17 June 2017

Lesotho: The Time Is Now to Put the Country First

ALL Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Thomas Thabane's inauguration as prime minister at Setsoto Stadium tomorrow will certainly be accompanied by the pomp and fanfare but beyond that, the veteran politician has the perfect opportunity to make and cement his legacy in the pantheon of the greatest leaders this country has ever had.

What he must do to achieve that is crystal clear- this is a country which has been gripped by political instability, low economic growth, food insecurity, high unemployment rates and a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS which is only bettered in the world by Swaziland.

These are the challenges Dr Thabane and his coalition partners know only too well and his legacy will be made or unmade by his success or failure in addressing these and other challenges.

The Southern African Development Commission (SADC), the United Nations and other multi-lateral bodies and development partners have spoken clearly about the urgent need to resume the stalled processes aimed at implementing constitutional, governance and security sectors reforms without which there cannot be stability in the country.

Ordinary Basotho who elect governments have also spoken about their expectations as evidenced by some of the stories we have published. Our previous edition carried a story on the expectations of the youth and this edition carries those of the vendors.

Common to both segments of the population are demands for decent living standards which can be achieved through the service delivery and initiatives that foster job creation and ultimately economic development.

These are the issues that Dr Thabane and his administration must grapple with if he is to make the most of the opportunity at the helm of the Mountain Kingdom in his second stint.

It is good that he and his partners have already made the right noises, promising to eschew vengeance for whatever suffering they previously endured to the extent of fleeing into exile in South Africa from 2015 until they returned in February this year.

It is good that they have even spoken of the need for a truth and reconciliation commission because true reconciliation and healing can only be preceded by acknowledgement of wrongs and contrition.

However, after tomorrow, it will be time for the government to walk its talk.

And while Dr Thabane and his colleagues will be enjoying their moment in the sun, there will also be need for the former ruling parties to go beyond sour grapes and licking their wounds to playing a positive part in the reconstruction of this country.

Their claim that the outcome of the elections was highly compromised by a faulty voters' roll and double voting to an extent that the polls were not credible has failed to wash with anyone.

Their consequent calls for a government of national unity have been viewed in many quarters as an attempt to sneak back into power through the back door.

Our advice is that they go back to the drawing board and take their place in the trenches of opposition politics while at the same time conducting a thorough introspection without which they cannot win the next elections.

The new governing parties were only recently in the opposition after losing out in 2015 and there is certainly no shame in going back to examine where the rain first began to beat them.

In any event, you don't have to be in government to meaningfully contribute to the resolution of challenges confronting the country.

The reforms process should and will be inclusive of all stakeholders in and outside government.

Therefore the opposition also have the perfect opportunity to show by cooperating, that they can put the country above sectarian interests.


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