Muckraker: Bedbugs feasting

Muckraker: Bedbugs feasting

THE leaders of this wonderful country are capable of astonishing things.
Were Sanko, the maestro, alive he would have opened his eyes wide and said: Hela! Mehlolo. Mehlolo sefela sa Maroma. Mehlolo.
The first time Muckraker heard that masterpiece from Sanko her hair rose with excitement.

The second time her hair rose again without being combed was when she heard that some three ministers had formed a company to dabble in businesses their ministries regulate.
Once again Muckraker remembered Sanko when he screamed: Meleko!

But this time it was not rising because of delight but fury at the disgusting shenanigans of the ministers.
There are things that infuriate you and things that leave you flabbergasted. Muckraker could not speak for days after that discovery.
Some things are just incomprehensible. The mind boggles. Some things are as difficult as relaxing a chiskop.
To Sanko’s word Muckraker would add: Ba leka Basotho. Batho!

In 1993 Muckraker was just a little girl with her breasts germinating when BNP leader the late Retšelisitsoe Sekhonyana warned about the perils of electing poor and hungry people into government.
He said: Ho betere hore le khethe tšitšili e khotšeng hobane e ke ke ea le loma haholo. Ha e le e lapileng eona e tla le noa mali kaofela. (It is better for you to vote for a bedbug that is already full because it will not bite you. As for the hungry one, it will drain all your blood).

A modestly rich man Sekhonyana was referring to Ntšu Mokhehle, a politician of meagre means. You don’t need to have caught a whiff of chalk to know that Sekhonyana was right.
We are screaming as poor politicians play morabaraba with our lives and money.
A few months ago Phori and Mapesela hit the ground running.

They claimed they want to drastically change so that Basotho benefit from their economy and resources.
First to be clobbered with regulations were the butcheries that were banned from importing red meat. Meraka, a company whose shareholding is foreign but has a dash of local flavour, was handed the monopoly to import red meat.

There were howls of protest from the butcheries but they were told to either dance to the tune or go to hell.
It didn’t matter that the tune was riddled with discord and that some of them were already roasting.
Some have since watched helplessly as their businesses clamber the chariot to hell. A few weeks later the ministers unleashed another hatchet on the wool and mohair sector, this time spanking poor farmers.

Out of the blue farmers were told that they could not export their wool and mohair.
If you were caught exporting raw wool you would be hobnobbing with ‘you-know-who’ at the prison, the farmers were told. The licences were suddenly hiked to eye watering levels.
BKB, a company that has been buying wool from Basotho for decades, was shoved to the coals on some laughable trumped-up allegations that crumbled before their lawyer could say “My Lord”.

Viewed in isolation these policy changes were not that horrible. Their motive was to help Basotho.
The ministers said as much when quizzed about their vim in pursuing those policies.
But as they say ‘that which has horns cannot be hidden’.

This week we woke up to a staggering revelation that the ministers had a hidden agenda when they tinkered with the rules and stirred trouble in the sectors.
We now know that the ultimate plan was to form a company to enter the same sector.
So here we are, staring at documents showing that three ministers have formed a company called Masimo A Matala which will go into the farming business.

All along we have been wearing balaclavas without eye holes. The wool has been pulled off our eyes and we can see clearly.
It is astounding that the officials don’t see anything scandalous about the sequence of events here.
Its either they have a strong conviction or they think people are daft.

There are several issues that stick out like a sore thumb here.
The first is that the ministers were probably planning this for months before they molested the regulations in the name of benefiting Basotho.
If that is so then it means there is a clear case of ‘insider trading’. If you don’t know what that is then get a Babatone and google your way to enlightenment.
They have used their position to feather their nests.

Unlike others who are already running like headless chickens as they try to adjust to the new regulations the ministers had advance information as to how they were going to enter the market.
It is probable that they are entering the business while sitting on a huge kitty. After all they knew exactly how the rules were going to change.
It is doubtful that they would have jumped into that business had they not changed the rules to clear the hurdles.

The second is conflict of interest, an issue not far removed from insider trading. The ministers clearly understand the government’s attitude to the new regulations.
Being cabinet ministers, they have the power to influence any policy changes.
It is therefore highly unlikely that they would stand arms akimbo as other cabinet ministers push to make new regulations that affect their new business.
The ministers are therefore both players and referees in the sectors.

The timing of the incorporation of Masimo a Matala points to a well-orchestrated plan hatched probably over roasted maize cobs.
What we are seeing are officials on the verge of harvesting the fruits of their meticulous plan.
The third issue is one closest to Muckraker’s heart: the lack of shame.

How such a dubious scheme could have been concocted by three whole ministers beats Muckraker.
They could have formed a company each but they chose to just dive in as a team. The result is a deal that stinks more than a flooded VIP toilet.

The ministers will probably try to hide behind the finger by claiming that they have a right to form companies with whoever they want and venture into business of their choice. They are right.
It’s only that they cannot have their bohobe and eat it. Only unsophisticated minds would follow that line of reasoning.

The issue is not whether or not they have the right to do business with partners of their choice. Rather, the matter is whether they can own businesses in sectors under their control.
There is no need to split hairs here because the logic is apparent. The difficulty of managing the resulting complications is well established.
Muckraker will not bother to lecture about simple ethics because she has understood that such issues are minor irritants in this country.

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