Africa-Press – Lesotho. WE join the nation in congratulating His Majesty King Letsie III on reaching his 60th birthday (diamond jubilee) milestone. And for him in particular, the old cliché that “we wish you many more” is most befitting.
We wish we could have him forever. Lesotho is always a far better place in His Majesty’s blessed and constant presence. Each nation has its own icons who everyone wishes they never die.
South Africa had its own Nelson Mandela. The United Kingdom their own Elizabeth II, the Catholic community its own John Paul III, the Muslim’s their Mohamud, the Polish their own Lech Walesa, etc.
In Lesotho, we have our own King Letsie III. We adore him. He is the ultimate symbol of our nationhood. We can only wish the Lord blesses him with many more years. His 60th is particularly significant. This because we are also marking his 25 years as reigning monarch (his silver jubilee as King).
Although King Letsie III is a constitutional monarch – vested with ceremonial powers only – his graceful and steadying presence has been a source of hope in this often tumultuous and often turbulent Kingdom.
During trying times his voice, if he chooses to speak, is always aspirational. He went through a lot as a young monarch. Such as when his father was exiled by the chairman of the military council, Major General Metsing Lekhanya, in 1990.
Letsie III was installed as the King – at the tender age of 26. He largely stood in for his father as reigning monarch during those very difficult times until the latter’s return and reinstallation as King Moshoeshoe III in 1995.
On January 25 1995, King Letsie III abdicated the throne to pave way for the reinstallation of his father. He went back to his old job as the principal chief of Matsieng.
It only takes a man of character to do that, in a world where betrayal and skulduggery are often the order of fractious royal families as pampered princes and princesses vie for power and glory.
As a very young man, King Letsie III overrode the turmoil and vicissitudes of the early 1990s to protect the monarch and the legacy of the nation’s founding father and pillar, Moshoeshoe I.
He not only ensured the orderly reinstallation of his father, but has served with distinction after re-assuming the mantle when King Moshoeshoe II tragically passed on in an accident on January 15 1996, just about a year after his reinstatement.
King Letsie III was to suffer a double tragedy when his mother – Queen ‘Mamohato Bereng Seeiso – passed on some years later on 6 September 2003 – at a still young age of 61.
He remained a steady rock and pillar of strength for the nation throughout all these tragedies. He has served with distinction and decorum in the 25 years he has reigned.
More importantly, unlike other royals elsewhere, King Letsie 111 was not born with a silver spoon in the cheeks. He worked hard from a very young age.
His parents instilled in him the values of decency and hard work. He punctuated his studies with time at the National University of Lesotho – earning the institution enormous credibility in the process.
Unlike other royals elsewhere, who shun their own in favour of frolicking in the splendour of foreign institutions of learning only, King Letsie III understood the value of supporting one’s own. By the very nature of his ceremonial restrictions, King Letsie III does not dabble into politics publicly. But whenever he does, he talks sense.
At the height of the chaos caused by Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) rogues who killed Maaparankoe Mahao, King Letsie III emerged to proffer his voice of reason, warning that such acts had turned the country into a laughing stock.
He has taken a leading role in key national issues, such as the fight against HIV/AIDS and promoting agriculture as a vital economic sub sector. Whenever His Majesty’s speaks, he does so with reason.
Everyone listens. A suave and diligent man, he is never prone to burst of emotions. He is a towering presence who exudes calm and charm. That is why we all love him. That is why we adore him.
It is not surprising that in successive professional surveys by the reputable pan African research institution, Afrobarometer, Basotho have made it clear that they want King Letsie III to be given more executive authority.
It’s not difficult to understand why. For long since independence in 1966, our ever bumbling and fumbling politicians have made life hell for the ordinary citizenry of this country.
They have hobbled the nation’s potential. They have destroyed our hopes and aspirations. And who better to look forward to for relief than His Majesty King Letsie III.
And indeed, Basotho made their views abundantly clear in the outreach programme to input the national reforms process. They want more power for the King.
It’s a huge pity that their wishes have largely been trashed and ignored in the reforms being authored by self-serving politicians. We do agree that it would serve Lesotho well, if His Majesty had been empowered with a few executive functions to foster order in the country.
Yes, we could still have an elected executive, but with the King as some form of counterweight. The politicians did not want that. They said it would soil his reputation as a sovereign if he were given executive roles that would allow him to dabble into politics.
It’s all a self-serving argument. It’s all set up. The politicians would rather have a King who is a rubber stamp of their gluttonous and self-serving virtues.
They forget that the very essence of the monarch is politics. Moshoeshoe I did not find this country to let it go to waste and ruin. He founded Lesotho to be an enclave for happy and prosperous Basotho.
What the people want in the end, they will and they must get. Their King is their hope. That cannot be altered. We thank God for having bestowed us with His Majesty Letsie III. He remains our solid rock upon which our aspirations for a better society rest.
We thank the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s former secretary-general, Jose Graziano da Silva, for bestowing on King Letsie III one of the ultimate and most eminent global honours: Special Ambassador for Nutrition.