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Honesty key to talks’ success

THE standoff between the leadership of two of Lesotho’s three parties in government continues, with no end in sight to what has become one of the saddest moments in the two-year existence of the coalition administration.

The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leaders have made no secret of their differences with their All Basotho Convention (ABC) counterparts, leaving the Basotho National Party (BNP) in the unfortunate position of playing a mediatory role in the impasse.

The LCD, led by Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing, has been scathing of ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, whom the party accuses of making unilateral decisions on key governance issues in violation of the Coalition Agreement, which gave birth to the current government in June 2012.

Dr Thabane has largely remained calm in the face of the LCD onslaught, and shown true leadership by refusing to be drawn into what would eventually degenerate into an embarrassing slanging match.

BNP leader Thesele ‘Maseribane has remained equally calm and shown the maturity expected of a true statesman, in-spite of the debris that continues to scatter around him in the wake of the LCD offensive.

Namibian President, Hifikepunye Pohamba — in his capacity as the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation — was in the country last week and announced the three party leaders had agreed to continue with talks to find a lasting solution to their differences.

Yet hardly had he, and his delegation, left the country than the LCD leadership and supporters held yet another public gathering with the country’s main opposition party, the Democratic Congress (DC) just outside the ‘Manthabiseng National Convention Centre in Maseru.

On Wednesday — a day before Mr Pohamba arrived on his peace mission — the LCD held a press conference at a local lodge, which was dominated by DC supporters and leaders who said they had come to offer their support to “a fellow congress party”.
This is hardly the action of a party keen on seeing the peace talks succeed, because by consorting with the opposition — an avowed adversary of the government — the LCD is clearly showing the alliance has broken down irretrievably.

In-fact, in its pronouncements at two successive press conferences over the past two weeks, the LCD has made it clear it was looking at striking a new relationship with other parties following the fallout with the ABC. It is in light of the LCD action, and the way the ABC leadership has remained disturbingly unruffled amidst the crumbling relationship with its partner, that we believe the peace talks need more than regional intervention or the Christian Council of Lesotho, to succeed.

The party leaders need to engage in frank dialogue without skirting around the real issues that have brought about the demise of such a once-promising alliance.

For this relationship to work, Dr Thabane must have absolute confidence in Mr Metsing and Chief ‘Maseribane, which does not appear to be the case at the moment, but with no convincing reasons being proffered for the apparent mistrust.

And unless this suspicion is totally removed, there can never be a workable or sustainable relationship between the three parties, and the peace talks could only be an academic exercise, or waste of time, to put it more bluntly.

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