A gangster state

A gangster state

It is not by choice that one engages in the act of criticism, the very act of pinpointing what is wrong and what is right with any entity is the basic necessity of existence; for then we can know how to deal with it if we know where its strengths and weaknesses are. In the state where the need to criticise is shut out, inefficiency begins and autocracy finds its roots, leading in essence to the promulgation of the more undesirable behaviours in the human psyche.

These behaviours are often naturally contrary to the more necessary laws governing harmonious human existence under the guardianship of the courts and the constitutional rights bodies and organisational structures. When the legal laws are silenced for the sake of satisfying the exclusive interests of a given individual, group or, social sector, there is bound to be acts of chaos expressed in rebellion to the imbalance between what is right and what is wished.

The latter (the wish) is not often right and should therefore not be imposed on other individuals by the sole individual who carries the wish to see society or the environment in the manner that he or she so wishes it to be. In brief, it is not up to a minority to determine how the majority should interact.

There should be thorough consultation with the majority before any decisions to act in a given manner are given legal root. This is the basis of the system of governance we term as democracy. Where true democracy is, the government does not just impose blanket decisions on the majority without prior consultation with the affected, concerned and relevant parties or sectors. Problems begin to rear their head where the government begins to impose laws and rules without the actual consultation with the affected parties.

This is because of the fact that there is logically no complaint that can be made without there being some type of triggering behaviour or instance. The government therefore, should always look at the root of things without first imposing and then only consulting or establishing commissions when the problem has mushroomed out of control. We have a claim to being a democratic state, but the reality of the matter is that the last democratic government ended with Leabua Jonathan.

What we have had to deal with since the passing of his regime is a series of wishful governments that actually never delivered on the promises they made in the lobbying speeches. It has been wish after wish and no real change except for the few that are part of the minority in the leadership positions.

The type of leader that one finds in this country is of the sort that deems their wish the most accurate description of what is plaguing the country. It is the wrong type of leadership, for it is by its very nature based on presupposition and imposition. The right type of leader will consult with the masses before installing laws or reaching conclusions. He or she is there by virtue of their vote, and this naturally means that he or she cannot just impose conclusions on them; doing so is in all frankness stabbing them in the back, lording over them as a tutor would over his or her protégés.

We have come to a point in the history of our kingdom where the leadership seems to behave as a ram bent on tupping with the nation as if the nation is a herd of ewes in season. It is not a secret that some of the laws installed are in all essences draconian. From the wool and mohair saga to the currently trending debacle between teachers and the Ministry of Education, there is clear evidence that there is no element of discussion between the concerned parties.

What we have to deal with on a daily basis are episodes of obstinate denial at the reality of the circumstances and the possible negative repercussions these episodes of blunt pride shall have on the future of the country. We are living in a country that is raising a generation that will grow up believing that it is right to disagree.

In a scenario where a child is forced to sit at home because the government ministry and the educational labour organisations cannot reach a point of consensus on issues pertinent to administration of proper education, such a child is bound to grow up thinking that it is right to agree to disagree no matter the universal consequences such a disagreement may pose to the future and the general welfare of society in the present moment.

We have come to a point where the public have become the pawn in the war between the education sector and the government elite. It helps no one to mince words or to kowtow given parties for the sake of a fake peace. We as parents and nation have to reach a point where salient decisions to question deeds must be taken. Silence means consent, and the silence of the nation on the struggle between the teachers and the government in actual fact condones dictatorship in what is presumed a democracy or has officially been declared to be a system of governance hinged on the tenets and statutes of democracy.

The tendency to bargain even over serious issues as a habit has destroyed the true face of reality. The marketplace habit or practice should not have been allowed to leave the marketplace into the house of parliament and legislature.
From the perspective of someone that has to deal with the marketplace tendencies of the nation even where the situation is precarious, the result that has been encountered where such bargaining over serious issues has always turned out to be unsavoury for the bargain pusher. The habit to look for cheaper ways to do things either wastes time or leads to more cost because the reality is that what is cheap automatically leads to poor results.

High quality comes at a great cost because the maker thereof is granted the serenity to work without the worry of eking supplementary means to live whilst they pursue the task at hand. The culture in this state is that one should be content with what they get, and this is a pipedream and a vague wish. One needs to get enough to see them through the month without worries, and there is a primal need to invest enough in an endeavour to ensure that it attains desirable results.

Putting in little to get more has high improbability, for some tasks actually demand that enough time and money are invested to ensure that they succeed. The education of a young mind is a tough pursuit for the teacher, and in a state where such salient aspects of the pursuit such as study aids are lacking, it is often the poor teacher that has to fork money out of their wallet to ensure that his or her keeps are properly educated.

This means that depriving such a teacher of the basic right to reasonable pay has a direct impact on the pupils. Underpaid, the teacher has to worry how he or she will meet their basic needs and this means that the teacher thus spends more time worrying than teaching. It is unfortunate that the cry of the teacher has at this point in time reached a point where it is considered nonsensical by the relevant authorities that should address the needs appropriately instead of engaging in bargaining sessions and threatening non-payment with the teachers.

It vexes understanding how one can live lavishly on a government stipend and then turn around and start thinking that professionals that have to this point buoyed the country’s conscience through education do not deserve a raise. It is a fact that the kingdom could not be where it is without education, many an individual have ended up experts and intellectuals because the teacher bothered to impart their gathered knowledge to the pupils in a classroom under a tree.

It is a fact of the matter that the experts that are consulted when it comes to the research of development strategies are the products of the same teacher that is now in plain terms being harassed for fighting for the basic right to be afforded an environment commensurate to the daily demands of the profession.

The non-education of the children whilst the teachers engage in strikes are just sheer emotional blackmail, the truth of the matter is that we should begin to question why the government is not budging in the face of a crisis whose repercussions will be felt from this point on to oblivion. The reality of the matter is that the current crop of students that are not getting their education as they rightly should will actually become the contributors to the regression of the state.

If the Lesotho we know and her educational institutions were once the beacon of hope for many across the Southern part of Africa and the entire continent, it means that we should begin to question why the educational system has degraded to the point where it is at as we speak. It is a fact that our universities are churning out mediocre graduates that in reality do not do much to pull the country out of the mire of poverty and unemployment it has had to deal with for a long while now.

This means that the first point of departure is fixing the education system, but before we do that, we must ensure that the drivers of the system are satisfied enough to perform efficiently in the impartation of their knowledge to their pupils. Education is determined by the teacher not the government. The latter is only there to ensure that the system is well-furnished to ensure education’s success. It is therefore illogical that the government deems itself conversant with the inner ramifications of proper education.

The first crop of African leaders were fortunately products of colonial education focused on uplifting the African mind. A group of teachers, preachers and non-believers, they however held on to the ideal that the continent would truly uplift itself if the children were educated well enough to be meaningful contributors to the progress of the land of Africa. The type of leadership we see at this point runs contrary to the ideals that made Leloaleng, Fokothi, Morija, NUL and other institutions of education beacons of hope for the entire continent in the early days of independence.

It is draconian to think that one can determine the salary scale of one without first consulting with them. It is outright unfair to live on a generous stipend or per diem and then to go and believe that others should live on a pittance. It is no different from the native that thought they were better than the others just because they could eat the scraps off the colonial master’s table and the others could not. At its most basic, I find the teacher-government debacle a colonial affair, with the government adopting an imperialist stance that the native teacher does not deserve to live comfortably enough to teach the children without personal worries hampering the process of imparting knowledge to the young minds.

The teacher taught the minister to the point where he could be a veritable contributor in the running of the affairs of the state. It does not make sense therefore that the same minister now seems condescending when it comes to addressing the basic needs of the teacher. It means that the minister holds the warped notion that the new generation is not deserving of the same quality of education that he or she got in the days when they were in class. It is only in the present times that we have seen a struggle between teachers and the government last this long; it was often resolved amicably in the past.

The brash manner in which the authorities are now acting makes one feel that we have perhaps come to a point in time where the country is in essence a gangster state. The government is playing the role of the don in a Mario Puzzo novel. Whoever disagrees with the capo tutti di capi is bound to meet the harshest punishment. Any sensible man or woman would first question themselves what the repercussions of not paying another their salary are.
Most teachers have their own children or dependents that rely on them for their monthly upkeep and sustenance.

Depriving them of their salary therefore naturally means that such an act bears a ripple effect that affects a larger circle of persons that the authorities choose to ignore in the quest to prove who the most powerful dog in the fight is. Humility begets harmony, but the manner that the teacher-government saga is panning out shows no signs of humility from the more powerful body (the government). Resolute as a gangster don, the ministry is ignoring realities at the expense of the education of the future generation. They may win the battle for now, but they will surely lose the war as they go on to be seen as the most autocratic regime in the history of Lesotho. It is a lesson in uncordial relationships we as a nation do not want to attend.

Ts’episo Mothibi

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