IEC Commissioners should go

IEC Commissioners should go

IF you want to see that this is no country for young people, then look no farther than the drama over the contracts of commissioners at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Justice Mahapela Lehohla, Dr Makase Nyapisi and Advocate ‘Mamosebi Pholo remain in their positions a month after their contracts expired. It looks like they will continue to cling on to those jobs without contracts.
To justify their continued illegal occupation they are clutching at some technical issues.
They say they are waiting for the State Council to work on their new contracts. They say they have already been informed that the State Council is working on the matter. Yet whatever reason they can give, the point remains that they are working without valid contracts. Among the three commissioners are two legal experts who should know better that you cannot work without a contract even when you have been promised one by the appointing authority.

When the Commissioners noticed that their time was up they wrote to Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, informing that they preferred to be reappointed for a second five-year term as stipulated in the law. The law says they have an option of a reappointment. Mphaka told them that the government is not going to renew their contracts.

The Commissioners realised that they had written to the wrong person so they immediately wrote to the Secretary of State Council. Suddenly they had discovered that the government is not the appointing authority because they had seen that there is no plan to extend their stay.
One of the commissioners even says they then spoke to political party leaders about their contracts. That is tantamount to admitting that they have been lobbying politicians to push for their contracts to be renewed. Only those who don’t follow current affairs will be shocked by such an admission. At a political rally in Qoaling in 2014, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane did not mince his words when explaining the appointment of the three commissioners. He said they had been handpicked based on their political affiliation.
Justice Lehohla is a member of All Basotho Convention (ABC), Dr Nyapisi belongs to the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) while Adv Pholo is with the Basotho National Party (BNP).

Note that when Thabane was saying those words the three parties were in a coalition government.
I am painfully aware that the current government has changed its position and now wants to reuse and recycle the old Commissioners.
That will be sad but not shocking, for we have always known that Lesotho’s governments have a passion for keeping pensioners in permanent jobs. Don’t believe any Lesotho government that says it wants to empower the youths because that is a blatant lie told with a straight face to a people who now know that the opposite is much closer to the truth.

The prudent and logical thing to do is to replace those old commissioners with young and vibrant people. The IEC urgently needs some new blood, not some pensioners who have clearly run out of steam.
It is astounding that a person like Justice Lehohla still wants be in a job and earn a salary. For what good reason? But much more shocking and disappointing is that there is someone in this government who thinks a person like Justice Lehohla should stick around the IEC.
This is the same madness that had brought this country to its knees.

Despite its rhetoric about young people being the future of the country, our government keeps empowering old people at the expense of the youths. Most politicians in government today have succumbed to what they deem the necessary evils of corruption and recycling their buddies.

The trend around the world is to give top jobs to young people yet in Lesotho we still insist on keeping pensioners in jobs. Globally, the average age of leaders in governments and corporates has drastically reduced over the past decades but in Lesotho it has increased.
Serious commitment to empowering young people, integrity and principles gives way to mendacity, manipulation and misinformation in the increasingly unprincipled political landscape.

A Facebook friend recently remarked that our politicians are taking cue from environmentalists who religiously preach the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. By that he meant our government’s propensity to reduce the participation of young people in leadership, its obsession with reusing the same old faces and recycle them when they are way past their sell-by-date.

Granted, unemployment is a global issue but what sets this country apart from many others is the speed in which it is going from bad to worse. We create policies that we don’t follow. We lie to the young people when the truth is easier to tell. We sell false hope to young people who are already disillusioned. And when we are caught in our lies, we start manufacturing more lies.
When young people look for jobs in my country, they are told they don’t have the required qualifications.
And when they find a job that matches their qualifications, we tell them they don’t have the necessary experience. Meanwhile, we continue extending pensioners’ contracts.

There is no doubt that the older generation cannot keep up with the demands and requirements of the 21st century. They have had their chance and they must make way for another generation.
It’s not as if those who are clinging on to their jobs are performing well. They have been abysmal at it.
Look at the mess in ministries and parastatals.

By keeping the IEC commissioners, the government is showing that it doesn’t practise what it preaches. It is confirming that it was misleading when it said it wants to empower young people.
It is proving that it was not telling the truth when it said it will be different from previous administration.

But then again, what good are any reforms if our minds are not reformed? We should thank the international community for imposing reforms on to us but if we don’t change our state of mind these reforms will be a white elephant. The self-hate will continue for as long as we marginalise young people while rewarding old people by reusing and recycling them in key positions.

Ramahooana Matlosa

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