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What a turbulent year it has been!



When any year comes to a close, we are filled with a level of excitement that only seems to crop up at this time of the year. Excitement for a brand new chapter, a clean slate. 2021 has been a year of unpredictability. A lot has changed, whereas other trends have simply been accelerated by the pandemic. I wish to reflect back on this year’s events and see what has caught our eyes as a nation. 2021 started with the escalation of Covid-19 deaths. As usual the easiest thing to do was blame the Minister of Home Affairs for allowing Basotho to come back for Christmas in December 2020. This was done as an attempt to dent the image of the Democratic Congress party. We buried so many Basotho, it was very scary. This pandemic exposed our poor health system, terrible planning and opportunists who just wanted to make money from Covid-19. We closed this chapter where over 665 people lost their lives due to the pandemic. While still busy fighting Covid-19 politicians were also busy trying to topple each other. Two attempts to oust Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro through a motion of no confidence in the government failed. Majoro in his speech to mark his first 100 days in office acknowledged that countless attempts to topple him started just two days after he took office. Around April, Professor Nqosa Mahao was fired from his cabinet post following endless infighting within the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC). He then launched a new political party called the Basotho Action Party (BAP). After announcing the formation of the party, Mahao and Tefo Mapesela could not agree on the way forward and decided to part ways. Mapesela, who was very instrumental in the establishment of Mahao’s new party, eventually formed his own party called the Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP). Another highlight of 2021 which was more positive came when we sent our young men and women into harm’s way in Mozambique. Our soldiers are part of the SADC force to fight the Islamic State insurgents terrorising the country’s northern region. The highlight that takes the cake for me is when the ABC decided to disregard the SADC agreement. The ABC-led government chose to charge former Deputy Prime Minister and leader of Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) Mothetjoa Metsing and Development Planning Minister and leader of the Movement for Economic Change (MEC), Selibe Mochoboroane, with treason and murder. There have just been too many agreements that have been dishonoured by the ABC. I will dwell on this scandal that caused Metsing to go back into exile. We should never forget that before the reforms began Metsing was in exile and all opposition parties did not want to take part in the reform processes. SADC brokered a deal that brought Metsing back home and the reforms began. When the reforms process started, there was overwhelming support for this endeavour. It is something that was regarded as a necessity. Even the ABC government concluded it was convenient to append their signature to a SADC agreement that had Clause 10 which states that all cases involving political figures would be put on hold until the courts are reformed. But today they talk about the rule of law. This is sheer lack of consistency. The tendency of the ABC to refer to the constitution whenever they have an agenda has become tedious and hindsight has taught us that their regard for the constitution is subjective as we saw with the Phumaphi recommendations. The purpose of Clause 10 is to ensure that the courts are not used to settle political scores while our country’s institutions are being fixed through the reforms process. It makes no sense to agree that our institutions require change while also advocating that your opponents go through those same institution you consider faulty. That is just being vindictive. The ABC however has chosen not to compromise. They have a terrible track record of dishonouring agreements. In 2014 when Metsing reminded them of a clause about “consultations” the country mocked him, calling him “ha kea rerisoa” meaning I was not consulted. He was portrayed as too finicky and self-important and was expecting the Prime Minister to run all decisions by him. Metsing was reminded that according to the constitution the authority to make decisions lay with the Prime Minister and not some agreement. The ABC managed to breach the coalition agreement and its proponents forgot that when the coalition was established it was revered as a partnership between two unlikely partners, coming together and working together for the betterment of the country. However in the end the ABC was no longer supposed to be questioned or refer to anyone. They withdrew Mosito’s tax invasion case in court. The then Acting Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Hlalefang Motinyane decided in October 2017 to withdraw the case in which Justice Mosito was charged with failing to file tax returns to the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) between 1996 and 2014. Thereafter, Justice Semapo Peete was left with no option but to clear Mosito of tax charges. This was called the rule of law in their book. The ABC has been howling for years since the unfortunate demise of the late Lieutenant-General Maaparankoe Mahao, preaching the so-called rule of law and justice. What these howlers glaringly decide to forget is that bilateral agreements are sacrosanct. Going back to 1994, Ntsu Mokhele’s administration was toppled by nationalists and through a SADC-brokered agreement Ntsu’s administration decided for the sake of principle that it would abide by such an agreement. Fast forward to 1998, again the Nationalists’ thugs torched Lesotho, after an embarrassing election defeat to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, once again our development partners brokered an agreement which Pakalitha Mosisili then honoured. When the LCD government was pumping on all cylinders from 2002 to 2012, the economy growing on near double-digits for a consistent period of about ten years, the Nationalists decided to disarm the military and destabilise the LCD government, even going as far as hiring mercenaries to assassinate the then Prime Minister. Once again the LCD government bent over backwards to honour the SADC agreement. I am sure by now you see a pattern of being brutally honest and honourable. If Mosisili preached the so-called rule of law, Thesele Maseribane and other Nationalist thugs would be languishing in jail for crimes they committed in 1998, 2009 and 2015. Prime Minister Majoro cannot take the country for a ride in this fashion by making decisions that suit him and the ABC on matters that affect us as a country. The former ABC deputy leader instructed the courts to give South African government officers bail in a diplomatic move of sorts. Today, Majoro insists that he does not have the powers to instruct the courts. However, Prof Mahao declared on radio that it was by instruction from Majoro that the court date for the accused was shifted. Moreover he was instructed to guarantee bail for the South African detainees. Yet they both preach rule of law, what a scam! Mosisili honoured SADC recommendations that came as a result of the Phumaphe Commission that stipulated that the LDF Commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli be retired. Lt. General Kamoli was placed on early retirement because of the SADC agreement. Why can’t Majoro and his goons honour such agreements? At the time opponents of Mosisili were adamant that SADC was acting as a neutral body that would bring about consensus to opposing elements in the country’s political sphere during that period of turmoil. As a result they criticised Mosisili’s initial reluctance to dismiss Lt Gen Kamoli and regarded SADC to be infallible. Mosisili argued that the Lesotho government is sovereign state and would not be pushed around. However, he ultimately succumbed to pressure and let Kamoli go. Which I think was sensible if you look at the fact that Lesotho invited this third party as they could not solve their own problems. Ignoring the SADC advice would have reflected badly on Mosisili who had invited the group to intervene. Other than that we are already a troublesome regional partner that is prone to political conflict. Ignoring SADC advice would also have portrayed us as stubborn. Agreements are to be honoured and I therefore stand with Mothetjoa Metsing on this matter. It would be very unfortunate if I conclude this last article of 2021 without putting a few words together about the passing away of Mokuena Arthur Majara. I am glad I got to know this larger-than-life character. He was indeed a giant. His name will never die. A pioneer of many industries in Lesotho including electronics, the KFC franchise and Woolworths. I enjoyed listening to his interviews back in the days when Radio Lesotho was the only radio station in this country. Majara loved life and he was a fierce debater. May his soul rest in peace. Ramahooana Matlosa

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