They stole our only source of livelihood

They stole our only source of livelihood

Basotho have been in a limbo for two years now! Deadlines have come and gone and promises have been made and broken. Conservative estimates point to over 37 000 wool and mohair growers in Lesotho.
The total wool and mohair production for the 2015/16 selling season is estimated to be worth approximately M450 million. That is income lost in 2017 and 2018.

The coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has stolen the livelihoods of poor Basotho farmers. The government should be ashamed, after messing up the livelihood of poor people.
When it is time for farmers to buy medication for their livestock and pay school fees for their children, the government instructs farmers on a private radio station to approach loan sharks (machonisa) if they need money.

These poor farmers don’t need debt, the government must facilitate their payments because it was instrumental in taking their livelihoods from them. How can the government kill the last remaining industry fully owned by Basotho?
Indeed the government has muddied the waters. I am shocked that some are celebrating that wool growers have been paid – that is mediocrity at its best! I have spoken to several farmers and there is nothing in their bank accounts.

Who actually got paid?

The question that remains Mr Prime Minister is: When is your “Chinaman” paying wool and mohair growers? The greatest impediment to progress in this country is the deep-seated lack of empathy and ethical leadership.

Deuteronomy 28:49-52 speaks into our current circumstances: “The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young.
They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or olive oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined.
They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

The above scripture has been fulfilled in our lifetime! To say that the text is fulfilled is to say that now, in the present moment as you read it, the text finds its meaning. A lot of people find it difficult to connect the Bible to people’s lives in meaningful ways.
The truth is this passage may be less familiar to you. For that reason alone, potential applications may not easily come to mind. But if you read the passage, you will notice that it gives a reflection of what is happening in our beautiful country of Lesotho.

If your first thought was, Huh?! That’s quite appropriate! Indeed this is relevant to our situation as Basotho. I am mindful of my atheist friends at Ouh la la who thoroughly enjoy reading my column. Hang on, allow me to finish; this is just a metaphorical expression.

The fulfilment is manifested when it is clear that coalition government has brought against Basotho from far away, from the ends of the earth, the Chinese who have devoured hard working farmers of their wool and mohair and livestock until the only Basotho owned industry is destroyed.
When an unknown man with a pseudonym Stone Shi strolled into the peaceful country of Lesotho little did the citizens know that a peaceful, self-sustained agrarian community that had sustained itself for decades, reared, cared for and with all honesty traded wool and mohair would be left destitute and starved to death.

It is a moot point how this modern day Shylock ended up in the serene mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho. It is also an argument for another day how he was aided and abetted by the coalition government ministers, PS’, the LMPS and the general rank and file of coalition government.
What is of interest is how mean-spirited and mendacious the coalition government is. For a full two years the farmers have been in limbo.
They have been insulted, accused of untold sabotage and sent to police holding cells. Their crime? Growing wool and mohair and wanting to sell it to who they wanted.

The coalition government as in the Old Testament has used its majority in Parliament to steamroll the hapless farmers to give their inheritance to an unknown man from China.
The promises of paying whatever their wool is worth have dissipated like the hope that the All Basotho Convention could deliver on its slogan, “sera sa motho ke tlala” (the enemy of the people is hunger) and what has come to pass is Sera sa motho ke Toala (the enemy of the people is the ABC itself).

At the forefront of this fiasco was Minister Phori in tow with his Principal Secretary Lerata Pekane, a Chartered Accountant and a supposed change agent. The less said about Phori the better since he is already operating beyond his competence levels.
Pekane is the startling case. As a change agent, Pekane is supposed to have a set of skills that can bring change and make the difference in people’s lives. However, the mish-mash manner in which they handled the wool and mohair fiasco has definitely not espoused this set of skills.

Make no mistake, Pekane does have these skills but he has decided to blindly follow Phori in killing a peaceful hardworking agrarian community. This is the lack of empathy for families, and communities that I have spoken about.
Now enter lack of ethical leadership. The coalition government knew they were lying, there was no benefit for farmers in this scheme. It was a self-centred get-rich-at-any-cost scheme. Now, they have killed a strong foreign currency earner and they are surprised the country is broke.

I will be the first one to admit that our country has been heavily dependent on the export of raw commodities. The colonial masters’ agents (World Bank and IMF) made sure we continued to export raw materials only to buy them back in the form of finished products. Let us localise production of wool and mohair and export finished products.

Ramahooana Matlosa

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