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May 2017

2017 elections in Lesotho: critical issues of an election like no other

 

Overview

 

Saturday 03/06/2017 marks the most pivotal day in recent Lesotho political history. It is a day almost similar to the Freedom Day in South Africa, when the oppressive apartheid years were swept away through a popular vote amidst the tension. In Lesotho, the elections have the symbolism of a freedom run. It will mark a day when the people decide to wrest their sovereignty from the militia which has terrorised them for almost five years. The June 2017 election in Lesotho is not about sorting out differing economic and/or social policies; it is largely an election to sweep away the militia and renew Lesotho’s damaged international image.

 

 This is why there has been a dearth of critical contestations about the economy, education and other fields. In this election there have not been any big debates about political and economic policies. The only questions which these elections will resolve revolve around security and accountability. Ultimately the implementation of SADC decisions following the report of the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry is what will unlock the country’s prospects to formulate and implement other policies. Security is the foundation of human survival. Where people are not safe, they cannot adequately decide whether to invest in any field since they are insecure. This is why security issues predominates the debate about the future of Lesotho in this election.

 

Lest we forget the main issues which could have been clouded by the noise from political rallies of the past week, let us remind all about what these elections are about. What has propelled us to hold these elections in 2017?

 

Overriding security challenges

 

Shortly after the 2015 elections, Mosisili became Prime Minister again and immediately re-instated Kamoli as Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF). Almost immediately a crackdown in the LDF was launched against all those soldiers who were perceived to have celebrated when Kamoli was removed from office by the then Prime Minister Thabane. Under an operation which was said to be a suppression of a mutiny, more than sixty soldiers were detained, tortured severely and later some of them were charged of mutiny. They remained in the Maximum Security Prison for almost two years and their cases have not yet begun in the Court Marshal. Pressure from the United States finally paid off as all of them were released from the Maximum Security Prison into what is called open arrest.

 

  The second batch of about twenty three soldiers fled the country and continues to live in South Africa. Their salaries were stopped and their families were booted from the barracks. They continue to live in South Africa with no means of livelihood. Their status in South Africa is ambiguous since they are not classified as refugees. It is a totally miserable existence.

 

But more serious was the cold blooded murder of the former Commander of the LDF Lt. General Mahao by a special team which had been set up to suppress the mutiny. Not satisfied with killing him and blocking investigations on his murder, LDF has withheld his personal belongings and refused to pay his benefits to his family. It is a case of vindictiveness and sadistic behaviour incomparable!

 

At the same time all the leaders of the opposition parties which had been represented in Parliament fled to exile for fear of their life, only to return two years later. Other than the fact that Kamoli has officially left the LDF, nothing had changed when they returned to Lesotho in March 2017. Thee ironic thing is that, Cyril Ramaphosa, the SADC Facilitator who had been charged with facilitating their return did not do anything tangible for their return. The only thing he did was to fly in on the day of their return ostensible to welcome them back in Lesotho.

 

It is as a result of these developments that SADC formed and later accepted the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Phumaphi from Botswana. Despite several Communiqués and letters to the Lesotho government, the decisions have not been implemented except to release Kamoli from the Command of the LDF; and to talk reform in order block reform. Talking reform was a stratagem to put wool on the eyes of SADC that reforms are on the way while the government was determined to prevent key processes leading to reform.  But even with that charade of reform, it was clear to all that reforms could only be implemented with the concurrence of the opposition parties. They would not have given in without the return of their leaders from exile.

 

 Briefly the Commission listed cases of High Treason, murder and other serious crimes as listed below allegedly committed by those who are now in the Command of the LDF. The list below is not exhaustive:

 

Place where crime reported

Criminal Investigation Record Number

Crime

Status of  case

Morija Police Station

CIR 673/01/12

attempted murder

No progress

Mafeteng Police Station

CIR 30/04/12

murder,

No progress

Mohale Police Station

CIR 03/04/12

attempted murder

No progress

Mokhotlong Police Station

CIR 274/06/13

attempted murder

No progress

Thamae Police Station

 

murder

No progress

Police Headquarters

CIR 778/09/14

Murder of a police officer

No progress

 

In all the above cases the suspects are known but the investigations have been blocked by the LDF. The question of impunity by those with guns looms high in these elections. Impunity for those with guns and those who provide them with political cover has led us into a situation where the law does not operate when you are in either the military or hold political office. Paragraph 138 of the Phumaphi Report makes the following damning observation, “… the LDF became a law unto itself, this is corroborated by warrants of arrest issued on the 17th April 2014 for High Treason against  Brig. Mokaloba, Major Lekhoa, Major Ntoi, Captain Hashatsi, 2nd Lieutenant Nyakane, 2nd Lieutenant Hlehlisi, Corporal Mokhesuoe, and Lance Corporal Mpolokeng Moleleki, and another warrant of arrest issued on the  on the 29th September 2014 for Treason against Kamoli, Captain Hashatsi, Brigadier Mokaloba, Lt. Colonel Phaila, 2nd Lt. Nyakane, 2nd Lt. Hlehlisi, 2nd Lt. Moeletsi, Major Ntoi.” It is not surprising that most of those alleged to have committed these serious crimes have now been promoted twice within eighteen months and of those several have skipped ranks.

 

The issue was to ensure that the junior officers who have now been elevated above those of their seniors whom they had detained and tortured and/or exiled can legitimately be able to work with their former seniors in the event that those are reinstated into the army. Another issue was to ensure that the suspects are now part of the Command holding all the strategic positions in order to entrench impunity. This means that most of the suspects in serious crimes are now in total control of the LDF. This is a situation whereby the army has now been turned into a militia, completely lacking professionalism. Like in the mafia, what is dominant is the politics of survival of the mob particularly those who head it.

 

I have argued above that the dominant issue about these elections revolves around ending impunity by smashing the criminal gang which has now completely captured all security structures. The army, police and national security structures are now dominated by the suspects in serious crimes. The establishment of the Special Support Unit, a joint police and army unit, has ensured that the police service is captured. Lately it is this group which has been responsible for most of the intimidation and terror taking place in Lesotho. We have cases where they have unlawfully kidnapped people at dead of night travelling in vehicles without number plates. Further, the National Security Service is now headed by one of the army suspects mentioned above. It is an unbelievable story of the capture of state institutions by the militia.

 

One of the reasons why some in the militia are talking about occupying hills and plateaus is to attempt to instil fear on people so that they refrain from going to the polls. Those are futile attempts!

 

On corruption and patronage

 

While the security nightmare has been the major reason why we are where we are, corruption has triggered the present rejection of the government by a considerable number of people. One of the sources of anger of people about corruption revolves around the Bidvest Bank vehicle scheme. The corrupt procedures for the engagement into the security agencies and; the deployment of Mosisili’s children, relatives and allies in all key sectors in the public service provide other source grievances

 

Ø  The Bidvest Bank fleet management deal has proved to be one of the most corrupt deals Lesotho has been faced with for some time. Not only did the deal break all procumbent guidelines, but Bidvest did not bid for the job but was awarded the contract at exorbitant rates which were not affordable. But more importantly the terms of the contract were so lopsided that they could have only been signed by a person who at best was naive and at worst had vested interests in the deal. First the rates were almost two times of what the previous vehicle supplier charged. But more importantly, the government was barred from cancelling the contract unless it bought all the vehicles which were under the contract. The catch is that most of the vehicles which Bidvest Bank provided were the 2006 to 2008 models. They were too old for the purposes they were meant to achieve. The government ultimately conceded that the contract was unaffordable.

 

Ø  Another corrupt scheme which has angered a lot of young people is the employment into the security services. A conspiracy was hatched to employ recruits into all the security agencies on the basis of their membership of the parties in the ruling coalition. While thousands of young people applied for jobs in those, only those who were preselected from the supporters of the parties in the ruling coalition on a proportional basis succeeded. In an affidavit submitted to the High Court one Makhalemele testified how he was dispatched to Mokhotlong to identify potential employees in the police and army. They were offered the jobs. Similarly the former Minister of Police, Monyane Moleleki who left the Democratic Congress revealed how the scheme was devised and implemented. This reveals the extent of the rot in the government.

 

Ø  As part of Mosisili’s attempts to rule from the grave a raft of appointments of his relatives and allies have recently been appointed to key positions in the public service and the government entities. Prominent is the appointment of Mosisili’s son a Chief Delegate in the Lesotho Highland Water Commission. He had earlier appointed his son-in- law as Ambassador in Switzerland. Several other people were also posted in other positions including the appointment of a South African judge as President of the Court of Appeal a month before the elections. All these appointments had only one objective, to ensure that the successor government would have considerable difficulty to run the government because of the planted people in all sectors of the public sector.

 

The above are just reminders that the elections will not immediately deal with the bread and butter issues but will have to untangle the web which Mosisili has woven in the security sector, the public service.  Unwinding corruption which has become institutionalised will be another major task. No wonder why the focus of the political parties has been less on policies and more on removing the existing regime. Similarly, Mosisili and his allies too focused on how to retain power, rather than how to deal with the bread and butter issues. The nearest he came to talking about anything other than power was his promise to build a railway network in Lesotho!

 

Conclusion

 

Lesotho has been going through a crisis which has brought about a lot of international concern over a long period. It is now at the crossroads where it can continue with the old ways which have led us into a cul-de-sac. On the other hand the country has a rare opportunity to wriggle out of the crisis which has tarnished the image of the country.

 

As people go to the polls two days from now they will certainly remember that those countries like Botswana which have been nurturing our self-made crisis are now threatening to abandon us. It could be that other countries are equally fed up even though they may have not yet expressed it. The tone of the discussions during the SADC Summit in Swaziland is a clear indicator that we are now regarded as akin to wayward kids.

 

For Basotho therefore the following reminders are appropriate and they have to take appropriate action on Election Day:

 

a)      We have in the  Command structures of our military who have avoided prison by threatening anybody who dares investigate their crimes;

 

b)      We have a militia which has emerged from the LDF which by threats, bombings and other destabilisation methods have ensured that a government collapses. The rebellion leading to an attempted coup has not been dealt with;

 

c)       We have twenty three soldiers who are still in exile, while others are still facing a Court Marshal for a non-existing mutiny;

 

d)      We have known suspects in the military who have murdered Lt. General Mahao, Sub-Inspector Ramahloko and several others continuing to avoid prosecution.

 

The above is what this election is about. It is about normalising the rule of law and ensuring that people are accountable for their actions.

 

 

 

We wish all our compatriots who have not yet voted a thoughtful and decisive vote on Saturday 03/06/2017. For me my vote will bring freedom to Lesotho!

 

 

 

 

 

MMS/31/05/2017

 

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Mosisili’s outburst against SADC: desperation when defeat is certain

 

Overview

 

Fear sometimes drives some people to do weird things. Mosisili’s actions and utterances lately are largely driven by fear which leads him to do and take desperate measures. It is not fear of elections, but fear of the consequences of losing elections especially for those people he has spent two protecting to account for their crimes.  He appoints his allies to key positions weeks before he is tested in the elections; he refuses to comply with SADC’s decisions on holding a pre-election stakeholder forum, and uses the most unsavoury language to convey his view to SADC; and his allies endeavour to secure all high grounds in the country designated as their areas of operation for national security. All these are a result of his fear and probably regret that he called an election unnecessarily; and could suffer his biggest political defeat since his entry into politics. The signs are clear. His most loyal supporters are disserting him rapidly while his opponents are circling around him. This can explain his erratic behaviour in the past three months or so.

 

He has berated all and sundry who had been rescuing him from his self-inflicted wounds over the past twenty years or so. He has refused to have an engagement with his colleagues under the guidance of SADC ahead of the 2017 elections. The pre-election stakeholder dialogue, meant to bring about consensus on the election process and its outcome; and commitment by all stakeholders to implement the SADC decisions was probably the most important activity which could have smoothed the way for a peaceful election. It must be recalled that it is the same SADC which he berates now which has on several occasions rescued him after he had lost power in unstable Lesotho.

 

Mosisili also refused to sign a pledge by political parties to commit to accepting the outcome of the elections a week ago when all significant political parties committed themselves to. This pledge was championed by the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) which has always been in the forefront of the mediation amongst the political forces in Lesotho whenever political conflicts have arisen. It took five days of intense pressure by internal external stakeholders for Mosisili’s party to finally pledge that it will accept the outcome of the elections. Even then, Mosisili could not bring himself to the signing ceremony. He delegated that to his new and untested deputy (22/ 05/2017). We can only hope that this half-hearted commitment will ultimately provide a means through which he 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.

 

Under this environment we have to assess Mosisili’s recent outbursts against SADC and its implications for peace and security in Lesotho. It is also important to ponder additional indicators of rearguard actions which will have implications for the post election period.

 

Mosisili’s unequal tussle with SADC

 

It is worth mentioning from the start that Mosisili became Prime Minister of Lesotho once again in March 2015 after cobbling together a coalition of seven political parties after the elections. As a result of his mishandling of the government, by the end of June 2015 scores of soldiers had been detained and tortured, while others had fled the country for allegedly being involved in a mutiny. All the leaders of the opposition political parties had fled the country for fear of being killed; the former army Commander Lt. General Maaparankoe Mahao had been waylaid and murdered by members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF); and SADC had by July 2015 decided to establish an international commission of inquiry to find the circumstances of the latter’s murder. The recommendations of the Phumaphi Commission of Inquiry was adopted by SADC and all the two years of Mosisili ‘s rule were consumed by attempts to resist to implement those decisions. Following the decision to dissolve Parliament after Mosisili had lost a vote of no confidence, SADC in its Extraordinary Summit in Swaziland decided to have its structures involved in monitoring and smoothing the process towards elections. This is what irked Mosisili.

 

Summit mandated the Facilitator, supported by the Oversight Committee, to conduct a multi-stakeholder national dialogue before the elections set for 3rd June 2017 with the aim of building consensus and trust among all stakeholders and charting the way forward for the implementation of SADC decisions…

 

Rather than see this as a means by which SADC would help to ensure that there is confidence by all stakeholders that the elections would be held in a peaceful manner and the outcome would lead to a stabilised country, Mosisili saw this as interference in Lesotho’s internal affairs. He railed against SADC not only on the substantive issues but also on procedures taken to reach the decisions in Swaziland.  While he rejects outright the idea of holding a multi-stakeholder national dialogue, what seems to have annoyed Mosisili more is the outright rejection of his deputy’s attempts to derail discussion of the issue in the Summit. He laments:

 

We have been informed that despite protestations from the Head of the Lesotho delegation, Honourable Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing MP, we were NOT accorded the opportunity to be heard. It is for this reason that I take this opportunity to register our strong reservations on the content and procedure adopted by the Double Troika.  We cannot, in good conscience, allow our sovereignty to be sacrificed for whatever reason by a regional body of which we are founding members. It would be a sad day if indeed we were to allow the SADC to degenerate into a body where might reigns supreme.

 

We are aware from multiple sources that Metsing did not have it easy in Swaziland. His previous tactics of charming the facilitator seemed to have run into trouble since all present were now aware that he has used interactions with SADC to play the delaying tactic in implementing the short-term and the long-term decisions of SADC following the adoption of the Phumaphi Report. Indeed, other than the Gaborone Summit in January 2016, Mosisili has avoided attending the crucial meetings of the Double Troika and had delegated attendance to Metsing who had mastered talking reform to avoid reform. This time the strategy did not work. It is this which irked Mosisili to the extent where he threatened to walk away from SADC. “This is NOT the SADC we founded. This is NOT the SADC we would be proud to be a part of. This is NOT the SADC we would like to bequeath unto posterity.”  This Mosisili meant to be a threat. As it happened, the world did not fall apart, on the contrary two messages were later relayed to him.

 

An angrier letter to the Chairperson of SADC came from the President of Botswana showing impatience with Mosisili’s antics. He pointedly showed the absurdity of Mosisili’s claim of interference in Lesotho’s internal affairs by showing how the region has spent considerable time and resources trying to bring about stability in the country. Threatening to withdraw Botswana’s participation in the current efforts, he showed that Botswana has nothing to gain by engaging in this exercise. For observers this was a case where President Khama was trying to show Mosisili that his bluff is really that. Lesotho needs the region, more than ever before. Indeed without SADC and the rest of the international community which has been steadfast in demanding accountability, Lesotho is not in a position prosper. It is even less in a position to threaten SADC.

 

Another letter from King Mswati , Chairperson of SADC, was equally firm telling Mosisili  that SADC has been involved in Lesotho as part of its mandate and urged Lesotho to abide by SADC decisions at the Swaziland Summit.    He pointed out that SADC has been seized with developments in Lesotho over a long period and its continued support is in line with SADC objectives and principles, with the aim of bringing about sustainable political stability, peace and tranquillity. Rebuffing Mosisili’s claims of interference, the King spelt out the obvious, “The decisions are in line with the SADC Treaty and the SADC Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation.” That should have been obvious to Mosisili and his allies. Mozambican President Nyusi had long spelled out that in an earlier letter to Mosisili after Metsing’s shuttle diplomacy in Botswana, Mozambique and South Africa.

 

As can be seen Mosisili’s attempts to defy SADC has not been taken kindly in the region. It has left the country more isolated and vulnerable. In the world of nations, we know that small states like Lesotho can only thrive within a co-operative environment. Mosisili’s actions have weakened Lesotho’s status in the region and beyond. It could be that he has noticed that clinging to power cannot be part of the support SADC would be able to give him. This is why he resisted signing the pledge to accept the outcome of the elections until the pressure became unbearable. SADC with all its weaknesses could not be on his side when he resisted implementing decisions which would bring the rule of law back in the country. It could also not support his concerted efforts to undermine the electoral process.

 

Could Mosisili’s militia also be up to new tricks which could scupper peace in Lesotho? Could Mosisili’s attempts to block the national dialogue and also to refuse to sign the pledge be related to the emerging attempts by LDF to have all high grounds designated as its operational areas part of this?

 

In a letter which has been come to the fore, LDF seeks to secure twenty two hills and plateaus for what it calls for the Ground of Tactical  Importance(GTI).”They will be used for foreseeable security threat and security purposes.” We need not say anything more rather than to suggest that there may be two reasons for the above. First, the sites may be required for purposes of intimidation of opponents of the regime. Internally there is no need to occupy high ground against unarmed opposition. Indeed the militia is more useful and effective around civilian areas where there is immediate access to people it wants to harm.

 

Occupying high grounds could only be conceivably be against other armed people if there were to be an armed intervention after the elections. Mosisili’s allies may be showing their intentions. In such situations, showing your intentions and ensuring that somebody is aware that there may be resistance should there be any intervention is a well known strategy. Such resistance may be short-lived but it surely can be offered.

 

Conclusion

 

 Mosisili’s outbursts against 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 successors to repair the damage in relations with SADC. That is plausible. It however also indicates that he is now aware that his antics and stalling to implement SADC decisions is no longer tolerated by his peers in the region. This is why he has tended to leave the issues of attending such difficult Summits to his deputy who also internally played the role of talking reform in order to block reforms which SADC has decided need to be done.

 

On the other hand, Mosisili may be playing his last cards by allowing his allies to find a way of intimidating people ahead of the elections. The possibility of disruption of the elections and/or refusing to accept the results remains despite of the signing of the Electoral Pledge by Mosisili’s party. One thing is certain; Mosisili is most unlikely going to win the elections in June 2017. All the indicators, including foregoing to contest elections in twenty six constituencies, shows that he has all but conceded that he has lost the initiative. What remains is merely to guard against disruption of elections. The presence of foreign observers goes a long way in ensuring that such attempts are limited in scope.

 

 

 

MMS/ 23/05/2017

 

Diminishing its competitiveness in the 2017 elections: has the Democratic Congress committed political suicide?

Overview

The overriding reason for forming political parties to exist is to vie for power. In a democracy accession to power has a direct relation to winning elections on your own or in alliance with likeminded political parties. Alliances and/or unions amongst political parties are based on the understanding that alone one is unlikely to succeed. In essence, alliances are a way of minimising weakness. It is probably as a result of their perceived electoral weaknesses,  that the Democratic Congress (DC) and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), conceived and ultimately agreed on an alliance going to the 2017 elections. Both parties have been haemorrhaging support for some time, but the 2015 elections must have jolted them to paper over their differences in order to survive annihilation in the 2017 elections.

The challenge however must have been whether they should unite ahead of the elections, or tactically put their faith in an alliance ahead of the elections. They chose the latter. The formula for such an election, it now looks clear, was one where the smaller partner benefits more inordinately at the expense of the bigger one. This arrangement will have far-reaching consequences for the DC. The two parties agreed that the DC would field candidates in 54 constituencies, while LCD would field candidates in 25 constituencies. The Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) would then be supported by both the DC and LCD in one constituency. Without proper analysis, this could be thought to be a tactical masterstroke, but it will be shown to be at best naive and at worst suicidal for the DC in the 2017 elections. This is more so in a one vote two ballot system that is used in Lesotho.

It must be clear that the issues facing the DC in the 2017 elections are largely the following: a) the split from the DC by a significant number of its members who formed the Alliance of Democrats; b) the split from the LCD by an inordinately large number of its members who formed the Movement for Economic Change (MEC); and the fast growth of the All Basotho Convention (ABC). All these challenges have put the DC in a predicament which it attempted to ameliorate by forming an alliance. That alliance however seems to be not only an alliance of the weak, but also one which fast-tracks the demise of the DC. The only beneficiary of the alliance in a small way and for a short period  is the LCD.

Understanding electoral strengths of the DC/LCD Alliance

Projecting election results is a complicated exercise. This is why even the most sophisticated polling systems sometimes fail to accurately predict the outcome. The win by Donald Trump in the recent United States elections shows how difficult a task, predicting is. All conventional wisdom had predicted that he would lose the elections. In Lesotho, we do not have even a rudimentary system of polling yet. This means that we have to take an educated assessment based on a combination of observable enthusiasm and also contributions in public forums in order to make judgements. More often than not, these have tended to provide approximations of reality in the past. This means that observations plays an important role in studies of electoral support.

Our starting point in the analysis of the electoral support of the DC is accordingly the 2015 election results. But we are also cognisant of the fact that a lot has happened since then, as already indicated above.  This will necessarily have to be taken into consideration in assessing the potential electoral strength of any political party. If we are to be generous, it would seem to me that AD could have taken away minimum of 30% of the support from the DC. This means that rather than grow, the DC has probably shrunk by about 30%. The LCD also could have lost more than 50% to the newly formed MEC. But for the sake of consistency, its potential loss will be capped at 30% rather than a higher figure. This means that the election alliance of the two parties started on the wrong footing. They were trying to halt their decimation in the 2017 elections but their combined weakness may not have solved the problem. It could have on the contrary started the total dismantling of the parties after the elections as a result of the bickering on the strategy. For the LCD on the other, it could extent its life for a few more years, since it could benefit from the short-term swallowing of the DC. For both, the  question is whether the post-election period will see them continuing as a united opposition or whether each will go its way after their project of attempting to stay in power fails.

In the 2015 elections DC had lost ground to ABC in terms of constituencies. Out of the eighty constituencies, ABC had 40; DC had 37; LCD had 2; and Basotho National Party (BNP) had 1. It was in the proportional allocation part where DC was able to move ahead of ABC by one seat overall as a result of the 3,000 votes difference between the two. It is thus understandable that the two leading parties in the coalition sought to get together in order to counter their certain defeat in the 2017 elections. But without going into the decline of the two parties, let us consider whether their alliance strengthened the DC. My concern is the DC and not the LCD because it is obvious that the latter is terminally in decline.

Using the twenty five constituencies which will be contested by the LCD as an example, it becomes clear that the alliance does not help the DC at all but could jerk the  LCD up a seat or two if all the DC supporters remain loyal to their party leader’s directive that they vote for LCD.  The table below illustrates this.

 

 

Votes for ABC in 2015 Elections Votes for DC in 2015 Elections Votes for LCD in 2015 Elections
Mechechane 2487 1,681 1,652
Hololo 3088 2,310    427
Stadium Area 5293 2,353   476
Maseru Central 3143 1,173   279
Lithabaneng 5823 2,952   380
Abia 5918 1,195   189
Maama 4947 2,021   321
Qeme 4048 2,629   429
Mahobong 2449 2,210 3,501
Pela tsoeu 2370 2,410 1,085
Maputsoe 3432 1,806     390
Tsikoane 3374 2,143 1,489
Thabana Morena 881 1,472 3,167
Teya-Teyaneng 3930 933    644
Tsoana-Makhulo 3198 2,183 1,014
Thupa-Kubu 3946 2,450    509
Khubetsoana 5323 2,093    615
Berea 4221 2,520    328
Thaba-Phatsoa 3085 2437 1,170
Matlakeng 2319 1,300 1,350
Hlotse 4040 2,958 1,384
Likhetlane 3143 1,174    799
Peka 3959 2,008    544
Mosalemane 3201 2,383    716
Khafung 2744 1,337 2.103

 

The above table shows that DC was relatively competitive in most of the Northern constituencies, Maseru and Thabana Morena which the LCD won. But the LCD has virtually collapsed in all the Northern constituencies. The same situation is observable in Maseru and the Southern constituencies except Thabana Morena. But Thabana Morena is a special case since it’s the stronghold of Selibe Mochoboroane who has since left LCD to form MEC. Disregarding the voters from DC who have gone with AD; and also disregarding the strong growth of ABC; it is obvious that DC was competitive and could have had expectations of success in some of the constituencies. This arrangement has however meant that it has thrown away all the chances of competing in the 2017 elections. Throwing away twenty five constituencies necessarily means that DC has lost the race even before it began.

In the race for constituencies, DC was already behind ABC from the 2015 elections. It has now thrown away its chances even in Pela T’soeu which it had won. But more significantly, DC has thrown away its proportional representation numbers, where it had edged ABC in the last elections. Thus DC has not only thrown away twenty five constituencies before the elections started, but it has also ensured that its share of the proportional representation list will be significantly smaller. The question that needs to be dealt with is what does the DC gain out of this arrangement? More significantly, what does the LCD bring into the party so to say?

Implications of the DC/LCD alliance for the DC

In any negotiations, there can be several outcomes. We can have a mutually beneficial outcome; we can also have winners and losers. Surrender negotiations are however different. While in the first two situations, the negotiations themselves produce the outcome; in surrender negotiations, the victors in war dictate how the loser should behave and modalities of the surrender.  An analysis of the agreement between DC and LCD is akin to the surrender negotiations. They are so one sided that it would be impossible to conceive of two parties trying to get a mutually acceptable outcome. The overall winner is the LCD while the DC accepted the terms of the negotiations.

In the constituencies which DC has fielded candidates for the 2017 elections, there is virtually nothing that the LCD will contribute. In Mokhotlong and the Southern districts the DC will virtually be on its own. LCD has virtually no presence there hence it will not strengthen the DC. On the contrary the impact of both the AD and MEC will ensure that DC has even fewer constituencies and proportional representation representatives. The consequences of this will most likely be devastating for the DC.

After the elections, there is most likely going to be discord and recriminations within the DC when the realisation comes to the fore that the party was duped to accept an alliance which was meant to strengthen it but in reality was likely to destroy it. Indeed if there was genuineness about the arrangement, the parties could have merged and contested elections as a single party rather than to allow a weaker party to dictate the terms of the alliance. It is clear that the LCD negotiated ways to survive, while the DC was either intimidated into agreeing or was dictated to as a result of the mutual fear of the two to lose elections and to face the consequences of the misdeeds of their rule since 2015. Whichever way one looks at it the situation is deem for the DC.

Having surrendered its electoral support to the LCD for no apparent benefit, the DC will almost certainly split or be swallowed by LCD as a result of the above alliance. Questions will be asked why the alliance was reached and who will lead such an alliance. It was easy to paper over the discomfort of some in the DC on the direction and role of the party in some of the challenges facing the government, when the two parties were in coalition. If they lose the elections, as seems most certain, the struggle for power will be intense. The question ultimately is whether the DC will emerge victorious, or whether the mantle of leadership will be passed on to Metsing of the LCD.

Conclusion

It is not often that a political party surrenders its support base to another. For DC, this is exactly what has happened. A much smaller party has taken over not only the constituency votes of the bigger one, but has also gone a long way to borrow the votes of the bigger one to enhance its proportional representation numbers. This is however dependent on whether the grumble within the DC members about the arrangement will not lead to a rebellion against the leadership at the polls.

The ostensible reason for the alliance was to block the opposition from winning the elections, but the prognosis is not good. The split of both the AD from DC and the split of MEC from LCD indicate that unity of the weak does not make them any stronger.  For LCD, MEC is likely to deprive it of the votes throughout the country but particularly in the South.

In the circumstances, it is clear that the DC is going to lose the elections and worse still it will either split or be swallowed by a much smaller LCD after the elections. A reconfiguration of Lesotho politics is about to begin.

 

MMS/07/05/2017

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