‘Trust essential for DC-ABC alliance’
THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Democratic Congress (DC) unity pact signed last Thursday can only stand the test of time only if partners adhere to it and clearly deal with sticking points such as the amnesty for soldiers, analysts have said.
The two parties signed an agreement titled “The Coalition Agreement for National Unity and Reconciliation” on Thursday with a view to taking over the reins of power from the seven parties’ coalition government led by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
However, analysts emphasised that should the agreement pass the challenge posed by the ongoing battle for control of the DC between party leader Dr Mosisili and his deputy Monyane Moleleki and be implemented, its success would still depend on the parties’ ability to exercise trust and also to iron out sticking points.
They said failure to do that could lead to the collapse of the proposed GNU well before its intended 3 year lifespan-the remaining period of the life of the country’s ninth parliament.
Tsikoane Peshoane, the Transformation Resource Centre’s Social and Environmental Justice Head of Department, presented a seemingly pessimistic view of the agreement, saying although it appeared to have noble aims, much would depend on the ability to resolve many critical sticking points.
He said Mr Moleleki and former premier Thomas Thabane may have touted the need for national unity as their motive, but they had little in common except for the mutual desire to remove Dr Mosisili from office.
He said even if they were genuine, the real test would be how they acted to build trust and resolve several critical sticking points like the amnesty issue for soldiers as well as depoliticising the public service and security forces.
“The only common and overriding factor is to push Mosisili out,” Mr Peshoane said.
“And surely after taking over office, they will have to clearly come out to pronounce themselves beyond uniting to save the country’s eligibility for AGOA and removal of the incumbent government.
They have to pronounce themselves on the amnesty and many other issues.”
AGOA is an acronym for the African Growth and Opportunity Act which allows Lesotho to make duty free exports to the United States.
Mr Peshoane said in addition, the ability to resolve legacy issues of mistrust between the DC and Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) would also be critical to the success of the agreement since the aim was to have a GNU that was inclusive of all political parties.
“It only depends on trust even if they have an agreement and laws in place, because laws cannot force people who do not want to work together to do so.
“On the other hand, there are outstanding issues that include tainted relations between the DC and the LCD.
“Now that they want to engage all parties, the question is how the mistrust between the LCD and the DC shall be dealt with. It goes back to the issue of the maintenance of trust,” Mr Peshoane said.
He said there was not much that separated this from previous agreements except that the latest deal is only between two political parties while other smaller parties are “being coerced into the fold to appease them”.
Therefore, he added, it remained to be seen how successfully the small parties would be appeased, something which could hinge on the allocation of cabinet posts in the envisaged government of national unity.
“Also key is how the involvement of all parties in the GNU shall be maintained.
“What also counts is what the other smaller parties will get from the cabinet as they are being brought into the GNU,” he said.
Another analyst, Seabata Motsamai, the Executive Secretary of Lesotho Council of Nongovernmental Organisations, said other factors, particularly how the DC infighting would play out could impact on the agreement.
He said should Dr Mosisili emerge triumphant in his fight with Mr Moleleki for control of the DC, the ABC-DC pact would be a non-event.
“This could be an academic exercise should Ntate Mosisili gain the upper hand and the Speaker (of the National Assembly) succeeds in expelling the 13 opposition MPs. That way, Ntate Mosisili and his cohorts would stay in power,” Mr Motsamai said.
He however, said in a situation where Mr Moleleki emerged victorious in the party feud, this would facilitate the implementation of the GNU agreement which was a positive development in so far as it promised inclusivity in the implementation of the reforms unlike the incumbent administration which centralised everything in the hands of the coalition partners.
“Section 4.2 of their agreement talks about inclusivity in the reform agenda. They also talk about the transformation of the institutions of democracy and they have timelines,” Mr Motsamai said.
He however suggested problems could arise from the apparent contradiction generated by section 5.1 of the agreement that provides that “consultation is presumed to precede every important decision by the Prime Minister. However, consultation shall not mean agreement on each of the decisions”.
He suggested that there could be friction if the Prime Minister disregarded the advice emanating from the consultations.
He concurred with Mr Peshoane that the amnesty bill was a sticking point that needed to be clearly addressed by the ABC and DC.
“If they were to come to fundamental differences on the amnesty issue, the GNU could collapse.
“They only need to have a clear agreement on the processes that will lead to an amnesty and that would be much better than just an amnesty bill being enacted into law,” Mr Motsamai said.
National University of Lesotho Political Science lecturer, Tlohang Letsie said the major question is whether the timing was right for the agreement given the ongoing contest for control of the DC.
He also said by so naming their agreement, the ABC and DC had “jumped the gun” as its formulation was not inclusive of other political parties and “it ranks others as secondary participants”.
He however noted that should the agreement take effect, it could be a positive thing as it seemed to tackle some of the issues that had come out as loopholes in the past coalition agreements.
In the final analysis, it would appear the GNU could work if the parties succeed in engendering trust and reach compromise and agreement on the implementation of potentially sticky issues.
But all this depends on how the infighting in the DC will pan out.