Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili is a very lucky man after a plan to pass a vote-of-no-confidence in his government collapsed in dramatic circumstances yesterday.
Mothetjoa Metsing, who the opposition wanted to anoint prime minister, bizarrely claimed he had not been approached before the motion was moved in parliament this week.
Notwithstanding what happened yesterday, our position is that Mosisili is now a wounded man.
That Mosisili came within a whisker of going through the motions of a no-confidence vote must be seen as a humiliation for a man who has presided over Lesotho’s politics like a colossus over the past 15 years.
But he almost brought this humiliation upon himself over the manner he has dealt with the contentious leadership wrangle within his own party.
His handling of the leadership row has done little to unite the party save to drive a wedge between key leaders of the party.
It is also a matter of record that he has successfully alienated key constituencies within his own Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.
We were not surprised that it was his own former trusted lieutenants who almost led a successful putsch against his leadership.
Mosisili will retain the unsavoury reputation as the Prime Minister who became so unpopular that his own MPs ganged up to kick him out.
That should be very damaging to his legacy.
We once warned on this page that Mosisili risked being dumped into the political waste basket were he to fail to pass the baton to a successor within his own party.
We also advised him to announce the date of his departure so as to forestall the infighting that was threatening to tear the party into pieces.
This advice appears to have been conveniently ignored.
To us Mosisili appears determined to ignore the warning of history that teaches us that those who seek to cling to power often end up with none.
The current turbulence within the government all stems from his decision to refuse to inform the nation when he intends to step down.
After 15 years at the helm we think it is time that he begins to seriously contemplate going into retirement.
Otherwise he risks being stampeded out of power by his former lieutenants, working in cahoots with the opposition, like what almost happened this week.
After working hard as the stabilising and unifying force within the LCD, Mosisili risks squandering all that hard work by leaving a party that is deeply fractured and sclerotic.
This in no way suggests that his 15-year rule has been one big disaster. He has had some sterling successes.
It cannot be denied that Mosisili will be remembered as the leader who democratised Lesotho’s education system by providing free primary school education to the poorest of the poor.
He also rolled out free health services to the poor and took care of the aged through the old people’s pensions, never mind how small those pensions are.
It is these free services that have made Mosisili the “poster boy” of Lesotho’s politics.
In terms of infrastructure development Lesotho is far better than it was in 1998.
Lesotho is now generally more peaceful than it was 15 years ago.
However, in spite of these successes Lesotho remains mired in the mud with no tangible improvement in the lives of the majority poor.
We believe a lot more needs to be done to make Lesotho the “Switzerland of Africa” by tapping its huge tourism potential, among other things.
Despite having vast diamond resources no one seems to know where this mineral wealth goes.
The dramatic events that we have seen within the LCD over the last few weeks have proven that Mosisili is not immune to that big African disease — failing to discern when to pass the baton. This could lead to his undoing.
It is important that Mosisili resists the urge to over-stay in office to avoid being the author of his own downfall.
The no-confidence vote suggests that Mosisili is failing to read the proverbial “writing on the wall”.
This was the reason he was almost subjected to the humiliation of that no-confidence vote.
To avoid a repetition of the events of this week Mosisili must tell the nation when he intends to exit the stage.
Even though Mosisili survived this near putsch he remains a wounded man. He is now living on borrowed time.
The stakes are now heavily against him.