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Sekatle and the politics of self-interest



Lesotho’s politics look increasingly like a re-run of an old movie in which the actors remain the same and so does the plot which twists and turns to an unsurprising end. Horse-trading and the buying and selling of mandates given by the electorate has a long and inglorious history. One of the country’s worst-kept secrets has been the buying and selling of the will of the electorate long after elections. MPs who represent constituencies in recent history are easy to manipulate and even corrupt. This was famously evidenced in the last elections when an MP for Semena constituency, Tlohang Aumane, was bought to defect with a ministerial post. The point is that in a political culture where expediency takes primacy over principle, almost all political parties have acted inconsistently and at odds with their previously stated positions. However, today I want us to look at Dr Matumelo Pontšo Sekatle. This past week I learnt that Dr Sekatle had been appointed Lesotho’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belguim. To my astonishment during these hard times, Dr Sekatle resigned as MP for the Qacha’s Nek #69 constituency to move on to greener pastures. Her new position doesn’t only come with grandeur and status but also a fatter pay cheque. This is something that conjured a belief I have always had that the public should afford parliamentary positions to people that are known to have a heart for services and that are by nature altruistic. What worries me about this scenario is that the people of Qacha’s Nek will probably not have a representative in parliament until after next year’s elections. Three constituencies have lost MPs to death. These constituencies are Makhoroane, Kolo and ‘Maliepetsane. Of these constituencies ‘Maliepetsane is a new addition to the list, as its MP died only a few days ago. However, it has been months now since the death of Makhoroane and Kolo MPs. There have been no by-elections in the constituencies. This gives me the impression that Qacha’s Nek will likely follow suit and become an unrepresented constituency. I find it appalling that Sekatle is deliberately leaving Qacha’s Nek constituency unrepresented. The decision to nominate an MP for an ambassadorial position lacks sense as it comes at a cost, a cost to the taxpaying public that will have to foot the bill for by-elections, just to satisfy a retirement deal brokered by politicians. This decision is also costly to the people of Qacha’s Nek who entrusted Dr Sekatle to represent them in parliament. If Dr Sekatle was selfless and considerate of the people that sent her to parliament, she would have forfeited the opportunity to go to Belgium. Likewise, if the ABC was considerate and of the people of Qacha’s they would have not given Dr Sekatle the opportunity to go to Belgium at the expense of the people of Qacha’s Nek. A good willing representative of the masses would never abandon their constituencies merely because there is a chance to make more money elsewhere, especially during these Covid times, when they are in dire need of their representation and support. In Lesotho MPs are regarded as guardians over the people they serve. They are expected to provide support where there is hunger, lack or death. Moreover, the decision to become an MP comes with a lot of responsibility. Thus, it is surprising that during a pandemic that has had economic repercussions on many, and has killed and will probably continue to kill many, Dr Sekatle has chosen to abandon her people who put their trust in her. The reason I think this was nothing more than retirement deal is because I do not understand what can possess the ABC to make such an irrational decision. It was inevitable that this decision would have tongues wagging and the ABC wouldn’t want that especially as we are nearing election time. Moreover, why would the ABC deploy someone who cannot be replaced by someone else from the party to an embassy? I am sure there are ABC cadres that are qualified to fill the ambassadorial spot in Belgium, or are they not? The only plausible reason for the ABC deploying Dr Sekatle as ambassador to Belgium is that this was a deal that was brokered when she joined the ABC. It is more sensible that this was a condition that guaranteed the Sekatles crossover from the DC to the ABC. Otherwise, I can’t comprehend why else the ABC would make such a clumsy decision. If this is the case, such an agreement between the ABC and the Sekatles was made with total disregard for the people of Qacha’s Nek and the country at large just for the sake of advancing the ABC’s influence and ensuring the Sekatles a life of comfort. The decision is selfish to say the least. This is the same ABC that ridiculed former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili for employing a husband and wife in cabinet. Their argument was simple. Looking at the current unemployment rate it was irresponsible for the former Prime Minister to have given two people from the same family jobs. But today the ABC is behaving in exactly the same fashion. They are hypocrites of the highest order. When political leaders act in ways that are contrary to what they themselves have long been advocating, it generates widespread public scepticism. They are then increasingly perceived by the public as believing in nothing except themselves with consistency being sacrificed at the altar of expediency. Dr Sekatle might have gained a lucrative position but she must know that political expediency extracts a price. That price is not her position but public disillusionment and disenchantment not only with politicians but with the political system. That leaves our democracy much poorer. Ramahooana Matlosa

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