Nthakeng Pheello Selinyane
THE death of a government in trying times can spell doom for various social groups, and its prospect can trigger panic of unimaginable proportions. This is something we have seen on the local scene in recent months. It is universal in time and space, and its frequency can make everyday life unpredictable. It was out of this experience that the notion and practice of government of national unity (GNU), which reached our shores in 1994 in South Africa, was composed in interwar years (of the 20th century) in Europe. The vitriol of the 2007 snap election campaign trail was witness of the same universal anxiety on the part of the incumbents, and so was its cousin on the part of the same lot after 2012, this time condemned to opposition benches which they were furiously and artfully able to swap with the 2012 executive in 2015. We have come round to the same spot in quick two years after that dreadful change which has seen us living through a prolonged version of the gruesome 2007 Maseru night curfew. At such conjunctures, people speak in tongues.
The death bell of the current government was always hanging from a pole of corruption, and its toll was always a matter of time. Its arrival was heralded by one Teboho Sekata, spokesman of the co-ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) in that notorious June 2016 private mobile phone conversation, and threateningly announced in a negative sense by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili on the occasion of that September 2016 “I love my prime minister” march and rally arranged by a motley assortment of political charlatans who were already stoking fires of hatred in their party ranks, as news pages have been amply reporting, and party splinters have evidenced over this period. There is a saying that pride goes before one’s fall, and the Basotho say e bona mahe ha e bone leraba, meaning a trapped beast sees eggs but not the trap. – the lust for the decoy blinds it to the trap.
That could be the fate of our ninth parliament majority and its government. The prime minister declared 9 October 2016 as the date for showdown in parliament with his party honchos who refused to worship him. His then deputy Monyane Moleleki effectively undercut him by calling a by-pass party executive meeting to withdraw their party from the seven-party government and promptly signing an alternative government pact with the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) while inviting all parliamentary parties to join in a reconciliation GNU; only for his boss to overturn and banish them from electoral politics for six years, and thank the high heavens.
The rest is not history, it is that the prime minister has since retreated from his threat to call elections and condemn his adversaries to debt trap if they brought a no-confidence motion, which he was as good as vowing to lose, since they would not afford election campaign resources, besides being cast on political dumpsite by electors. Such identification of national resources with individual, bigot-sounding, personalities is at the least unfortunate.
We remember painfully that when the prime minister introduced the interest-free, government-guaranteed legislators’ loans a decade ago, he boasted the loans were a grain thrown at chickens which could not ignore it since fowls don’t grow grain. Sadly, this fray was later joined by a Pitso Maisa of the awkwardly named ABC splinter True Reconciliation Unity.
Dr Mosisili last week admitted losing the parliamentary majority, and therefore by definition, the government; but declared he would rule by minority because that was one model of government. This model, which was threatened by his former deputy Moleleki back in 2012, can only occur when majority of parties/parliamentarians give one their support but do not want to be part of his government, for various reasons, as has happened in the Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan councils in South Africa in 2016; but the prime minister knows he doesn’t enjoy such today.
His deputy had already threatened the plotters of government fall were courting the wrath of security branches, and that the government had an option of challenging the motion in court where the case would drag until life of parliament as was custom. This was heinous at best, given the Vision 2020 commitments on justice administration, and the fate of the 2007 NIP case, the MFP case on “theft” of parliamentary seats by main parties inspired by then ruling LCD, the court challenge of Speaker’s suspension of opposition leaders, and the latest case of the prime minister versus Moleleki & Co. In these cases the court either pronounced itself incompetent to complainants’ case, thus favouring government, or unusually speedily resolved them in its favour, in one case even outside the court calendar.
The always-useful home affairs minister and his whistle-good deputy party leader told crowds two weeks ago that if the motion were brought, it would be ignored because this was budget time and government business takes precedence over all else, and further that the orphans and pensioners should blame the opposition. This consultant-party leader further said at a rally that opposition had absconded from parliament for their own pleasure, and was now suddenly in love with its opening and fighting therefore, in their hunger to fell government; and they were declaring government dead but also seeking its protection. Again here, the state was being personalised as in the grain and chickens imagery!
We have also been hearing from the likes of the self-same TRU, the youth-sounding Movement for Economic Change, and the co-ruling Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) that whatever the fate of government, there should not be room for persons who have not been elected to “seize” government in parliament; some of whom are beneficiaries and perpetrators of the same – whereas the relevant section of Constitution says the next prime minister should be named in advance, for what? You may reveal your scores.