WE could not agree more with SADC facilitator and South African Vice President Cyril Ramaphosa on the importance of sincerity and political players on the part of government and the opposition to enable Lesotho to resolve its long-standing security, rule of law and governance challenges.
He was speaking at the launch of a dialogue which is expected to lay the groundwork for the engagement among government, opposition and civil society stakeholders to begin the talks about reforms security sector, public service, governance and other reforms that will usher in the stability that is necessity for socio-economic development and prosperity in Lesotho.
Mr Ramaphosa was quick to point out that the process will be fraught with “moments of tension and points of difference” which is to be expected given the disparate and conflicting sectarian interests of the various groups.
But as he noted, this is not the time and place for political gamesmanship. Scoring points and getting one over rivals should be furthest from the minds of the participants, particularly the players in both government and opposition.
“However, these instances (of tension and points of difference) should not derail the shared focus on a future where all Basotho will prosper in conditions of peace and stability,” Mr Ramaphosa said.
“We must remain mindful that engagements such as these are not about self-preservation for those around the conference tables, but it is about national stability, cohesion and a better future.
And to achieve this better future, it is essential that our agreements and disagreements must ultimately produce practically implementable plans, supported by the political will to implement what is agreed.”
We could not have put it more succinctly.
What remains is for us to remind all stakeholders that Lesotho has struggled for long periods during the 51 years of independence from Britain to find lasting peace and thus turn its full attention to development for the overall benefit of its citizens.
Our contemporaries that include Botswana have profited from stability and gone on to achieve tremendous progress while we remain a backwater despite our evident potential which is contained in our natural endowments in abundant water, plentiful sunlight mineral resources, excellent climate and human capital.
“We reiterate SADC’s commitment to working with the Government and People of Lesotho in search of a lasting solution to the political and security challenges facing the country,” Mr Ramaphosa adds but for how long can we continue to be in the childhood of humanity as a nation? For how long should we continue to be SADC’s problem child in the company of nations like Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo?
Angola and other yesteryear problem nations have since stabilised after years of full scale civil strife.
SADC can only do so much but ultimately the responsibility lies with our own politicians and other stakeholders.
Mr Ramaphosa rightly points out that “there must be an appreciation that Lesotho’s challenges are neither innate nor externally imposed”.
“They can be resolved because, in the main, they are political and arise from conditions within the Kingdom.”
Whether they are aware of it or not, the reality is that all our national actors, stand on the brink of history. They may not be fully responsible for the problems that plague our beautiful nation as some of the issues predate their own time in power, opposition or other positions of influence.
However, they have an excellent opportunity through this platform to etch their names in the history books as the groups of individuals who finally negotiated and subsequently implemented the reforms that gave the nation a fresh start.
Either way history will be made- will this generation be remembered for missing the moment or grabbing the chance to start a brand new story?
A new beginning is possible with sincerity and consideration of the national interest above all else.