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When MPs decide to be petty



Our moral values are principles that guide us in life. They make up who we are. Sadly, our moral values as Basotho are on the decline as we saw in a shocking video clip in Parliament last week. From the time we are young we are taught not only by our families but also at school about how to differentiate between right and wrong. We are groomed with different values, attitudes and ideas of what is suitable behaviour for someone who is part of a larger community. The incident which was caught on video in Parliament came as a shock to me. In the video a female MP stands up only to have her rear-end groped by the man sitting next to her. The lady lightly and casually brushes off the hand of the man and this left many unsure whether we were witnessing an act of sexual harassment or these were two people playing around like they usually do. Even though I cannot say for sure that this was an act of sexual harassment, I found the video highly disturbing. It speaks to the priorities of our MPs. Do our MPs go up the hill to congregate, have free lunch and a nice time, while they drive our country back instead of leading us to progress? Moreover, I don’t understand how someone given the responsibility to serve and represent the interest of voters, decides to go hanky-panky in parliament. I find these actions as not only a sign of disrespect to the populace that vote in MPs but also as an attack on the sanctity of parliament itself as an institution.   Incidents such as these cast doubt on whether we as a nation will be served when we send people to parliament because we see that those we have given our votes clearly cannot contain their most animalistic desires. I wonder whether this man can even listen to parliamentary interactions, or even remember the needs of those he left behind in the constituency. This was a man who seemed so consumed by his own perversion. Here was a man who had no concept of time and place. I find the behavior of this unidentified man really disappointing. The MP seems to treat our lawmaking authority with contempt and he seemed more concerned with satisfying his sexual appetite than representing the people that put him that position. What can we expect from this man that has the audacity to touch a woman’s private parts, in broad daylight and in full view of more than 120 people? Do we expect this same man that can’t seem to get sex out of his mind to make laws that protect our daughters? I don’t think he qualifies. This has happened at a time when we are in the middle of a pandemic that has ruined the lives of many. This is a time in which our youths are fighting for jobs, and I am sure all MPs, in their constituencies and villages see youths idling because of the unavailability of jobs. I am sure many of our MPs know people in their villages and constituencies that can barely get by because they have been hit hard by the economic repercussions of this pandemic. Hence, I find it appalling that in the midst of such hopelessness this man that was given a voice has the audacity to leave his constituency and bring such pettiness to parliament. I am surprised the MP still had the energy for other things, other than thinking of means to pull us out of this quagmire. I will be the first to admit that I am not certain whether the inappropriate behaviour we saw in parliament is sexual harassment or it is two people doing what they always do. However, I think it is immaterial whether or not this was an isolated incident because I know the nature of Lesotho politics. The fact that women in our political parties are regarded as sexual objects is no surprise. For example, women that are part of the Congress movement are often referred to as Thepa ea Lekhotla, a phrase that means the property of the movement. This is a phrase used almost casually within the Congress movement, and with more distaste by people outside the movement. It is a word whose meaning is double ended. At times the word property is meant to express importance, something to be cherished and taken care of. However, there is also the darker side to the name, which is rooted in the belief that women in politics exist to satisfy the sexual needs of men, and that these are loose women that gain success or relevance in politics, because they are sleeping with men, who are the decision makers. I find this culture to be disgusting and regressive to say the least. Furthermore, I think it is high time we in the political arena introspect and purge ourselves of these oppressive cultures. I also think that even if what I saw on Friday was an act of two willing participants, because I know that the level of male dominance that characterise our politics, and how indecency is normalised in our politics, I doubt that women have a choice given that this behaviour has been normalised. Another thing I found worrying about this incident is that it trivialises all the efforts made to affirm the existence of women in politics. This woman is likely to carry the burden of being brushed up by a man in parliament. What makes it even more ironic is that this is the same institution entrusted to enact laws that amongst other things are meant to protect young women and girls. However, under the same roof demeaning acts are still happening to women. Furthermore legislation, political parties and civil society have played meaningful roles to ensure representation and participation of women in politics and elections. And so, when an incident like this occurs, it is a massive blow against the emancipation of women. Moreover, I would not be surprised if young girls who might want to make significant changes in their country by joining politics will be referred to as Thepa ea Lekhotla, and be viewed as objects that satisfy the desires of men in exchange for political positions. This incident is going to make it harder for women to enter politics. We are always advised and reminded to stick to what we believe in and never forget where we come from. At the end of the day it’s those beliefs that shape our adulthood. Children normally copy what they see. For example, when a child or a young person saw a male MP touching the buttocks a female MP on video, that child may think this behaviour is acceptable and could implement it at some point in his/her life. Furthermore, there is a high probability that I and a lot of other people misread the body language of that lady and she was as shocked by that act as much as many of us. It is also possible that she might have tried to keep her composure amidst that degrading experience. Do you think anyone henceforth will ever take her seriously? Can you imagine the ridicule she will experience in her political party, in parliament and in her community? The worst part about this predicament is that the lady is identifiable while the potential abuser isn’t. It is unfortunate that this lady might be subjected to ridicule and alienation, just because an ill-mannered and overly entitled man felt the need to put his hands on her. Ramahooana matlosa

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