A tempest is coming

A tempest is coming

THERE is no denying that this government had so much goodwill when it came to power in 2017.
Many wanted it to succeed because we were coming from a tumultuous time.
The economy was in a funk, rule of law had collapsed and employment was galloping.
Poverty was spearing and worsening.
Those in power had misused our military with ruinous consequences.
People were living in fear. Torture and arbitrary arrests were rampant.
We had become a pariah state in the region.
With perennial political instability, Lesotho had become the ‘sick man’ of Southern African.

There was therefore fervent hope that the new government would put things right.
But today that hope has evaporated to be replaced by anguish and anger. Farmers, teachers and young people are bellowing at the government.
The police are pressing for their six percent wage increase while civil servants are still smarting after government failed to raise their salaries this year.
The anger in the country is palpable. You hear it in the bile spewed on our radio stations. You read it in on social media and in newspapers.
A lot more people are silently frustrated.
The raging factional fights in the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) have only made things worse.
There is a growing perception that as politicians wrestle for the party’s reins, they have forgotten their obligation to the people of this country.

The core business of the government seems to have been put on a backburner while ABC politicians tussle it out in a brutal fight that might upend this government.
The people feel they have become spectators in a fight that affects their lives. It is therefore not surprising that people are angry at the government.
We have become an angry nation.
Feeling ignored, the people have resorted to protest marches.
We may debate the effectiveness of the marches as a means to press the government but the point remains that they illustrate that the people are fed up.
We have entered a new season of discontent.

A few weeks back, multitudes of furious farmers took to the streets to protest against the government’s regulations barring them from exporting their wool and mohair. It is clear that the regulations have failed because Stone Shi, the man to whom the government has granted the monopoly to buy the wool and mohair, is struggling to pay the farmers.
At that point, I thought the government would beat a hasty retreat and stop riding roughshod over the farmers.
It seemed like the opportune time for the government to reverse the regulations. Instead what we got was a 90-day suspension of the regulations. But that has not placated the farmers because they know the battle will resume soon. They will not accept piecemeal measures.
The following week, a group of youths marched in Maseru.
There is no doubt that most people pinned their hopes on the ABC to solve the country’s problems. The party promised to do just that during the campaign as did the other parties in the coalition.
Now that those promises have not been fulfilled the government finds itself battling to put out fires from all corners.
The people are in a combative mood.

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s recent press conference revealed that the government is aware of the growing public anger.
Thabane allowed farmers to export their wool for three months and announced efforts to create jobs for the youths.
But that will not help much to calm the anger that has been building up for the past two years. His interventions seem to have come too little and too late.
The tide seems to have turned against his government which now faces an angry citizenry.
For a long time Basotho have complained about poor service delivery, unemployment, poverty and corruption.
This government did not cause these problems but it still faces the people’s wrath because it came into power with promises to tackle them. The people are only asking that this government delivers on its promises.
Time and again they have watched as successive governments fail them.

It is however not too late for this government to make good on its promises but time is fast running out.
The goodwill is draining.
To win back the people’s trust Thabane and his comrades in the ABC must stop their fights. They must show that they are committed to serving the people and not their own personal interests.
Their focus should be on mending the country’s economy instead of clobbering each other within the party.
Prime Minister Thabane can set the ball rolling by making bold moves to end the battles in the party.
While doing that, he must show the people that he is trying his best to fulfil his promises.

Matsílo Nkabane

 

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