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A flawed internal election process



IN this issue we carry stories of how three of the biggest political parties in Lesotho are embroiled in fierce infighting over the selection of election candidates for the October 7 general elections.

It is a disease that is sadly afflicting all the major political parties, thanks to flawed internal electoral processes.

The All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Democratic Congress (DC) have been struggling to put out fires of discontent ever since the parties held primary elections to select candidates.

The newly formed Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) has not fared any better. It too is struggling to contain a bubbling rebellion by grassroots supporters after the party leadership came up with a novel way of selecting election candidates.

Sadly, these problems are not new.

At the centre of it all, is the toxic nature of our politics in Lesotho and the failure to uphold intra-party democracy.

Take for instance the challenges bedeviling the RFP. This is a party that is hardly seven months old. As a new broom, the RFP was expected to take Lesotho politics to a new pedestal.

The people were expecting a break with the old habits that we had come to associate with the “Big Man” politics in Africa.

But that has not been the case. The new party has fallen into the same pitfalls that have traditionally threatened the stability of all the major parties in Lesotho.

The decision by party leader Sam Matekane to ditch the traditional primary elections model opting instead for what has proven to be an opaque selection method has infuriated the grassroots supporters.

That has put Matekane on the back foot as he seeks to fend off serious allegations of chicanery and favouritism and that he simply wanted to pave way for his friends in business. It is an argument that the RFP has struggled to shake off.

Each day that has passed since the primary elections has proven that Matekane and his lieutenants in the RFP had their own preferred candidates and will do all in their power to get them on board.

For a man who was being spoken of in ‘messianic’ terms by the downtrodden masses in Lesotho, this has proven to be a huge disappointment. That disillusionment is now being seen in a spate of defections that have hit the party.

The ABC, a party that promised so much and yet delivered so little under former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, is not faring any better. It too is struggling after contested internal elections.

It would appear the ABC has never learnt how to manage its internal divisions and the party is likely to suffer at the polls as a result of this. Aggrieved candidates have now approached the courts for relief.

If Lesotho’s political parties are to be truly democratic they must be willing to subject themselves to democratic processes. Internal elections to select election candidates are part of that process.

There should be no sacred cows. No short-cuts. The will of the people must be allowed to triumph.

Any other process of picking election candidates would be thoroughly undemocratic. The people must reject any such shenanigans.

The people are not foolish. They are likely to punish any political party that deliberately seeks to subvert the democratic processes.

After failing to manage their internal processes, these parties are likely to walk into the election bitterly divided or with constituencies having candidates they never wanted in the first place.

The result can only be a bashing at the polls.


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