We’ve a lot to learn from Botswana

We’ve a lot to learn from Botswana

WHILST growing up in a village
named Ha Sekepe in Mazenod,
there wasn’t really much to do besides
improvised games here and
there. However the highlight of the
day was a visit to the Post Office in
the late afternoon.

The most interesting part was
going to the Post Office during
the December and January period
when the school reports / results
came out. It used to be a mixed bag
of emotions at the Post Office. Some
would be very happy and some
would be very sad depending on the
outcome of the results.

Sometimes we would even find
people crying their lungs out in misery
and regret because of the bad
school reports. The hardest part
would be to send the report home
for the parents. The fruits of their
labour would now manifest to reality
and it would simply be too late
to use the word “hoja”.

Lesotho seems to be one of those
students. It has received its school
report and it is marred with F’s.
Not F for effort but F for Fail. Lesotho
received its report on the annual
tax revenue collection and it had
managed to collect a disappointing
6.9 Billion Maloti only.

Yah! Those are the results of government
ministers who spend all
day at Chinese restaurants instead
of being in the offi ce. Those are the
results of endless political squabbles
as if running a government is
similar to playing a game of ‘mantloane.

Those are the results of deploying
incompetent Ministers, PS’s,
Directors and CEO’s to thank them
for their loyalty. Those are the results
of giving Asian nationals a
blank cheque to run the economy
as they wish. Those are the results
of a corrupt public/civil service that
has opted to run businesses within
government ministries.

Those are the results of endless
workshops at hotels and lodges to
discuss the latest strategic plan.
Those are the results of a lack of
urgency and laziness in the public
sector.

Those are results of placing old
and tired people in positions of
power whilst young and energetic
citizens are wasting away at home
or busy arguing at Ouh la la Cafe.

Those are the results of self-hate,
sabotage, backstabbing’s and lack
of patriotism. Basotho do not love
their country because corruption
and patriotism can never co-exist!

As I always say, it is impossible
to run a government without money.
It’s not possible to run a government
without tax revenue. It is
similar to attempting to drive a car
without petrol of which is insane.

Tax revenue is generated by business
or the private sector. So, no
private sector, no tax revenue.
On Wednesday, 15th April 2020,
Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA)
released the much anticipated
2019/2020 tax revenue report ending
on 31st March 2020.

In the report, the result is that
the LRA has missed the revenue
target of 7.5 Billion Maloti by about
5.8 Billion Maloti. The LRA only
managed to collect 6.9 Billion Maloti
for the year 2019/2020.
This is in stark contrast to an
equivalent of 61.9 Billion Maloti/

Rands that has been collected by the Botswana
Unifi ed Revenue Services (BURS).
A 5.8 Billion Maloti shortfall is very,
very, very serious. Due to the importance
and national signifi cance of this topic, I
was expecting to see it on the front pages
of some of our major newspapers.

However, it was to my surprise to see it
shoved somewhere on page four or fi ve of
most of the weekly newspapers. I guess it
didn’t really matter at all. What mattered
was the arrest of the “Minister of Police”.
Yah, we love sensationalised news.
A tax revenue collection of 6.9 Billion

Maloti is a dismal fail. That is a true refl
ection of the performance of our economy.

It doesn’t matter how fast the government
vehicles are driven or how busy we are on
a day-to-day basis.

It really does not matter whether Ministers
are driven at high-speed towards
on-coming traffic. What matters are the
results on the ground. What is the tax revenue
collection at the end of the year?

Basotho are proud people. Proud as in
arrogant. They live in a state of illusion
(something that deceives by producing a
false or misleading impression of reality.
The state or condition of being deceived

misapprehension.)

In the minds of most Basotho people, Basotho
are the most intelligent and the most educated
people on earth. That’s the kind of hogwash
some of us grew up listening to all day.
And what is the result of that sense of illusion?
Basotho felt and believed that they were
so advanced and never realised that they were
getting left behind. Their arrogance blinded
then until they never realised that they are
not progressing but were rather regressing.

Their state of political independence (sovereignty)
made them to block the world outside
and to do things their way. I remember the
regrettable words that were made during the
50th independence celebrations that said, “It
is better to manage yourself badly, than to be
managed well by others”.

To some, a tax revenue collection of 6.9 Billion
Maloti is good and well. To some Basotho
citizens, it is actually excellent. But when you
place yourself next to your peers, the likes of

Botswana, you only learn to realize how dismal
the results are. It’s like celebrating a 30%
pass just because you got certain things right.
We only have ourselves to blame for this
mess. Botswana has shown us that political
stability + focus + discipline + work ethic + determination

humility + dedication + respect
for the rule of law = economic success. Those
guys are serious. Rona re’a phapha. That’s all
we know.

I remember one of my mentors (Mr. Theo
Ntlatlapa) talking about his university days
back in the 70’s when the National University
was part of the UBLS (University of Botswana,
Lesotho and Swaziland).

As a matter of fact, I understand that Basotho
being whom they are (troublesome and
unruly), were the ones that broke the pact of
the UBLS by withdrawing their participation.
Basotho felt that the UBLS was not benefi ting
them and used Lesotho resources to advance
Botswana and Swaziland.

So, Ntate Theo said their pastime whilst at
University was to mock Batswana students
about how backward Gaborone looked. They
used to joke about how bad Gaborone was and
it could only be compared to TY in Lesotho,
not even Maseru because Maseru was already
so advanced then.

This was sometime in the 70’s. So, Batswana
would just laugh it off and continue with
their studies.
Look at Gaborone now! It is light-years
ahead. Maseru cannot even come close to it.

I think Maseru can now be compared to TY
considering the chaos going on in the city. No,
street-lights, dirty streets, men urinating in
public, billboards dumped all over, ugly and
old buildings, I mean the list is endless.

Gaborone has become a shining beacon of
what a modern-day African city has to look
like. High-rise buildings, shopping malls,
clean streets, police officers in clean uniform
and polished shoes. Just pure law and order.
Basotho have been left behind with their
beliefs that they are still better and superior.

They love to listen to the melody of their own
lies. One of them is of how they set up Botswana
from nothing.
You will hear them saying, “we helped
Botswana to set-up its police force. We also
trained their teachers”. The question is “joale”,
so what? Where are you now? Still fi ghting?
As I have previously mentioned, we only
have ourselves to blame. The endless political
squabbles have put a dent on our economic
performance. In-fact, the coalition politics
have thrown Lesotho ten steps back. It looks
like we are taking one step forward and two
steps back.

Politics have really been a stumbling block
to the economic progress of Lesotho. Just take
a look at the recent regrettable events that
took place last weekend. We are having political
squabbles in the middle of a global crisis,
to an extent where former South African minster,
Jeff Radebe and Deputy Minister, Zizi
Kodwa had to be deployed to intervene. Re itlhotse
hoo re seng re namoloa ke bo Zizi Kodwa.

We have reduced ourselves to a problem
child of the SADC region. As I once said, like
in the game of ‘mantloane, there is always confl
ict because of a fool that wants to graduate
from being a child straight to a father in one
day. The end result is endless fi ghts that lead
to everything being destroyed. That’s why the
houses have to be re-built on a daily basis.

Our politics are exactly like that. It’s all
about senseless power struggles. They have
nothing to do with building the economy and
nothing to do with building the private sector.
But the private sector is the major source of
tax-revenue.

In conclusion, to avoid sounding like a broken
record, I think the Covid-19 pandemic is
really going to put the Lesotho economy to
its knees. There are going to be massive retrenchments
and massive company closures.
The end result is going to be lower and lower
tax revenue collections. 2020/2021 is going to
be a very tough year.

This is certainly not the time for childish
political arguments. However, our politicians
do not listen. They live is a state of illusion.
They still have a sense that Lesotho is far
more superior than all countries. And Lesotho
has a lot of money.

The hard truth will knock in their heads
the day public/civil servants have to take salary
cuts or have to endure delayed salaries.
That will be the day common sense will fi nally
knock into the heads of our politicians and
that day is unfortunately very near.
As a closing comment, consider suspending
democracy for ten years for the sake of peace

unity and economic and political stability.
Give King Letsie III executive powers to run
the country for the next ten years in order to
dissolve the current political chaos.

We can all see that this political chaos
is taking us nowhere but down. At the end,
the poor are always the first to suffer for this
mess.

Mako Bohloa

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