A letter to the Prime Minister

A letter to the Prime Minister

His Excellency, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro

I would like to join the millions of people in the country and across our borders in congratulating you and wishing you all the best in your new position as the Prime Minister of the country. It is indeed an honour and a privilege to be in the highest decision-making office of the land, one which many will never attain.

When I saw your name going across the bottom of my television screen during the news on Al Jazeera a few weeks ago, the reality of your appointment became real and the enormity of your responsibilities overwhelmed me. To say that you are coming into office at a difficult time would be an understatement.

I have always considered myself not as an optimist or a pessimist but as a realist. That is why I raised a few eyebrows some time ago when I called Lesotho a failed state on one of my Facebook posts. This is because I am still a fairly young person and enjoy the freedom of expression that online channels have afforded my generation.

Whether or not our voices are heard on these platforms is another question, but at least we have an outlet that allows us to freely voice our opinions instead of bottling up our emotions as this has led some of our peers into depression, chronic illness and the abuse of drugs and alcohol.
I am usually a very outspoken individual, but lately I have been subdued by the thoughts and anxiety about the future. These emotions have been exacerbated by the recent events in the country and social media has become a place where like many others, I can regain my energy from other young people who are going through similar issues.

Our first problem is that many less informed people in this country will erroneously assume that the initials in front of your name mean the same thing as the ones that they have seen before. On the other hand, the positive thing is that those who aspire to become politicians and have the comprehension your achievements will be challenged and begin to attach new meaning to what it means to be a politician in Lesotho.
This is tremendously important not only because the moral and ethical standards are extremely low at the moment and need to be reestablished but particularly for the young underprivileged girls who are in dire need of role models of a different caliber.

As an avid scholar I cannot undermine the importance of a good education for reasoning, confidence and decision-making. However, I do rank character much higher than any qualification. Many books have been written about what it means to be a good leader and I am sure that you are aware of these characteristics.

But the ones which should probably resonate more with you at this time when the global economy is struggling and as the unemployment rate in this country is soaring are bravery and boldness, which entail the ability to do whatever it takes within the confines of the law to move us forward.
The successes of countries such as Rwanda and China (which were once in our position) boil down to the characteristics of their leaders. A lot can be said about their imperfections, but one common denominator is their ability to make things happen regardless of obstacles and the tough decisions that have to be made.

The former President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe had several academic degrees and the current President of South Africa has many accolades including his extraordinary success in business, but the poor people in those countries (which constitute the majority) continue to suffer.
The top priority in this short time in office before the next elections has to be the citizens of this country; in particular, the poor indigent people and the youth. This involves actively listening to the people and giving them what they want, which means that many voices with dissenting interests must not be bravely ignored for the greater good. This is why the wool and mohair saga was confusing because the people had clearly stipulated their needs and desires and yet those were vehemently ignored.

A big part of listening involves observation. We are the generation that continues to learn about our forefathers who laboured in the mining industry across our border through tales and fables. Today, because of the shrinking mining industry, the export labour from Lesotho to South Africa is in the form of domestic workers who sometimes risk their lives traveling illegally in search of greener pastures.

If governance is about the people, why are these issues and many other injustices being ignored? Why do we continue to have more questions than answers when the people are the ones who elect officials to serve them?
A few people will understand more than you how bad the global economy is due to the corona virus and how the combination of that fact with the negative investor confidence in this country will be a great stumbling block in your path.

But the reality is that we have been so traumatised and fatigued by a system that refuses to recognise its citizens that either way, our expectations are low. This is not a good thing because it will escalate and reflect in our conduct and disregard for each other, as it is already showing in some quarters.

The saddest part however, is that Lesotho’s young population at the average age of 24 years is highly dependent on the decisions that are being made today, on their behalf. Indeed “a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Perhaps through you, the Lesotho of tomorrow appears better than the one inherited by my generation.

Thato Mokhothu-Ramohlanka

Previous Thabane in the dustbin of history
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