WE wish to congratulate the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party for holding a successful conference last weekend.
With a new revamped leadership the LCD appears to be in a strong position to tackle the many challenges facing Lesotho.
It is our hope that the party leadership will bury their differences which were so manifest in the run-up to the conference and focus on the challenges facing the party and the government.
We were nevertheless flabbergasted by the presence of officials from Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF party at the weekend conference.
The mere association with such a thoroughly discredited party, infamous for using violence and brute force to retain political power, did little to enhance the image of the LCD.
We are of the firm view that associating with such a discredited, blood-thirsty political party was a public relations disaster.
But aside from that the conference was on the whole a success.
A new revamped national executive committee was installed after peaceful internal elections which should act as a model for other political parties in Lesotho.
We were particularly impressed by the fact that those who lost in the elections last Sunday gracefully accepted defeat without a whimper.
It is for this reason that we feel it is in order to extend our hand of congratulations to the LCD.
We also wish to congratulate the leader of the LCD, Pakalitha Mosisili, for retaining his post unopposed.
To the best of our knowledge that decision was unanimous. Whether that approach was the best for democracy is a matter open to debate.
Mosisili has enjoyed 10 years of uninterrupted rule in Lesotho as both head of the LCD and the government.
Under Mosisili’s stewardship Lesotho has enjoyed relative peace and stability and modest economic gains.
His government has largely exemplified a commitment to principles of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
On a continent riven by political strife Lesotho continues to enjoy relative peace.
The country enjoys a multi-party democratic dispensation. The crude force used by some to cling to power in Africa is almost absent in Lesotho. There is greater political tolerance in this Kingdom.
Huge challenges however remain on the economic front with bold new innovations required to attract the much needed foreign investment to help lift the majority of citizens from their perennial squalor.
While the country has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world Lesotho has forcefully responded to the challenge rolling out free anti-retroviral therapy to infected citizens.
Lesotho is one of few African countries that distributes ARVs for free. That is no mean achievement.
However, it would be an act of dereliction of duty on our part if we fail to offer words of counsel to the leadership of the LCD.
It is clear that there are still huge challenges that still need to be addressed in Lesotho.
Mosisili would do his legacy a world of good if he avoids the trap of overstaying in political office.
The lessons from Zimbabwe where that wretched dinosaur of African politics, Robert Mugabe, has put his designs to cling to power at all costs at the expense of his country are quite salutary.
The challenge that the LCD ought to begin grappling with is to steer open debate on the question of leadership renewal within the party.
Calling for such a process is not treasonous.
It is a simple recognition that the party will need some kind of renewal if it is to survive and avoid sterility of ideas. The question of leadership renewal should be a constant in any vibrant organisation or democracy.
In fact it is now a proven science that countries which allow for regular leadership renewal stand a better chance of recording sustainable progress economically and politically while those ruled for long periods of time by the same person tend to stagnate.
It is with that scientific reality in mind that the United States, the world’s most impeccable democracy, will not allow a president to stay more than eight years in office regardless of how well the incumbent has done or how talented he or she is.
For too often we have watched in despair as Africa’s leaders have held on tenaciously to political power for decades at the expense of their countries.
The result has been the “Zanufication” of those parties’ political processes with only one tragic outcome: death of democracy in the concerned countries.
The lesson is clear – leaders need to know when to pass the baton. Doing so is a mark of true statesmanship.
In handing over to his successor Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair trenchantly commented that the best way to avoid the lure of power is to set it down.
Mosisili would leave a venerable legacy and take his place among the very few great statesmen of this continent — Nelson Mandela, Joacquim Chissano, Festus Mogae, Ketumile Masire — who vacated office at the heighs of their popularity – if he considers making this term his last or even passing the baton to a new generation before he ends it.