06 October, 2014

Ramaphosa and Parachute Diplomacy in Lesotho

by M. K. Mahlakeng

The Lesotho nation, domestic and in the diasporas, grows divided as to who is accountable for the current security situation in the country. Moreover, the shift of blame from the state house to the barracks as Prime Minister Tom Thabane portrays the Army Commander Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli as the source of the disputes in Lesotho has added to this division. In search of any possible shade in the mountain kingdom, Thabane has sought to find solace in this “blame game”, and in the “parachute diplomacy” of South Africa's Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Tom Thabane with Cyril Ramphosa (Photo: GCIS)

In an attempt to avoid lifting parliament prorogation and facing a no-confidence vote as his leadership was accused of maladministration early this year, Thabane sought to muddy the waters and play the blame game, claiming that, as long as Kamoli continues to defy the order to vacate office, the security of Lesotho remains threatened. And of course the legality to Kamoli’s dismissal is questionable. Nonetheless, this has comfortably secured a seat for Thabane among a long list of elderly African leaders who find it impossible to relinquish power.

After a series of failed talks, the arriving, shaking hands and then leaving of men in suits and ties has not changed the state of Lesotho since the prorogation of parliament. And it has also failed to provide answers to the questions of who really is responsible for the current security situation in Lesotho and whether alternatives have been provided. It became clear that no one was willing to confront the elephant in the room.

The roles of all relevant stakeholders (i.e. the security agencies, the PM and his coalition partners, Members of Parliament and that of the opposition parties) in the current political turmoil have been heavily discussed and analysed. But one important issue has been censored from the lips of the media. And this is the involvement and interests of the Gupta-ANC in Lesotho’s affairs. The Gupta-ANC relationship cannot be over emphasized. And as far as Lesotho is concerned, both these parties’ interests are two-fold. Firstly, the Guptas’ main interest in Lesotho is the diamond mines. And, secondly, the ANC’s long battle over Lesotho has always been hydrological and territorial.

Thabane has become a drone and has strongly defended his Gupta-ANC relationship, and it seems that achieving a solution without Thabane is unlikely. Reiterating from Thabane’s 22nd August statement regarding these relations, he argued defensively that: “These people (the Guptas) are good friends of the ANC and we have good relations with the ANC...I was introduced to them by the ANC president Jacob Zuma and other ANC officials...I will not bury my head and shy away from the Guptas”. This was in essence burying his head and shying away from his own country. Therefore, Ramaphosa has been given this paramount role through parachute diplomacy as a “facilitator” to ensure a safe pass of the Guptas through Thabane and ensure the Gupta-ANC’s interests are secured.

1 comment:

  1. Clearly Lesotho is experiencing a crisis of leadership, the question now is how does the country move foward without having the courage to confront the "ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM"?