LAST week Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili hinted at retirement, saying he had little time as head of government and the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.
This was the first time that Mosisili, who was elected as prime minister in 1998, had openly discussed his possible retirement.
Ironically, Mosisili made the startling announcement after his recent trip to Libya where he had gone to attend the 40th anniversary of Muammar Gaddafi’s ascension to power in a bloodless coup in 1969.
The prime minister said the exact time when he would step down would be discussed by his ruling party first before he went public about the issue.
Mosisili said he had no intention to hold on to power for decades like what some of Africa’s leaders have done over the years.
He also said although he had attended Gaddafi’s celebrations he did not approve of leaders ruling their countries for 40 years.
In that context Mosisili said he would step down soon as leader of government and the LCD.
We want to applaud such candidness and hope Mosisili keeps his word.
As we have argued in our previous editorials, Mosisili would do his reputation a lot of good if he were to hand over the reins to somebody else soon.
We are certain that the LCD is not short of brilliant minds who could effectively take over the running of the party and government.
After more than 10 years in power, Mosisili has done his part. He has had the chance to shape and influence national policy.
Mosisili assumed the premiership in 1998, taking over from the late Dr Ntsu Mokhele who stepped down due to poor health.
If Mosisili were to keep his word and step down he would join a small club of progressive African leaders who voluntarily left power.
Among these are South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, Ketumile Masire and Festus Mogae of Botswana, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Mwalimu Nyerere of Tanzania.
We have seen leaders in Africa tenaciously clinging on to power even when it was clear that the electorate had rejected them at the polls.
Even when it was clear that their people have had enough of their misrule, these leaders have conjured up mischief by law to extend their grip on power.
Even when it was clear that these leaders were past their sale-by date, these leaders have tenaciously held on to power.
These leaders have had to be dragged and chased from the seat of power by their own people, screaming into exile.
The result in most cases has been violent uprising by the masses to rid themselves of tyranny.
At 64 years, Mosisili is relatively young by African standards. But the fact of the matter is that he is not getting younger.
Retirement would give Mosisili a chance to take his respected role as an elder statesman on the African continent.
As an elder statesman, Mosisili could use his wisdom garnered over the past 10 years to help quell trouble spots on the African continent.
Mosisili’s retirement could also offer the ruling party a glorious opportunity to revamp the leadership of the party.
It would offer the party a chance to regenerate itself.
A change of guard would mean an injection of new ideas to deal with the complex challenges facing Lesotho.
For his part, Mosisili has done fairly well over the past 10 years.
He is credited with running a fairly stable and functional democracy where there is respect for human rights.
Debating about Mosisili’s successor is not treasonous. It is part of healthy national discourse.
We would be happy to see vigorous and unfettered debate on the subject both within and outside the ruling party.
Feigning disinterest in the country’s top job will not help entrench democracy in Lesotho.
Those who indicate an interest in the top job should not be vilified.
Those that are interested in the top job should be allowed to throw their hats into the ring without fear of intimidation.