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What’s Mosisili’s legacy?

WHEN Pakalitha Mosisili appeared in Lesotho politics 19 years ago he was a political nonentity.
His victory in a constituency did not make news because the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) had won all the 65 constituencies.
When he was appointed education minister, many people within the BCP cried foul.
They felt the position should have gone to BCP stalwart Tšeliso Makhakhe.
His tenure at the home affairs ministry where he was responsible for local government, chieftainship and police affairs is normally remembered for the many failures.
He described the state sanctioned police brutality against construction workers as “a job well done”.
His appointment as deputy prime minister following the assassination of the then Deputy Prime Minister Selometsi Baholo was seen as Ntsu Mokhehle’s continued avoidance of truth and justice.
When he defeated a long standing BCP diplomat in exile Morena Molapo Qhobela in a factional fight to control the BCP, he said it was not his victory but that of Mokhehle.
Instead of saying Mosisili had outmaneuvered his opponents, people said Mokhlele had reinvented himself.
The transfer of power from Mokhehle to Mosisili in 1998 was mainly seen as a father passing the baton to his son.
The last public instruction which Mokhehle made to Mosisili “Tsoa le tsona Pakalitha” (take over Pakalitha) has meant to some a climax of the will of the veteran congressman.
Given this brief history it would be easy to view Mosisili as a political mama’s baby who inherited everything.
But what is it that Mosisili has done in his own right as a party leader and prime minister?
Are there footprints that can show who he has been in the Lesotho politics?
What legacy is he leaving for the emerging leaders?
Has he made any impressions to the extent that he could have become a role model?
What is it that Mosisili will be remembered for if he were to leave the highest office of political influence on May 26?
To be fair Mosisili has done many good things for this country and failed in others.
This article may not do justice in appraising him but will pick two important issues on which Mosisili’s legacy can be judged.
The majority of the students that National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) will sponsor this year will be children who made it through free primary education and government support to secondary and high schools.
Considering that some children would not have even made it to Standard Seven had it not been for the responsive policies, for this Mosisili will be remembered for generations.
On the basis of the foundation Mosisili laid, Lesotho has a strong potential to meet the Millennium Development Goal on Education which demands that all children, boys and girls have access to basic education by 2015.
For those who challenge Mosisili on education, the issue should not be what he did, but how things could be taken further from here.
If he decides to stay longer, Mosisili should realise that since not all the beneficiaries can make it to tertiary schools, there must be a way to empower them with skills.
We need another plan to ensure that the 240 000 orphans in this country are pushed through tertiary education.
After 2005 Local Government Elections, Lesotho had the highest number of women in local government in Africa (56 percent).
This resulted from the reservation of one third of the seats to women.
Mosisili will be remembered for his affirmative action oriented human development which saw many women taking key political positions.
He must be given credit for appointing the first female police commissioner in Africa, the election of a woman as a Speaker of Parliament, the legal reform giving women and men equal marital power as well as giving women the right to hold land rights.
His appearance at the United Nations Assembly has been impressive as he has articulated the real issues which powerful countries avoided.
His words on the need for reform of UN Security Council, following the hard-nosed hegemonic attitude of US towards Iraq bears testimony.
But Mosisili has also stumbled on many other issues during his tenure.
Unemployment remains stubbornly high and poverty is increasing.
The agriculture sector is in doldrums and he has failed to diversify Lesotho’s economy.
The fragile textile sector is still the biggest private sector employer after government.
There are still serious problems at the borders and crime seems to be on the increase.
But nothing has tested Mosisili’s capacity as the political leader and prime minister than political conflict both in the party and in government.
The sporadic manner in which he dealt with conflicts denied this country an opportunity to do better than what it achieved under his leadership.
The formation of Lesotho People’s Congress, All Basotho Convention and Democratic Congress proves Mosisili’s failure to handle political conflict.
His short-lived arrangement to regularly meet with political leaders had potential to make Lesotho’s politics better.
Though a good debater, Mosisili was less accommodative and interactive.
He has enjoyed over protection by officials who made him less accessible.
This was been demonstrated by the way his office was structured.
In almost a decade Mosisili has never been on radio or TV to discuss his government’s performance and issues of popular concern.
Of late, his attitude to civil society has been lukewarm.
This stance has given some of his lieutenants courage to ignore, fight or treat the sector as just a necessary inconvenience.
The question is: Will he work on those flaws if he decided to stay longer in power?

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