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Matlanyane’s recovery plan



MASERU – FINANCE Minister Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane says the government will soon embark on a massive economic reconstruction and recovery programme in which the private sector will play a key role.

She was speaking as she presented the 2023/2024 budget in parliament on Monday.

Dr Matlanyane said the programme will enhance growth and build resilience through economic transformation from a consumer-based economy to a producer and export-driven economy.

This will be achieved through sizable investments into agriculture, industries that build valued chains to produce jobs, the extractive sector with the aim to enhance beneficiation of Basotho in the exploitation of natural resources.

Dr Matlanyane also said the economic recovery programme will be anchored on the reconstruction of infrastructure and the building of new infrastructure (soft and hard) that will facilitates active participation of the private sector.

She will seek to strengthen governance and accountability in private and public institutions and leveraging on innovative technology for efficiency.

“Private sector development and participation is central in ensuring the reconstruction, recovery and resilience of the economy,” Matlanyane told parliament.

“The role of government is to intervene in ways that crowd-in private investment, thus encouraging growth that exploits the full capacity of our productive potential,” she said.

She said central to economic transformation and diversification are a competitive investment climate, peace and stability, mobilisation and efficient intermediation of savings, technology development and adoption.

She also said a competent and competitive labour force and human capital that is relevant to the needs of the economy, and the effective exploitation of the demographic dividend are important if we are to transform Lesotho’s economy.

She said the road to recovery and growth that produces employment and reduces poverty is anchored on the pursuit and achievement of the restoration of macro-fiscal stability and consolidation of public financial management reforms to entrench fiscal discipline.

“These are critical in rebuilding confidence of local and foreign investors, as well as development partners in our public policy and management,” she said.

Dr Matlanyane said in terms of investment competitiveness in 2019, Lesotho was ranked 122 out of 190 countries, up from 106 in 2018.

“This requires aggressive implementation of the investment climate reform agenda,” the minister said.

“Otherwise, Lesotho will be disadvantaged in attracting the much needed investment in areas where Lesotho has competitive advantages,” she said.

“We are compelled to be forward looking and dynamic and develop futuristic industries that are driven by innovation and technology development.”

“Furthermore, we will build systems and enhance capacity of relevant institutions to fight economic crimes, especially corruption, money laundering and close any potential conduits for terrorism financing.”

Dr Matlanyane said she will focus on enhancing productivity, promoting diversification and value chain development through the use of improved technology and mechanisation, especially in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

“We shall adopt appropriate technology and advanced mechanisation including appropriate seed and fertilisers inputs as well as climate smart technologies in agriculture to increase yield of basic grains, legumes, vegetables and deciduous (fruits).”

She said the government will facilitate increased production of meats as well as eggs, fish and milk by farmers to satisfy local demand and process these for export.

The government, she said, will up-scale its production of green and renewable energy, through increased capacity of generation of solar, wind and hydropower, with the view to be self-sufficient in energy and export by participation in the regional power pool.

“In this regard, maintenance of the ’Muela infrastructure is key to facilitating energy access,” she said.

She said the government shall upscale efforts to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for Basotho and further forge alliances with countries in the region to build infrastructure that facilitates transfer and distribution of water to the SADC region.

In this regard, Dr Matlanyane said, the government shall continue to invest in water conservation and catchment management, and management of pollution and the environment at large.

She said the government shall improve institutional arrangements for participation in the extractive industry, particularly the mining sector, to ensure better beneficiation by current and future generations of Basotho in these important resources.

“Tourism and hospitality remain a critical growth sector whose potential is yet to be tapped fully,” the minister said.

“The angelic mountains that envelop the white gold, the flora and fauna as well as the unique culture offer a memorable experience which needs to be offered to the world,” she said.

“We therefore also need to conserve biodiversity for now and for the future generations.”

She said Lesotho is ranked 120 out of 140 countries in terms of infrastructure development, which reflects low national investment competitiveness.

“It is important then to rebuild, rehabilitate and build climate resilient key infrastructure. This initiative is meant to facilitate internal and external trade.”

She said the ICT infrastructure development will be aligned with e-government priorities, opportunities in e-commerce and provision of efficient services.

In this regard, she said, the development of complementary skills and change management are key.

She said exploiting the Demographic Dividend (DD), which is the benefit that can be derived from changing age structure of our country’s population also remains critical for sustainable development.

“Lesotho has a youthful population,” she said, adding that the DD study completed in 2022 has recommended investment in high quality education and relevant skills development programmes underpinning the ability of young people to access and create good quality jobs, continual investment in health, in particular sustained funding for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, and gender inequalities to ensure that the demographic dividend is realised.

Staff Reporter

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[BREAKING NEWS] Lebona sets curfew



MASERU– In an effort to curb the rampant increase of homicides in Lesotho, the Minister of Police Lebona Lephema has announced a 10:00pm-4:00am curfew, effective Tuesday May 16, 2023. Failure to comply with the curfew attracts a 2 years imprisonment or a fine.

Staff Reporter

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Two nurses deleted for misconduct



MASERU – A Kolonyama midwife, ’Mamalibeng Ralenkoane, who allegedly neglected a woman during labour has been deleted from the nurses’ register for the next six months.

The woman went on to deliver her baby by herself without professional assistance.

In another case the secretary-general of the Lesotho Nursing Council (LNC), ’Mamonica Makhoswonke Mokhesi, has also been deleted for violating a patient’s privacy.

The LNC’s disciplinary chairman, Advocate Rapapa Sepiriti, said Ralenkoane had committed an act of serious misconduct and deserved severe punishment.

Advocate Sepiriti ruled that Ralenkoane “should not be seen anywhere attending (to) patients”.

Ralenkoane was working as a midwife at the Little Flower Health Centre in Kolonyama, Leribe, when ’Mateboho Letlala was admitted there for labour in August 2020.

Letlala told the panel that Ralenkoane took her to the examination room and later left her despite that there were signs that she could give birth anytime.

“At 19:00 pm Ralenkoane examined the patient but left her unattended and the patient had to deliver on her own,” Advocate Sepiriti said in his verdict.

“Clearly the blame has to be put at the door of Ralenkoane,” he said.

Adv. Sepiriti ruled that she should be deleted with immediate effect for 12 months, half of which was suspended.

“During these six months period, Ralenkoane is prohibited in any way from attending patients and this judgment should be delivered at her place of work,” he said.

Letlala in her testimony said by the time Ralenkoane arrived, she was already having severe labour pains and was told to go to the labour ward for assessment.

She said when she stepped down the labour bed Ralenkoane said to her: “Ua seke ua tatela ho hema empa molomo oa popelo o buleile ka 3cm’ (meaning she seemed to be in a hurry yet the cervix had opened by 3cm only).

“I was so surprised because I could feel I was very close to delivering because this was my second child and I could say I have experience,” she said.

She said she told the nurse that she needed to use the toilet but was instructed to use a pan instead.

“As she left me on the bed pan I could not stand from the pan as the pains were severe. I called for help but to no avail,” she said.

She said the moment she got energy to stand from the bed pan she saw blood, she called her but there was no response.

“Ralenkoane promised to come after two hours but there were no instructions on what to do in case I needed help prior to two hours,” she said.

“I wheeled myself to the bed and sat on it, still calling to no avail.”

She said while still alone, her membranes raptured and the time of birth came and the baby was delivered.

“The child did not fall as I was able to hold him,” she said.

She phoned her aunt who told her to find s scissor to cut the umbilical cord.

She said she bled a lot and ran out of energy, then Ralenkoane arrived at around midnight.

“When she came in she asked where the baby was and I pointed to where I had put him where he clamped the cord,” she said.

She said it was then that she got assistance.

The investigator for Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), one Nteso, told Advocate Sepiriti that his findings were that “the mother’s life was in danger as she was found having bled heavily and tired and the baby’s life was also in danger from prolonged exposure which could lead to hypothermia and brain damage”.

“Ralenkoane was not there for the mother until she delivered in the absence of the midwife, this is a case of negligence,” he said.

However, in mitigation Ralenkoane said this was her first time to appear before the panel and has been a nurse for more than nine years.

She said she has two children to support and she has already been punished by the clinic as she was dismissed and that she has policies and loans.

She pleaded with the panel to have mercy on her.

In another case Mokhesi who was the Secretary General of LNC was also deleted from the register for two years after she was found guilty of sharing a patient’s picture on social media without their consent.

She was accused of defamation of character and violating the patient’s privacy by posting pictures of the injuries he had incurred.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Nurses back at work



MASERU -NURSES who have been on strike since Monday are set to resume work this morning after the government started paying their salaries.

The nurses went on a go-slow last week but escalated to a full-fledged strike on Monday after the government delayed their salaries. Some nurses claimed they had not been paid since March.

Morephe Santi, the secretary general of the Lesotho Nurses’ Association (LNA), said they have started telling members to go back to work after the government said the salaries will start reflecting in their accounts last night.

The strike has inflicted huge reputational damage on Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s government which came to power on promises of efficiency.

Minister of Public Service Richard Ramoeletsi blamed the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and the Human Resource Management System (HRMS) for the delay in April salaries.

Ramoeletsi told parliament last week that the two financial management systems were unable to reconcile, leading to delays in salaries.

But that explanation was little consolation for patients who bore the brunt of the strike.

At least 20 expectant mothers at Machabeng Hospital in Qacha’s Nek were told to go home because nurses could not help them.

Some of the women were later admitted at Tebellong Hospital, a facility under the Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL).

“We were staying at the hospital’s roundavel awaiting our time to go to labour but on Thursday afternoon (last week we were called by the nurses and they told us to go to other hospitals or go back home,” said Maretlotliloe Mpeli, who is heavily pregnant.

She said the nurses told them that they could not work on empty stomachs.

’Matlotla Poling, 19, from Ha-Rankakala said she had to call her parents because she did not have any money to either go back home or to Tebellong Hospital.

The Machabeng Hospital management declined to comment, referring thepost to the ministry’s headquarters in Maseru.

Ministry of Health spokesperson, ’Mateboho Mosebekoa, said Machabeng Hospital “did not expel the expecting mothers but merely sent them back home”.

“Due to the ongoing strike by doctors countrywide …they decided to take those women to the places where they would get help,” Mosebekoa said.

There was similar anguish at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

“The strike has affected all the departments including the kitchen, maternity, and emergencies, but the managers are on duty,” said ’Makananelo Sepipi, the hospital’s spokesperson.

Sepipi said managers were forced to hold the forte “because some sections cannot be left unattended utterly due to their importance”.

“The operations are happening in the emergency section, even though they do not operate in a normal way.”

She said patients whose operations were scheduled for this week were sent back home.

Santi, the LNA’s secretary general, blamed the government for the chaos caused by the strike.

Santi said as much as the government likes to call them an essential service they do not prioritise their ministry.

“They do not appreciate us, it is like they do not see the importance of our job,” Santi said.

“The government turns a blind eye to the fact that our working environment alone can put us at risk of contracting diseases.”

“Now we are not able to buy food and other necessities.”

Nkheli Liphoto & Thooe Ramolibeli

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