The twenty first century has for good or for worse brought about change in both the structures and ethos of governance. It’s not long ago that whoever was in government in Africa thought that he could do anything internally including torturing and murdering citizens. The bad old days were characterised by the government leaders almost canonising the principle of non-interference in their internal affairs. It was indeed internal affairs to misrule and kill people on a large scale with the understanding that all outsiders would close their eyes and ears so that they could pretend that they have not seen people being killed and also that they have not heard the screams of anguish by people being tortured. This is the legacy of the 20th century.
The 21st century brought in a new era. It is the era where democracy has come to trump all other systems of governance. But more importantly it is an era where good governance and accountability have become the norm. At the international level governments are now subjected to the template of good governance. Indeed the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the responsibility to protect was specifically a counter to the old ways of pretending that killings within a domestic environment were not the concern of the international community. Those who dislike this norm are outcasts who no longer merit support by their peers and international partners. Indeed the dinosaur mentality, a relic of old politics, still exists. Such mentality however has consequences as the Lesotho case shows.
Three examples on this will suffice. They point to a country which is desperately moving towards the precipice without regard to the consequences.
Ø In the Southern African region, SADC has adopted far reaching decisions on Lesotho requiring it to undertake specific constitutional, public sector and security reforms. It has gone further to demand that the rule of law be restored to the country and specifically that LDF Commander, Kamoli must be relieved of his command;
Ø In line with this consensus that the rule of law is wanting in Lesotho, the US through two of its agencies (MCC and AGOA) have made its displeasure clear about the state of the rule of law in Lesotho. Specifically the two institutions dealing with those areas of cooperation with Lesotho have insisted that further cooperation is dependent on the implementation of Phumaphi/SADC Commission recommendations;
Ø The EU has withdrawn budget support for Lesotho because of failure to adhere to certain accountability standards agreed earlier. But more importantly, the EU has, like other international partners officially urged the Lesotho government to implement the decisions of SADC.
It is for the same reason that a number of civil society organisations have similarly marched and provided Prime Minister Mosisili with their demands that the implementation of the Phumaphi Commission be implemented in order to save jobs endangered if AGOA status was revoked by the US.
It is thus not surprising that when I was attacked at the dead of night on the 6th May 2016, where gunshots were used and my bedroom windows were smashed, a variety of national and international organisations expressed concern. The concern was not just for the individual concerned. It was within the context of lack of stability and the rule of law in Lesotho. It is within this context that the Chairperson of the AU made a statement condemning the aforementioned attack and decrying the lack of rule of law in Lesotho. It is this breaking of ranks by the AU Chairperson with her peers in Lesotho, who live in the old world where international organisations only hear from the government that has irked the government. The government’s reaction to the AU statement had three strands, but all tied up to the past ways of doing things.
First came Moleleki, Minister of Police who on the whole says that the AU has no business on the attack and should not have got involved, after all nobody was injured. He says that the matter never even made its way to a security meeting he held a few days later. In trying to respond, Moleleki actually confirms the view that in his view security is preoccupied with other things, and not those things concerned about protection of human life and property. For him the attack would have been significant only if injuries and death had occurred. His is a world of denial and defensiveness and should be regarded as mere theatre!
Interestingly Moleleki goes on to rhetorically ask “Who is this Sejanamane whose attack could be said to have caused instability and the deterioration of the rule of law in this country?” (Lesotho Times, 19 May 2016). If Moleleki had only read a Statement made by the Senate of the National University of Lesotho on this matter; and the statement by the AU Chairperson on the same issue, he would not have had to ask that question. You can always trust such structures nationally and internationally to give you a view of the standing of the individual they talk about. Those institutions don’t judge people on the basis of their social and political climbing but how they are regarded by their peers around the world. Unlike others, the truth be told, whose only qualification for eminence is their skill in social climbing, a University Professor is a knowledge creator who is not expected to be acknowledged by Moleleki’s elk whose only qualification is being a minister. Being a Minister is no qualification!
In another bizarre response, Communications Minister Letsatsi, in an interview in Harvest FM while correctly pointing out that he had not seen the Statement from the AU sought to distance the attack from the present Lesotho quagmire but suggested that the possibility of the attack being linked to my colleagues at the University. Why he did not elaborate. But could I also suggest that such an attack could have been linked to people working with Letsatsi?
Finally comes the pronouncements of Foreign Minister Sekhamane, of the “bloodbath fame if Kamoli is removed from office”. For Sekhamane, the AU statement is not legitimate. It did not follow the right channels. It was smuggled through by a Mosotho who works at AU on behalf of the opposition. Just imagine! Sekhamane’s world is warped in time. His is in denial and paranoid whenever he sees a Lesotho citizen whom he does not control. He promised to hold a press conference soon to clarify these issues. We can expect great theatre and no substance since his knowledge of the world is shockingly minimal.
The reaction of the Lesotho government to the instability in the country is difficult to understand by outsiders, but generally clear to people who live in Lesotho. Some of them can only survive in an environment of instability. Instability ensures that they cannot answer for their crimes in the courts of law. This tends to be so for those, as Machiavelli pointed out, that leaders who inherit their success are more often more likely to fail than self-made people who are forced to learn important life lessons during their own climbs. Let those who have ears hear! But it is important to see theirs as a syndrome hence we should always try to find an antidote to their illness rather than leave them alone.
The government is now relying more on force rather than intelligence. Let them remember one of Machiavelli’s sayings that “One must therefore be a fox to recognise traps, and a lion to frighten wolves”. Force in not everything, particularly when you are on the wrong side of history.