oneness’, they must hold regular meetings and campaigns. A constituency must connect individual members into an entity.
The starting point of all achievement is a collective desire. Thus, ‘desire’ is key to our community-building enterprise. Desire is the starting point of action. According to Wallace Wattles, desire is opportunity in a person seeking expression outwards. ‘Desire’ is the awareness of what each community lacks that would improve the lives of its members.
The term ‘community’ here is synonymous with Napoleon Hill’s ‘Mastermind Alliance’.
A Mastermind Alliance is a cooperation of people pursuing a definite purpose. The group complements each other to accomplish this purpose. Although all Mastermind members think the same way, they have different knowledge and skills. But, the members work together in perfect harmony to ensure success.
Any successful organisation has a Mastermind group. We must equip members to live and compete successfully in the domestic and global society of the 21st century, the period of the 4th industrial revolution.
In 2015 the Central Bank of Lesotho and the government said there were over 4 000 unemployed graduates in Lesotho. The national headcount poverty rate was 57.1% in 2011. Lesotho’s highest unemployment rate was 28.2% in 2010. In 2019 it was 23.5%.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated the youth unemployment rate at 32.8% in 2020. These national data suggest inferences at a constituency’s economic endeavours.
Although the Lesotho Bureau of Statistics regularly reports census, the reports do not disaggregate these data to understand the available constituencies.
For example, it would be essential to unpack the population regarding skills available for advancing a community at constituency or district levels.
Basotho are familiar with the concept of community ‘letsema’.
Many Basotho farmers practise subsistence farming. Traditional Basotho used matsema (plural for letsema) to increase agricultural production and to support bereaved widows in their times of need.
Scholars Lebeloane and Quan-Baffour describe the concept ‘letsema’ as a process of voluntary working together to increase productivity. Letsema premises itself on ‘Botho’, meaning caring, loving and supporting one another. These days local communities have an organisation called ‘mokhatlo’ or ‘societies’.
People come together as a society during funerals and other traditional ceremonies such as weddings and assist each other financially or in other forms of contribution.
Building on our traditional values and Anderson’s powernomics, I propose a comprehensive model. In doing so, the proposal adopts the Anderson definition of a community. Anderson distinguishes between a neighbourhood and a community. He points out that in a neighbourhood, people live in the same area.
These people merely live near one another.
In contrast to Anderson’s neighbourhood, a community is the ability to pull resources and power to produce and distribute consumption in a way that creates goods and wealth under its control.
With this in mind, a community has a commitment and potential ‘power’. Napoleon Hill defines the term ‘power’ as organised and intelligently directed knowledge. The article envisions a community that is economically and politically self-sufficient and competitive.
Maintaining the present status quo is detrimental to constituency communities. As a result, constituencies need an entirely different approach. This proposal seeks to define a community with an identity beyond its boundaries. It needs to create a self-contained community with collective thinking. A community is a unit with one goal.
In line with the aim above, the objectives of this proposal are to:
- define the concept ‘community’ in the context of a constituency in Lesotho. It proposes to build a community with characteristic attributes that emancipate its members. The characters are the economy, apolitical engagements with politicians, communication, and the education system;
- build an independent, self-sufficient and sustainable economy that provides for the domestic needs of its community;
- overcome the triple tragedy of hunger, poverty and unemployment by generating job opportunities leading to decent wages;
providing education and training opportunities for youth and ‘abled’ community members. Also, identify retired, unemployed people with skills that the community could use in the interest of its development.
This proposal advocates a community-based model. So, a constituency must build a competitive community and a community must be economically and politically independent. Constituencies must empower their communities.
A true community of the mind and physical structure lives in a designated space called boundaries. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs drew the constituencies’ boundaries nationwide.
An aspect that follows establishing a community is developing an independent sustainable economy. In this economy, money must bounce eight or more times before leaving the constituency community.
A constituency must develop a self-sufficient and sustainable retail market and other primary services systems. So, its economy must safeguard the basic family domestic requirements.
The local supplies must include groceries, fresh produce, meat products and services. Moreover, the products must be competitive in terms of prices and quality. A community must build its economy based on its needs.
There must be an Economic Committee. This Committee will provide strategic leadership in the business and economic aspects of the community. Their responsibilities will include coordinating business in the community and negotiating deals with relevant stakeholders that would benefit local businesses. For example, the Committee must negotiate favourable conditions that would favour our local butcheries with abattoirs.
These conditions would be such that these butcheries provide quality products at competitive prices.
Many communities have local cafes and vendors selling fruits and vegetables.
Many have informal spaza shops, several liquor outlets, hair salons and barber shops. So, communities need to structure and plan the businesses. A structured economy will minimise unnecessary and unhealthy competition.
However, a constituency must not control services and products. But the proposal proposes a structured approach to business and services for the constituency community.
At the same time, communities must audit business sites that are idle to understand what could be the cause of their plight. They must devise a resuscitation and redirecting plan for the business in line with its vision.
In the meantime, constituency communities must assist their informal businesses to become competitive. These businesses may only achieve competitiveness by working as one team. The team will buy quality supplies as a collective. Buying in bulk will help local shops to generate competitive prices. The bargain prices would benefit the local customers and the retail business.
Moreover, these shops must engage professionals who will assist them run professionally. For example, businesses must follow proper bookkeeping protocols. The Economic Committee must negotiate ‘loan’ services to help informal businesses with the banking industry in Lesotho.
The loan terms should facilitate the growth of such businesses.
Similarly, the local service providers must run their businesses professionally. They must follow proper business procedures. These shops must engage professionals to function efficiently. In this way, local businesses must follow proper bookkeeping protocols.
Bookkeeping will enable these shops to measure their business performance in terms of profit and loss. There must be structured capacity buildings for business owners.
Moreover, the economic committees must engage local industries to fund local entrepreneur incubation training programmes. These industries must partner with Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO) in developing this incubation programmes.
Also, big retail businesses sell indigenous products such as ‘motoho’ and ‘mageu’ that Basotho brew and sell on the streets. So, the industry must train Basotho on quality packaging. The government must enforce local production for these products.
Selling local products is not new in Lesotho. For instance, the government has outlawed the importation of bottled water.
This proposal suggests ways for capacitating members to attain independent economic sustainability. Using people with bookkeeping skills will enable the constituency’s economy ‘to kill two birds with one stone.
It will help small business clean their books while at the same time reducing unemployment. The people with basic bookkeeping skills provide ‘mobile’ bookkeeping services to local businesses.
The Committee could explore possibilities of creating local cooperatives (the Coop). Basotho are familiar with the concept of cooperatives. Also, the Coops must benefit the local farmers, businesses and consumers.
For instance, the Coop could audit families with fields that may be lying fallow. There may be families that engage in farming elsewhere. The Committee must negotiate farming contracts with these families.
The Coop would then establish a Food Coop that will sell fresh produce at competitive prices. The Committee in constituencies must the electronically link the Food Coop with the local business.
The link with local businesses will be in a way that encourages community members to buy locally.
Also, a community must encourage interested families to engage in commercial agricultural projects such as piggery, poultry, and horticultural and dairy farming. The Coop will identify interested families and arrange developmental workshops that they could use to induct these families into the farming they opt for.
The Coop must consult with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to create these business prospects.
The World Bank report (2016) and Guardian (IRIN, 2011) describe Lesotho’s public health system as ailing.
Healthcare crises plague the public health system. Affordable healthcare is scarce. Access to the general public to medical healthcare services is a challenge. The economic committee must link healthcare to the Coop. The strategy would enable members to have access to quality healthcare.
The Coop must explore ways its members may benefit in both public and private medical systems.
Constituency communities need a coordinated communication system.
The system would be necessary to build and empower members. However, there will be a need to communicate beyond town halls and formal gatherings. There must be regular local newsletters and other print media bulletins.
Each constituency community must have a communication radio station. The communication station is where ideas are developed and shared. This station must be interactive, allowing community members to air their views and developmental initiatives.
Its sole purpose will be to provide publicity. The communication radio station is a platform for sharing community programmes and projects with members and the general public. Moreover, the communication radio station will facilitate non-formal, informal education and information sharing.
The platform enables constituency communities to communicate with all stakeholders, politicians and other interested parties.
Initially, constituencies may not be able to own a radio station. An alternative would be to identify that radio station that resonates with them and may provide their services in the best condition and work with them. A constituency will then work out a contract that will suit them.
Moreover, the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic shutdown underlined the need for WiFi and internet connectivity. The youths are consumers of internet connectivity and its products. Constituency communities must lead in the initiative to harness this desire in young people and exploit it beneficially.
They must endeavour to provide free WiFi connectivity to their members. A constituency must use WiFi connectivity to enhance communication.
A constituency community must be apolitical. Presently, politicians, both at local and national levels, sell their political party manifestos to communities. People vote for parties based on personal sentiments.
A constituency must not vote on a party basis. It must bargain with politicians on a quid pro quo policy. Thus, a constituency must vote for a candidate who promises to meet all its demands. In this way, the electorate forces their MP to make him accountable to them.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, quid pro quo means that one gives something or receives it for something else. In other words, as Anderson puts it: ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine.’
As a result, quid pro quo is the best strategy a constituency could use to make politicians account for because the deal enables the voters to attach conditions to their votes. The politicians must promise to meet the community’s demands.
The last and critical feature of a community is education. Education is the apex of community development. Education provides the best means that a community may break the vicious cycle of the triple tragedy of hunger, poverty, and unemployment. A constituency must develop education strategies for their children.
Unfortunately, Lesotho offers an education that fails to meet the country’s needs. Only the general public sends their children to public schools. Those who have, e.g., the moguls, send their children elsewhere. But education is a mandate of the national government.
Although the Bureau of Statistics shows the population at different levels, it does not disaggregate the data by age, profession, skills or employment status. The statistical report unpacks these population data at district and national levels.
The omission is serious.
Government documents reveal that Lesotho’s biggest asset is human resources. As a result, Lesotho Government sponsors thousands of students in higher education institutions. Yet reports show that in 2015 there were over 4 000 unemployed university graduates who never worked.
In the meantime, the population census reports do not reveal data on retired skilled but not incapacitated pensioners lying idle. Constituencies waste these resources. We may juxtapose this information with the unskilled and unemployed youth and all ‘abled’ persons in a Constituency.
I use the word ‘abled’ to mean a person capable of working. Communities must exploit the skills of their members.
A constituency must engage in a fundraising campaign for the capacity development of the youth.
Constituency must build technoparks. A technopark is an initiative managed by professionals to support innovation and competitiveness. The technoparks will house skilled personnel, who include hairdressers, dressmakers, motor mechanics, plumbers, engineers, etc.
Technoparks will serve three purposes. (a) They would create jobs for the unemployed skilled labour force. (b) They will enable these owners to employ unskilled youths as apprentices. (c) They will produce quality products and services.
However, many will argue that young people need breakthroughs. Breakthroughs are also called luck. Education and training provide opportunities for these breakthroughs. Luck, in this case, the breakthrough happens when the preparedness in young people meets with opportunity.
Meanwhile, a Constituency must encourage its graduates to provide youth services by first working locally before exploring greener pastures. So constituencies must invite education scholarships for youth development.
Also, a community must work closely with the Ministry of Social Development to ensure deserving youth obtain the educational support they may require. Its education initiatives must make provision for inclusive education.
Lesotho, especially now in the age of digitalisation and social media, is reading and faces a challenge in knowledge acquisition, general information and recreation. Reports show that Lesotho is not a reading nation.
The country’s literacy rate is declining at an alarming rate. Consequently, we propose an erection of a modern public library. The library would also serve as a resource centre that provides digital services.
Community building is not an event but a process. As a result, the process requires time. It is best to match our building time interval constitutional elections period. Therefore, we envisage a fully-fleshed autonomous community by the year 2027.
In summary, this document suggests a strategy for building a constituency community. It highlights that communal farming and matsema are already inherent to Basotho. Also, Basotho have societies that cover customary ceremonies. As a result, constituencies must exploit this custom in their community-building endeavours. It highlights the aim and objectives of a constituency community.
Here, a community must work on the principles of collective decision-making. It aims to build a self-sufficient independent economy. I combine the objectives of a constituency community into one, namely, to overcome the challenges of hunger, poverty and unemployment. The constituency community is responsible for the emancipation of its members and advancement.
This proposal highlights the different features of a community arranged in hierarchical layers of an emancipatory community. It shows how a constituency community could utilise the features to its advantage. These features are:
• the constituency must build a self-sufficient economy. It must create an Economic Committee. The Committee will, in turn, institute a Community Cooperative. The Committee will structure the local business to the community’s needs;
• A community must encourage small business commercial farming. Where possible, the Economic Committee must encourage contract farming;
• A Constituency must initiate an entrepreneur incubation training programme in partnership with industry and BEDCO. Furthermore, a big retail business must sell local cultural products produced by indigenous Basotho;
• the constituency must form its communication station and other forms of communication, like bulletin newsletters, etc. Also, the constituency must provide WiFi connectivity;
• A Constituency must be apolitical. It must vote for candidates on merit. Politicians must commit to meeting their developmental demands. In this way, the community will have the power to hold politicians accountable through quid pro quo practice; and,
• Constituencies must structure their education and training initiatives. Also, they must develop their human resources based on their needs. A constituency must initiate and communicate their training endeavours with the stakeholders.
• A Constituency must erect technoparks. As such, the technoparks would serve multiple functions. They would provide training and employment opportunities while providing services and products.
• Each constituency must erect at least one public library.
Finally, this proposal can apply at any level in Lesotho or any part of the world. We envisage a constituency community project will be fully functional and autonomous in five years. This way, a constituency will break the vicious circle of the triple challenge of hunger, poverty and unemployment and lead their country to prosperity by serving, not receiving.
Dr Tholang Maqutu
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
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: email@example.com
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