OP-EDs

UNTYING THE KNOTS OF GOVERNMENTS OF NATIONAL UNITY

By: Theko Tlebere
For the past three weeks my focus has been on the understanding of this new monster to us as Lesotho called Government of National Unity (GNU). The conceptualization was judicious in so many aspects for a comprehensive understanding that would assist us as youth of Lesotho to make informed decisions on certain propositions made in our helm.

Even though GNU has proven to be one of the easiest and spontaneous decisions made on mediation to political challenges, history tells us that in some countries GNUs did not work. For one to say it didn’t work we ought to understand that there are factors that need to be considered. Therefore, today we want to untie the knots of GNU by looking at those underlying factors that have ensued in different countries where GNU not successful, such case studies will be able to lead us into making conclusions unto why it’s not plausible to engage in a GNU in Lesotho.

The emancipation of scholarly arguments on GNU is and will never be an easy task, for simple reason that according to Nkomo (2011:1) rating the success and or failure of a GNU depends on the use of a barometer that has measurable and verifiable indicators.

And for the case of Zimbabwe, Nkomo talks about the plausibility of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which is an instrument that was used in the formation of the GNU in Zimbabwe. What I am trying so hard to highlight here is that the agreement done prior to the formation of the GNU is actually the one that decides the success and failure of the GNU. Meaning if and when we dream of having a GNU kind of administration we need to make sure that we engage in a tool that does not favor any of the parties because that same agreement is very instrumental in the living and dying of any GNU.

I know that one of the issues that we have discussed before is the inclusion of the GNU in the constitution of Lesotho, because some were arguing that how will GNU see the light of the day while it doesn’t appear in the Supreme law? You shall remember in our past articles we talked about section 87(2) of the Lesotho constitution where it expressively talks about coalition of parties being able to form government.

I did that minute flash back because the core build-up to the failure of GNU in Zimbabwe as one of our case studies is the GPA. But it should be accorded that according to the preamble of the same document, GPA essentially sought to resolve the intractable political governance issues and other pressing economic problems bedeviling Zimbabwe. In a way the intention was to cultivate a new culture of tolerance and democracy in the country.

Towards this end, all principal players pledged to “work together to create a genuine, viable, permanent, sustainable and nationally acceptable solution and map a new political direction for the country”. Truly speaking there are a number of pertinent issues that let to demise of the Harare GNU, but I need to reiterate to the fact that, GPA as the founding document for the GNU had tried to comprehensively lay out a framework for a new inclusive government and constitution, a roadmap for the GNU.

It addressed procedural and substantive dimensions of governance, including the modus operandi of achieving the set objectives. GPA set out a framework for an inclusive government that would create an environment conducive for free and fair elections. According to the (Civil Society Monitoring Mechanism CISOMM 2009) although GPA in Zimbabwe had its limitations, it was nevertheless a potential solution to political and economic problems bedevilling Zimbabwe.

Reasoning behind this notion was that while it provided a framework for success it was not clear whether GNU as an implementing agency could realise its vision and mission taking into consideration incongruence in communication from those in Government at the time.

One other knot that we must untie is the issue of time frame of the GNU, it is essential that we analyse the GNU success or failure critically analysing the amount of time between the GNU emergence and its dissolution, as well as whether dissolution occurs with or without conflict. Remember the fear of others is that having GNU would allow a monopoly of elites to be allowed unto public funds without any clear accountability mechanisms.

The knot here is whether if we anticipate to have elections in 2022 will we be able to have completed the reforms process by then? And additionally, survival of a GNU up to its envisaged time, can that lead us to automatically conclude that Lesotho would have achieved all its desires that led it to contemplating a GNU in the first place?

Having said that, let’s look at how the issue of time was instrumental to the failure of GNU in Zimbabwe, research showcases that years after the signing of GPA, Zimbabwe remained in crisis. The political environment was gravely polarized and was largely characterized by a resurgence of violence, arrests, intimidation and hate speech. According to the IBAHRI Report (2011: 7), the formation of an all-inclusive government, did not make “hard-line elements within the ZANU-PF wish to share power with their political opponents. They persistently seized power and used their control of state apparatuses in an unashamedly partisan way. It became palpable that if political intolerance persisted, free and fair elections would be subtle and democracy entrenchment null and void.

Now bring it back home to Lesotho, and look at the current political standings. What premonitions can we have of a GNU that’s lead by All Basotho Convention (ABC) stalwarts and hard-liners, claiming the majority, do we see them in any way sharing power? Allow me to stop here for now, next week we shall continue unravelling some underlying factors that I think are sound enough to be magnets that can cause GNU not to work for Lesotho. The future is Now!! NW

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