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Why a GNU is bad for Lesotho



Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader, Mothetjoa Metsing, has over the last couple of months been at the forefront in pushing for a Government of National Unity (GNU) in Lesotho.
He argues that only a GNU will resolve the pressing political crisis in Lesotho. He says a GNU will save Lesotho huge amounts of cash that would otherwise be used to elect a new government.

It is a seductive, self-serving argument which we do not agree with. In fact, we think it is a wrong diagnosis of the “patient” that will likely have a fatal outcome if adopted and implemented.
The problems bedeviling Lesotho go far beyond a cosmetic change of the players at the helm of government. They are structural and will require a complete make-over of the economy.

The concept of a GNU has been pushed in Africa with disastrous consequences for the democratisation project. It eliminates the element of opposition thereby neutralizing a critical cog in the monitoring of governing parties.
Lesotho would be worse off without a vibrant opposition that can keep the government on its toes. The GNU experiments we saw in Kenya and Zimbabwe in the last two decades were unmitigated disasters.
Instead of bringing the nations together, we saw dictatorial regimes use the absence of a vibrant opposition to consolidate their grip on power with sad consequences for the democratisation agenda.
It would therefore be sad if Lesotho were to go that failed route.

Our problems in Lesotho are not necessarily political. Our biggest challenge is a weak economy that cannot take care of its 2 million people. The cake is small and there is a stampede to get onto the feeding trough.
The problem is that our politicians think the best way is to bring everybody on board, through the back-door, so “that all can eat”. That is a very narrow reading of the political crisis.
That is why we are viscerally opposed to any idea of a GNU.

Our problems as Basotho can be traced to weak institutions that must be strengthened. Our judiciary is a mess.
We have a meddlesome security sector that has been accused of being at the forefront of the destabilization agenda against the State.
Our Parliament has not effectively played its oversight role.
Our successive coalition governments since 2012 have not been able to provide the stability that we require to address the myriad challenges facing the people, thanks to a vacuous leadership that has generally failed to see beyond their nose.

These challenges will not be resolved by coming up with a Government of National Unity or recycling the same old faces that have been at the helm of government for decades. It will require the injection of new ideas to deal with modern challenges.
Our biggest challenge, in our humble opinion, is the quality of leadership that we have in Lesotho.

We need a young, visionary leadership that is able to see the bigger picture. Leadership is about serving the people not pushing one’s personal agenda.
It is for these reasons that we respectfully disagree with Metsing’s push for a GNU. We believe the current SADC-driven reforms can still be done as long as they are as inclusive as possible.
Inclusivity means full consultation with a cross-section of the entire Basotho society, without necessarily pushing for a GNU.

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