Lesotho ‘fatshe la bo ntata rona’ (the land of our forefathers)
Written by: Mpho Raphata
And so Lesotho goes to the polls and comes out with a coalition government under a new prime minister. My first instinct is to wonder what this really means for the people of that country, for service delivery. Don’t get me wrong I don’t support anyone in particular, but I feel like the fight against corruption that was led by former Prime Minister Tom Thabane may be dealt a great blow, you see Thabane in the two years in office, managed to upset key political figures in his country including the man who was his deputy Mothetjoa Metsing . Those in the now say Metsing is said to have been instrumental in the attempted coup that lead to this election.
Interestingly though Metsing will now be bed fellows with Pakalitha Mosisili who is a break away from his party the LCD. One wonders how long this marriage will last. As for Mosisili the new Prime minister, I can’t help but wonder what change he will bring this time around after his term between 1998 – 2012 saw Basotho vote for Thabane’s ABC.
Let’s take a moment and paint the picture of the role players in Lesotho politics who are no strangers to coups.
After Mosisili’s party’s victory in 1998 there were accusations of vote rigging and mass protests from the opposition parties, which culminated with their occupation of the grounds to the palace. In the debacle which saw the army, police and king complicit in an attempt to unseat his government, Mosisili had to resort to asking SADC, for an intervention to stem the imminent coup. New elections were eventually held in May 2002, which his party won, this after a major split led by his former deputy, Kelebone Maope, and Shakhane Mokhehle, the brother of the late founder of his party.
As for Metsing, trouble started when he was investigated for corruption and the embezzlement of funds. His two bank accounts were investigated; he was not happy about it and approached the courts, which ruled against him.
The history lesson said and done, Lesotho is still very rural and underdeveloped. Many people have no running water and electricity. This is a country that supplies water from the Katse Dam to South Africa but they are still grappling with unemployment, and a large part of the population cross the border illegally to find a better life especially in South Africa.
I’m not going to go too much into border control issues but I was horrified to see how easy it is to walk in and out of Lesotho without any checks on the eve of a highly contested election, never mind the security concerns. The corruption on either side of the border is shocking, a person stamps one passport while five other people cross over with customs officials literally turning a blind eye.
My hope for Lesotho is that the people of the Kingdom will reach a point where they don’t have to transport their passed family members on horseback because there is no road infrastructure for a hearse to drive and transport the departed. That they can turn on a tap and get water as opposed to going to the river. That life is made easier, that my helper doesn’t have to travel two or three hours to get to Maseru or Ladybrand to do grocery shopping.
In 1966, Basotholand gained its independence and was renamed Lesotho. Its independence was meant to free the Basotho and empower them, but by all account a large number of the population is still living well below the breadline under a Prime Minister and King Letsie the 3rd.