THESE seminal impeccable words cited from the Book of Matthew 7:12, are advisory to our current political leaders. They are a truism today as they were in days of our Lord Jesus Christ, for they embody the civil way that we ought to treat one another as people.
This anecdote will serve as a vivid reminder to all of us. During the reign of the then military regime in Lesotho from 1986 to 1993, the army rulers passed laws that among others, prevented their detained fellow soldiers from attending family functions and funerals of their close relatives,while in detention. As fate would have it, one of the then military rulers, who was later in detention himself, wanted to attend the funeral of one of his cousins. His colleagues then in power, denied him that opportunity citing the very same regulations that he invoked to defy fellow detained soldiers to attend family activities while in detention.
You can well imagine the deep-seated pain the man must have undergone in those most trying times in a lonely prison cell. The moral theme behind this sad episode, which I condemn with the contempt it deserves, is that; if you reach the summit of a tall building using a ladder, do not kick it down, to prevent others from reaching those lofty heights, with the intention of preventing others from reaching the same. You will have great difficulty when you either descend or when they are above you in terms of power.
The Phumaphi Report (Mahao Family)
It is very disturbing that the government never saw it prudent to avail the Mahao family with a copy of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – Phumaphi Report set-up to enquire the circumstances surrounding the killing of the former commander of the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF), Lieutenant–General Maaparankoe Mahao. Lt-Gen Mahao was, by their own admission, gunned down by fellow soldiers at his home village of Mokema for allegedly resisting arrest.
To add insult to injury, SADC had specifically asked the Lesotho government not to publish the photographs of the body of the late commander as they were too graphic and explicit therefore likely to elicit resentment from both the Mahao family and the general public.
However, despite these warnings, the government nevertheless went ahead with publishing the graphic photos. As if that was not enough, it found it in its wisdom to expunge from the said report names of the soldiers that were allegedly involved in the killing of the late general. This is utterly insensitive in the extreme and deserves utter condemnation.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you …….”
The Phumaphi Report (former Prime Minister)
The former Prime Minister (PM) Thomas Thabane is by law, the leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament, in effect, leads a government-in-waiting, should things come to that. He is by law, accorded better treatment and enjoys better benefits and salary than ordinary leaders of opposition political parties and other Members of Parliament (MP’s). To compound the former PM’s difficult position even further, including those of the other leaders of the tripartite alliance, he fled the country to neighboring South Africa after death threats from the LDF, an institution that is directly controlled and funded by the government yet government is unwilling or acquiescing to their misconduct. This much is fortified by the Phumaphi Commission Report, therefore it is not a self-created threat that the former PM and others are running away from and scared of the LDF.
To buttress my point about the senior position of the former PM among other MP’s and to illustrate that he is the counterpart of the incumbent PM, every official government document that needs the attention of the PM or has an impact on his office is sent in a special manner to his office. Conventional wisdom and practice dictate that the PM, so does the leader of the Official Opposition, need to be served through their respective offices, all correspondence and documents that impact on their high positions.
For instance, during the 2016-17 Budget speech, the PM was not in the august house but owing his high office, presumably, he had been furnished with the copy even before it was read, (that is if reports that he was not in attendance are true). The same treatment should be accorded the leader of the Official Opposition more so given his peculiar circumstances not of his own making.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…….”
Points of Order in august house
Three or four years ago the Members of Parliament (MP’s) of the now new seven-party coalition government sang a rendition of the national anthem in Parliament, haggling and disrupting proceedings in the august house in protest at what they saw as in their own words “muzzling of the representatives of the people”. If my memory serves me right and I am subject to correction, despite the obvious disruptions in the Parliament, these MP’s were never suspended from the house.
Yet when the new opposition MP’s register their protests by joining the singing initiated by government MP’s and raising legitimate “Point of Order” in protest at what they regard as “tabling” not “publication” of the critically expunged Phumaphi Report, by the own admission of the PM, and these protests being raised in compliance with parliamentary rules, and procedures, four (4) opposition MP’s were slapped with a weekly suspension. This in a democratic dispensation when they were acting within the bounds of the law. Awful! “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”
Demise of the Lt-Gen Mahao and T Ts’osane
In the first half of 2015 two prominent Basotho, Lt-Gen Mahao and Thabiso Tšosane, a prominent businessman and supporter of the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) and a well-known philanthropist, were both gunned down in Maseru. As for the latter, no one has been arrested or questioned in regard to this cold-blooded murder. He was buried in a massive funeral befitting a king attended by thousands of mourners. He was the provider to literally thousands of destitute of Basotho and provided job opportunities to hundreds.
On both occasions, when opposition MPs tried to raise their killings in the august house, their questions regarding the apparent lax security in the country, which by law and convention ought to be provided by government, they were met with retorts like their demise was not out of the ordinary as they were just like other ordinary Basotho and no further debates on their death were tolerated.
For the life of me, both were no ordinary mortals like most of us, as for the late general messages of condolences and anguish were heard from as far afield as the United Nations, the African Union, SADC and Commonwealth to name a few. For Tšosane literally thousands were bereft of a sole breadwinner and provider and the whole Maseru and other areas like the general’s funeral, came to a virtual standstill. Royalty and dignitaries attended both their respective funerals yet government said they were just like any other deaths. Granted, a death of anybody is one death too many but to contemptuously brush aside the two men’s death as non- event not deserving of parliamentary debate is an aberration and unacceptable in the extreme. You can imagine the trauma and suffering caused by these deaths. It is serious indictment on the type of government we have, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you….”
Termination of employment contracts
Soon after coming into office in March 2015, the newly formed seven-party coalition government terminated en masse employment contracts and diplomatic tours of duty of several Principal Secretaries, diplomats and incumbents of strategic positions, arguing that they were appointed by the previous government and therefore sympathetic to that government. This the new government did at massive cost of millions of Maloti to the fiscus that could have been better disbursed for the socio-economic development and social upliftment of millions of impoverished Basotho who ironically also voted this government into power democratically. To make matters worse these ditched employees are Basotho who are equally entitled like everybody else, to serve this nation yet they were being denied this opportunity by their own government. The government would rather pay salaries of two very senior posts, many of them, for that matter, rather than channel that much-needed revenue to deserving courses to the trauma and suffering caused by these wholesale dismissals, on the affected families and others.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”
These accounts are not exhaustive, all but chronicle a litany of misconduct and utterances that our politicians would do wise not to visit on anybody. As the impeccable saying goes, to paraphrase it: do unto others that which you would expect them to visit on you.