Maintaining vigilance over our pride, our democracy and our taxes

Maintaining vigilance over our pride, our democracy and our taxes

IT has come to light that the Prime Minister has appointed a Mr Yan Xie as Head of Special Projects and Special Envoy and Trade Advisor on China-Asia Network.  For those who might have forgotten, this is an individual who was raided by the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) for tax evasion in millions of Maloti (‘Chinise (sic) Tycoon Raided by Lesotho Revenue Authority’, Lesotho Times, 10 August, 2011).

He was granted Lesotho citizenship in 2006. The letter that granted him Lesotho citizenship showed his abode as “Jackpot Supermarket”.
The range of challenges that face those in power is so vast that, probably, it will never be possible for politicians to tell supporters, at election campaign rallies, everything they will do once in power.

But some issues are deliberately hidden from electors because they are patently noxious, and might scare voters away.
Because not everything can be addressed at rallies during campaigns, mostly, we elect politicians based on trust and the promises they make — trust and promise that, in everything that they will face once in power, they will conduct themselves morally and ethically in their actions to secure our interests.

Still, we need to imagine a situation in which followers pose a question to their leader at such rallies: Are you going to appoint dubious characters to be your economic adviser? Or: Are you going to appoint dubious characters to be your head of Special Projects (a catch-all title clearly intended to allow such an individual unfettered reign in areas of the public service where there is money to steal)?

It is unlikely that voters would elect anybody who would answer these questions in the affirmative. At issue, regarding appointments such as these, are matters of politicians using the power we give them through our vote — using such power to cavort with dubious characters at our expense.

We did not ask for independence in order to hand over public responsibilities to those who become Basotho with commercial motive. Equally, people do not vote parties in power in order for their representatives to appoint suspicious characters to public positions.
It remains true that our democracy and state’s ability to administer to the welfare of majority of Basotho are seriously threatened by corruption, and what has now been dubbed “state capture”— subverting public institutions and public processes to serve narrow interests of individuals and their families.

We have already seen the consequences of this in South Africa.
If a state such as South Africa, with a strong economy and strong institutions, can be shaken by this phenomenon, we can imagine what would happen to our state, with a weak economy, and weak institutions.
For many reasons, it is the case that, it is the most depraved criminals who penetrate, and are allowed to penetrate, our public institutions and public processes.

Not a long time ago, a criminal had “captured”, to his own ends and ends of collaborators, the whole public immigration function, including issuing of passports and processing of immigrants’ entry into Lesotho.  As always, he did all these under cover of Lesotho “citizenship”.

Relations that exist between these depraved characters, on the one hand, and individuals and groups in power, on the other, are known.
We are at a point, in the cultivation of our democracy, where the Independent Electoral Commission needs to require transparency in the funding of political parties’ elections campaigns. Unchecked, popular regimes have a great potential to become the vilest. The task to safeguard our democracy, our public resources and national pride is ours, not politicians’.

Motlatsi Thabane

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