Lesotho faces its biggest challenge yet in the country’s on-going political crisis after two of the three parties in government — the All Basotho Convention (ABC) and Basotho National Party (BNP) — vowed not to honour a SADC-brokered agreement to reopen Parliament on the 19th of this month, as reported elsewhere in this issue.
The regional bloc last week recommended that the National Assembly’s nine-month suspension, which Prime Minister Thomas Thabane imposed on 10 June this year, should be lifted with immediate effect as part of efforts to end the widening rift between the LCD and its two coalition government partners.
However, no sooner had the prorogation been lifted than BNP leader, Thesele ‘Maseribane, announced that government would not reopen the august house unless the security situation returned to normal.
Chief ‘Maseribane’s statement not only dragged Lesotho three months backwards when LCD leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing, openly condemned Dr Thabane for not giving his coalition partners the due respect that they deserved, triggering a series of unsavoury events which have taken this country to the brink of civil war.
What is particularly disappointing about the BNP leader’s utterances is that they come just four days after he jointly signed an agreement, alongside Dr Thabane and Mr Metsing, that the 8th Parliament would resume on 19 September 2014, to ensure the current standoff between the ruling parties comes to an end.
Chief ‘Maseribane argues that Parliament cannot be reopened due to the current security crisis which he blames on Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli’s refusal to vacate office despite being sacked as Lesotho Defence Force Commander on 29 August 2014.
On the other hand, the LCD and fellow congress parties, namely the main opposition Democratic Congress, Basotho Congress Party, Lesotho People’s Congress and Basotho Batho Democratic Party, are not only gearing-up for the reopening of Parliament in two weeks’ time but also rejecting Dr Thabane’s dismissal of Lieutenant General Kamoli, calling it unconstitutional.
The congress parties have not made it a secret that they would be passing a vote-of-no-confidence in Dr Thabane as soon as parliament reopens, which would effectively end the LCD/BNP/ABC government.
With the LCD now openly consorting with the DC again after appearing to end the two parties’ working relationship on 14 August 2014 as per SADC’s recommendations, Chief ‘Maseribane’s apprehension of Parliament’s reopening is understandable considering where it would leave his party once the current government is disbanded.
Yet while the security of the nation is of paramount importance, and the uncertainty over who is in charge of the LDF between Lieutenant General Kamoli and Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao — the man the government gazette announced had replaced him — is equally of great concern, there is no doubt that the only way that Lesotho can emerge from its current predicament is through adhering to guidelines which are being recommended by mediators.
After all, these are guidelines being suggested in the presence of the three feuding parties and for any of the leaders to later renege on what he would have been a signatory to is not only selfish but a complete disregard of the overall wellbeing of this nation.
Failure to reopen Parliament on 19 September as expected through SADC’s recommendation can only be the beginning of what has the potential to become one of Lesotho’s darkest days yet.