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What will the DC do if it romps to victory?



My friend Qoboko Makhakhe reminded me of the words of the founder and father of the congress parties in Lesotho, Ntsu Mokhehle, “Ha re ka ea re le tjena likhetho re tla li hlola. Potso ke hore re tla etsang ka tlholo eo?” The English translation being “if we go to the polling stations in these numbers I see at the rallies, there is no doubt we will be victorious. But the most important question is, what are we going to do with that victory?” These powerful words were spoken at the final rally held by the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) just before the 1993 elections. I agree with Makhakhe. Two weeks ago I attended a Democratic Congress (DC) rally in Matsieng and looking at the current political landscape, I would like to believe that the DC will surely win the 2022 general election. But the Ntsu question remains: What is the DC going to do with that victory? Lesotho is desperate for change. The election season is looming and there is little on offer for voters beyond political divisions, marriages of convenience and populist promises. Basotho must demand more than populist rhetoric. Preparation for government is left entirely to the discretion of the parties, with each deciding how much preparation it should do based on how realistic its chances of coming into power. Parties may tend to undertake preparations, even if an election victory looks highly unlikely, as this gives off the impression that they are a credible alternative government. I pray and hope that the DC will use this remaining time to prepare quite extensively for government, making sure its policies are ready and conducting some training for some potential ministers. Alongside campaigning for office, the DC should also undertake other preparations for what they will do if they win an election and get into power. Considering any changes they want to make to departments or understanding what it is like to be a minister – has to occur before they take office. Delivery can be very hard. It is easier to promise voters heaven on earth during campaigns but it is always very difficult to deliver on those promises. The DC should be reminded of our sad reality. Basotho are crying out for someone who can take them out of their current misery. Over half of Basotho live below the poverty line. Many have lost their livelihoods during the Covid-19 pandemic. Our economy is shrinking. The country is in desperate need of better healthcare, an improved economy, quality and affordable education, access to clean water, better road network and national cohesion. Instead, leaders pursue ballots for economic and political gain. Will the DC leadership be different? Populist politics that occupy leaders’ attention while they fail to deliver on campaign promises, stifles Lesotho’s potential as a democracy. Populist promises are enticing to the electorate – especially the poor – but seldom result in delivery after the polls. Will the DC leadership be different? Many have lost hope in politics. They have been disappointed by politicians too many times. I hear young people wanting to get into politics these days because they see it as an easy way to get rich quickly. I do not blame them, they see these materialistic leaders, claiming to be representing the poor. The nature of politics has changed from being about serving the people to plundering national resources once one gains access to the national cookie jar. Today’s politicians are accustomed to a taste for the finer things in life. They dress expensively. They drink the most expensive bottles. Pakalitha Mosisili’s government oversaw remarkable economic improvements leading towards the 2012 elections, but he did little to dissolve the culture of corruption or promote good governance. Then came Thomas Thabane, the worst Prime Minister we have ever had. He ruled the country through populism and an iron fist. He constantly alluded to the well-being of the poor and rejected those who genuinely wanted to change the country. Thabane himself confessed to Mosisili in 2012 at Setsoto Stadium, that everything he ever said and promised during elections campaign was just mere rhetoric. Thabane’s government was the most corrupt I have ever witnessed. As the DC prepares for government, it should seek the help of those who have served the party in government. Mosisili, his former cabinet members and Principal Secretaries who served in the past have a wealth of experience the current leadership could learn from. It is critical, however, that the DC should honestly face up to the extent of the problems confronting our country. They are not going to be solved overnight and there are no easy or quick solutions. The problems run deep and resources are limited. This country must look back if it wants to move forward. The country’s political and election history should inform its future choices. We need leaders who are willing to change the political discourse to represent all Basotho and not just a handful. Without this change at the top, efforts to promote nation building, equality, inclusive economic growth and good governance will never bear fruit. The DC with a new leader has the responsibility to usher in a completely new politics. Mathibeli Mokhothu should carry himself totally differently to other leaders of political parties who have held their seats for years. Mokhothu must live the gospel he preaches by putting his words into action. As I conclude I hope that the masses of our people without jobs will be at the top of the DC government’s agenda. The DC’s policies must focus mainly on job creation, strengthening the manufacturing capacity and industries that export goods. I have listened to the DC leader on several occasions and I am glad that industrialisation will take centre stage in his government. Ramahooana Matlosa

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