The middle class have failed us

The middle class have failed us

As is now well-known, recently, different groups of our rulers decided to protect themselves and their families against Covid-19 before everybody else while people are falling sick and dying; they also decided to ladle for themselves more money, while the poor suffer hunger and sickness.
These decisions will have dispelled any doubt anyone might have had that this country is ruled in ways to serve the economic welfare and other interests of different factions of Lesotho’s ruling clique.

The responses of MPs to public concerns and outcries over this self-indulgence are not only very disappointing but, usefully, they have also revealed the moral and intellectual calibre of some of the persons we have elected to Parliament.
Morally, not many people would be able to bear the thought that, from their position of power, they insulated themselves against diseases and, then, looked on as the powerless continued to become sick and die.

Different type of leaders would have put the powerless first, and themselves last. It is not true that those in power protected themselves and their families for purposes of some demonstration effect on those who elected them, their followers. Even Senators who were not elected to parliament—and whose popular following we do not know—were given the privilege.

Indeed, the claimed-need for demonstration effect is not based on any research, and it is possible there is no, or very little, scepticism towards receiving an injection in Lesotho. These few, or non-existent, people are the ones on who politicians base their justification to be protected first, while those who voted for them continue to be sick and die.

Intellectually, we are becoming a laughing-stock-nation led by MPs some of who, when confronted with the nation’s cry of pain and unhappiness, consider it intelligent to say they gave themselves cars at the public’s expense, and, therefore, the nation must buy them petrol.
Given this attitude, we are destined to be forced to pay MPs shoe-lace allowances for each of their pair of shoes, all in the MPs’ bid to further increase their incomes while ensuring that other public servants become more impoverished.

To the public’s outcries, other MPs can only respond by revelling in how Parliament’s perks have improved their lives, and how they need more to live even better.
Last week Moeletsi Mbeki published an article, in South Africa’s Business Day, in which, among others, he suggested that nationalism — initially Afrikaner, and, now, African — is responsible for the persistence and further deepening of poverty and inequality in South Africa.

It is a specific type of nationalism; that is, middle-class nationalism in which definitions and characters of nationhood are dictated by the middle-class and are in-line with the narrow interests of their class.
In the view of some schools of learning, a society’s middle-class are considered an asset of a nation of which they form a part; they are said to have a historic duty not only to provide a not self-serving leadership of society but also to think, devise, and implement policies intended to secure the socio-economic well-being of the rest of society, particularly, the most vulnerable. This, on the understanding that, when the vulnerable are secure, all of us are secure.

Not in this country. Indeed, in her typically inimitable way, recently a local columnist suggested that we are the only nation where politicians devise Five Year Development Plans solely and clearly geared towards increasing the misery of the rest of the nation.
The view might be considered an exaggeration but things which we see government and MPs doing—and those which they do and which we do not see—have outcomes that feel very consistent with the observation.

Simply put, Lesotho’s ruling middle-class in various positions of power and authority, particularly MPs, have failed Basotho. It will be interesting to hear what words and other means they will use to try to secure our votes, when campaigns for 2022 elections get under way.
Likely, they will continue to treat us as what Moeletsi Mbeki calls ‘voting fodder’. And candidates will continue to secure our votes by buying off a few individuals in their constituencies, who, in turn, will buy those below them, and the latter sent out to do the donkey work, heavily laden with their man’s promises for jobs.

The time is here for the electorate organised in different formations—workers, teachers, vendors, unemployed graduates, taxi operators, etc.— to either force political parties to adopt and implement progressive agendas, or to elect MPs from among themselves.
There is ample evidence, over time, that the sole purpose of our middle class’s pursuit for power is to gain access to public funds for the benefit of themselves and their families.

Motlatsi Thabane

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