Wishing well in the New Year

Wishing well in the New Year

I always try to use this column to communicate one underlying message “our misfortunes in this country are self-induced. And because these are self-inflicted, the power to correct is in our hands.”
It is important to me that after reading one of my articles, you are left with the thought, “I don’t necessarily agree with him, but I see where he is coming from.” That’s what this column is about.

So, before I get to this week’s message (which is simple and straight forward), I would like to recap some of the thoughts I have expressed in previous issues of this column.
You may have noticed that my messages are directed either at you, at the previous government or at the current government.
My overarching message to you has been “Do not disengage in matters that concern this country. Get involved. Be vigilant and be wary of politicians. Hold them accountable.”

In one of the earlier columns at the beginning of the year, I suggested to you the unfortunate fact that most of those who aspire for political office in this country, are motivated not by the desire to serve the public but by the need to have access to state resources.
Proximity and access to the control of state resources, is the quickest and easiest route to massive wealth accumulation in Lesotho. In other countries, it is not government but the private sector that does that.

Because of this, I tried to warn you not to expect a change in the calibre of people in the leadership of this country now or in the immediate future. Quality leadership i.e. people who enter politics to serve, will come about only after there has been radical transformation of our politics and the economy i.e. opportunities for wealth creation become independent of political power. Until then, we must learn to live with scoundrels who pretend to be our messiahs when in fact, they are just there to “gather” for themselves and their families.

In a different column, I made the point that two snap elections in the space of 2.5 years, is a clear sign of bad political management. This is a consequence of the lousy leadership we have i.e. leaders with no care for what’s in the national interest. Yes, we have leaders with no qualms to run the country down so long as they retain power.

I hinted that you were complicit in this running down of Lesotho because it is you who elects these incompetent leaders. I urged you to choose leaders carefully, to set the bar high for people with the ambition to lead us.
I also reasoned that when they don’t perform, show them the exit door. Give them no second chances. We should not tolerate non-performance. More than two terms for a Prime Minister is too much.

In yet another article, I asked the question “How is the 4×4 government doing since coming to power?” I challenged you to answer this question honestly. I urged you to consider whether your personal reality as you get on with the business of your life every day had changed since the change of government? “Are you feeling and experiencing change?”, I asked you.

If you answered “no”, I suggested that you be worried and not be complacent. You must insist on delivery and accountability because unchallenged and not pressured, delayed promises by politicians quickly turn to broken promises.
To the previous government, I have also had plenty to say. I have not hidden my disdain for the shabby job they were doing running this country. I shudder at the thought of where this country would be today if they were still running it.
Do you remember some of the things I said to them?

Basotho are becoming impatient with your never-ending mismanagement and misuse of public resources. This is lowering our threshold for bad service tolerance. Monyamane gate will come back to bite you – mark my words. You inflicted a lot of pain on a lot of people. You have betrayed their trust. Basotho will not forgive you.
Ntate Mosisili has overstayed his welcome. Its time he went home. If he cares anything about leaving a respectable legacy, he must do the right thing and bow out of active politics. His capacity to do what is right for Lesotho seems to diminish the longer he stays in power. For us, he is becoming a liability. We are better off with him spending more time with his grandchildren like other grandfathers are doing.
You can’t protect and defend criminals at the expense of 40 000 jobs (Agoa) and then expect to retain popular mass support. What the hell has gotten into you? Implement the Phumaphi recommendations in full and without delay.

This amnesty business you propose, is nonsense. This can never bring about true peace and reconciliation. And one more thing, why do you promote suspects in criminal activities instead of throwing them in jail?
I must admit, I am glad they were toppled. We deserve way better leadership than they were giving us.
To the new Government, I have also said my two cents worth of advice. The economy and jobs has probably been one of my most written about topics when speaking to the new Government.

I have argued points to the effect that economic reforms should not be overlooked. These are critical for the future peace and stability of this country.
I have also repeatedly stated the obvious – we have a massive unemployment challenge in Lesotho. I have said that unless this country adopts a “business unusual” approach to deal with this scourge, we will go down a slippery slope.
Soon after they came to power, I expressed the view that all those in state institutions who are beneficiaries of the previous government’s largesse and not in those positions because of merit and competence which was determined through open, transparent and competitive selection processes “must go”.
But I also cautioned the new Government to be careful when appointing replacements. I argued that they needed to prioritise merit and skill over cadre deployment lest we accuse them of not being different from Liphiri.
In a different article, I made the point that “You have no room to make silly mistakes.” This time around, Basotho have set the bar higher. They are no longer prepared to accept the mediocracy of the past.

I pointed out that on 3 June 2017, Basotho made clear their desire for a clean break with the past and for the country to be led down a different path by new leaders. Basotho voted for change. They voted for an end to rampant corruption, impunity, poor service delivery, political instability, high unemployment and economic stagnation.

The message was clear – don’t drop us. Avoid unnecessary time wasters and get down to work was the message of a different article. There is so much work to be done. We have more poverty, disease, hunger, unemployment than most other countries in the world. Five years is a short time to bring about meaningful and substantial change in the living conditions of people in a country such as ours.

Hunt down and lock up ALL criminals irrespective of who they are (Former cabinet members or senior officers in the security forces). But that is not where it should end. That they continued to roam the streets and did not face the full might of the law under the previous Government, speaks to how broken our criminal justice system is. It does not give confidence that justice is blind. It protects powerful and connected criminals. There is no equality before the law. Therefore, kickstart the judicial, security sector and other reforms urgently.

I did not intend to go down memory lane too much. This week, I just wanted to say thanks for being a loyal reader of this column. Much appreciated. I hope that I have challenged some of your thoughts and views. I wish you and your loved ones well this festive season. I also wish you prosperity in the year ahead. I wish Lesotho growth and prosperity now and forever.

Poloko Khabele

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