Basotho demand a voice in reforms

Basotho demand a voice in reforms

MASERU – LESOTHO’S much vaunted reform process will go to waste unless ordinary people are involved and national healing is allowed to take centre stage
That was the view that came from regular radio listeners at a seminar organized by a local civic group, Development for Peace.
The participants criticized the reform process.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has nudged the government and opposition parties to embark on reforms aimed at putting the country on a firm path to democracy in hopes of ending a cycle of political turmoil that has plagued the country since gaining independence from Britain in 1966.
But some are sceptical, expressing fears that politicians leading the process could use the initiative to take care of their selfish interests.
They said the process can only succeed if ordinary Basotho – who are the most affected by years of recurring instability – are recognised as key actors.
‘Mamohato Tšotetsi, an avid radio listener, told participants at the seminar on Tuesday that the establishment of a national truth and reconciliation commission should have been the first order of business.
“We are holding grudges against each other, there is no way Lesotho could go forward with broken hearts. We are full of anger and revenge,” she said.
“I suggest that before the reforms could be put in place, we should first clean our minds and hearts,” Tšotetsi said.
The reform process has been bumpy, often held back by squabbles between the government and the opposition.

SADC facilitator to Lesotho’s political crisis, Dikgang Moseneke, a retired South African judge, has brought the conflicting parties to the negotiating table to map a way forward.
Political interests are taking too much of the centre stage at the expense of ordinary people, said Mahlohlora Mosito, a regular Tšenolo FM guest.
“These reforms are made to benefit the politicians, not for Basotho nation as a whole,” Mosito said.
He warned that the reforms, if successful, were likely to be short-lived.

“Our personality as Basotho would not change. We already do not abide and get satisfied by the rules we have, we resist everything which was said by the law,” Mosito said.
He said frequent changes of government and the entrenched animosity among political parties that seem to lack consensus on what the national interest entails are likely to work against sustainability of the reforms.

“These reforms are made to benefit the politicians not the Basotho nation as a whole,” Mosito said.
Thabo Thokoa, who was also a participant at the seminar, said the reforms have been proposed since 1993 but were not implemented because they were used as a political weapon.
“We are using these reforms as a tool to fight against our opposition parties. We fail to understand the meaning of politics in our country,” Thokoa said.
He said the reforms are meant to benefit the public and not politicians and their parties.

The National Dialogue Planning Committee (NDPC) coordinator Tšoanelo Masasa said the government resolved to engage in reforms because Prime Minister Thomas Thabane wants peace and stability in the country.

“We have the roadmap that will guide us on how to go forward. These reforms are going to be helpful to everyone since the Prime Minister needs peace and stability,” Masasa said.
He said the reforms are also going to help curb the spate of killings that have been happening in the country.
But some seemed unconvinced and criticized politicians for turning a deaf ear to the views of the public.

One of those people was Tšotetsi, who said it should not come as a surprise if views on the reform process offered by members of the public are ignored.
“We are living like prisoners, we are forced to do things by politicians because we are facing hunger, and the only way to avoid that is to listen and dance to their music,” Tšotetsi said.
She suggested that the reforms would not make a difference to the majority of the population because “we are not a team in this country and the reforms are made for the politicians not us”.
“They have agendas for these reforms,” said Tšotetsi.

Itumeleng Khoete

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