Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

DC’s boycott sets dangerous precedent

IN March Democratic Congress (DC) leader Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili was heckled by opposition supporters at a rally in Maputsoe. Aggrieved, the DC complained to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s Tribunal.
The party probably had a good case but the tribunal didn’t see it that way and ruled that the DC must accept that political rallies are not churches.
Angered by the decision, the ruling party threatened to boycott the tribunal.
At that time we thought the DC was behaving like a sore loser.
We hoped that after some time the party would get over its bitterness after realising there was little to benefit from carrying out the threat. We were wrong.
The DC has no intention of going back to the tribunal and last week it showed just that by snubbing the tribunal’s hearing in a case in which it is accused of pinching some of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD)’s assets after the February 28 split.
In the end the tribunal had to proceed without the DC.
In essence, the party forfeited its right to a fair hearing by the tribunal.
The DC’s decision to snub the tribunal should trigger alarm bells.
By boycotting the tribunal, the DC has set a dangerous precedent that might do more harm than good to the IEC’s dispute resolution mechanism.
What we have here is a ruling party saying: to hell with the IEC’s tribunal.
Coming from a party headed by a prime minister, this is a dangerous attitude.
It undermines the effectiveness and integrity of the tribunal.
Put differently, the DC is saying that it has no respect for the dispute resolution process set up by the IEC.
The political risk of such a belligerent stance is huge.
What will happen if other parties do the same?
What will happen if one of the smaller political parties has a much more serious grievance against the DC?
By boycotting the tribunal, the DC is setting a bad example to other parties.
The DC’s message to other parties is very clear: If the tribunal doesn’t rule in your favour you can simply shun it.
We doubt that the DC has seriously considered the ramifications of its decision.
For a start, the party has not conclusively proven that the tribunal is indeed biased.
Only one decision from the tribunal has not been in the DC’s favour.
To establish bias you need to look at a trend but in this case there is no such because the DC only complained once and lost once.
The DC cannot possibly seize on that single unfavourable decision alone to justify its boycott.
That is why we believe it needs to reconsider its decision and go back to the tribunal.
We say this because the tribunal is an important platform for dialogue especially during this election period.
It is there to promote a culture of tolerance, something this country desperately needs during this period.
As the ruling party, the DC can promote this culture of tolerance by submitting itself to the tribunal’s processes and accepting its decisions.
The politics of boycott have never worked and we have no reason to believe it will work in this case.

Comments are closed.