A facade to hoodwink the people

A facade to hoodwink the people

Last Wednesday the whole country waited with bated breath for a press conference that was to be addressed by the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. But given the issues that were discussed, I think it would have been much better just to have issued a press release.

A press release would have been much better based on the manner in which the press questions were addressed. My issue is not necessarily about how the proceedings of the press conference happened. Rather, I would like to say a thing or two on the national issues addressed at that press ‘conference.’

I was among a throng of Basotho who sat in front of their televisions ready to ululate. This is because I was anticipating the government to address actual problems that are facing this country with all honesty.

My expectation was that the Right Honourable the Prime Minister Ntate Tom Thabane would at least table sound government policy on how they will tackle the many problems facing the country.

One of the Ministers I was expecting to see next to the Prime Minister was the Minister of Development Planning. After all, that is the Ministry that is supposed to house the brains whose sole responsibility is ensuring that the country develops as its name denotes.

Besides, the Ministry of Development Planning also houses the Bureau of Statistics. According to its website, this is a government department that is mandated to set up systems for national official statistics on economic, social, demographic, including human resources, and environmental areas in relation to the development needs of Lesotho; and official statistics for purposes of economic and social planning, research, public information and international cooperation, and for related matters.

My reasons for expecting this Ministry is because it is through the Bureau of Statistics that the government can know the numbers of unemployed youth. In fact, this department is not just supposed to give a ball-park figure of the unemployed youths in Lesotho.

It is expected to give detailed statistical information of the gender of unemployed youths, their level of education, programmes they have graduated from for graduates, years in which they completed their programmes and more in-depth information that will help the government.

Anyway, I was still hopeful that even in his absence, the contribution he may have made during cabinet meetings would come in handy. As such, I was still hopeful that the press conference would still be worthy of listening to. I was so happy that I even ululated when the Prime Minister mentioned that there will be creation of 8 500 jobs in this financial year.

I had even forgotten that Dr Majoro mentioned that in his budget speech in February. I celebrated because unlike during the reading of the budget speech, this time the Prime Minister went into details of how those 8 500 jobs would be created. I was happy that at last there is a government that remembered that there are unemployed youths who hold no qualifications at all and that they should be catered for.

Amidst my celebration I got a wake-up call that I was actually celebrating mediocrity. I was brought back to reality when the Prime Minister mentioned that the unemployed youths without qualifications do rotational casual labour for a period of six months. I was alarmed just by the mention of casual labour commonly known as Fato-fato.
The number of youths that will also be employed was set at 60 per constituency.

My question was how did the government come up with this number? Does the government even know how many youths are without qualifications in each district to the country?

I did not even start thinking about the kind of labour they were expected to do because from the speech I could hear that the Prime Minister was just thinking about the activities from the top of his head.

With regard to youths with qualifications, I was highly disappointed as the Prime Minister could not even answer the media on where those youths were going to be placed. I must admit it is a very good initiative to get experience for youths. However, it would be even grander and cheaper to just scrap the requirement for experience for first time jobseekers.

My observation of the whole government press conference is that it was just a façade meant to take away the nation’s minds from the brewing and eminent collapse of the government. The press conference for me was dominated by political rhetoric where the government was just pulling wool over our eyes in their effort to sway us from burning national issues.

It was meant to curb the demonstrations by the wool and mohair farmers who have still not been paid by Stone Shi. The press conference was a side-show to the anticipated march by disgruntled youths tangled in a web of problems during the trying economic times. It was also meant to put on hold the imminent demonstrations by the police who have waited for eternity for their six percent salary adjustment.

It is very sad that as a country, we cannot even clearly state the government policy regarding the crises of youth unemployment. Not to mention that a trip to the Bureau of Statistics will not yield any fruitful results with regard to statistics on unemployed youths in Lesotho. I just wish the government can stop playing hide and seek and just come out and do what is right for Lesotho and her people.

BY:Kelello Rakolobe

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