Sentiments do not put bread on the table

Sentiments do not put bread on the table

Has your wife ever told you that sentiments based on baseless patriotism won’t put bread on the table? Or kids do not eat sentiments for their lunch-break at school? Well, if you can’t relate, let me narrate a scenario for you.
Imagine a scenario where a parent / father buys a new pair of Florsheim shoes earned from his per-diem allowance on an overseas trip to Brussels. On arrival back home, the father puts his shoes in the wardrobe for safe keeping. For that special occasion!
Weeks later, his kids come back home from school with a letter from the principal. Mainly to inform the parents that school fees are in arrears and they shouldn’t go back to school the following day.
If the father loves himself and puts the interest of the family first, he would have to sell the new pair of shoes in order to finance the school fees.
On the other hand, if the father is self-centered like most Lesotho politicians, he would hold onto the new shoes to the detriment of his kid’s education. Unfortunately, this is a characteristic of most fathers in Lesotho.

We live in a country of hoarders. People that are obsessed with keeping and holding onto old things for “sentimental reasons”. To demonstrate this, our country is littered with scraps in almost all the households that are kept for meaningless sentimental reasons.

It is either one sees an old car covered with a blanket or a wheelbarrow thrown on the rooftop. Or an old agricultural equipment such as a planter that was bought somewhere at a farm in the Free-State.
There was a time I was listening to Ntate Thuso Motaung on Lesedi FM. He was in his usual sarcastic and comical mood. I found myself laughing uncontrollably by myself in the car.
The topic of discussion was safety especially when it came to children. He addressed the very same issue of hoarding old scrap cars and most of them still contain a bit of petrol in the tank.
He further went on about how a retired person can keep an old 1960’s Chevrolet with a dream that one day, the car will be back on the road.

Most of those cars, still have jackets (baki e scotch) thrown on the back seat on the day when the car died. This could be sometime in the 80’s but the car is still kept in the yard for sentimental reasons.
The funniest part was when he narrated scenarios of how black people love accumulating junk. He said, most often, you see people pushing an old refrigerator (on a wheelbarrow) that was thrown away by their employer (leburu). They will push the old wheelbarrow carrying the fridge all the way to the township until they get home. Most often the wheelbarrow is scrap.
When the fridge gets home, that will be the end of its journey, it will never work after that but the problem is that kids fall into danger of playing hide and seek in the fridge. But what Ntate Thuso kept on emphasizing was why black people love accumulating junk.

This is an obsession and disease that our government has; a very crazy obsession of accumulating and holding onto junk for sentimental reasons. Young people urgently need jobs. They need to put bread on the table. Jobs shouldn’t be taken as a favour or privilege. A job is a basic human right for every citizen of this country.
I work with property, and property valuations are part of my daily activities. I made a rough value of some of the assets owned by the Lesotho Government. My assessment is that the Lesotho government is holding onto assets in excess of 20 Billion Maloti that are mostly in a derelict state.

Similar to the scenario of the new Florsheim shoes, the question is why would an institution named government hold onto assets that could easily be sold in order to generate a new set of assets and jobs.
Allow me to make an example: Wouldn’t it be logical to sell Moshoeshoe One International airport and pair it up with Setsoto Stadium + the Co-op College and sell them as a package to Emirates Airlines or any other investor that may find value in those assets combined, e.g Emaar Properties from Dubai?

The logic is that all those assets are operating way below par and fail to generate enough tax revenue for the country, if at all any. You can even put Victoria Hotel into the mix of the package.
If all those four assets were sold for an estimated value of about 5 Billion Maloti, there would be three direct benefits.
The first benefit is that the assets would be in the hands of the private sector and there is no investor that would operate an asset that is run down and in derelict state. The assets would immediately be re-developed or renovated for one purpose, ROI (Return On Investment).

The second benefit would be the jobs issue. All those four assets have a potential of generating thousands of jobs during and after construction, especially for young people. Job creation has multiple benefits and one of them is skills development. The third benefit would be an added stream of tax revenue. Look, Lesotho Revenue Authority can’t continue bragging about meeting the revenue target of 7.8 Billion Maloti/Rands. That’s a joke! 7.8 Billion Rands/Maloti is what a medium sized company generates annually, in South Africa.

The question is, why pair-up all those four assets? They almost serve one industry, which is the tourism sector. Lesotho needs to start building alliances with top experts and stop reinventing the wheel.
Emirates Airlines has proven to be a leading player in the tourism sector and can add immense benefits to Lesotho’s economy without mentioning the obvious.
I see a scenario where Setsoto Stadium is rebranded to an Emirates Africa Stadium and serve as a practice venue for various teams that are sponsored by Emirates Airlines.
I’m talking about top teams such as Arsenal and Real Madrid. The hotel booking spin-offs cannot be argued about. Hence “why”, I said, include Victoria hotel into the package.
So, what do you do with the money? Create a fund named the Loti Development Fund. The fund can be administered by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) or the PIC in Pretoria. That’s if it falls within the scope of services run by the PIC.

My point is that the money generated from the sale of assets can act as a catalyst to establish a sovereign wealth fund or a development fund, which could stimulate our dead economy.
How can the money be re-invested into Lesotho’s economy? Lesotho economy suffers from constipation hence the mere M7.8 Billion output bragged by the LRA.
We need to open up avenues for trade. We can’t have a border post that operates like a bottle-neck. Maseru urgently needs a second border post in order to ease congestion. I have a site in mind that can easily be turned into a new commercial hub and serve as a trade route/border post for Maseru.

Well, I will only reveal the plan on condition that I’m appointed Minister of Trade and Industry. I’m not doing it for the money. I can accept a salary of 10 Cents per month.
On a serious note though, we need a new border post with a new rail bridge that will extend all the way to the airport. This can open up immense opportunities for small businesses in the tourism, manufacturing and agricultural sectors.

In my opinion, Lesotho needs to focus on three key sectors. Tourism, Agriculture and Manufacturing more focused on food processing. The ICT and Mining sectors can take care of themselves but still need to be regulated. The agricultural sector on the other hand has to be the biggest creator of jobs in Lesotho. Lesotho has an advantage of fertile and uncontaminated soil (I’m not so sure about fertile anymore), a good climate and water (at high risk).
However, if those three elements are not managed with immediate effect, they may diminish in the near future.
I will delve deeper into how the agricultural sector can be a catalyst for jobs in next week’s edition of thepost newspaper.

BY:  ‘Mako Bohloa

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