We’re relying  too much  on China

We’re relying too much on China

We recently read headlines in some of our local newspapers that China is about to donate a fire station to Lesotho. It will also finance and build a road worth a billion maloti. China will also build a “state of the art” hospital to replace Queen Elizabeth II hospital. Moreover, China is also set to finance and build an industrial park at Ha Belo, Butha-Buthe.

China will also build a new dam in Leribe. China will also donate a waste facility. So many gifts? Hao banna!
Those are some of the trending topics on social media regarding the simmering discontent towards the Chinese community in Lesotho. Due to the recent headlines that appeared in our newspapers, Lesotho seems to be fast becoming a Chinese state or is already an unofficial Chinese state.
That is because it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that Basotho have reached a point of mental bankruptcy.

They cannot use their minds to solve pending problems and as a result over-depend on China for just about everything yet they claim to be an independent state.

This was proven by a recent incident whereby the Ministry of Public Services accepted a donation of a printer, ink cartridges and printing paper from the Chinese Ambassador.

The event was televised on Lesotho Television on prime-time news for the whole world to see China’s generosity or brotherly love.
The question on everyone’s mind is: Why is Lesotho so indebted to China? Why is Lesotho accepting just about anything from China? What’s the big catch? Where are the other development partners? Where are the British? What about the Germans? What about the Scandinavians?

By virtue of accepting the “Chinese gifts”, Lesotho’s politicians find themself in a very compromised situation whereby they often have to turn a blind eye to some irregularities and abuses that Chinese nationals practise in Lesotho.
A clear and visible example are the unfair business practices that Chinese nationals have done over the years and the driving of Basotho nationals out of business.

We all know that cafes or shops whether in villages or in the most rural of places have been the bread and butter of Basotho for a number of years. That is where Basotho found their livelihood in order to feed and educate their families.

However, that has now been lost because Basotho nationals simply cannot compete with Chinese nationals and there is no politician brave enough to confront China on this issue. Our political leaders are simply scared of China.

Before I delve deep into the crux of this opinion piece, I have to highlight that China has done a lot of remarkable work all over the world. China is admired for having achieved a number successes be it in commerce, education or the technological front.

China cannot be ignored for having contributed significantly in the world economy. This opinion piece is not meant to discredit China.
It is also not meant to spread a message of hate towards the Chinese community. However, Lesotho’s over dependence on China is completely wrong no matter how one looks at it.

This has been proven a couple of weeks ago after the signing of a grant from China for the development of a new district hospital due to be constructed in Maseru, Lesotho. I understand that the value of the grant is about M400 million.

The sad part is that the hospital will be designed and constructed by the Chinese and no Basotho construction companies will get a share of the work.
All building materials, from cement to shovels and wheelbarrows will be imported from China. Not even a screw will be purchased from any hardware in Lesotho.

There is even a rumour, though I am yet to verify this, that the hospital will be built by Chinese prisoners who will be set free in Lesotho immediately after all construction is completed.

Basotho are not expected to benefit in any way during the construction phase of the hospital but our politicians were busy celebrating on Lesotho Television as if the deal is of a lifetime. Who is the hospital going to benefit at the end of the day? Who’s fooling whom here?
Was the Lesotho government out of ideas that much to an extent where it had to ask for a grant from China? Why didn’t the Lesotho government think of asking for help from local companies with the help of local consultants?

Wouldn’t that add better value to the local economy and give Basotho a bit of experience?
We have learnt from past experiences that Chinese grants are not always acceptable and are often not free at all. They actually come at a heavy cost of over-compromising on almost everything.

Moreover, there are certain grants that should have not been accepted as a matter of principle. A simple example is an acceptance of a grant in the form of a National Parliament of Lesotho and the Prime Minister’s residences.

Lesotho shouldn’t have accepted those grants as a matter of principle. Those assets are matters of national pride and should be done by Basotho with money from Lesotho. A parliament and state house are very intimate and private assets to be donated by a foreign state.
Accepting a gift of construction of a national parliament and a State House can easily be compared to a situation whereby a man accepts a gift of a panty for his wife from the neighbours.

Yes, that would be complete madness because that garment is too private and intimate for it to be donated by just about everyone.
Lesotho has to learn to feed itself. Overdependence on China will leave Basotho and its politicians in a state of mental bankruptcy whereby they can’t even do the simplest of things.

It is sad that Lesotho has now turned into a Chinese state and Basotho come second in their own country.
There is simply no independence from China. With more grants in the pipeline for projects such as the Maseru Fire Station and the Leribe Dam project, one wonders how indebted Lesotho is to China.
Are the grants really free?

Basotho youth should lobby the government to build a new parliament in Thaba-Bosiu that will be a pride of the Basotho nation.
Nothing is for free Basotho!
Khotso, Pula, Nala!

Motlatsi Joseph Mokotjo

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