Connect with us

S. Mothibi

It is said that at its height, the Roman Empire was vast, stretching all the way from the northern tip of England, to the northern regions of Africa, and parts of middle-eastern Asia. Ruled by Caesars (the most famous being Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus who established the Roman Empire in 27 BC), classical or Ancient Rome was a successful empire at its height, but it soon fell into debauchery marked by endless revelling, internal conflicts for positions of power in politics, increased poverty levels in the plebeian masses, and general increase in greed levels amongst the nobles for land and property. Many of the Roman citizens were doomed into serfdom, a lot perished in the rebellions that were savagely stamped out by the armies bearing their scuta, gladiola, and spiked clubs. At the end of the day, the most civilised empire in the history of time became a model of regress and decay, and though it lasted over 423 years it fell due to malaises it created itself. The Roman Empire, however, still influences the way the politics of this world are run, the legal systems of the day still adopt its models, and it can therefore be used as a background when one needs to gauge their levels of progress and change as a country. The question this week is: How far have we changed and progressed as a country since October the 4th 1966?

Being frank never killed anyone, unless such one is surrounded by delusional individuals that find honest truth uncomfortable, and I believe we should be blatantly frank when it comes to incising the issues of progress and change. We should start from the level of the individual, to the level of community, and then to the level of the state and the nation when we analyse the extent of our progress, and the level of our change.

Being roundabout when we should confront issues pertaining to progress and change head on will not get us anywhere as a nation, and I believe, avoiding a problem still in its infancy will just give it time to grow into a monster we will not be able to deal with in a few score years. I look to the way we are socialised as individuals in our society and, drawing from the early years in school, one issue stands out; we are taught to compete for meagre resources by the educational system in place. The dearth of the old spirit of communalism (as found in the concepts of Letsema and Ubuntu) has largely contributed to the demise of these two virtues due to the way children are taught in primary, intermediate and tertiary schools. Being communal in outlook and behaviour is instead of being venerated frowned upon, and whoever sets out to be sharing and considerate of the needs of others is looked upon as a fool. The hecklers will just cackle, “you can never change the world…”, or give the dispirited statement once sung in a beautiful Bruce Hornsby song, “that’s just the way it is…” things are just what they are, and so, if you try and adopt that old spirit of sharing and caring for everyone, you are bound to be left behind by time and progress; because a larger part of the modern generation is bent on grabbing whatever is in sight for their own private self-enrichment. The old faithful spirit of communalism that got this country and nation where it is today is no longer in vogue; individualism is the key term in fashion. That is just the way it is, unless one wants to play the ostrich with his head buried in the sand.

When the wealth of one is at the expense of many it is outright wrong, and when the gap between the rich and the poor becomes an abyss, it is a travesty that should be done away with on the 4th of this October; for we can never claim to be the most peaceful nation in the world with bellies growling in hunger. We can never sing of peace, rain, and prosperity when our silos are empty due to recent droughts, when there is no rain in the skies of the Kingdom in the Sky, when prosperity is only visible on the national coat of arms, and hordes of unemployed educated and uneducated roam the streets.

We are sure to be seen as a bunch of pretenders if we enjoy the festivities of the 50th independence anniversary but forget to map the way forward toward the first century of independence. The truth as seen from my perspective is that, yes we have fought for democracy and proper governance these past 50 years, but we have in the process lost our sense of individual responsibility towards the welfare of other individuals within our communities. Instead of fighting for the progress of all of our society from the level of the individual, one finds that the individual in a lot of ways sets out to progress alone at the expense of the entire society, in brief; we have become a selfish community, that has lost the sacred belief that none should be left behind when it comes to progress.

If the current trend of selfishness carries on, believing that Lesotho will make any significant change or take vital strides towards progress will remain a pipe dream. I know as fact that some believe that being selfless is impossible in the light of the prevailing economic conditions, but I have come across individuals whose selflessness has proven to me that we need more of this virtuous and charitable character if we are to reach our true dream of peace, rain, and prosperity as envisioned by King Moshoeshoe I. Being individualistic will never get us anywhere, and wealth gathered and hoarded in the presence of the poor without being shared might just become a danger to its possessor. This is not a threat, but it is a real possibility we have to be aware of.

When the cellular phone was introduced in the 1990’s, it became a roaring blaze, a successful invention and gadget everyone wanted to hold in their hand and keep in the pouch on the belt. The cellphone in essence became an accessory of status, a symbol of advancement, and we just could not get enough of it. With the passage of just a decade, this trinket became more than just a device though which one could make calls or send and receive text messages, it became a full mini-computer through which multi-media messages and video calls could be made. It became smarter, and currently one can do just about anything a computer can do on the smart phone, but the functionality and advantage of owning one has a flipside; the phone has become an avenue through which cyber and physical crime can easily be committed.

Those that use mobile banking have on several occasions become victims of cyber crime, from having their bank accounts emptied by criminals, or having their e-mail accounts hacked into by unsavoury criminals always on the prowl for unwary victims. Children too have fallen victim to paedophiles and pederasts whilst surfing popular social media websites, and some have been kidnapped by human traffickers that lure them with empty promises. And these social media websites have also become platforms of social unrest and terrorism of sorts, because of the ease of access to what is being shared on the websites. A good innovative technology is now threatening to tear human social fabric and land us in trouble if it goes unchecked, and I believe government policy should take into account the negative effects of technology so that effective countermeasures can be put into place.

Upon graduation, one had the high hope that the certificate bestowed upon them on the day they wore the cap and the gown would be a ticket to the moon. The years passed, the letters of applications piled, and the certificates gathered dust in their frames on the wall, the transcripts gathered mould in their manila envelopes, and hope began to fade as the reality of unemployment set in. Current statistics place the number of unemployed individuals with tertiary qualifications at over 10,000, and this figure is significantly huge enough to instil a sense of hopelessness and mistrust on the value of education in our country.

The question one would ask is simple: What do we go to school for, if not to be employed to make a living? Why waste time in the classroom when one could be engaged in some vocation that at least puts money in their pockets and money on their tables? One senses a lack of commitment on the part of the government to implement measures to curb the negative flow of unemployment. Not enough is being done to stem the tide of hopelessness unemployment washes into the minds of graduates who often have to be content with employment in occupations they did not study for, at a salary scale that is way below the legal rate for individuals of the qualifications they have. The catch phrase is ‘do the best you can with what you have… be content with you get… there are those that are less fortunate than you…’ I find these statements insulting to my intelligence, intelligence gathered from spending over 20 years in classrooms with the hope that someday, one day, I would get a job befitting my qualifications.

That there are youth development programmes in place is good, but it is not enough, the government should take a more practical stance when it comes to the provision of jobs for the masses of unemployed. Keeping the masses busy with meagre salaries will just sow seeds of discontent in the educated unemployed, and it might in the end lead to the formation of a new class of ‘educated’ disgruntled individuals prone to committing acts of crime because it seems the only way available. I know for a fact (from personal experience) that those lists one registers their name on upon graduation in public service sector do not work; I have waited in vain for ten years to hear my name called: the call has never come and will probably never come.

Had I been some individual of lesser mien, I would have by now given in to cheap wine and listlessness, but time has taught me to wait in progress. I just wish the government could have such programmes where they help the youth through the unemployment phase that lasts until they are involved in some form of meaningful occupation that pays reasonable salaries and wages. Getting a job every five years when there are large scale projects or campaigns is not employment in my view, it is reminiscent to getting crumbs from the master’s table after five years of watching him and the guests feast through the window, and only being able to watch through the window and not being able to enter because there are hefty guards with ferocious dogs at the door. I hate the ‘I am on the outside, I am looking in…’ effect unemployment has on the mind of he or she that knows what it is to be shut out of the system despite having appropriate qualifications.

The main issues at hand these days are unemployment and increasing levels of poverty, and such a government as is in possession of the power to reverse these two maladies should be quick in the correction of the effects thereof. Patriotism of today has like every other entity become an entity of sale; it is bought with the provision of jobs and welfare for those that need it, otherwise, they may just find a master who understands their true basic needs. That we see increasing numbers of street children and orphans in the streets is not a good sign; it may be blamed on AIDS, but hey, a disease can be treated together with its symptoms. We should never be quick to point fingers but be slothful when it comes to dealing with the real problems that plague our society. Of progress and change in the past 50 years? I wonder what you see, and would gladly pay a penny for your thoughts.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Insight

We need to hear of redemption plans

Published

on

ON October 7, 2022 Basotho had an opportunity to decide the future of Lesotho. They did by overwhelmingly voting for the newly formed Revolution for Prosperity (RFP). The party won 57 percent of Lesotho’s 120 seats, confirming it was Basotho’s preferred alternative to combat, amongst other things, the high unemployment rates, devastating poverty, rampant corruption, and alarming everyday cases of gruesome homicides. The time of campaign promises is over, and for the “mighty RFP” as its advocates refer to it, the moment has come to act; to deliver.

So far, it appears that the RFP is cruising smoothly towards the right trajectory; the cabinet of Lesotho’s 11th government is forthcoming about pressing challenges to our economy, as well as mitigating steps it intends to take.

Nonetheless, I should mention that the delivery of the Medium-Term Budget Review in December, was followed by distrustful comments on the free streets of social media.

The Review described the mid-year performance of the economy in reference to the 2022/2023 budget as well as changes that were made in response to emerging problems. However, numerous people stressed that they wanted to hear about redemption plans in lieu of being reminded of the sorry state our nation is.

Their grievances of course, are valid when we begin to contextualise the numbers. Behind every unemployment statistic are university graduates with grim futures and parents who are unable to provide for the fundamental necessities of their children.

Behind every corruption scandal are deserving Basotho who are denied a chance because of nepotism, bribery, and extortion among others.

On the flip slide, I found it crucial that Dr Matlanyane accurately depicted the state of our economy because it confirms that the government is cognisant of the urgent need for reform and the mammoth task of selflessly serving our nation that is on the brink of disintegrating.

With reference to the Statement on the Economy and Finances which Dr Matlanyane presented to parliament on January 5, 2023, the previous ABC-led government ran a series of substantial deficits which ranged between 4 and 8 percent of the GDP in the last five years. This was due to the expenditure that had been growing much faster than the revenue and it perhaps elucidates why the African Development Bank estimates that the ratio of our debt to GDP was 50 percent in 2021.

Simply put, by taking out loans, the government spent more money than it was making.

This poses challenges; increased and persistently large deficits and debt can lead to increased geopolitical risk, rising interest rates, weaker economic growth, higher interest payments, and chronically high inflation. Thus, the RFP-led administration deserves commendations for its intention to challenge the status quo.

The principal goal of the 2023/2024 budget, “From Reconstruction and Recovery to Growth and Resilience” to hasten economic growth that creates jobs, is inclusive and reduces poverty.

In response to persistently large deficits and debt, the 2023/2024 budget promises a fiscal surplus of one billion maloti which will be 2.5 percent of the GDP. It is pertinent to underline that until the end of this fiscal year, these numbers are just aspirations. In any case, I find them to be invigorating aspirations that must eventually become a reality.

On the administration of the budget, Dr Matlanyane and her Finance and Development Planning team need to do some improving. Regarding paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) of Section 12(1) of the Public Financial Management and Accountability Act 2011 (PFMAA), each programme of the government should submit the receipts and expenditure estimates together with the objectives and performance indicators of the programme, and the details of new policy initiatives.

However, at the time of writing this piece, no documents which speak to the aforementioned paragraphs of the PFMAA are publicly available on the website of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning. Not only does this obscure the budget’s openness, but it also deters citizens from holding government entities accountable.

Additionally, uploading a PFMAA document with missing pages on the website is utter negligence on the part of the Finance and Development Planning Ministry, excluding any indication that it was done on purpose. Page 268 of the PFMAA which I assume begins the legislative mandate of the budget is missing from the PFMAA document that has been uploaded as of the time this article goes for printing.

Concerning recurring expenses, it is unnerving that in this day and age, so many millions of Maloti are spent on printing. Prospects of the Fourth Industrial Revolution including the widespread accessibility of knowledge in digital form. Of course, there is a significant digital divide in the country, but acknowledging the fact that there are circumstances in which printing is unnecessary should be a top priority.

In addition, M249.3 million is proposed for the Ministry of Information, Communication, Technology and Innovation to fund phase II of the e-Government infrastructure project and the expansion of broadband access among other things. For this reason, I anticipated seeing a significant decrease in projected printing expenses over the next two years in lieu of the projected increase.

One thing that needs explanation is why the M567 956.00 proposed for international fares for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations is lower compared to some ministries.

The same goes for the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Business Development and Tourism for which not even a single Loti has been proposed for international fares.

This is because, theoretically speaking, these two ministries are mandated to play a major role in implementing our foreign policy, therefore, it is only reasonable that their international travel costs should be higher than those of other ministries.

On the contrary, according to the draft budget estimates for the financial year 2023/2024, over one million Maloti is proposed for international fares for the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Information and Communications, Science, Technology and Innovation, M587 640.00 for the Ministry of Education, over two million maloti for the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, over three million for the Prime Minister’s Office, and M477 645.00 for the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Employment. The big question is, what is the purpose of international travel for these ministries?

Then there is the big elephant in the room, the unending construction of the Royal Palace. It is now a decade since hundreds of millions of Maloti have been pumped into the building of the Royal Palace.

Yet again, a whopping M393 million has been allocated for the completion of the long-delayed construction of the Royal Palace and Senate. Dejectedly, this allocation surpasses proposed budgets for urgently required development projects which will benefit the whole nation.

While hundreds of thousands of Basotho scrape by daily, why are hundreds of millions of Maloti spent on a single household? Can we, the taxpayers, once and for all get a detailed report of what is going on with the Royal Palace? At the very least, we deserve that much!

  • Mosebetsi Khobotlo holds a Bachelor of Political Science cum laude where she majored in Politics, International Relations and Public Administration. She is currently studying for BA Honours International Relations at the University of Pretoria.

Continue Reading

Insight

Varieties of African women’s poetry

Published

on

I want to show just a few varieties, out of many, through which African women poets tell the stories of women through poetry from about 1840 to the present. Sometimes the women appear to be silent and conservative but with the passage of time they have become direct and radical in their poetry.

Aisha Taymur the Egyptian woman poet writes in a complicated way about her relationship with the traditional Islamic cloth, the hijab. In “With pure virtue’s hand I guard the might of my hijāb” she indicates that far from oppressing her, it identifies her as a free Muslim woman. Contrary to the feeling that education and writing makes a Muslim woman rebellious, Aisha is of a different view:

“The arts of my eloquence, my mind I protected:
talisman dear, hijab’s amulet: danger denies
My literature and my learning did me no harm
save in making me the finest flower of minds wise
Solitary bower, scarf’s knot, are no affliction
nor my gown’s cut nor proud and strong guarded paradise
My bashfulness, no blockade to keep me from the heights”

She is comfortable in her culture and religion. She was one of Egypt’s most distinguished poets, novelists, and social activists. Born in 1840 into a family of Kurdish origins and literary roots, Taymur was a symbol of the women liberation movement since the Ottoman rule. She was well-versed in the Holy Quran and Islamic Jurisprudence, and also wrote poetry in Arabic, Turkish and Persian.

Contrast that with the other Egyptian female poet, Doria Shafik. She was a rather more open and radical voice. She found her environment rather oppressive and indicated that her poetry was going to save as one of the few spaces that allowed her to be herself. In her poem, “Solitude”, she writes:
“Poetry!
In this desert,
where I am drowning
you open more than one way.
In this silence,
the horrible silence
that encircles me,
in the torment of my becoming
you permit me
to act!”

She wrote a lot of poems in the mid 1940’s. In an intelligent way, she wrote and spoke about gradually rising within her culture, going outside but not moving rather too far from tradition which she ironically saw as a shield. She once said the aim of her writings was “To catch the imponderable thread connecting my own very existence to my own past, as well as to my own country’s history and civilisation. The Egypt I knew in my early years was an Egypt awakening from a thousand years’ sleep, becoming conscious of its long sufferings – that it had rights! And I learned in my childhood that the will of the woman can supersede the law.”

Philosophically, she felt that the boundaries of the laws can be extended through both existence and negotiation. For her, freedom is attained even as a woman is holding herself together. She believed in a careful and methodical fight. She ends her poem, “Unburdened” thus:

“My heart is in my hand
Hold it…here it is!
But do be careful with it
It is made of crystal.”

She saw an opportunity to steal the thunder of knowledge which she would use in her home country. Travel and education were not just for the sake of it if the new Egyptian woman was to rise beyond her woes: She was rooted in her quest for growth and freedom. She saw her education and her travels abroad as something that was central to her growth:

“Conquest of my soul,
frenzied flight
toward heaven
to steal
a little
fire
with which to revive myself
and our land that is dying.”

Sabrina Mahfouz is a more contemporary Egyptian woman poet, having been born in 1984. She was raised in between London and Cairo. Her most famous works are a poetry book, How You Might Know Me of 2016. She is very direct, quick and radical. Her poem, “In the Revolutionary Smoking Room” is spontaneous and breaks from traditional Egyptian women poetry traditions:
“Open the window. Isn’t it –

despicable deplorable disgraceful suspicious untenable untouchable delightful delicious unbelievable unstoppable grateful curious
tweetable filmable this is fucking serious
debatable inflatable never ever tedious
remarkable reliable spiteful pretentious
responsible blameable beautiful ferocious
– Yes. Can I have another cigarette please?”

But in her new book of 2020, For Women Trying to Breathe and Failing, Batsirai Chigama of Zimbabwe has, for me, one very special section called “How Love Should Be”. In that section, Chigama chooses to protest against men’s abuse of women by actually giving us the alternative man. This is a rare feat! Here is a man that the women would prefer…

In school we used to call that the control experiment!
When a male reader goes through that section, he may definitely come face-to-face with what he could have been when the world was fresh and the hills were still soft.

It is like coming home in the middle of a rainy night to find your better version sleeping in your very bed! When that happens, and you are able to control your nerves, you may see what you could have been and not the brute that you have become. We tend to come into the world too late or too early to be sane.

In one of those poems by Chigama, a woman gazes at a man and thinks, “of all the places (that) I could live, your heart is the paradise I choose.” In another, a woman refers to her man as “a best seller to me” and more specifically, “babe I would carry you around in the duffel bag of my heart, flip through you, slowly grasp(ing) every single word profound…”

Then she describes an imaginary good, lovely and well behaved man with:
“There are some rooms in your palms
Where I feel I belong
Quiet
Calm
Steady
Warm
Full of you.”

These are the kind of men’s palms that women look for everywhere without finding. Those palms with rooms! But that is only the beginning because in yet another poem, the title poem to this section itself, the poet writes about her man’s “gentle softness” and her man’s “dewy kindness that drips each time you look at me and hold me strong in the embrace of each syllable.”

And the man is so good that the woman even admits her own faults, “I am a mess I know, yet the way each vowel curves in your iris is the magnet that centres my universe.” And that electric section of poems continues unabated.

In another piece, a joyful woman reads a book of poems by the window as her caring man wears the apron to prepare a toast for her, roasting a chicken drumstick for her and the sad part is that the man does this only on Sundays. If he could do it more regularly, the better!

Here you find a man who knows how to spell love even in his sleep. There is also talk about “a man who smiled with his eyes,” causing a woman bloom like a flower in season. That is not even enough because in yet another poem, “ a woman meets her former lover (so that she is able) to touch the wrinkles on his body and realises that she still loves him even more than before and that it was really “stupid (that they had) let each other go the way we did.”

Then there is a section called “For Women Who Forget To Breathe While Alive”, which has poems about how women’s woes affect their private and bodily lives. There are also sections about women failing to survive and another more reassuring section about “women finding their feet.”

There is also a section that carries “the random thoughts of a woman sojourner.” Maybe these are about the poet’s feelings at all the different spaces she has visited (at home and abroad.)

Still in Zimbabwean women’s poetry, when you move to Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure’s, in her latest book of poems of 2022, Starfish Blossoms, you find that this collection is decidedly based on the firm foundations of the wisdom of one’s female ancestors, both in mythical and real time. This book can be read as an archive of women’s thoughts and sweet secrets from one generation to the other.

In these pieces, there is the hovering presence of the persona’s paternal grandmother, VaChivi. She is the spirit of the lioness, hunting relentlessly for game in order to feed her pack of cubs. VaChivi is more vicious and runs much faster than her lazy and redundant male counterpart. Hunting is not sport. It is a matter of life and death.

There is also the maternal grandmother, aChihera, the woman of the Shava Eland totem. Charwe Nehanda of the first Chimurenga is among the strong Chihera women of Zimbabwe. They are renowned in Shona lore for their resilience and sometimes they are known to be strong-headed, fighting harder than their fathers or their husbands!

These two archetypes VaChivi and aChihera demonstrate that this poet is coming to the world stage already armed with ready-made stories of the brave women from her own community. She is not looking for new heroes. She already has the blood of heroines running through her veins. She is only looking for a broader audience. For me this is Samantha Rumbidzai Vazhure’s greatest achievement.

In the very first poem the persona recalls her time with her grandmother out in the countryside. It is a return to the stable source and to roots that go deep.

Grandmother hides her monies everywhere; inside her crimpling doek, under the reed mat and even inside her g-cup bra. Meanwhile the corn is roasting by the fireside. When she asks her granddaughter to count her money, the younger woman says, “but you can’t see the money even if I were to count it for you!”

And the elder answers: “These eyes can see what they want to see.” Meaning I would not have asked you to count the money if you were not a trusted fellow. This poem is a story about the easy camaraderie between women from across generations.

In the poem “Hanyanani”, the poet goes even deeper into the Shona mythology. An old woman lives in the drought-smitten district of Chivi in a year when the famine is at its bitterest. There is danger that the many-many orphans that she keeps in her homestead may actually starve to death. VaChivi goes up and down among her neighbours and she finds no food to cook. But the orphans gather around her crying louder and louder…

VaChivi comes up with a plan which has become legendary among the Shona people. She lights a fire as if everything is alright and puts a pot full of water on the fire. There is still nothing to cook and VaChivi picks pebbles from the bare ground and throws them into the pot and she tells her grandchildren that she is now cooking something and she will make soup out of it. She dishes out the ‘soup’ eventually. It is the mere hope among these children that the hot water that they are taking in is real soup. That saves their lives;

“And there’s an old woman from Chivi
who cooked stones and drank the soup.
She did not swallow the stones.
Did she not know that those
who swallow stones do not die?”

The Chivi woman’s story is about intense hope and resolve. In the same area there is a contemporary tale about Hanyanani, a ghost that goes ahead with its ghostliness without thinking about what people say about her as a ghost. Sometimes Hanyanani terrorises wayfarers who walk the paths in the middle of the night from beer drinking binges.

The daring drunkards even think Hanyanani is a fresh new prostitute from more urbane places like Masvingo, Harare and Bulawayo and on being taken to her home, the men fall into deep sleep.

When they wake up they find that they are actually resting in the graveyard! In a more contemporary period, Hanyanani is often reincarnated as Peggy, the other terror ghost of the other Zimbabwean towns of Chiredzi and Triangle.

These are stories about woman triumphalism retold in poetic form. Vazhure does not exactly rewrite these myths but her allusions to them through her poetry are powerful and strategic. Vazhure uses local materials to talk about global issues.

Indeed, over the years, African women poets in different countries, have developed varied methods of telling their evolving stories through poetry.

Memory Chirere

 

Continue Reading

Insight

We’re stuck to our old habits

Published

on

Sesotho se re, u ka isa pere nokeng ho’a noa metsi. Ha feela e sa batle ho noa, ha ho seo u ka se etsang. The translation is; life is all about choices and we are all products of the choices we make.

I realise that this month marks exactly one year since the formation of the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party. The news of the formation of the RFP brought a ray of sunshine. A ray of hope!

I tell you, around this time last year, it was evident that Mathibeli Mokhothu would be the next Prime Minister but the RFP rescued us from a potential catastrophe of epic proportions. Ebe re ka be re le kae? Ke sure re ka be ntse re loana.

However, now that the RFP is firmly in power, that ray is unfortunately starting to fade away. Well, let me speak for myself. The euphoria is slowly starting to evaporate now that I see that the RFP has overpromised and is starting to under-deliver. It wasn’t ready to govern.

You see the problems started when the RFP failed to give an account on progress made in the first 100 days in office. Some people claim that it is actually 100 working days. So that excludes holidays and days that fall over the weekend. Friday is a half-day of course.

But why can’t the Minister of Communications say something on the promises made on first 100 days? Is it over? Is it in April? By the way, is Minister Mochoboroane the new Government spokesperson? When will the PM give an account on the first 100 days? We need a report.

Now what bored me the most was the recent budget speech. The message was just loud and clear. It clearly says this new administration undermines public servants.

I wish the government knew the level of debt that our public servants are currently swimming in. They are swimming in a pool of mud. They owe almost all machonisas in town because their salaries just cannot sustain their families. Hence the high rate of corruption. People need to survive. Le nna nka utsoa Diesel ea mosebetsing. Le parts tsa literekere. Ho ja ke ne ke le mohlanka. If only!

If the RFP administration is adamant to maintain the status quo on ignoring the wellbeing of public servants, then it must just forget about service delivery. We’ll re-open this conversation after the 2027 elections.

But the thing that got me concerned was to see blunders our ministers made at the recently held conference/summit on Least Developed Countries in Qatar (‘Moka oa Naha tse itlhotseng).

Haai! The questions asked in that summit were quite difficult and one of our ministers was dribbled by one simple yet difficult question. The question said something like; what you need to do to, in order to catapult your country out of the ‘least developed’ status.

This was a very difficult question. It’s like asking an alcoholic an unfair question and say, “what do you need to do to quit alcohol”. Or a question a poor person, “what do you need to do to become to rich.” Obviously these are questions that need deep introspection for one to deal with demons they could be avoiding.

Yes, of course, this was a difficult question to answer for our ministers. “What do you need to do to pull yourself out of poverty?” As I was watching this on Lesotho Television, my answer was, “Knowing Basotho, absolutely nothing.”

Why do I say this? When we were growing up in Mazenod Airport City, there was a gifted artist called Anikie. Well, that was a nickname he used for cartoons he drew for Moeletsi oa Basotho. Ka motseng a tsejoa ka lebitso la Taliban.

He was way older than us, e se e le abuti, and he was blessed with a very rare form of talent. I tell you, he could just sit and start drawing and the end result would be a masterpiece. That man was blessed.

But unfortunately, Anikie had a terrible habit that he had to feed and this habit just pulled him back. He was an alcoholic and drank until he looked like an old man. By the way, did you see the new President of Nigeria?

So, there were so many people that tried to intervene to save that precious talent. I remember that even Major General Lekhanya sourced a scholarship for Anikie to study fine-arts in Germany.

No, Anikie was not interested in that sh*t. He just wanted to stay in Mazenod, paint a piece, sell it, buy alcohol and drink until he couldn’t pronounce his name. Start a new piece, sell it, drink until he forgot what the day of the week was. This was a vicious cycle that just sank him. Anikie was addicted to his bad habits. No one could rescue him. Absolutely no one.

I remember buying his last two art-pieces, before he departed, at an exhibition held at Morija Arts and Cultural Festival about 22 years ago. No, that man was finished. The alcohol had turned him into an old man and he was probably 40-years-old then. But he looked like a 70-year-old man. No one could save that man from his bad habits.

He subsequently died after the art exhibition and I’ve kept those two art pieces for sentimental value. Well, I donated one to my sister but I’m thinking of repatriating it. But the story of Anikie is exactly the same as the story of a country Lesotho. Blessed with abundance but held back by its bad habits.

By the way, Anikie had a super talented younger brother named ‘Chipa’ but this ‘Chipa’ was a marathon runner. Why the name Chipa for a runner still remains a mystery up to this day.

So Chipa was a long distance marathon runner. That guy could run for kilometres on end and won various marathons in South Africa.

Yet again, Chipa had a terrible habit to feed. He would practise for a marathon. Win it. Drink the prize money. Be absolutely broke. Practise for the next marathon. Win it. Drink the prize-money.

Be absolutely broke. Practise for the next marathon. That was the cycle.

Chipa was such an alcoholic that he missed his son’s funeral because he was busy drinking at one of the shacks near Basotho Canners. How sad is that?

Yes, like his brother Anikie, Chipa departed this world a broke and broken man. No one could help him. I felt sad when Chipa died because he was someone I related well with and was always pleased to see me.

So, this is a quagmire that Lesotho finds itself in. Lesotho is just addicted to its bad habits and no one can save it. I’m telling you, the Americans can pour all the money from American tax-payers into Lesotho’s economy. But if the will to change is not there, no one can change Lesotho.

The Chinese government can donate all sorts of landmark buildings. However, if the will to change is not there, nothing can change Lesotho.

The EU has poured millions towards reforms but there is simply no will from Basotho to leave their bad habits. Lesotho is a country that is not prepared to reform because it is addicted to its bad habits.

How is it possible for a country to be inside a belly of a country that budgets R2 trillion and only budget one percent of that? One percent of R2 trillion? Ha ke tsebe hore na ke bolehe hona kapa bo…..(feel free to complete the sentence).

Do you want to tell me that Lesotho can’t at the very least target to budget 10% of what South Africa budgets? Okay, let me say, five percent of which would translate to R100 million. Re je mafoforetsane a South Africa. We don’t need to start anything afresh. Just pick and choose from what works and run with it.

But no, there’s no will to change from the bad habits. Lesotho will never change unless its people sincerely change.

‘Mako Bohloa

Continue Reading

Trending