Those familiar with Charles Dickens’ fictional book, Hard Times – For These Times will recall what dancing the polka is: A well broken-in and trained circus horse can gallop non-stop for the whole night on the same spot without moving an inch.
It is time Lesotho stopped dancing the polka. We are a nation and not a circus horse.
Our print media contributes towards this situation. Tabloids have a tendency to be friends and target specific interviewees on the same issue with the same questions etc.
Conservatives will always give the same response and repeat the same good old story over and over with a hope that would promote a certain status quo.
That is not helpful to our young democracy. Listen to others’ views, weigh options, select the best workable options and try them.
A lot has been said and written about our parliament.
The Senate has been labelled as toothless while elected members of the National Assembly refer to senators as “senior” etc.
Brushing and labelling MPs this way will not help our democracy to grow.
The Lesotho constitution has always given the National Assembly some primacy over the Senate.
These Houses can never have equal powers because one is elected and has to call the shots, while the other is not. The National Assembly is the hey House.
Hence, when it has internal political problems deserving dissolution or prorogation, the Senate gets affected, irrespective of its membership comprising of persons of eminence. The main question should be: What is the best for Lesotho?
The remedy is simple. Democratise the Senate. Some form of election to that House could give members therein some much-needed mandate to be true representatives of the electorate.
The represented have to exercise some power to choose and replace/recall their representatives when there is need.
This could also lead to the introduction of Bills in the Senate, unlike now when this is the sole responsibility of the elected National Assembly.
Every patriotic Mosotho would wish to see his/her senator given the teeth and more powers in the second chamber.
Conservatives would talk louder each time they are approached to perpetuate a preferred status quo.
The media in Lesotho appears to have considerable love for hard and negative news and less for soft and positive news.
Another sad aspect is its love to project previous actors and incumbent holders of positions in a negative light. That is not good if the wish is indeed to educate the public.
Parliament has to equally take the blame. If it fails to freely give the media news, the media will fend for itself and give the news the shape it would like. Parliament has to have briefing sessions or issue media kits, among other things.
Chairing of committees of parliament is another matter which Basotho must understand.
There is nothing wrong if all committees are chaired by persons from the majority parties because decisions in parliament are through a majority of votes.
That, however, does not rule out the need to put national interest before partisan considerations in governance matters. The exception is the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which, according to convention and practice, has to be chaired by the opposition.
It is the first time for Lesotho to have the PAC not chaired by the opposition, as a phenomenon brought by the coalition we have.
However, that is very insignificant in the eyes of the Democratic Congress. They were right to abandon a meeting which made a mockery of Westminster Parliamentary democracy.
Parliaments of the 21st century have mordenised. In some, where chairmanship is in the hands of the majority, a deputy has to come from the opposition. In some more progressive democratic parliaments, a Speaker from the majority and ruling party is deputised by an MP from the opposition.
Our media is urged to develop some interest in matters like these if their wish is to influence for change.
The executive similarly deserves some blame. It ought to, and should have established a vibrant Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs with a clear mandate to ensure that democracy grows and the executive is fully accountable to parliament.
The media could also develop keen interest to find out about that ministry. Findings could make some interesting reading: revealing the emptiness and organisational void which also contribute to the saddening horse dance.
This lesson will continue.
l Honourable Makhabane Maluke is the Bobatsi Number 80 Constituency member of parliament (MP) and belongs to the main opposition Democratic Congress.