News Analysis


By Staff Writers

Fifty-two years ago, a prisoner in solitary confinement on South Africa’s Robben Island had unusual insights into the Middle East: He warned against “humiliation” of the Arabs and urged that Israel “wash the enemies’ wounds.” A “grand gesture,” he said, was needed for peace.

The prisoner wrote that: “Moshoeshoe I, when attacked by the Zulus, inflicted a crushing defeat on them at Thaba Bosiu and, as they retreated, sent a large herd of cattle to ‘his brothers.’ The Zulus never again attacked him.”

The prisoner was Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.

Sobukwe went on about Moshoeshoe I’s exemplary magnanimity: “He cut the English forces to ribbons in 1852, and while Cathcart, the British Commander, was in a state of bewilderment and humiliation, sued for peace!”

Man of peace: King Moshoeshoe – the founder of Basotho nation, was generous even in victory. That is why the national motto of Lesotho is “Khotso, Pula, Nala”, meaning “Peace, Rain, Prosperity”.

In one of his many writings, Be a Responsible Citizen- Is Khotso Pula Nala A Philosophy Or Just A Slogan? Sofonea Shale noted that central to the Khotso Pula Nala motto is a deep philosophical appreciation of how the nation shall live.

Shale said first there has to be peace, then natural response would be rain which indicates in the belief of Basotho that the people have favour of God on their side and then prosperity becomes eventuality.

The inbuilt logic is that for prosperity there should be rain and of course other blessings from above yet they are not natural, they are earned through peace. “In this context the National Vision 2020 was spot on in putting peace at its core and prosperity among key pillars,” Shale noted.

So it is a pity, here in Lesotho, that magnanimity evades today’s lexicon.

Murmurs of crises are rising in the very region where the little-known but heroic Mohlomi, one of the forces central to Moshoeshoe’s rise, is said to have popularised khotso (peace) as a form of greeting. Today, the greeting has little meaning in the political arena. The irony is tragic.

The latest Global Peace Index paints a grim picture of so-called peacefulness in Lesotho.

There is good news and there is bad news.

For the first time in five years, the Global Peace Index produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) Humanity found that “peacefulness” has increased globally.

IEP is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human wellbeing and progress.

The 2019 edition showed a slight increase in peacefulness with Iceland ranked the most peaceful country, followed by New Zealand, Portugal and Austria.

Global peacefulness has only improved for three of the last ten years.

The bad news?

Despite this improvement, the world remains considerably less peaceful now than a decade ago, with the average level of peacefulness deteriorating by 3.78 per cent since 2008.

The fall in peacefulness over the past decade was caused by a wide range of factors, including increased terrorist activity, the intensification of conflicts in the Middle East, rising regional tensions in Eastern Europe and northeast Asia, and increasing numbers of refugees and heightened political tensions in Europe and the United States.

How did Lesotho perform?

Lesotho improved one place.In sub-Saharan Africa, Lesotho is ranked 21st while it sits at 103rd globally. Amongst the African countries ahead of South Africa in the global rankings is Botswana (30th), Malawi (40th), Namibia (60th) and Eswatini (72nd).

How “peacefulness” is calculated

The Global Peace Index (GPI) covers 99.7 per cent of the world’s population, using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators from highly respected sources, and measures the state of peace using three thematic domains:

  • The level of Societal Safety and Security;
  • The extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict;
  • The degree of Militarisation.

In addition to presenting the findings from the 2019 GPI, this year’s report includes analysis of trends in Positive Peace: the attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies.

It looks at the relationship between the actual peace of a country, as measured by the GPI, and Positive Peace, and how a deficit of Positive Peace is often a predictor of future increases in violent conflict. It also looks at the dynamic relationship between changes in Positive Peace and changes in the economy.

Where Lesotho performed the worst

As you have already seen, it was pretty bad overall. But the “Societal Safety and Security” domain was by far the worst.

Societal Safety and Security refer to internal and interpersonal aspects of violence, such as homicide, incarceration or availability of small arms.

The economic cost of violence

Again, Lesotho was ranked 16th globally.

Economic impact is broken down into three categories: direct costs, indirect costs, and a multiplier effect. The direct costs associated with violence include the immediate consequences on the victims, perpetrators, and public systems including health, judicial and public safety.

The indirect costs of violence refer to longer-term costs such as lost productivity, psychological effects and the impact of violence on the perception of safety and security in society.

The report estimates the economic cost of violence as a percentage of Lesotho’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to be 16 percent. For comparison, Botswana was ranked 40th with their percentage at nine percent. Eswatini was estimated at 10 percent and South Africa at 13 percent.

But everyone around the world is stressed

Globally, feelings of sadness, stress and worry have increased by a combined average of eight percentage points.

Even with improvements in certain aspects of wellbeing, feelings of sadness, worry and stress are on the rise globally. The most significant increases were seen in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa had the greatest increase in stress, increasing 18 percentage points from 2008 to 2018.

Experiences of sadness, stress and worry are on the rise regardless of peace. The report doesn’t detail why this might be. NW

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