Political parties without internal political education, ethos and political values


Mr Mzimkhulu Sithetho

Managing Director of the Governance Institute for Sustainable Development and Editor-In-Chief of thizkingdom.com

Political partes do not craft internal codes of ethical political conduct and practice. Members do not know a set of values and principles. Wors, theret are no political education programmes.
MASERU: A great deal of rot, instability and jostling for power that has ravaged Lesotho's political parties can be attributed to absence of political education programmes within political parties. Political players - leaders of parties, youth and women brigades, members and all others who are associated with political parties are not sufficiently schooled in politics. Political parties do not have education programmes on political activity so that they are properly cultured in political life. Thiskingdom.com takes a snapshot of a number of political episodes which buttresses this viewpoint

Political parties 

Though it is easy to form, register and join a political party in Lesotho, the role of that association of people called a political party has an enormous role to play in the building of a firm democracy of a country. Furthermore, it has a majestic role to play in the political, economic, social, socio-economic, legal and cultural development within society. More importantly, political parties are the ones that form a government. Historically, the political field is a contested terrain, from which a victorious political formation or a group of political parties that win elections will form a government. It is therefore incumbent that those in the coalface of political activity are schooled enough in the field in which they are so that they ply their trade expertly and effectively. Nonetheless, there are many skirmishes in the political life, which largely affects governance in the sector as a result of unschooled, uncultured and resultantly uncivil political players.  

Political posture 

Like any other sector, politics too has a set of values, norms and the expected manner of doing things. Players in the political field should adhere to certain cannons that undergird the political sector. The manner political leaders, youth and women league members, the general membership and all those associated to a political party think, behave and act has to be guided by certain values, ethos and principles, which underpin good political governance. Political governance is a system of political decision-making and how those decisions are implemented, which impacts on political growth and development. A snapshot undertaken by thiskingdom.com has uncovered that political episodes, events and activities point to the fact that there is no set of values, norms and principles that are adhered to by those in the political field. That is why a leader of political party can stand in front of a crowd (members) and insult another fellow politician and get away with murder. This can be done to a cheering, chanting and dancing membership. No one holds anyone for the political malfeasance in his or her political party to an extent that political leaders create the impression that the parties they lead are their own property. 

Political values 

Generally, values are those things that a particular society cherishes and upholds as the way of doing things within that society. Values are shared among members of a society and adherence to the values is manifested in the manner and aptitude of the members of that particular society, particularly the leadership. In the political field, leaders, youth and women league members and the general membership have to exhibit these values in the manner they think, speak and act. Some of the general values that have to underpin a political party are respect for one another, cherishing the collective and transparency in their dealings. Some are unity-consciousness, responsiveness, maturity of thought and action as well as accountability to those they serve. Some values can be inclusivity, consensus-attachment and seeing one another as valuable contributors to the growth and development of a political party. These values have to be indoctrinated by leaders to their followers through talk and action. Those in the lead have to yearn for emulation of these values to those they lead. The posture mentioned above has to exhibit these values and would be bait for jointing a political party by observers. 

Political accountability 

A grand leadership is the one that knows that it has to account for the actions they take. Accountability is a virtue of good governance and by implication, of democracy. It is in organisations that have firm accountability principles where growth and development is seen because there will be fewer errors of omission and commission because people know they will be taken to task for their actions. Therefore, political leaders, youth and women league members and the general membership should know that for whatever actions they take, there are resulting consequences. The manner they speak and act should at the end, be accounted for. Progressive political parties establish internal ethics committees, which are structures which guard against deviation from norm to an extent that they haul anyone who flouts basic principles and set value by the political party before a disciplinary hearing. Political parties should have internal codes of ethical conduct and practice for their members, which stipulate what kind of behaviour is expected of members in all situations so that the sanctity of a political party is preserved. This would minimise unfortunate acts of vulgar language used by leaders against their fellow politicians and even against their own colleagues within their political parties. 

Independent Political Authority 

There should be a national code of ethical political conduct and practice that is binding to all political formations. When political parties are formed, they should be given this code of ethical conduct and practice before they can be allowed to register. Political parties should register with a political authority which is an independent establishment that registers, guides, monitors and evaluates the status of political parties. The body should undertake constant audits of political parties to establish if they are in good standing. It should be a body that will enforce the national ethical code of political conduct and practice. It should be established by an act of parliament that confers it with authority to hold political formations accountable before and after registration. It should monitor the conduct and practice of political parties and act as a referee for their whole being. It should clear political parties before they register with the Independent Electoral Commission for participation in elections. The body should monitor the behaviour of political party leaders and their members. Those found on the wrong side of the principles set out in the authority have to be held accountable and surcharged for their actions. 

Sharpening the sow - political education 

Political parties registered with the political authority mentioned above should be obligated to present to the authority at registration, clear political education programmes for their leaders and members. Another requirement should be an internal code of political conduct and practice, which should be endorsed by party leaders, committing to conduct and practice that is within the precincts of the authority's national code of political conduct and practice. Once these cannons are flouted by individual political party leaders and members, remedial actions have to be taken against them to preserve the sanctity of the political profession. 

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