In his maiden budget speech of 2017/18 the Minister of Finance’s theme was ‘’pursuing financial sustainability within the context of political instability and insecurity’’. This year’s theme is ‘’Pursuing job creation and restoring fiscal stability and sustainability (through the consolidation of peace and stability).
What is common about th
ese themes is that the Minister is pursuing fiscal consolidation while creating jobs against the backdrop of a very challenging political and security situation. Pursuing anything is not an event but a process. While on the one hand I would wish the Minister a speedy success in his endeavours, on the other hand I don’t think it is going to be easy. The current budget bears testimony.
Let me briefly put the socio-economic situation in perspective. Lesotho faces daunting problems. Despite having recently celebrated fifty years of its independence the country has hardly changed. It is still characterised by endemic poverty. Since 1990 when the report was first published, Lesotho has systematically been in the lowest quartile of the World Bank Human Development Report.
In 2016 it ranked 160 out 188 countries. According to the UNDP Lesotho Country Analysis Report of 2017, 34% of the population lives below the food poverty line of M138.0 per month. The number of people who live in abject poverty increased from 29% in 2003 to 35% in 2015.
Chronic food insufficiency and hunger are a common phenomenon in Lesotho, especially in rural areas. 33% of children under the age of 5 are stunted while 3% suffer from acute malnutrition. As for income inequality Lesotho ranks among the top ten most unequal countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The unemployment rate in Lesotho is claimed to be as high as 40% compared with the formal rate of 25%. Youth unemployment accounts for 40% of the total unemployed population.
Although 70% of the population live in rural areas and subsist on farming, the agricultural sector has declined from 20% to only 7% between 1980 and 2017 in terms of its contribution to total output. This precipitous fall not only demonstrates lack of skill and continued use of outmoded technology but also the changing climatic conditions that have left the rural masses in a quandary while facing state policy paralysis.
The above narrative is not intentioned to portray a hopeless and gloomy case, be it as it may. On the contrary, it is purposed to elucidate facts that probably can galvanise the entire nation into action to urgently do something about the state of the economy.
It is also aimed at juxtaposing government plans and activities on the ground with the abovementioned challenges in order to ascertain its commitment and appreciation of the severity of the problem.
One such very important plan is the annual fiscal budget which government prepares and submits to parliament every year. The purpose of this article is to analyse this year’s budget premised on the challenges above. From the outset it has to be mentioned that this was a budget of high expectations mainly inspired by the hard hitting truths told in last year’s budget. While it can be correctly assumed that last year’s budget was not adequately thought through as the Honourable Minister had just assumed office, at least he was able to articulate some of the glaring weaknesses in the economy and its financial performance.
In his speech the Minister in plain language told the nation that government cannot generate adequate revenue, expenditure was hitting the roof fuelled among others by the out of control wage bill, and that SACU revenues were in free fall.
All these summed up to one conclusion – government’s fiscal space had reached a critical point. Fiscal space is defined as a point at which a country’s fiscal solvency is called into question. In the light of this dire situation the Minister called for a major fiscal consolidation.
Now that the Minister in the last eight months has had some time to appreciate “more deeply the dire straits our country and economy are mired in” I expected the 2018/19 budget to be the budget of reckoning that sets the stage for real fiscal consolidation.
The call for fiscal austerity is not new. In its report of February 2016 that pulled no punches, the IMF warned government about its expenditures that had reached 60% of GDP, government wage bill that had risen to 23% of GDP and being the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa, declining and volatile customs revenues, contracting foreign reserves that threatened maloti/rand parity, declining support from development partners, and the unabating political tensions.
No one heeded the IMF’s clarion call and these problems still persist to date. However, in his budget speech the Minister makes a very strong warning that it’s now time “to bite the bullet and make decisions that would be painful” and which if not taken can impose political and economic chaos on Lesotho.
This is the right call but I think the budget falls far short of what would be expected given the nature of the crisis. It does not set the right tone for financial discipline that would include economic growth.
First and most important, government expenditure has hardly changed from its level last year. Under normal circumstances when revenue falls expenditure has to follow suit to maintain a balanced budget. Failure to do so can either lead to increased borrowing, depletion of reserves, and/or sale of assets. As a least developed country (LDC), when it comes to external borrowing Lesotho is not creditworthy in world capital markets.
It can only borrow from multilateral institutions using their soft loan windows. At the World Bank Lesotho secures its loans through the International Development Agency (IDA) while at the African Development Bank it can only access African Development Fund (ADF) or the Nigerian Fund.
These facilities are mainly funded by developed countries and although cheap come with stringent terms and conditions that hinge primarily on strong public financial management, good governance, and political stability.
Lesotho faces some serious challenges on all the three most critical requirements and this can compromise its ability to access more cheap loans. The former president of Zimbabwe had to resort to China when the going got tough! Another alternative for deficit financing is domestic borrowing.
Domestic banks are cash flush and ironically invest most of their funds abroad as they claim lack of bankable projects in Lesotho. The challenge here is for government to ensure that it utilises the resources sourced from local banks on projects that crowd-in the private sector and not crowd it out.
The reason that government expenditure is incompressible in Lesotho is mainly because of two things, political pressure and weak institutional pillars of government. These two need to be addressed with immediate effect. That whoever is in power has had undue influence on the allocation of resources in Lesotho is not a debatable.
Diabolical laws have been passed that benefit only the elite class (executive, legislature and senior public servants). This has not only led to increasing budgets but it has also widened the chasm between the haves and have-nots and the now seemingly deepening social discontent. It has become common practice in Lesotho, especially with the recent coalition governments, to employ their supporters without due regard to civil service code.
The security sector has also notoriously become a convenient channel through which to employ mainly their unskilled party supporters.
As for weak institutional pillars there is none as important as the public finance management (PFM) system. From time immemorial Lesotho’s PFM has been riddled with problems of funds leakage, theft and fraud. At heavy expense the system has many times been reviewed and upgraded but the problem persists.
Even now the Minister talks about a new IFMIS system that will be introduced in April next year. The procurement system seems to be the main culprit in siphoning proceeds of fraud and theft.
The Minister says laws exist presumably to govern the system and this year he will introduce yet another new legislation. My impression is that the problem is not the law but poor execution of the law which itself seems to be a people-related problem. Perhaps that is where the solution needs to be found.
I welcome the clustering approach of ministries to address their problem of working in silos and competing with each other and hope this will leverage efficiencies. However, instead of addressing the problem piece-meal, I would advise the Minister to comprehensively review the current PMS in accordance with the following principles and where there are gaps to act accordingly:
l Ensure that levels of revenue collection and public spending are consistent with each other
l Ensure that public resources are allocated in accordance with agreed strategic priorities – immediately review and reduce non-strategic non-discretionary recurrent expenditure, the wage bill should top the list
l Ensure maximum value in the delivery of services – See to it that ministries improve their operational efficiency
l Avoid leakages and wastage in the use of resources through well-defined checks and balances – improve and insist on accountability
l Ensure that audit and other financial reports are disclosed to the public – to enhance public trust and transparency.
On the revenue side it is quite clear that the LRA could have reached a point where according to the Laffer curve theory, the economy due to poor growth, could have reached a point where no additional tax can be collected without doing harm to the economy.
That LRA has not been meeting its targets could only be due to compliance weaknesses and internal inefficiencies that need to be urgently addressed. At 22% of GDP, the 2018/19 tax revenue is less than the 2017/18 budget of 23.1% but more than its expected turnout of 19.5%. With tax revenue struggling, the only hope could be customs revenue.
According to this year’s budget customs revenue is expected to fall by a whopping M616 million or 10%. This poses a very big problem as the Minister has to resort to borrowing or continue to deplete reserves. I would strongly urge the Minister that whatever new borrowing is contracted, either domestic or external, should not be spent on consumption expenditure.
The only choice remaining for government is to bite the bullet on the expenditure side and the Minister should see to it that everyone in government toes the line. At the present moment the signals coming from government are very confusing in terms of reining in the runaway expenditure and inculcating a culture of financial discipline by the minister is not an option.
As for the volatility and unpredictability of customs revenue, the IMF has advised government to adopt a rule based fiscal policy. Such policy should be aimed at mitigating the pro-cyclical nature of customs revenue. Botswana has already adopted that approach.
Further, there is a cloud hanging over the future of SACU as a regional trade bloc but strange enough all BLNS countries are keeping mum about it.
This presents a very serious risk for smaller countries like Lesotho whose reliance on this source of income and its importance cannot be over-emphasised. Given its vulnerable position, Lesotho has to be more proactive to stablish certainty.
While I generally agree with the Minister’s choice of strategic and priority sectors which are informed by the NSDP, I would also advise that this strategic focus be aligned to the SADC Strategy for Economic Transformation – Leveraging the Region’s Diverse Resources for Sustainable Economic and Social Development through Beneficiation and Value Addition (SSET).
The SSET is aligned to the African Union Agenda 2063 and is a compilation of national policies including Lesotho. Linking the development of our strategic sectors with the regional strategy could leverage the critically needed resources and technical assistance.
Unlike the usual generic strategies, the SSET is sector-oriented and is designed as a modernization scheme, predicated on maximum exploitation of comparative advantages and creation of enduring conditions for competitive advantage at enterprise level.
On sector specific issues, while the Minister clearly enunciated programmes to be undertaken under the Ministry of Health he has however eschewed, perhaps inadvertently, the controversial Tšepong Hospital conundrum.
There is a loud public outcry that Tšepong does not meet one of the criteria mentioned above, that of delivering value for money. The facility is excessively expensive and gobbles up more than 50% of the ministry’s budget.
As much as it is one of the expenditure items that will be categorised under non-discretionary expenses because it is contractual, I would hurriedly insist that contracts are not cast in stone. The Minister should urgently put in motion a process of reviewing or renegotiating the contract in order to reduce or eliminate the dastardly waste of public funds.
The social sectors namely, education, health and social development together account for 48% of the total budget. What is disconcerting about these sectors is that while they consume a good part of the annual budgets their productivity is very low as demonstrated by their poor quality of service and social impact. According to the Auditor General’s financial reports and Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee representations it is now common cause for ministries of health and education to be interrogated for misappropriation of funds and yet there has been no improvement to date.
The 4% total allocation for agriculture is indeed very low. What is strange is that it is exceeded by 4.4% all recurrent expenditure allocated to defence and security. This flies in the face of one of the PFM principles I mentioned earlier – strategic priorities.
My only assumption is that this could be a once-off spike due to reforms within that sector. Going forward the agricultural sector should be strategically viewed from the stand-point of food security and commercial farming. The Minister in his speech has only referred to the latter.
On food security I would urge government to ditch the current block-farming approach as it has been an utter waste of scarce national resources. Alternative efficient and effective mechanisms should be devised.
In conclusion I would urge government to do more than what the budget offers. If there is a crisis, commensurate remedial measures have to be taken. Urgently and effectively embark on fiscal consolidation. Cut consumption expenditure. Stop depleting reserves.
Utilise new borrowing on priority sectors and projects that crowd-in the private sector not consumption. Review the civil service structure and payroll with the objective of enhancing efficiency on service delivery and trimming flab.
Review and reform all state-owned enterprises in terms of their mandates, relevance and social value. Review the country’s legislature perquisites and lastly the size of the nation’s cabinet in terms of affordability and net social benefit respectively.
This is not going to be an easy ride as mentioned above. However, the so-called 4×4 coalition government must at all times remember that first and foremost, it faces an unenviable and formidable task of correcting the past mistakes and putting the economy on its right footing.
The hype on institutional reforms is good but is more of a means than an end. The end is economic growth and development. People want jobs and economic opportunities. Stop sending the wrong signals. Failure to deliver on these expectations could have devastating consequences as rightfully alluded to by the Minister.
Harnessing imagery in writing
All writing is imaginative. Every piece of writing reflects the artistry and mental resourcefulness of the writer.
Effective writing also reflects the colourfulness of the writer’s mind and heart; their ability to paint the world to the reader and their capacity or facility of taking the reader with them to beautiful mental and physical and picturesque journeys.
In this piece we focus on how we can hone our creative abilities through the use of imagery and the effect of using colourful and evocative imagery in writing. Let’s go! What if I say, “Learn to prepare wisely and meticulously in time,” you will still grasp the message in a very clear way, isn’t it? But would that be interesting and colourful?
But what if we put it in a colourful manner, “Make hay whilst the sun still shines,” you really grasp the colour and the full import of the message, isn’t it? That’s what imagery does to your writing; it allows you to feel, touch and smell what you are reading.
There is no doubt that the proverb, “make hay whilst the sun still shines” has taken you to the countryside, in a farming community. You hear the bleating of sheep and the neighing of horses.
At the same time, you visualise the good farmer gracefully at work, cutting grass which he is piling in orderly stacks, preparing fodder for his animals in the future. The sun’s rays buoy his attempts and ensure that the hay is prepared with care and colour.
Thus, the point of good imagery is to capture in full detail a world that allows the reader to grasp and enjoy using their five senses. Let me give you a small but beautiful extract which further drives home the point.
“With his machete he detached a brittle clod, broke it on a stone. It was full of dead twigs and the residue of dried roots that he crushed in his fingers.
“Look, there isn’t anything left. The water has dried up in the very entrails of the mountain. It’s not worth while looking any further. It’s useless.” Then, with sudden anger, “But why, damn it! Did you cut the woods down, the oaks, the mahogany trees, and everything that grow up there? Stupid people with no sense!”
Thando struggled for a moment to find words. “What else could we do, brother? We cleared it to get new wood. We cut it down for framework and beams for our hearts. We repaired the fences around our fields. We didn’t know ourselves. Ignorance and need go together, don’t they?”
The sun scratched the scorched back of the mountain with its shining fingernails. Along the dry ravine the earth panted. The countryside, baked in drought, began to sizzle.”
What a colourful piece! The extract aptly paints a countryside’s pulse and the rhythms of seasonal and climate change and how that affects the livelihood patterns of the inhabitants. Have you seen how the sun has been endowed with human-like features?
And the description of the earth assuming human-like features, for instance, “the earth panted.” No doubt, you have seen the earth subdued by the intensity of heat in a way that is similar to a person who is panting.
To paint excellent images the writer needs to have the gift of observation. He/she should be able to observe quite a panorama of things around him and immerse them in the soil of their imagination. Let’s see another good extract where you can discern the link between good images, excellent description and the power of observation.
“It’s in the morning, the fourth watch, to borrow from biblical discourse. It’s damp outside. I brace the slicing chilly weather to go outside. There is a drizzle, constant showers seeping deep down. I pace up at least 400 metres from my hood. I see lined-up, almost cubicle-like houses.
I keep walking, with a spring in the step buoyed by the damp aura wrought by the incessant downpours. I take a deep breath, and step back as it were.
I want to be deliberate. I want to take in everything in my environment; the colours, the diverse hues and plethora of landscape contours. I notice a woman, almost in her forties, from my eye-view assumptions. She is grabbing a basket clutched tenaciously almost close to her big bosom.
She is going to Mbare Musika, the famous agricultural market wherein she intends to buy items for her stall. Behind her, there is a big strapped baby covered in velvet. As she briskly walks, I see her jumping a poodle of water as she observes her stall. I also observe a man, clad in sportswear running trying to cure a big belly.
As I keep watching, I see a woman sweeping her small veranda. I keep walking. I see a woman, plump tending to her garden. She seems animated by the drizzle, thanks to the rains.
I hear another woman, especially her piercing voice, she is selling floor polish. Her voice fills the air. As I drown in the sweet voice, I notice a man staggering. He is filthy. He could have calloused the whole night. He is holding a Black Label quart, speaking gibberish in the air. I keep watching.”
So here were are! Writing is a matter of painting with words, carving images and allowing the reader to experience the impact of all the senses so as to fully grasp the sense of what is put across.
Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school.
Send your comments and questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Politicians’ propensity to score own goals
Lesotho politicians are often in the habit of scoring own goals. For example, look at the circus that took place in the country at the opening of parliament after the winter break. These events remind me of the article that I wrote with the title ‘Scoring own goals’.
This article appeared in this publication dated March 18 – 24, 2021. It argued that Lesotho’s politicians had a propensity to score own goals.
Many say that education and academia should not involve themselves in politics. This belief is a fallacy. The two are intrinsically intertwined. Education and politics link in a complex way.
For instance, parliament is an organ that passes laws that govern and guide national education policies. The interconnectedness includes the curricula that educational institutions and schools teach. Now, if the National Assembly’s focus is misplaced, important legislative decisions may stall or be derailed by lack of action.
I must make a disclaimer though. I am not promoting any view about a political party. I am writing this article purely as a concerned citizen.
I revisit the own goal tendency of those in authority by assessing the drama that unfolded in politics and governance. I review the recent events that culminated in the failed vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane and his government.
I use arguments from research to demonstrate the fluidity of Lesotho’s democracy. Some politicians often take advantage of this fluidity for selfish gain. I contest that the Prime Minister and his government should treat their adversities as stepping stones to meeting their targets.
A constitution is a living document. Accordingly, to keep Lesotho’s constitution alive, current and relevant, parliament should regularly amend it.
However, in so doing, parliament must be careful that tinkering with the country’s constitution does not compromise the essence of democracy they champion. National and democratic principles must form the dogma that underpins the improvements and amendment exercises.
Personal aspirations, ambitions and creed must not underpin the amendments.
The recent events in and out of the National Assembly make one question the perceptions of the different roles players in the democratic playground in Lesotho have.
First, there was a vote of no confidence that the Speaker ruled to defer subject to the high court’s decision.
Second, there was the allegedly drunken MP’s own goal.
The third is the press conference led by the Commissioner of the Lesotho Mounted Police Services flanked by the head of the Lesotho Defence Force and the Director General of the National Security Services.
It is already a hat trick of own goals. Fourth, there was the statement of the Prime Minister claiming an attempted coup.
The fifth own goal is the moratorium that prevented parliament from holding a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister before the lapse of three years of his inauguration.
The sixth is the practice of shirking responsibility by MPs. MPs often refer political matters to the national courts for decisions. The seventh, and the mother of all own goals, is the electoral system that Lesotho elected to pursue. The National Assembly has 120 MPs. There are 80 MPs representing constituencies and 40 proportional representatives.
The Commonwealth suggested that Lesotho review the modalities of the PR nominations. Sekatle and the Commonwealth agree that the PR system introduced plurality but at a cost. The cost is what scholars and commentators term minority rights and coalitions.
Also, it compromises accountability and transparency. It undermines the collective intelligence of the voters. Chief Jonathan warned against coalition governments by citing their instability. Political instability plagues Lesotho today.
Sekatle and the Commonwealth cited the overreliance on a threshold in awarding PR seats in parliament, cheapening them.
The PR system ballooned parliament unnecessarily. By comparison, Botswana had a population of 2.6 million in (2021). Lesotho had 2.3 million (2021). Botswana parliament currently has 65 seats, and Lesotho has 120.
A consequence emanating from the PR system in Lesotho is a hung parliament. Since 2012, there has not been an outright majority in the National Assembly. The results yielded chaos. Over that period, PMs constantly look over their shoulders. All these coalitions imploded.
Democracy is about the majority. Politicians must be persuasive to attract votes to achieve the majority. In other words, the PR system rewards failure.
The own goals cause stagnation. MPs score these own goals by serving their selfish interests. They waste time and energy on trivial things. And yet, they receive full-time salaries and earn allowances such as sittings and petrol allowances. How, then, would one explain that the external urging of parliament had to engage in the reforms exercise?
Today, reforms are lying latent. Politicians use the reform programme as an excuse for ensuring that they retain or access power. In the recent correspondences to SADC, the government and the opposition cite reforms and democracy to justify their actions. But as I write this article, there is nothing much that is happening along the lines of these very reforms. Why?
The starting point of any achievement is desire and definitiveness of purpose. The definitiveness of purpose is more than goal setting. It is one’s roadmap to achieving the overall objectives. Elsewhere, I took the definition of desire as explained by the author, Wallace Wattles.
According to Wattles, ‘Desire is possibility seeking expression, or function seeking performance’. All desires began as a thought. Expressing their desires through a manifesto is a means by which parties attempt to concretise them (their desires).
The starting point of an election campaign is the expression of political intentions and goals through manifestos. A manifesto is a public declaration of aims and policy by a political party or candidate. Political parties express their desires for what they will do in their manifestos.
After elections, these desires become the guiding principles and laws. Politically mature voters would then elect political candidates based on these manifestos.
Who instigated and drove the reforms in Lesotho? The contemporary history of Lesotho reveals that external forces pushed the reforms. Basotho merely reacted. They do not own the reform process. High on the list of their drivers are SADC, the US through AGOA and the European Union.
The practice contradicts Wattles’ definition. According to Wattles definition, desire must emanate from inside the individual, or in our case, from Basotho and be expressed outward through actions.
I do not want to comment too much about the involvement of the security agencies in politics. In my view, the relevant bodies, namely, the Law Society of Lesotho, the media and the opposition parties dealt with their involvement adequately.
Former PM Leabua Jonathan often described democracy as the government of the people by the people. But, the meaning of the construct of democracy is fluid and elusive, depending on the position of governance in Lesotho’s political arena.
Authors Hughes, Kroehler and Vander Zanden explain that democracy is a system in which the powers of government derive from the consent of the governed, namely the masses who vote, in which regular constitutional avenues exist for changing government officials.
The authors characterise the system as one which permits the population a significant voice in decision-making through the people’s right to choose among contenders for political office. Also, the system allows for a broad, relatively equal citizenship among the populace.
Lastly, it affords the citizenry protection from arbitrary state action.
Now, the question is whether the recent activities fit all the three criterias. Are the actions of the MPs who moved for the vote of no confidence in the PM’s government acting in line with Lesotho’s constitution and democracy?
This definition of democracy says that regular constitutional avenues exist for changing government officials. The no confidence vote exists in Lesotho’s constitution. But the PM and his security agencies questioned this. They claim the move by the members of the opposition to dethrone the government was a coup attempt.
The drama began when an MP from the ruling Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), Thabo Moea MP, sought an order from the High Court to delay the motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister until after the completion of the reforms process.
The opposition contests that the prayer by Moea stifles a democratic process for self-serving ends. Subsequently, the Speaker cited this impending case to defer the matter.
The constitution of Lesotho stipulates that the legislature is to pass laws, the executive is to approve and execute them, and the judiciary is to expound and enforce them. But a scholar, Nwafor, claims that the courts in Lesotho often intrude into the functions of the other arms of government.
Lesotho ‘s constitution confers powers on three arms of government in such a manner as would ensure cooperation and coordination in governance. The courts ought to bear in mind that the effective discharge of the responsibilities of the courts largely depends on the effectiveness of the other arms of government.
Nwafor brings up the issue of encroachment. He asserts that the powers of the different arms of government in such a manner would guarantee a coordinated discharge of government responsibilities to the nation. But, parliament overly relies on the courts to make political decisions. The practice encourages the risk of overreaching.
The PR electoral system denies Basotho the right to choose their representatives among contenders for political office. Instead, parties ‘hand pick’ these representatives in the pretext of the constituency elections outcomes. Often, these PR members are the ones who lost their constituency elections.
These are the politicians whose constituencies rejected them. They represent their parties and not the voters. They do not account to the voters.
Both the PM and the opposition made presentations to SADC. They overlooked the electorate. Why would SADC have power and not the electorate that elected the politicians to office? Running to SADC, an outside organisation, to settle Lesotho’s internal problems is not a solution. It is scoring an own goal. Lesotho, with its 57 years of independence, should be able to solve its internal problems.
Nonetheless, I have a completely different take from Mokhothu on the issue of the protest march by the RFP. It is unimportant to find the instigator of the protest march. The people to persuade are the voters, the people who put governments into power in a democracy, not external bodies such as SADC.
Napoleon Hill’s creed reads: ‘Every adversity brings a seed of equivalent or more benefit’. Any business person knows that business is a solution to an economic problem. So, the PM and his colleagues in his party who are business people must look at the adversity emanating from the opposition as a seed of equivalent or better benefit.
The government must dig deep to find how the problem may benefit them.
They must identify their failures and use them as stepping stones to success.
Elsewhere, I presented the views of an American scholar and activist, Anderson, who suggested that marginalised communities must cease granting candidates blank cheques. Instead, the electorate must draw their expectations and demand the campaigning party or candidate promise to meet them.
This practice is called quid pro quo. It enforces accountability and transparency.
You scratch my back, and I scratch yours. Quid pro quo is an example of one of the universal laws that demonstrate reciprocity. Reciprocity is the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. The universal law is the Law of Cause and Effect. It means that for every effect, there is an equal cause. You plant a seed, so shall you reap.
Both the government and the opposition ran to SADC for help. Remember, Matekane is a successful businessman. He has, on more than one occasion, explained that he wanted to use his prowess in business to take Lesotho forward. As a businessman, Matekane has faith in his ability.
Words that come to mind here include self-confidence and trust in himself. He believes in himself. Running to SADC does not display this faith in his ability to deal with problems emanating from his opposition.
Hill argues that riches, or any form of success and achievement, begin with a thought. Faith removes limitations. Matekane must apply his faith as a businessman to become a successful politician.
To summarise, the article explores the events emanating from the fiasco of the no-confidence motion. The individuals who ought to champion constitutional democracy in Lesotho betrayed Basotho by scoring hordes of own goals.
I explored the meaning of concepts that helped me unpack some of these own goals. These were democracy, faith and desire. Also, I coupled these with scholarly research views on the constitution of Lesotho.
I contest that while the opposition may argue that they are within their rights to ruffle the government, the PM must use different tactics. He must display faith and confidence in himself and trust Basotho.
The move to influence the voters to back him deserves a big WOW! He must hold more campaigns to persuade voters to support his government. Voters may make or break him.
MPs waste time in discussing trivial issues that have no bearing on the national agenda. Often, they focus on self-serving matters. The RFP promised to refocus Lesotho towards national development and improving the quality of life.
The article also shows that the PR system does not benefit Lesotho. It diminishes accountability and the principle of quid pro quo. Also, it ballooned the numbers in parliament unnecessarily. It increased political instability by forging formations of coalition.
Politicians must refrain from abusing the judiciary by making them make political decisions. Involving the courts in making political decisions leads to encroachment. Encroachment defies democracy.
In conclusion, Matekane must not allow his detractors to derail his mandate. The same is true for the opposition leaders who attempt to dethrone him. No party campaigned on removing sitting PMs.
Also, the MPs must take the responsibilities that Basotho entrusted them with. It is high time that they make the political decisions instead of shifting them to the judiciary or external bodies.
Matekane, his business associates and technocrats in his government should revisit attributes that made them successful. One such attribute is their faith in their abilities. They must remember that riches (and success) begin with a thought, and faith removes limitations.
Dr Tholang Maqutu
Painting mood effectively
Writing is not different from beautiful artwork. Just like a skilled painter holding a brush with its broad strokes, the writer occupies the same place and vocation in life. Writing is a work of painting life’s experiences, its hues and beautiful unfolding internal journeys. In this piece we focus on mood and how it can be achieved. Many students struggle with understanding and contemplating the scope and ambit of mood in writing.
It is hard to define and frame the scope of mood in writing. What really constitutes mood? Generally, mood encapsulates the totality of the “air” or “spirit” or “aura” that a certain work of art evokes in the human mind, feeling or sensibility. There is a certain dominant feature or streak associated with a certain work of art, place or person.
There is something which is evoked in our hearts which is associated with a certain place, person or event. Every place or event or person carries or imbues with him or her a certain mood or sensibility; and there is a panorama of sensibilities; for instance, a happy or sombre or whimsical mood. We will now focus on a certain extract and discern how it paints mood.
“He quickly rights himself and keeps walking, but there is an unsteadiness to his knees. He has been given many looks in this quarter – dirty ones, blank ones, sympathetic ones, annoyed ones. For the most part, he had learned to tolerate those than can be tolerated, and ignore those that should be ignored, but the look this woman gave him is not a look one gives to humans but to flies, ticks, cockroaches, fleas…Thato feels anger, then humiliation, then something nameless. If he were in his own country he would turn and confront the woman; but now he’s hurt, wounded, a part of him wishing he were invisible. Breathing evenly, he walks with care, only lifting his eyes once he reaches his own quarters, among his own people. He proceeds to his shack. He could stop by Thapelo’s, his neighbour, where he knows that men and women are already congregated to watch videos from home. Yet, no matter the promise of good fellowship and laughter, Thabo does not join them. Watching videos is a form of forgetting; the 2008 elections, the police with batons, the soldiers with guns, the militia with machetes. Do you remember? Limbs broken. Roofs blazing. I remember.”
This extract is characterised by the intensity of feeling and evokes feelings of sadness, despair and pain. The excerpt paints a harrowing and blood-curdling account which produces a sombre, dull and subdued mood. Thato, the protagonist in the story is in a foreign land. He was impelled to leave his country as a result of political violence which saw many people lose limbs and lives. He feels lonely and unwanted in the foreign land. He feels lost and alienated.
There are sentiments of xenophobia expressed through the glances of citizens of the foreign country he is in. Even if he were to entertain himself together with his countrymen residing in that foreign land, Thato still felt a deep and nagging feeling of being an outcast. Thus, we have made very deep and broad descriptions of the circumstances in which the protagonist finds himself with a view to demonstrate how mood is created in a narrative. The creation of mood feeds into the description of the character’s circumstances, his mindset and the space and place in which he finds himself.
Mood, as we have demonstrated from the portrayal of Thato’s experience, has a link with pathos. Pathos is that streak of sadness which pervades a story and creates empathy in the reader. The aim of effective writing is to move the reader and to impel him towards certain sensibilities which are of an affective kind. Mood, when effectively created, allows the reader to grasp meaning which is not directly said in the story or composition.
Meaning in a story is an interaction between the words in a text as read together with the effect of the words, the tone used and the created mood. There are certain words in a text which do not just communicate, but etches in the reader’s mind certain thoughts, viewpoints and feelings. These words would be so evocative. One such word describes Thato’s deepest sense of alienation in the extract given above.
The word describes him as nursing a wish of invisibility, he felt or wished he were ‘invisible.’ His wish for invisibility is of great importance. It portrays how he was deeply affected by the loathing expressed in the eyes of those looking at him with hate and disdain.
So, here we are! Creating a mood is a craft which takes time to acquire and hone. But when achieved, it makes effective reading and allows the reader to get meaning which goes beyond the text.
Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school. Send your comments and questions to: email@example.com
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