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Election is no magic bullet



AS indicated in our lead story this week, Lesotho’s opposition parties are calling for the setting up of a transitional authority to oversee reforms that will eventually pave way for fresh elections in the next 18 to 24 months.

The demand was revealed in a report submitted by South Africa’s Deputy President to SADC leaders in Swaziland two weeks.

While there were a host of other demands that the government can accept as legitimate, it is the call for a fresh election that has come as a major surprise for us.

That is so because of the two following reasons.

First, the setting up of a transitional authority would suggest the current coalition government is facing a question of legitimacy.

We do not think that is the case.

Secondly, we think it would be wrong to conclude that Lesotho’s political problems will only be resolved by an election.  An election on its own is not a magic bullet.

We have just had two elections in the last five years. And look where we are now.

It would be a mistake to rush into an election that will likely yield the same results we have had over the decades.

While the reforms are in process, SADC has not expressed an opinion on the five-year mandate given to the current coalition government in 2015.

Under Lesotho’s electoral law, the next general election will only be due in 2020.

If SADC endorses the opposition call, the government will likely feel it is being stampeded into an election before its five-year mandate expires.

The new turf war will likely jeopardise the whole reform agenda.

What Lesotho needs are deeper structural reforms, both at the political and constitutional level, to fix what has been ailing this country for decades.

Rushing into an election would merely serve to suggest the opposition is being driven by a narrow interest to capture state power.

We would understand the call for a fresh election if the last one in 2015 had been stolen or its outcome was being contested. None of that happened.

There was never a dispute surrounding the results of the last general election. What happened then is that no single political party garnered enough seats to form government on its own.

We believe the current coalition government is legitimate in as far as it reflects the will of the people.

The real focus, for both the government and the opposition, should be on ensuring the proposed reforms are successful.

While the ultimate goal of any political party is to seize power, that should not be the opposition’s preoccupation at present.

For the sake of posterity and future generations of Basotho, the opposition and the government must be driven by national interest to put together a strong constitution that protects our democracy.

Narrow political interests must be shoved to the back burner.

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