I wrote the below this afternoon. Then there was a citywide blackout with gunfire in my neighbourhood and possibly other parts of the city as well. All I know is that I heard gunfire and when the entire city is black it’s pretty damn freaky when guns go off. As I write this I don’t know who/what was targeted or what else is going on in the city especially because apparently the military have shut down the TV and radio stations.
What I can’t stop thinking, especially in light of what I wrote earlier is: Who the f*** do these people think they are? Who turns out the electricity across the capitol city of a country and then goes after someone/something with guns? Because I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that there was a citywide blackout in a place that almost never has electricity problems and where the political situation is a dicey as it’s been recently. I’m know that I don’t understand all the factors that are driving the current situation (corruption, scare mongering, power grabbing, whatever), but I do know that this is not okay.
Wishing Khotso, Pula, Nala (Peace, Rain and Prosperity) for Lesotho. We need all three as soon as possible, but especially peace.
For the most part I forget that I live in a developing country. I have access to water/electricity 95% of the time and we’re almost always given notice of planned outages; my internet is speedy enough to handle my needs; I can get almost anything I need (especially food wise) in Maseru and almost anything I want (especially entertainment wise) in South Africa. Altogether there is very little hardship in my life.
Then I was woken up on Saturday morning with news that the military had surrounded/taken over the police HQ, central police station and the State House where the Prime Minister lives in the early morning hours with gunfire.
Hello reality check.
My weekend went from lazy to hectic providing updates via phone calls/emails/SMS to HQ, my staff, CHAI colleagues, country directors from other NGOs, and friends near and afar. It wasn’t a rapidly changing situation, but it did take some time to get the full details of what happened. Twitter, surprisingly to me, has been a great source of information.
If you want to understand the political undertones to the events this weekend this article is a good overview while also being entertaining. At this point using the word “coup” to describe the events on Saturday is in dispute. What cannot be disputed, however, is that the political environment is unstable. The Lesotho Defense Force (LDF) and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) don’t exactly like each other and, as I’m writing this, nobody knows who’s leading the LDF.
All of this reminded me of a conversation I had a few months ago when a friend asked me what would happen if Obama decided to run for another term. The conversation then went something like this:
Me: Uh, no. That would never happen.
Friend: Seriously, though, what would happen if he just decided to run?
Me: It wouldn’t ever happen.
Friend: But just consider “what if.”
Me: I can’t even conceive of a “what if” because it’s never going to happen.
I may or may not have used the words “rule of law” in the conversation, but in hindsight that’s basically what it boils down to, right? That in the U.S. people respect and observe the rule of law. Rule of law is what keeps Obama from flagrantly disregarding the constitution, keeps the head of the military from deciding he’s not going to step down after being dismissed and means you don’t worry whether the police or the military back one political party or another. (Okay, I guess point #1 depends on where you sit on the political spectrum but I would argue that whatever you say Obama has done against the constitution pales in comparison to what African “leaders” have done.)
What happens now? I have no idea. The latest news is that political leaders have promised to end the suspension of parliament, but that is potentially opening an entirely new can of worms. I have been well supported by our HQ team and we are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of all our staff and will continue to work from home for now while we monitor the situation.