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Subverting the will of the people

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AT least all the major political parties in Lesotho have had to deal with serious disputes over the selection of candidates for the October 7 general elections.

All this seem to point at one major issue: the lack of internal democracy within political parties. This is one clear sign of the toxicity of our politics.

The leadership have been accused of rigging internal elections to pave way for their cronies. That has resulted in serious tensions and in-fighting within political parties.

Some of the aggrieved candidates have sought intervention from courts of law. Unfortunately, we all know that courts are not the best arbiters of disputes that are essentially of a political nature.

This is a political problem that will require a political solution.

After rejecting primary election results, the leadership has now been cobbling elitist pacts with their cronies.

But by doing so they risk infuriating the base, thereby seriously weakening their parties’ chances of winning at the polls.

The Democratic Congress (DC) which was seen as the “darling of the masses” in rural areas, thanks to its social programmes to uplift the poor and marginalised, is now battling some of these challenges.

The party is currently grappling with its own set of challenges after aggrieved supporters raised serious concerns about how the party managed its internal elections in four constituencies.

The problems in the DC follow the same pattern that we have seen in all the other major parties in Lesotho – the failure to respect internal processes to select election candidates.

The party is grappling with challenges in Maseru Central, Pela Tšoeu, Mashai and Rothe constituencies.

Apart from Maseru Central, these are rural constituencies where the DC has done very well. Now the party is risking antagonising its rural electoral base. This could be the DC’s undoing come October 7.

This is a party that is expected to retain most of its rural seats, if only it can be able to fend off the new threat posed by businessman Sam Matekane’s Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party.

But to do so, the DC would need to go into the election as a united group. If the party wants to entertain any dreams of forming the next government it must move quickly to address its supporters’ concerns in a fair manner so they all speak with one voice come October 7.

It would be a pity were the DC to adopt an arrogant, dismissive tone in dealing with issues its supporters deem legitimate. The party cannot afford to wish away these grievances.

The internal discord facing most of the established political parties is not surprising. On the plus side, it could be a clear indication that democracy is alive and well in the parties. The fact that aggrieved supporters still have a platform to raise objections is a sign of healthy politics at play.

However, it could also point to the desperate levels to which some individuals will resort to secure one of the most lucrative jobs in Lesotho – that of being an MP. The job comes with not just an attractive package but also access to power and other economic opportunities. That explains why there is this stampede to stand in elections.

To fix the challenges facing political parties, the leadership must reaffirm their commitment to the democratic process. All candidates must be subjected to the democratic process. Leaders must not subvert the will of the people.

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