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Prorogation won’t spook investors: analysts

Ntsebeng Motsoeli

BASOTHO have expressed mixed feelings over the current suspension of parliament and acrimony between the three parties constituting government.
Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, on 10 June announced a nine-month prorogation (suspension) of the National Assembly, during which he hopes the parties would have resolved their differences.

Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC), the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) led by Mothetjoa Metsing and Thesele ‘Maseribane respectively, formed a coalition administration after the 26 May 2012 general election had failed to produce an outright majority winner to enable a one-party government.

However, the LCD has since cried foul, accusing Dr Thabane of not consulting his fellow principals when making key decisions — among them the prorogation of parliament — in violation of the agreement the three parties signed when they formed government two years ago.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has since stepped in to help resolve the impasse.
Inevitably, the uncertainty has sparked debate among Basotho, with some suggesting foreign investors and international donors — whose funding makes up most of the country’s revenue —would leave due to the instability, while others beg to differ.

The Lesotho Labour Council, a federation of workers’ unions, is one of the organisations whose leadership believes the uncertainty in government should be cause for concern.
The council fears if the situation is not redressed as a matter of urgency, workers in particular and the nation in general, would ultimately pay the price.
“The labour force is worried by the unstable atmosphere that hinders government development frameworks designed to advance people’s interests,” the council noted in a statement.

The Job Summit to be held in Lesotho later this year is likely to be cancelled should the political tension escalate, the council further indicated.
“There are a lot of good initiatives that are going to fall through due to the events taking place. Basotho are going to lose a lot. There is no doubt we are faced with dire and selfish political squabbles by those who do not have the interest of the wellbeing of the people at heart,” the statement added.
However, some analysts have allayed the fears, saying the situation is not as bad.

According to political and economic analyst, Arthur Majara, the current prorogation of parliament does not render the country unstable.
Mr Majara said foreign investors would not cut ties with Lesotho because the situation does not call for it.
“The situation is not out of control,” Mr Majara said.
“Most of our foreign investors are Asians who are running textile factories. Many of them were already here in 1998 when the country was plunged into political turmoil. But they stayed. They do not have a reason to run now.”

Another economic and political analyst, Majakathatha Mokoena, said foreign investors would run only when there is no rule of law.
“The situation would raise concern if it was to last for the rest of the nine months that the Prime Minister has called for the prorogation of parliament,” Mr Mokoena said.
“The situation now is democratic. But that will not take away the concerns or fears of the foreign investors and donor fund missions. It is extremely important that the status quo is maintained so that we do not lose the confidence of those people. We all know that a huge part of our fiscal budget depends on them,” Mr Mokoena said.

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