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RFP’s violation of democratic norms



THE decision by the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP)’s National Executive Committee (NEC) to reserve certain seats for the party’s 11 founding members so that they stand unopposed in the next elections has left a bitter taste in the mouths of its supporters.

The 11 founding members have been given a pass to run in the following constituencies unopposed: Mantšonyana, Lebakeng, Moyeni, Mohale’s Hoek, Qalabane, Thetsane, Maseru, Lithabaneng, Teyateyaneng, Thaba-Phatšoa and Hololo.

The RFP’s NEC has therefore subverted the party’s internal democratic processes by dictating who should stand in the elections.
The RFP’s process is like watching a soap opera with no script.

However, I would like to argue that the RFP does have a script, which is supposed to be the party’s constitution.
Nobody has seen this constitution. I understand members of the party have in the past few weeks requested a copy of it but all was to no avail.

I wish I had a copy in my hand.
I am also reliably informed that the RFP NEC recently amended the constitution without the approval of the conference.

I have always known that disappointment will strike at the RFP but was not sure when.
In my opinion, there is an urgent need to democratise the newly formed political party.

I had hoped that the RFP would introduce intra-party democracy because political parties are the very heart and soul of a democratic regime.
Before the RFP was born, political parties were often accused of partisan functioning during ticket distribution.

I listened to the RFP leader Sam Ntsokoane Matekane addressing a rally in Qhoali where he accused previous leaders of political parties of nepotism in their cadre deployments.
It is shocking that just a day later he is already practising preferential treatment in the deployment of candidates in the constituencies.

That is a very undemocratic approach to sensitive matters of representation.
Indeed the more things change the more they stay the same.

The rise of this dangerous species has not been progressive.
Being a new party that has learned from political parties that came before it, I thought the RFP would understand that democracy is incomplete without the intra-party democracy.
The RFP is supposed to believe in democracy but it is practising naked dictatorship internally and hoping to be democratic in its functioning outside.

When the Democratic Congress (DC) called a special conference to resolve special issues such as the election of the executive committees, my friends at Ouh La La thought it was undemocratic though the majority of the conference decided on it.

Even if one did not agree with the resolutions of the conference but the DC must be respected for practising intra-party democracy.

But I am shocked that the same friends who are now in the RFP have embraced dictatorship.
The 11 constituencies will be denied a chance to elect party candidates therefore failing to exercise internal democracy within their party.

In my opinion this country’s democracy is incomplete without the intra-party democracy.
As a political activist for many years now, I believe political parties are an essential part of the electoral system in a democratic country.

Therefore, it must be understood that the foundation of a democratic nation and staging of free and fair elections cannot be settled on undemocratic roots.
Many political parties are failing to promote internal democracy.

Either there is a single man stranglehold or a single-family ascendancy in the party.
The RFP changed the first NEC without elections. How does the RFP function?

Will it promote internal elections or not? What are the functioning procedures of the party?
What are the minimum set of rules?

All these questions remain unanswered for the outsiders.
Earlier the RFP rejected MPs who wanted to join the party with their political status.

They said at the RFP everyone is new. But it appears that the Executive Committee wanted to be the only special people in the RFP. Some animals are more equal than others.
This is daylight robbery.

It appears that the RFP does not have any democratic-decision making processes and the revolution is built around a towering leader, Sam Matekane.
It looks like Matekane’s whims and fancies are the party’s policies.

Members of the RFP were supposed to compete for power under a set of mutually agreeable rules.
However the party is rigging the game in favour of the founding members, a process which I think is evil.

Thomas Thabane tried it twice in the All Basotho Convention (ABC), even though his request respected the outcome of constituency conferences.
It is unfortunate that the RFP is dictating terms.

Another issue is that the RFP executive committee will apparently have the final say on who shall become a party candidate for any constituency.
A person who enjoys majority support at the constituency is at risk of losing the party nomination because the executive committee does not approve of him or her.

This will be problematic and could lead the party into a litany of difficulties.
Maseru #33 will always be special to me. My friend and brother These Phooko has been campaigning in that constituency ever since the RFP was formed.

But this announcement will deny him a chance to represent those who believe in him.
This is so unfair.

In my opinion the RFP as a political party should not have owners.
It should be a mass organisation that gives high and low, the rich and the poor, the same opportunities.

Ownership of the RFP by individuals who formed it is directly opposed to democratic principles.
As I conclude it is important to note that, there should be some consideration of intra-party democracy in our country’s constitution.

For example, as stated in the Spanish Constitution, Article 6: “Political parties are the expression of political pluralism; they contribute to the formation and expression of the will of the people and are a fundamental instrument for political participation.

“Their creation and the exercise of their activities are free in so far as they respect the Constitution and the law.
“Their internal structure and operation must be democratic.”

Ramahooana Matlosa

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