MCC set to bounce back

MCC set to bounce back

MASERU – THE government says it is confident that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US foreign aid agency helping in the fight against poverty, will return to Lesotho. Moahloli Mphaka, the Government Secretary, told a press conference in Maseru last night that they are confident that Lesotho will qualify for the funds from the MCC.

Mphaka said the American government has promised to reconsider Lesotho in the next meeting of the board of the MCC that will take place in December. The MCC funds development projects in countries that respect and practice democracy and uphold the rule of law.
Lesotho lost eligibility for the MCC funds after the 2014 political and security upheavals when the army was accused of committing serious crimes.
After the killing of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander, Maaparankoe Mahao, in 2015 and the government’s slow pace in investigating the murder, the US government disqualified the country from accessing the funds.

When the army openly did not cooperate with the SADC investigation into the Mahao death the US condemned the government which was then led by Pakalitha Mosisili. Mphaka said he was part of the Lesotho delegation that met the MCC Vice President in the US during the UN General Assembly last week and he was satisfied that the Americans are content with the way Lesotho is performing in the restoration of democracy and the rule of law.
“America through the Millennium Challenge Corporate (MCC) said it wanted to hear the government’s side and to have what initiatives are on the ground to ensure peace and stability but most importantly to restore human rights and respect for human rights,” Mphaka said.

“They said they have never heard such openness from the government as the Prime Minister gave a report of what they were hoping to hear,” he said.
Mphaka said the Americans told them that the former government, which was led by Mosisili, had misled them.
They told the Americans one thing but on the ground were doing something different, he said.

“It is high time that we implement the SADC recommendations because when we do so SADC, Commonwealth and United Nations Secretaries General are committed to assist us in restoring normality in our democracy,” Mphaka said.
Lesotho failed to have the renewal of the second multi-million grant after it failed to implement SADC recommendations this year.

Last year in December the MCC board at its annual meeting deferred a vote on the reselection of Lesotho for the second compact and the final decision was moved to March this year where it was announced that Lesotho was not eligible for the second grant.
The recommendation required that the government steps up investigations into the killing of the late Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao and the release of detained soldiers accused of mutiny.

The MCC signed a $362.5 million compact with the Government of Lesotho designed to increase economic growth and reduce poverty in July 2007.
The compact funded work with other international donors on one of the largest infrastructure improvement projects in Lesotho’s history, the Metolong Dam, as well as work with PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) to mitigate the negative economic impacts of poor maternal health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases.

By the end of the compact in September 2013, the government and MCC had spent nearly 99 percent of anticipated compact funds to improve water supply, increase access to essential health services, and remove barriers to private sector investment.

Rose Moremoholo

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