Young ministers a big letdown

Young ministers a big letdown

We can all attest to the fact that Lesotho’s political landscape has become nothing but a mess that has left the nation confused. One never really knows whether we’re moving forward or backwards as a nation.
Chaos seems to be the order of the day. Hopefully Dr Moeketsi Majoro will have the strength and courage to clean-up the mess left by the First Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane.

Unfortunately, the chaotic political landscape affects almost all the facets of life starting with the economy. Not only the economy but also the day-to-day decision making process more-so for the business sector. Business needs certainty. It needs a stable political environment. Investors hate instability.
A chaotic political climate coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic will just make things worse for long-term planning. But I must admit that the previous government was nothing but a huge disappointment.

When Ntate Tom got into power, a lot of people had high expectations to finally see change in the Mountain Kingdom. But their expectations and hopes soon turned into sorrow due to corruption and abuse of power. But the biggest disappointment will forever be the young ministers that were given a chance to change this country. The likes of “Bo-Jontiri”.

My friend Bokang Kheekhe echoed the same sentiments last week on Facebook about the modern-day caliber of young ministers. He said he finds it sad that in this day and age, when a young person is given a once in a lifetime opportunity to become a cabinet minister, self-interests usually overtake matters of national interest.

Bokang said the young ministers are usually preoccupied with recording insults on Whatsapp, looting, arrogance, incompetence, laziness and licking shoes of their political leaders.
I replied back and added a number of things that I find strange about the modern day caliber of ministers. They are usually consumed by their obsession for Florsheim shoes, amassing girlfriends, Toyota Prados and eating in private rooms at Chinese restaurants. Service to the nation takes a back bench.

Bokang added a very important note that he doesn’t understand how modern-day caliber of ministers can’t aspire to match the legacy of Ntate ER Sekhonyana who became a minister in his 30’s and achieved the unthinkable.
The current crop of young ministers is just excited to be ministers and the attention that comes with it more especially from girls. 
I think the matter that caught my attention the most about the conversation with Bokang was a list of achievements that Ntate ER Sekhonyana had attained since his appointment as finance minister in 1973 at the tender age of 36. He is by-far Lesotho’s top achiever and Lesotho’s own Dr. Hendrick van der Bijl.

Ntate Evaristus Rets’ilisitsoe Sekhonyana was instrumental in the establishment of the Hilton Hotel (Avani Lesotho), the Lesotho Bank & the development of the Lesotho Bank Tower, Victoria Hotel (Lesotho Hotels), Molimo Nthuse Lodge, Stadium Hotel, Lesotho building finance, Maluti-Mountain Brewery, the Central Bank of Lesotho and the Loti currency.

Imagine a young man in his 30’s flying all the way to the United States, to approach the chairman of Hilton Hotels to invest in a five-star hotel in a tiny Mountain Kingdom located in the heart of an apartheid South Africa. It sounds insane even today and that needed balls of steel but it became a reality.

I must admit that it was quite a gamble coming from the then Prime Minister Chief Leabua Jonathan. Appointing a person in their mid-30’s that had no solid track-record in running the treasury as well as running a cabinet post. But Ntate Sekhonyana aced it with flying colours!
Before we delve deeper into the opinion piece, I know that we are a nation consumed by self-hate and hatred towards one another. This piece is by no means meant to promote the legacy of the late Ntate Evaristus Rets’elisitsoe Sekhonyana. It is also not meant to cleanse the legacy of the Basotho National Party by demonising the Congress movement.

It is meant to highlight excellence and what a young person can achieve when they are determined to serve their country wholeheartedly. It is also meant to demonstrate how excellence can create an everlasting legacy.
By the way, contrary to popular belief, I’m not a card carrying member of the Basotho National Party (BNP). I don’t know why there is a notion that I’m a member of the Basotho National Party.

The only person that I know for sure was a member of the BNP was my grandfather. Well and my grandmother by extension. However, the extension shouldn’t be extended down to me.
As a matter of fact, I dislike an act of demonising the Congress movement in an attempt to wash away the sins of the National movement. We are all Basotho and we should learn to live in peace and love one another as God has engineered us to do so.

My intention with this opinion piece is to demonstrate how young people can prove themselves when given an opportunity to perform. We live in a country that despises and hates its own seeds.
Young people are seeds of the future. I’m always shocked and amazed by the level of hatred and dislike portrayed by the Lesotho elders towards young people. How will this country grow if we don’t allow the seeds to germinate? I’m sure there is an old person reading this paper somewhere thinking, “moshanyana enoa o ntsa pota”, (this boy is talking nonsense).
Going back to the matter at hand, another young person at the time (70’s) that was instrumental in building an identity of the Lesotho, post independence was a gentleman named Dr. Peter Hancock.

Peter (he always insisted that I refer to him as Peter and not Dr. Hancock. I always insisted on calling him Dr. Hancock and it would drive him mad) is a British born architect trained at the University of Cape Town. He settled in Lesotho in his late 20’s and was tasked with a heavy responsibility of giving the post-independent Lesotho, a new identity.

Peter’s first commercial project was done in his late 20’s. The project was the design and development of the Maseru Book Centre development located along Kingsway Street. He always admitted that it is not the best of his projects as it was one of his commercial projects.
I agree and I’ve told him several times that I think it one of the most hideous buildings in the city. An eyesore to say the least. I still don’t understand how it survived “98”.

However, my Catholic priests have a special attachment towards the building and I simply do not know why. In the year 2020 at a prime-plus location! But anyway, it’s a debate for another day.
Peter’s first breakthrough was when he was appointed to design a new flag of Lesotho, nicked-named ‘Mamalente, by Chief Leabua Jonothan. He said Ntate Leabua placed his Mokorotlo hat on his desk and said, “Design a new flag based on this hat”. That was the brief and it was that brief.

Peter went on to design landmark buildings such as the Lesotho Bank Tower, the Hilton Hotel now known as the Avani Hotel, the State House popularly known as the horse-shoe building and the Molimo-Nthuse Lodge. His last project before going on retirement is the visitor-centre at the Metolong Dam.

The Lesotho Bank Tower building is by far, one of Peter’s favourite projects. I ended up knowing all about the projects and that the tower has a floor area of 729 square metres and measures, 27m x 27m. By the way, it was hand-drawn from start to finish, layer by layer.
All that work that Peter has achieved was done mostly in his 30’s and early 40’s. The Lesotho Bank Tower still remains the tallest building in Lesotho almost 40 years after its completion. That just demonstrates how stagnant Lesotho has been.

There is simply no ambition anymore to do projects of national significance and projects of national importance. Lesotho has been reduced to a pigsty for greedy politicians to mud-wrestle each other.
In closing, Peter said, his brief from the Minister Finance of the time, Ntate Sekhonyana, was as follows, “design the tallest building in Lesotho that will be a symbol of independence and the modern day Lesotho”.

He always said those were very exciting times. They were actually the best times of his life because it gave him an opportunity to give a post independent country, a new form of identity.
I still insist that Chief Leabua was bold to entrust so much responsibility in the hands of young people in their 30’s. However, those young people must also be applauded for taking the baton and running as fast as they could to make what Lesotho is today. That is the spirit of young people.

They were many other young people of those days that were tasked with heavy responsibilities to head government institutions (PS’s and GS position) and notably to head the NUL. Young people in their 30’s.
Not these guys that are appointed ministers and all they do is to sit in the office and “time biscuits” (an act of dipping a marie biscuit in tea so that it is moist before it goes into the mouth). When they are not in the office, they are usually at backrooms of Chinese restaurants during office hours.

Kannete, those young ministers that were in the Thabane-led coalition government have been nothing but a huge disappointment. They were just people with no ambition, no principles, no drive and no vision. It was all about tenders and what to eat next.

Mako Bohloa

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