ONE of the oft repeated punchlines by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili during the campaign period was the promise to restore the dignity and respect of the premiership, which he said had been “lost” during the short-lived reign of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
However, the campaign is well and truly behind us, and the electioneering that goes with it. It is now the time to deliver on those lofty promises and, unfortunately for Dr Mosisili, the honeymoon period will be short-lived.
Whichever direction the prime minister will turn will elicit howls of derision from either long-term allies or the opposition which is clearly spoiling for a fight. Dr Mosisili’s current conundrum on cabinet appointments is a case in point.
Elsewhere in this edition, the Democratic Congress leader declares he has now changed from an “arrogant leader” to a more amiable individual ready to work with other formations. Dr Mosisili’s newfound virtues will face the sternest tests in this coalition government, since he has to consult and agree with six other political parties.
However, amid the melee of the seven-party coalition, the “changed man” premier will need to find his voice and chart a progressive course for the nation. This might not necessarily bode well with all of his coalition partners, but the long-term interests of the nation must prevail over expediency.
The first area the premier can show he is charting a new course is facilitating rapprochement with the opposition alliance on issues of national interest. While it goes without saying that they remain his foes, a hostile environment in parliament will only perpetuate the logjam that characterised the 8th Parliament.
He will also need to acknowledge the previous government’s accomplishments, as well as show good faith with the opposition by incorporating any useful ideas they may propose. Parties in more advanced democracies agree to disagree when it comes to politics, but coalesce when it comes to furthering the national interest.
While opinions on the security situation varied across the political divide, what cannot be disputed is that there is palpable tension between the agencies, and it will require dexterous leadership from the premier to ensure all of this nation’s citizens feel secure.
Dr Mosisili has clearly won the political war, but the battle to reassure the electorate which voted against the Democratic Congress and like-minded parties has just begun. This is more so in the urban areas where the opposition alliance holds sway.
The premier needs to move away from the polarising debates of the campaign trail and strike a conciliatory tone with the electorate since he no longer serves mere partisan interests but those of the nation.
This is not to say the premier should be a doormat for everyone, but rather that the position calls for humility and cooperation.
Dr Thabane’s failure to confer and find the middle ground on matters of governance with his coalition government partners was, ultimately, his undoing as he had to prorogue parliament to prevent his inevitable ouster from office.
As succinctly stated by South African President and Southern African Development Community Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation chairperson Jacob Zuma on Tuesday, Lesotho’s leaders must hear Basotho’s cries for peace, stability and development.
Indeed, the government should take the cue of Basotho who exercised their democratic right in relative peace and harmony. This also applies to the opposition alliance who must put the national interests first and not try to sabotage the new government.
Whatever political party they voted for, Basotho were expressing an aspiration to have their nation flourish and emerge from its current least developed status.
Lesotho needs to shrug off being a byword for political instability and coups. And this opportunity is as good as any to do just that.