PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili yesterday threw in the towel paving way for a smooth hand-over of government to a coalition led by Thomas Thabane.
The decision sets a very good precedent for our young democracy.
By deciding to hand over the reins to Thabane, Mosisili joins a small club of sitting African heads of states who have handed over power to the opposition after losing an election.
While his Democratic Congress (DC) won the highest number of seats in last month’s election, it was clear that no opposition party was willing to enter into any coalition with it.
Instead of putting up a fight, Mosisili had the wisdom to concede defeat promising to go into parliament as a loyal opposition.
Basotho should be grateful that Mosisili has put the interests of the nation first ahead of the personal by presiding over this smooth transition.
With that magnanimous act of statesmanship Mosisili has not done his legacy any harm.
In fact he will enter the annals of history as the first Mosotho leader to hand over power to the opposition after “losing” an election.
With the political uncertainty now water under the bridge it is important for Thabane and the other leaders of the coalition government to be magnanimous in victory and not seek to pursue a retributive agenda.
Any attempt to pursue such a course would have devastating implications for our young democracy.
It would also seriously sidetrack the new government from addressing the key challenges of poverty, disease and joblessness in this country.
The new government must therefore keep its eyes on the ball.
This is no time to settle old scores.
We are not however suggesting that Mosisili was an angel during his 15-year reign. He made mistakes.
The demon of corruption grew unimpeded under his watch.
The gap between the rich and the poor widened.
Only those well connected appeared to benefit from government contracts.
It is unforgivable that under Mosisili’s watch Basotho still had to be subjected to the indignity of using pit latrines in this day and age.
While he democratised the education system the quality of the education in schools and universities left a lot to be desired.
On the political front, Mosisili’s biggest undoing was failing to know when to pass the baton.
After steering the ship of state for 15 years, Mosisili appeared hell-bent on holding on to power even when it was clear there were murmurs of discontent about his long reign within his own party.
What we saw was a man in denial of his own political mortality.
He plodded on refusing to accept that his time was up.
Mosisili should have given up the premiership a long time ago to give fresh brains within his party a crack at the country’s top job.
We will however be the first to admit that while Mosisili had his frailties, like the rest of us, he is not in the same league with notorious despots such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe or Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
We all know how these deranged despots have been willing to murder their own people in a bid to instill the “fear of God” in their own subjects.
We must be grateful that Mosisili is nowhere near that league.
This is the reason why we witnessed this “political miracle” yesterday.
We should be thankful that Mosisili did not seek to put up a fight to stay in State House, thanks to his democratic instincts.
By doing so he averted a bloodbath and taught Basotho an object lesson in democracy.
As captured on the front page of this week’s issue what we saw at parliament yesterday was a man at peace with himself and with his God.
Our politics have indeed come of age.
As we have argued in previous editorials there is life after quitting power. It is not the end of the world.
As an elder statesman Mosisili can still play a unifying role for the country.
His wisdom, garnered over the years, could come in handy as he plays the role of a loyal opposition leader, helping keep the new government on its toes.