ANOTHER Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) summit beckons next week, with Lesotho once again expected to hog the limelight.
Hearteningly, it is not for delinquency that the Mountain Kingdom will find itself on top the regional bloc’s agenda list, but for holding relatively free, fair and transparent elections. Even though some opposition parties have contested the outcome of the polls, citing alleged voting irregularities, the elections were regarded as credible by most observers.
Lesotho will also top the agenda at the SADC summit in Pretoria, South Africa for its commitment to implement multi-sectoral reforms meant to nip the bane of instability in the bud.
The 6 March 2017 dissolution of parliament after the no-confidence vote six days earlier had knocked the wind out of the reforms sails because the focus was shifted to campaigning for the 3 June 2017 parliamentary elections.
And now that the elections are over, we can have an all hands on deck approach to implementing the reforms which encompass the security, constitutional, media and public service sectors.
We cannot agree more with Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s assertion that Lesotho should cease being SADC’s “bad boy” and become a constructive member of the bloc.
In a story we publish elsewhere in this edition, Dr Thabane assured SADC Facilitator to Lesotho and South African Vice-President Cyril Ramaphosa that the Mountain Kingdom was determined to shed the ignoble tag of bad boy of the regional bloc.
“As leader of the government group, I assure you that we will do everything to stop being the bad boy of SADC. Enough is enough.
“We want to assure you that when next you come, you will be coming to celebrate not to worry so much about our problems which as I said, are terribly solvable. We promise to stop being the bad boy of SADC.”
That can only be achieved by a sincere commitment by all stakeholders including the opposition. These reforms are ultimately for posterity and not just for the political lives of the current gladiators.
These sentiments are in keeping with the pleas made by this column and many Basotho for a paradigm shift in how we politick for the sake of future peace and prosperity.
Last month, Thaba-Bosiu Principal Chief Khoabane Theko observed that we have become a nation at war with itself owing to our political differences. He said these differences had become a blot on our collective consciousness that needed to be erased for the sake of future generations.
The fight for political power has left the country and its people in a dire situation, and requiring the intervention of SADC to help restore stability.
However, as belabored by this column, only a home-grown political solution can bring about lasting peace. It is conventional wisdom that a successful political dialogue has to be initiated by the ruling parties, with opposition political parties and other stakeholders then coming on board.
In the case of Lesotho, the seven-party coalition government should use its political dominance to be magnanimous and initiate national dialogue in which implementation of the Phumaphi inquiry recommendations and related developmental programmes are scrutinised and improved on.
Of necessity, the national dialogue would also need to address past human rights violations through truth-telling for the healing process to succeed.
A fundamental paradigm shift is thus needed for Lesotho to become self-reliant and not rely on the so-called development partners for everything. That the mostly arid Botswana has over the years donated food aid to a Lesotho teeming with water should not be a cause for celebration but great embarrassment.
Dialogue is certainly the way to go to ensure lasting peace and prosperity.