ELSEWHERE in this edition, the international community has urged politicians in Lesotho to “seize the opportunity” of the return of the formerly exiled opposition leaders by working towards bringing peace and stability.
We can’t agree more with the sentiment of the United Nations in Lesotho, Heads of Mission of the European Union and its member states accredited to Lesotho as well as the heads of mission of Canada, Norway and Switzerland accredited to Lesotho.
They rightly called on the country’s political gladiators to prioritise “national interest” instead of the retrogressive bickering that has seen Lesotho lurch from one crisis to the other.
With the return of All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane and his Basotho National Party and Reformed Congress of Lesotho counterparts, Thesele ’Maseribane and Keketso Rantšo, Lesotho is faced with an opportunity to start over from the politics of attrition that have rocked this nation in recent years.
What has been apparent in all the one-upmanship that has characterized our body politic is that everyone is bruised and the nation has not advanced in any way, shape or form. Across the political divide, our leaders are to blame for bringing us to where we find ourselves; a nation deeply divided and economically stagnant if not regressing.
The focus has only been on the political chess and not on the reasons the hapless electorate voted in their representatives in the legislature. This was succinctly noted by European Union Ambassador to Lesotho Dr Michael Doyle who said last November that donor support to Lesotho had been waning over the years due to successive governments’ preoccupation with political issues at the expense of the developmental agenda.
Citing the EU’s decision in March last year not to disburse €26.85 million (about M460.65 million) meant to support Lesotho’s national budget, Dr Doyle said insufficient progress was being made in the implementation of the agreed policy reforms.
He said the decision was taken after an assessment of Lesotho’s compliance with the agreed policy reforms especially in the area of Public Financial Management.
Lesotho also risked losing eligibility for free trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) facility for 2017 if the country fails by March this year to meet the facility’s rule of law and governance benchmarks.
AGOA accords duty-free treatment to products exported by beneficiary sub-Saharan countries to the United States, including Lesotho.
These examples are a mere microcosm of the macrocosm of setbacks and regression Lesotho has experienced due to needless and endless squabbles.
Southern African Development Community Facilitator to Lesotho, South African Vice-President Cyril Ramaphosa, has suggested a government of national unity (GNU) as opposed to the no-confidence motion on the government mooted by the opposition when parliament reconvenes on 24 February 2017.
The efficacy of a GNU is certainly debatable, with more questions than answers on how it can be set up. We certainly cannot prescribe the route political parties should take in light of the tricky landscape they operate in.
However, we can urge them to prioritise the national interest, as urged by the international community, and to harness the goodwill Lesotho currently enjoys with the exiled leaders’ return to take the nation forward.