Mosisili capitulating ahead of elections

By  Sechaba Mokhethi

Maseru – Outgoing Lesotho Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili’s actions, utterances and his party’s belated signature of the electoral pledge to accept the outcome of the June 3 poll are viewed by renowned political commentators as signs of capitulation.

Mosisili’s Democratic Congress (DC), through deputy leader Mathibeli Mokhothu, acceded to the pledge only on Monday, five days after other major players in the country’s political landscape had committed.

Analysts argue the reason for the success of an election, apart from the well-oiled operations of all relevant processes, is mainly knotted with a positive attitude of an incumbent government – and that it was highly remiss of the DC to snub the signing of the pledge until after a national outcry.

From a total of 30 registered political parties in the country, only 14 appended signatures to the pledge that is the brain-child of the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) supported by the United Nations (UN).

Similar endeavours have already been successfully brokered during Lesotho’s 2012 and 2015 elections in this initiative that has become a pre-elections tradition in the country.

At the initial signing of the pledge at the UN House in Maseru, the DC leadership failed to show up without explanation while the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) of Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing signed the pledge two days later.

LCD deputy leader and Minister of Defence, Tšeliso Mokhosi, signed on behalf of the party.

Other significant players in the forthcoming elections, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), the Basotho National Party (BNP), the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) have also signed the pledge.

This reluctance to commit to the pledge displeased the CCL, which expressed disappointment that the prime minister and his deputy had not signed to accept poll results, further lambasting other party leaders for tasking their deputies for the signature instead of doing so in person.

For their part, the DC said through party spokesperson and communications minister, Serialong Qoo, that they received invitations to the event late.

He, however, voiced the party’s commitment to accept the results of a free and fair election, a sentiment echoed by party deputy leader Mokhothu.

Political analyst, Professor Mafa Sejanamane, expressed hope that this seemingly half-hearted commitment will ultimately provide a means through which Mosisili will be held to his word. “Refusing to sign a pledge to accept the outcome of the elections was a telling development. Mosisili now understands that his chances of winning have been so whittled that he could only stay in power by force. But that, he probably was told, could be done but would not be sustainable,” posits Sejanamane.

He said the prime minister’s actions and utterances are not driven by the fear of elections, but fear of the consequences of losing elections – especially for those people he has spent time protecting for criminal acts.

In his analysis, Sejanamane questions whether Mosisili’s successful attempt to block a proposed national dialogue and refusal to sign the pledge could be related to a recent development of attempts by the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) to have all high grounds throughout the country designated as its operational areas.

In an LDF letter to the Lesotho’s Land Administration Authority, the army seeks to secure 22 hills and plateaus across the breadth of the country for what it labels Ground Tactical Importance, to be used “for the foreseeable security threat and security purposes”.

And Sejanamane’s examination concludes that the move could be used for purposes of intimidation of opponents of the Mosisili regime, adding “occupying high grounds could only conceivably be against other armed people if there were to be an intervention after the elections.”

“Mosisili’s outbursts against the Southern African Development Community (SADC) may indicate that he knows that the end is near and does not care what happens after he leaves office. It would remain with his successor to repair the damage in relations with SADC.”

May 2017
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