What’s the endgame?

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ELSEWHERE in this edition, the four-party opposition alliance has undertaken to block the government from accessing public funds to bankroll the snap general elections scheduled for later this year.

In their statement outlining their intentions, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Alliance of Democrats (AD), Basotho National Party (BNP) and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) withdraw their vow to file a legal challenge of the dissolution of parliament to protect the “sanctity of the office of the King”.

However, by declaring that the government could not legally make an advance expenditure for the upcoming general elections and ordinary operations, it becomes clear that the ultimate intention is to bring about a standstill in government works.

It boggles the mind what the opposition’s endgame is since the government has already lost the no-confidence vote in parliament and by hook or by crook engineered snap elections. They risk many unintended consequences with their stated strategy.

If the elections, which are likely to be held between the end of May or early June 2017, were not held as the opposition seems intent on, then the outgoing Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili-led government may remain in power.

Such a situation would prolong the political instability that has been at the root cause of Lesotho’s underdevelopment. In this edition, business consultant and former Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation CEO Robert Likhang said the M300 million that is likely to be needed for the general elections would be well spent if it resulted in political stability.

“If going for elections will bring about political stability, then I think it would be money spent wisely. “The kind of political environment in this country is not conducive for many businesses to thrive,” he said.

Political stability is a trump card other countries hitherto similar to Lesotho like Botswana and Namibia have used to prop up their economies from the least developed status to middle income levels.

It is our belief that most Basotho want the country restored to political stability that fosters economic and social advancement rather than to continue the one-upmanship that has not benefited the long suffering populace. The expectation for most is for the next government to be seized with addressing bread and butter issues to alleviate the suffering of the majority.

The focus has only been on the political chess and not on the reasons the hapless electorate voted in their representatives in the legislature. Lesotho has consistently featured in numerous Southern African Development Community (SADC) summits and the stereotype of the Mountain Kingdom as a problem nation has caught on.

Such an image undermines all Basotho regardless of political persuasion and it is no wonder that Lesotho has over the years been passed over as far as taking leadership roles in the SADC region is concerned.

As we stated upon the opposition leaders return last from their nearly two-year exile in South Africa, the time for our political leaders to resume their role was nigh for the good of our democracy.

It is also an opportunity for the government and opposition to realise that this war of attrition is not taking us anywhere as a nation. Instead, it is making us a perennial delinquent in the region who continually needs handholding by “big brothers” in SADC.

What would make sense is if the opposition either challenged the dissolution of parliament in the courts of law or prepared for the snap general elections to bring an end to this logjam. A perennial tug of war with a caretaker government seems retrogressive from where we stand unless there is some method in the madness which is not immediately apparent.

 

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