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Kicking the can down the road



Parliament is set to adjourn until September 13 this year in a move analysts say is meant to block a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
With Thabane’s back virtually against the wall, aggrieved MPs from his All Basotho Convention (ABC) party who are aligned to Professor Nqosa Mahao and the opposition want the premier out, pronto.

The MPs are likely to gang up with the opposition to pass a vote of no-confidence in Thabane and his administration. They are likely to succeed as they seem to have the numbers in the House.
Yet by adjourning Parliament until September, the government has merely kicked the can down the road. It will, sooner rather than later, have to deal with the fundamental issues that have brought us here.
In other words, the adjournment will merely postpone a problem that must be dealt with in a very decisive manner. What the adjournment might do is perhaps merely buy time for Thabane and his backers in the ABC to strategise.
However, while the politicians haggle over power, Lesotho’s economy which has been in the doldrums for years, will be the biggest casualty. We all know that any political uncertainty is bad for business.

In fact, no sane investor would want to invest in Lesotho given the current political uncertainties. That has been the case since Lesotho’s political instability came onto the international spotlight with the events of August 2014 when the army attacked the State House sending Thabane and many of his allies scurrying into exile in South Africa.
By adjourning Parliament, the opposition might feel all legitimate avenues of democratic expression have been shut and might want to take the battle onto the streets.
Violence, under those circumstances, cannot be ruled out. No one wishes Lesotho to take that route. It would also severely dent Lesotho’s already battered reputation as an unstable country.
The current uncertainty can be traced to political parties’ failure to uphold democracy within their own parties. We have political parties that are undemocratic at the core.
The ultimate result has been split after split within the parties.
The current crisis within the ABC can be traced back to the same issue – a failure to uphold democracy. The Professor Mahao group feels hard-done by their colleagues’ stubborn refusal to hand over power to their executive committee.

It is now likely that the Mahao group will gang up with the opposition to push out Thabane in Parliament. That is what has likely spooked the government into adjourning Parliament while they plot the next move behind the scenes.
Our MPs will also need to explore the possibility of reforming the Constitution so that a sitting Prime Minister who loses a no-confidence vote can simply be replaced in Parliament without unnecessarily dragging the country into another election.

It should still be possible to recall a Prime Minister in Parliament without subjecting the country to a costly election. We have seen that in South Africa.
While this brouhaha in Parliament drags on, it is Lesotho’s reform agenda that will suffer. The SADC-driven reforms will likely stall until the political question has been adequately resolved.
The reform process, so critical to Lesotho’s stability, will be put on the backburner as politicians focus on the power retention agenda. That is the tragedy of the whole thing.
It clearly shows we have not learnt a thing from our disastrous past. We seem determined to repeat the same mistakes, with the same disastrous consequences.

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