The plight of  jobless Basotho

The plight of jobless Basotho

Granted, unemployment is a global issue and is not unique to Lesotho. What sets this country apart from many others is the speed in which it is going from bad to worse ― as well as the wrong approach the government and business officials are taking to address the problem.
We do not need to go through a reform process in order for the government to protect scarce job opportunities that exist in our country. Policymakers must change perceptions about employment issues.

Lesotho is not immune to the “leadership endemic syndrome.” The paradox between academic qualifications and “being educated” is quite prevalent in Lesotho. We are a very educated nation.
But the question is where did we go wrong? How come we regard ourselves as lacking in terms of skills? Is our education a decoration? When did we get our minds colonised?
A more drastic, fundamental policy change is needed to turn around the situation, preceded by a paradigm shift among government officials.
Take some time to reflect on Mining Khotla 2018. Basotho are no longer allowed to refer to outside companies as foreigners! Basotho condemn themselves with pride in front of other nations; they utter defaming statements such as “Basotho have no skills”, “Basotho cannot run businesses”.
I recall a radio interview programme I had at Harvest FM where I was talking about the red meat monopoly given to a Chinese man known as John. The Minister of Small Business called in and had the guts to tell Basotho that John is a Mosotho.

Why are we condemning ourselves? Where does this self-hate emanate from? Why are we insulting our educational legacy?
Our government grants work permits to non-matriculates claiming to be experts in banking, mining and telecommunications. These so-called experts cheaply loot money through transfer pricing and fronting.
Of course, this is notwithstanding the commendable business ethical practices from some foreign-owned businesses like Vodacom Lesotho and Standard Lesotho Bank. These companies fully established their offices in Lesotho. Their boards of directors include Basotho and they fully associate themselves with Basotho. They are indeed good corporate citizens.
On the other hand, bad practices from others seem to be condoned. The government needs to be kind enough to show Basotho graduates the head offices for some dubious mining companies that are operating in Lesotho.

Before these companies’ get jobs in the mines, one expects them to first be incorporated and that by law usually requires physical offices; where are those offices, are they really offices? The Companies Act also requires them to have a board of directors; do they even have a board?
Let us unpack these companies further; do they even possess critical skills or technology? I can bet some do not. The question is, why should they be allowed to operate in this country?
It’s amazing how our own government declares “Fit and Proper” foreigners who worked in their own countries as bank tellers and grant them work permits. Why is the Central Bank of Lesotho, which is run by highly qualified individuals, approving people without degrees to head business segments in commercial banks?
The government must be warned that placing a non-qualified foreigner above our own qualified people is a mental weapon meant to destroy our own people.
But then again, who sits in the boards of directors of these companies and parastatals? Are these directors fully conversant with their fiduciary duties? How are directors engaged? What credentials must they possess?

Corruption has its roots or rather is entrenched into our political system. Who funds politicians in Africa? How are these funders being rewarded? Do they become ministers, Principal Secretaries, Ambassadors, board members?
Do credible businesses fund politicians? Is this African democracy? Who are the leaders of today? What trends are they setting?Maybe we need to confront the status quo and reengineer our politics.

But what good are the ongoing political reforms if our minds are not reformed? We need to 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.
We appreciate infrastructure development such as building of a M1.6 billion road from Mpiti to Sehlabathebe. My good people, one can argue that a debt of that magnitude should have been invested in an income generating facility so that it releases the burden off the tax payers.
But then again who makes this decision?

As Basotho we must always remember that while we may have different political colours, we remain one people. We also have one economic mandate. We also have basic social needs that must be met before we start condemning each other in front of the world: We are brothers and sisters.
Above all, we are supposed to be a God-fearing nation, a nation that’s blessed with abundant natural resources. Let’s restore our dignity and image. Unless we wake up now, Lesotho’s prosperity, peace and rain shall remain a myth or a story of the past. We must put our infighting to bed and decolonise our minds.

Ramahooana Matlosa

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