Restructure NMDS, say youths

Restructure NMDS, say youths

MASERU – DISGRUNTLED youths marched to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s offices on Monday demanding the restructuring of the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).

This followed an announcement by the Minister of Development Planning Tlohelang Aumane asking the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and Lerotholi Polytechnic to cut their enrolment and some academic programmes.
The reason was that the government is broke.

The petitioners said Aumane’s decision to slash an already pitiful number of students eligible for sponsorship by the NMDS highlighted the urgent need for restructuring the sponsorship scheme.

Advocate Lineo Tsikoane, a human rights lawyer, said Lesotho’s economy will be subjected to natural business cycles that include economic slowdowns as “our region is currently experiencing”.

Advocate Tsikoane said the government’s revenue will be insufficient and to avoid future downfalls, the demand by students for restructuring the NMDS was valid.

“The government should provide a time-frame for the aforementioned restructuring. The government should provide the necessary economic environment to incentivise graduates to return to the country, make a living and repay their loans,” she added.

Petitioners also demanded that the government should explain to the public how it intends to generate long-term jobs and set a realistic deadline of achieving this goal.

“It is clear that although the government promises to create jobs, there is no direction as to how, for whom and in which sectors these jobs will be created,” said Tsikoane.

To solve this problem, the group led by Tšolo Kabane, a Transform Lesotho Initiative member, proposed the “availability of internship programmes for graduates in the private sector and this should be mandatory for well-established firms”.

Tsikoane said it is crucial to financially support Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) for the growth of the economy.
“SMEs support will in the long run enable creation of job opportunities for Basotho,” she said.
She said it is also critical to support youth programmes to start new businesses.

“The state should improve the ease of doing business, inclusive of the reduction of the red-tape such as high registration fees as well as efficiency in the issuing of licences,” said Tsikoane.

To improve accessibility of education, the government should provide training for youths in rural and urban areas so as to create employment for those that are not in academia.

Also, the petitioners demanded the reduction of unnecessary government expenditure.
They proposed an immediate reduction in government trips, executive entourages and the scrapping of food allowances for MPs.

“Expenditure should be directed towards improving efficiency of ministries and the development of industries,” said Tsikoane.

The petition was received by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Temeki Tšolo, on behalf of Thabane.
Tšolo promised to deliver the message.

He said the protest by the youths was a symbol of democracy at work.
“When people have grievances, they demonstrate them through protests and I believe as requested (the Prime Minister) will respond within the given days,” Tšolo said.

The group wants Thabane to respond to their petition within a week.
“We expect him to tell us what they are going to do and for how long because some of our demands are long-term,” Kabane said.

He said even though their demands are of a long-term nature, “we need a clear road map”. They vowed to take to the streets again if Thabane fails to respond within a week.
“The action will depend on what the youth will see fit to do by then,” he said.

’Mapule Motsopa

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