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Reshuffle: hoist by own petard

FOR months the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has been trying to paper over cracks within the ruling party  seen as a threat to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s continued incumbency.

And the party’s leaders have been desperately trying to make light of reports of factionalism within their ranks.

Although Mosisili has not indicated any intention to step down from the helm of the LCD, it is widely believed there is a fierce battle within the party’s structures to succeed him.

As factionalism threatened to gnaw at the heart of the LCD, Mosisili was this week forced to make public what has already been a very open secret.

He did not say it but by firing four of his ministers and a deputy Mosisili was tacitly admitting all was not well in his ship.

The fired ministers were apparently believed to be aligned to a faction suspected of nursing ambitions to replace Mosisili as the party and country leader.

Their sacking had little, if anything, to do with their failure to discharge their duties as cabinet ministers.

Granted the fired ministers — of trade, tourism, agriculture and labour — have nothing to show for their three-year stay in office.

But then the health, home affairs, sports and education ministries, to mention a few, have also been found wanting when it comes to service delivery.

Mosisili himself recently made discomforting revelations in connection with Lesotho’s efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals.

He said most of the targets, including poverty reduction, were off-track.

In any case, it’s just over a year before the next general elections.

Which begs the question what the newly appointed ministers will do in a year that their predecessors failed in three years.

If we lived in a normal world, cabinet reshuffles would only be justifiable in very few instances.

Like in the case of death or when a minister has clearly been overwhelmed by his responsibilities and there is need to re-assign or appoint a replacement.

Or when a new premier takes over mid-term and wants to surround himself with people he trusts can champion his policies.

A reshuffle of a cabinet is not supposed to be a vindictive exercise but one that aligns human resource capabilities.

I am sure the fired ministers will not even struggle to come to terms with their fate.

They must have seen it coming.

If they were indeed planning Mosisili’s ouster, the prime minister managed to pull the rug from under their feet.

We can say they found themselves hoist by their own petard.

Which I think is an unfortunate development, unless there were fears they wanted to take over the reins of power through unconstitutional and undemocratic means.

Clearly Mosisili no longer trusted the ministers he fired.

This is the bane of African politics whereby leaders are comfortable when they are surrounded by yes-men.

Politicians are wont to wield the axe especially when their own positions are under threat.

In African politics, talking about replacing an incumbent leader can be largely seen as treasonous.

Yet Lesotho can only enhance its democracy by allowing vigorous and unfettered debate on the subject both within and outside the ruling party.

Those who show an interest in the top job should not be vilified.

Instead they should be allowed to throw their hats into the ring without fear or intimidation.

Our fears now are that the internecine battles within the LCD may end up distracting the attention of the government from the real issues affecting Basotho.

I hope Mosisili, as the LCD’s battles appear set to continue, will not be hoist by his own petard too.


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