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The ABC blew its chance

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Political instability = zero investment + high unemployment. This may not be the best of macro-economic formulas but it could make a bit of sense under the current political madness.

I was taught that the best formulas should make sense either interpreted from the left or the right-hand side. In this case, it still makes sense whatever way you approach it. In this case political instability results in zero investment which will result in a high unemployment rate.

At the same time, a very high unemployment rate could be a deterrent to investment because of variables such as high crime levels. That may in-return result in political instability because of hungry politicians who act like hyenas. This works like a vicious circle no matter how you look at it. We could even say, hungry politicians = political instability.

Allow me to take a detour in order to get to my topic of the week. One of the things I enjoy doing in my spare time but ashamed to admit in public, is to watch two of the most popular channels on DSTV. The first one is Mzansi Magic on channel 161 and the other is a controversial channel named Moja Love.

Moja Love is a channel about exposing lives (scandals) of people living in South African townships. But there seems to be something synonymous yet interesting thing about the lives of poor black people. I guess it’s because poor black people are always fighting one another and this embarrasses the black middle class (The black diamonds).

The Black middle class finds Moja Love distasteful because it shows the ugly side of black people. They even call it “trash TV” and there’s a popular show in particular named Rea Tsotella, that’s just hated by the black middle class.
Well funny enough, Mzansi Magic and Moja Love are by far, two of the most popular channels of DSTV. I guess it’s because black people like to watch the downfall of other blacks. They say misery loves company.

It’s always said, there’s nothing as therapeutic as listening to other people’s problems and misery. It makes one feel better about themselves. An ego boost of sorts.
Another popular show that seems to make people feel better about themselves is a show named I blew it, that airs on Mzansi Magic, channel 161, on Fridays.

This is a show about how people blew their sudden windfall either from lotto jackpots, an inheritance or cash payouts from the Road Accident Fund and it’s mostly in the millions of Rands.
Yet again, there’s something synonymous with black people and their rags to riches stories. They blow it, hence the name of the show, I blew it. In fact, the signature tune goes, “here’s my story, I blew it.”

There’s one lady in particular that had won a lotto jackpot to the tune of 14 million Rands and she blew seven of the 14 million jackpot in just two weeks. The first thing that the poor lady did after receiving her cash payout was to buy pizza. The pizza was then followed by a string of very poor and mostly bad decisions until the 14 million ran out to last cent. She blew it!
The poor lady amassed a group of fake friends, boyfriends that came and stole her money and investments that never yielded even a cent. When the money ran out, the friends ran away as well. Some people say, when friends are few, you should know that times are very tough.

But there’s just something amazing about the psychology of a hungry person especially when they receive a sizable amount of money. It gives them a false sense of power.
Power to make poor decisions and they often act as if it will never run out. Most of the men that appear on the show often go for lots of girlfriends and cars. I mean they literally blow their money on booze, women and cars. The curse of a black man.

So, that show named I blew it, reminds me of a certain political party in Lesotho, called the All Basotho Convention (ABC). I mean where do I even start? This is a political party that was given a “chance” to power and I want to emphasize the word “chance” because the ABC was not really the first choice of most people but it received a lot of sympathy votes in the last elections of 2017.

Do you remember the sad story of how Ntate Tom and other politicians became political refugees in Ficksburg? Hmmm! We seem to forget easily.
To get to the topic at hand, whilst driving around Johannesburg last week, I happened to hear a very disturbing headline on one of the Gauteng-based radio stations named Kaya FM. The news headline said something like, “attempts to recall Lesotho Prime Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro, gain momentum.” The commentary was done by our very own Caswell Tlali.
That news report on Kaya FM coincided with a headline on a local newspaper that read, ABC implodes. It was a glaring headline for the world to see the state of our comical politics in Lesotho.

Now tell me, which investor in their right mind would invest their hard-earned money in a politically unstable environment?
Haven’t our politicians from the ABC learnt that political instability leads to low investor confidence? Haven’t politicians in general learnt a valuable lesson that Lesotho is in an unemployment crisis because there’s simply no investment (FDI)? How will jobs be created if there’s no investment?
It seems not to dawn in the minds and hearts of the politicians from the ABC that political stability is everything in an economy. It is a weapon to defeat a monster named unemployment.

But as I said, ABC politicians act exactly like our brothers and sisters that appear on the show, I blew it. The ABC received a windfall to be in power and squandered it. They literally blew it.
The only thing that could possibly bring the ABC back to its senses is the fact that it could lose significant votes in the coming elections. Personally, I doubt that the ABC will make a comeback in 2022.

The rural electorate is angry because of the wool and mohair blunder and the youths are very angry over empty promises about getting quality education and jobs. Where does this leave the ABC in the coming elections?
There is one gentleman on I blew it that got a shock of his life when he realised he was left with only a hundred thousand Rands, from a cash windfall of 1.1 million Rands. When he went to the ATM and checked the balance, he made a point to squander the remaining cash out of anger. He withdrew all the cash and blew it to the last cent.

Maybe, this is what the ABC needs to do. Yes, recall Prime Minister Majoro and replace him with an utterly incompetent person. Yes, squander whatever prospect is left until there is nothing left. Deplete all the trust and hope left in the hearts and minds of the electorate.

Maybe sanity will prevail after the election results are announced. Just maybe because we are tired of old men and women behaving like nursery school kids. Go ahead and just blow it! Hopefully a new crop of sensible and patriotic leaders will emerge out of all that madness. Just blow it!

‘Mako Bohloa

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Reforms: time to change hearts and minds

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A very important milestone is gradually being reached in Lesotho politics. On April 6, 2022, I attended a National Reforms Authority (NRA)’s High-level Forum on the State of the Implementation of the Lesotho National Reforms at ’Manthabiseng Convention Centre.

For the first time, I heard at that meeting politicians acknowledging that Lesotho’s political problems have a lot to do with politicians themselves, and not with written clauses of the Constitution.

This is a point that this country’s intellectuals and academics have made for years. Lesotho politicians have refused to listen both because of their dislike for the country’s academics and because of absence of any communication between the two groups as a result of that dislike.

If politicians could use their newly-acquired wisdom as a basis from which to proceed in attempts to solve Lesotho’s political problems, there is potential for great strides to be made, finally.

Political instability bedevils Lesotho because the hearts and minds of politicians continue to be inclined to break the law, or to look for ‘loopholes’, in pursuit of narrow interests; and continue to change clauses of the Constitution when such clauses do not allow the pursuit and achievement of narrow interests.

We need a change of heart and mind-set among our politicians in order to make headway in building a politically stable society. Politicians’ narrow interests should not be a basis for what needs to happen in Lesotho. The need for constitutional changes and the search for loopholes will persist but they should not be inspired by the pursuit of narrow interests, as has hitherto happened.

Instead, to us the public, it should become necessary to reform the constitution on two conditions only. First, when it is found that the constitution does not adequately address concerns with the socio-economic welfare of Basotho. Second, when it becomes necessary to ensure that Basotho exercise real power on who rules them and on how they are ruled. These conditions are cardinal.

And they should inform all thought and action in Lesotho’s politics.

As has happened many times already, even these costly ongoing reforms of clauses of the Constitution will be all for naught if concern for politicians’ own welfare continues to be a primary motive behind their pursuit for parliamentary seats, and what they do once in parliament.

It may well be that the current and next generation of politicians will be short of men and women with hearts and mind-set fit for service to Basotho’s welfare. But serious attempts need to be made to ensure the generation after the next has a critical mass of such politicians.

This cannot only be wished for. It has to be worked for. One thought is to introduce a curriculum that teaches people the capacity to think of others, and care for others. These are some of the attributes mostly missing among our politicians. Their incapacity to think of others leads to their lack of a sense of public duty that we see and experience every day.

We have neglected the task of socialising and educating empathetic hearts and mind-sets claiming that Africans and Basotho naturally and culturally subscribe to, and live in accordance with, ubuntu (humanity). It is quite obvious that this is not true. People who make this claim loudest are the middle classes who, while claiming to subscribe to ubuntu, live in houses surrounded by six feet high perimeter walls.

There may be other thoughts than socialisation on this. What we have to hope for is that from here onwards, in our search for solutions to Lesotho political problems, we will proceed from the recognition that, primarily, these problems emanate not from inappropriate written texts of the Constitution but from hearts and minds of men and women.

Motlatsi Thabane

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We have lost our moral indignation

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I remember when the allegations that Tšeliso Nthane had shot and killed one of his employees first came to the surface. It was in 2019, back when the air was not so poisonous and Basotho still had much of their hope. Well not much because this is generally a hopeless, desolate wasteland but some small pretence of hope still remained. The nation was angry, and rightfully so. The consensus was that men like Nthane, no matter how deep their pockets, should not be allowed to act with impunity. A man was dead and we were baying for justice.

A lot has happened since then. The Covid-19 pandemic, mass retrenchments and job losses, the ever dwindling power of the loti. This and that but all has been more negative than positive in this place so when the time came for Nthane to be handed judgment we had mostly stopped caring as we had to deal with the business of living .

Anyway the man was found not guilty. I will confess I did not read the judgement for fear it will sink me lower into the abyss that is life in Lesotho. However, news of that sort cannot escape one even if they try, more especially if they are on social media. No sooner had judgment been handed down that social media debates began raging.

Suddenly everyone was an expert in punitive versus remedial justices and the pros and cons therein. Many argued that once more the rich had been proven to be above the law. A statement clouded in naivety really because had they been paying attention they would have realised that there is nothing to prove as the rich have always been above the law.

Those who fancy themselves the harbingers of remedial justice argued that Nthane had made certain payments to the family and thus paid his debt. I have no personal knowledge of these payments but I was of course curious to know how much the price of a life is amongst these parts.

They further argued that since Nthane owned many companies that employed many Basotho it would not be in the national interests to send him to prison as jobs would be lost. I am not sure how Basotho think companies work and if they have ever heard that they are a separate legal entity from their owners but no matter. This is certainly an elucidation on the finer points of company law.

I have in the past been guilty of judging my countrymen, perhaps a little too harshly as it is sometimes hard to make sense of their motivations but to hear young people speak so vehemently for letting a man walk free after another has died simply because he is in a position to provide them with a livelihood reminded me once more of the stark hopelessness when it comes to finding a job in this country.

Basotho youths are not uneducated, they are not immoral or unfeeling and they certainly are not pro-murder. At least I hope so. What they are however is hungry and desperate and desperation can reduce even the most pious man to his knees. What good is moral outrage if one is outraged on an empty stomach?

What good will it do for them to be out in the street being activists for social and moral issues when they barely can afford the nine maloti to hop into a taxi and arrive at such a demonstration? To argue that anyone who can offer them jobs should be treated differently as far as the law is concerned is a statement borne out of the worst kind of desperation and instead of making me angry, it made me sad.

Now, I have not enough knowledge of the case against Nthane to say whether I feel the judgment was fair and just. All I know is I certainly want it not to be in favour of him simply because he has jobs and livelihoods to give. It is however easy for me to judge from my privileged position where I have a meal guaranteed every night. It is easy to be morally indignant when one does not have to worry about the indignities of joblessness.

I spoke last week of how easy it is for us to condemn young people who lay their bodies on the human resource table. We laugh at older people who walk for kilometres to attend political rallies and sing for “baetapele” (leaders) and fail to take into account that in a moment of desperation a man who offers you promises of a job you badly need is someone you would follow to a rally.

To see young women in the arms of 70-year-olds who are not even good company. To see young men vehemently justify that murder should be forgiven if the alleged murderer can offer them a livelihood will quickly disabuse one of the notion that there is any progress happening in Lesotho.

So here we are in a country where people are willing to sell their bodies and souls for a chance at a decent life.

Here we are about to enter another election season and the only people who stand to truly benefit are the owners of guest houses. Whether Nthane got a fair verdict or not is immaterial to me, what remains shocking is how we have lost our moral indignation as a country. It appears Tom Thabane, that erstwhile leader was right when he said “sera sa motho ke tlala”. To quote the younger generations of Ma2000: “Because wow”.

Thakane Rethabile Shale

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No peace plan, no economic recovery

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The world’s struggle to reboot economies viciously disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic remains real. However, the impact could be more severe to countries that already had dwindling economies and lack a way out, chief amongst them Lesotho. The focus on recovery gets disrupted from time to time by new variants seemingly more infectious than the previous ones; we had the Delta variant and now Omicron.

Several countries seem to be putting their own nationals ahead of everyone else. The squabble between the European Union and the United Kingdom over vaccines was but an example of leaders who put the interests of their own people first. The leaders surely knew that the world would not win the fight over Covid unless the rest of the world is vaccinated as stated by the World Health Organisation.

They however made plans to keep their people safe first, protect their boundaries and then set stringent entry conditions into their countries to further protect their own people. Though this may seem selfish, who in their right mind would not do the same?

As countries draw and implement plans to get their economies back on track, Lesotho has very little to show if anything at all. Businesses shut doors and the few people who had jobs lost their only incomes. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Lesotho was already struggling to engage in much needed capital projects because it simply did not have the money.
Sadly, there is no watertight plan let alone a draft to increase dwindling revenue following the reviewed Southern Africa Custom Union’s approach. There is basically no plan to support entrepreneurs to scale up thereby increasing the tax base. Instead, the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) is expected to milk dry the remaining few dying cows.

With this hopeless state of affairs in Lesotho, one would be misled to think that Lesotho is not capable of making solid plans and sticking to them. The reality is, Lesotho, a country of around 2 million people only is indeed capable of doing more for her few people. She has abundant resources; minerals and human capital.

Sadly, the skills and resources are always misdirected to produce negative energy among Basotho. The only fully funded strategy that Lesotho is committed to at the moment and can be articulated clearly by all parties involved without having to consult is Mothetjoa Metsing’s arrest. Metsing is accused of treason based on a hard-to-understand incident where he was a coalition partner and a Deputy Prime Minister, yet he is said to have been involved in an attempt to unseat the then Prime Minister Thabane.
Thabane of course did leave the country but Metsing never dreamt of taking over the premier’s office. The police, Public Prosecutor and the executive are all on the same page about progress and what the next move against Metsing should be.

There are officers ready to do whatever it takes to bring him down. There is no shortage of resources when it comes to arresting him. Intelligence is on top of its game when it comes to him. The propaganda machinery is fully empowered. When will the government get its priorities right?
The army commander Lt Gen Motšomotšo and senior army officials Col Sechele and Col Hashatsi were shot dead in broad daylight, within the army barracks and there is absolutely nothing and no one who has been held accountable for their killing. This against the background that former army commander Lt Gen Tlali Kamoli and others remain in prison for years pending the case surrounding among others the killing of yet another army commander Maaparankoe Mahao.

Where is the logic here? No investigations, no arrests, absolutely nothing on the killing of the three high profile army officials. Yet the government is persecuting Metsing for allegedly plotting to oust a government which never happened.
Around 80 people died in cold blood in police custody under the All Basotho Convention-led operation – “Tokho”. The then Prime Minister Tom Thabane allowed the police to torture people and the Lesotho Congress for Democracy tried to force the premier to withdraw his instructions to the police. That however drew a blank.

The police chief has not yet been called to account for these deaths. The police are doing what Basotho were complaining about during the reign of the previous regime that the army was acting with impunity. Suddenly, it is ok for the police to brutally torture and kill Basotho.
Suddenly, it is ok for army bosses to be killed with impunity. That’s the only reasonable conclusion that one arrives at based on the hesitation of the government to do anything about the killers on the government’s payroll.
The government of Lesotho needs to focus on revamping this country’s economy, creating jobs, improving health services, building infrastructure, promoting peace and unity and managing the escalating crime rate. Lesotho fails to acknowledge that the country’s peace is a group effort and Basotho must all be in it to work.

Investors are unlikely to risk their money in a country that is not at peace with itself. Until the government get its priorities right, Lesotho will continue to struggle to have peace and a stable economy. This will translate to high unemployment worse compared to where it is currently.
Metsing had a peace plan that was unfortunately not supported by some parties. Those who opposed it could only assume that it would let him go free. They never weighed options nor tabled alternative peace-making efforts. To them the country would rather suffer, rather be divided than accept the fact that the government was never toppled. There are far more pressing issues in Lesotho. Instead of paying loads of money to a foreign prosecutor, and taking much valuable time from our courts of law, we should be focusing our priorities on something positive. We need to heal and move on as a nation, not as individuals.

Potjo Potjo

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