Lesotho: Cry the beloved country

Lesotho: Cry the beloved country

THE foreword by former the Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili in the Lesotho Vision 2020 says: “Our history shows that towards the end of the 18th Century, Lesotho was a country of stunning beauty. Its towering mountains and rugged hills, the undulating plains and gorgeous valleys, punctuated by an elaborate system of sinuous rivers and streams, and richly endowed with a variety of indigenous grasses, all combined to make it a land of extreme beauty and splendour. On this land prowled a unique assortment of animals, and a variety of birds, big and small, grazed its skies. Indeed, Lesotho was, in those days, a country of unparalleled elegance and striking beauty.”

These quotes from the foreword brought tears to my eyes. Tears of longing and tears of yearning for what was. The country that Lesotho was during the yester years of rain, prosperity and peace. The Lesotho that was the epitome of envy for her neighbours and those from far afield. Today, we look back at the present day Lesotho with hearts riddled with sadness.
The foreword appears in the Lesotho Vision 2020, a document that the Government of Lesotho promulgated in 2000 as a policy aimed at formulating a vision to provide a long-term perspective within which national short to medium-term plans could be formulated and subsequently implemented to change the status quo. It was formulated because the government and other relevant stakeholders felt that Lesotho’s glory was slipping away and there was need to stop that.

The Lesotho Vision 2020 was a good policy document to be used in ensuring that Lesotho indeed remains the Kingdom in the Sky as it is affectionately known. To achieve this status, the document is divided into seven pillars of development. It is further divided into six chapters with each chapter dealing with a specific issue ranging from problem identification to implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the vision. The structuring of the Vision on paper seems very good. However, the problem remains with the actual execution.

For the benefit of this discussion, I will look only at the Lesotho Vision 2020 Statement which appears in Chapter 2 of the document. The statement reads as follows: By the year 2020 Lesotho shall be a stable democracy, a united and prosperous nation at peace with itself and its neighbours. It shall have a healthy and well-developed human resource base. Its economy will be strong, its environment well managed and its technology well established.
From this excerpt my interest is on the words “by the year 2020 Lesotho shall be a stable democracy, a united and prosperous nation at peace with itself and its neighbour.”

The year 2020 is now only six months away. When there is no peace amongst and within political parties, how then can we have peace in the country?
As I write this article, the government is hanging by a thread just because a political party leading the coalition government cannot put their house in order. Day and night they are at the courts of law fighting over the ownership of the party.

In the other news, we have an interparty fanfare where the Lesotho Congress for Democracy and its sister party the Democratic Congress are at each other’s throats. The bone of contention is who takes sides with which faction within the ABC. When will our nation be at peace if our politicians cannot be at peace with each other?
The extract also alludes to prosperity by the year 2020. My question is whose prosperity is being referred to here? Are we talking about the prosperity of the poorest of the poor Basotho or prosperity of those closer to the government coffers?

How can we be a prosperous nation in a country where one person consumes half a million for their medical needs when there is another that cannot even afford M15 to go to a local hospital?
It is very sad that a good document like the Lesotho Vision 2020 has become a white elephant in a country that so much needed its implementation. It is a crying shame that Lesotho has so many educated youths that are roaming the streets because of high levels of unemployment.

In a country that affords to hold elections every two years it is very sad that there are no sufficient funds at the National Manpower Development Secretariat for those who want to further their studies outside the country.
I cry for the once prosperous Lesotho, the Lesotho that even Ntate Mosisili fondly talks about in his remarks in the Lesotho Vision 2020. The Lesotho where suspects were not dying like flies in police custody.
I just wish that someone or something will change the mind-sets of our political leaders so that they can have mercy on Basotho. The once beautiful and peaceful country is a shadow of itself. We cry for Lesotho, and the future generations that will be her citizens.

Kelello Rakolobe

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