Le­sotho needs a re­search coun­cil

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LE­SOTHO, like other de­vel­op­ing economies is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a plethora of so­cial ills which ap­pear to hin­der its de­vel­op­ment.

Those so­cial ills are, in­ter alia, rapid “rur­ban­i­sa­tion” (rapid in­crease of ru­ral ten­den­cies in our ur­ban ar­eas), grow­ing poverty, un­em­ploy­ment, HIV/AIDS, eco­nomic stag­na­tion, lack of ad­e­quate in­fra­struc­ture and en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion.

I hon­estly be­lieve that your port­fo­lios, although dif­fer­ent, are col­lec­tively well-placed to bring about so­lu­tions for th­ese ills. We can’t con­tinue to live with our coun­try be­ing placed very low on the Hu­man De­vel­op­ment In­dex of the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme.

That should stop and it will take your min­istries and the support of the Ba­sotho na­tion will give you in chart­ing the way for­ward for all of us. Min­is­ter for De­vel­op­ment Plan­ning, Moeketsi Ma­joro’s min­istry is tasked with “pro­vid­ing strate­gic di­rec­tion for pro­mot­ing shared em­ploy­ment cre­at­ing eco­nomic growth and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment”.

My ques­tion to him is what has he done so far to move along th­ese lines ex­cept pro­duc­ing that vo­lu­mi­nous doc­u­ment called the Na­tional Strate­gic De­vel­op­ment Plan which is not even ac­ces­si­ble to an or­di­nary Mosotho, and just re­mains but on pa­per?

Se­libe Mo­choboroane, as the Min­is­ter of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, is tasked with build­ing “lead­ers in tech­nol­ogy and re­search mov­ing to­wards a pros­per­ous, in­no­va­tive, sta­ble and sus­tain­able democ­racy and a knowl­edge­based so­ci­ety”.

Ex­cept for ad­ver­tis­ing dig­i­tal mi­gra­tion, what has he done to rid Le­sotho of the so­cial ills that we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing through sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy?

Hon­ourable min­is­ters, in my view, your de­part­ments are mov­ing very slowly in solv­ing our so­cial prob­lems.

The cure in solv­ing th­ese prob­lems is sim­ple. It lies in es­tab­lish­ing the Na­tional Re­search Coun­cil (NRC).

Re­search has shown on nu­mer­ous plat­forms that knowl­edge pro­duc­tion, ac­qui­si­tion and util­i­sa­tion can play a pos­i­tive role in build­ing a pros­per­ous coun­try and econ­omy.

My view is that Le­sotho should es­tab­lish the NRC spear­headed by your two min­istries.

The NRC should co­or­di­nate all so­cial and nat­u­ral sciences re­search in the coun­try whether pri­vate, pub­lic and in­sti­tu­tional.

Its work shouldn’t be to hold mo­nop­oly on who con­ducts re­search but rather on how it should be con­ducted.

It should see to it that all re- search con­ducted in the coun­try is done eth­i­cally and broad­ens knowl­edge as well as to help solve our so­cial ills.

The NRC should also fund re­search which ad­dresses the iden­ti­fied re­search fo­cus ar­eas that would con­trib­ute to na­tional so­cial co­he­sion and eco­nomic growth.

Fund­ing re­search through this coun­cil will likely help in pro­duc­ing both valid and re­li­able knowl­edge and stop re­search be­ing ma­nip­u­lated by the pri­vate fun­ders’ in­ter­ests who usu­ally change re­search re­sults to favour their eco­nomic and ide­o­log­i­cal in­ter­ests.

The man­age­ment of this coun­cil should be be­stowed on a board of very out­stand­ing Ba­sotho na­tion­als and for­eign­ers if de­sir­able.

They should be ap­pointed based on their ex­cel­lence and con­tri­bu­tion in their re­spec­tive fields. They should rep­re­sent wide pub­lic sec­tors, like academia, business, so­ci­ety, pol­i­tics, gov­ern­ment and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

The board should have two eth­i­cal com­mit­tees; one for the so­cial and hu­man sciences and the other for the nat­u­ral sciences. Every­body who wishes to con­duct re­search would have to ap­ply to his/her re­spec­tive field’s eth­i­cal com­mit­tee for ap­proval for their re­search.

This should be done to pro­tect Ba­sotho against du­bi­ous re­search which might dis­tort in­for­ma­tion and harm Ba­sotho both eco­nom­i­cally and in­tel­lec­tu­ally.

Peo­ple should also ap­ply to their re­spec­tive field’s com­mit­tees for re­search fund­ing to con­duct eth­i­cal re­search.

If knowl­edge pro­duc­tion could be co­or­di­nated by the sin­gle coun­cil as I have out­lined above, I be­lieve we could bet­ter un­der­stand the so­cial ills that hin­der the de­vel­op­ment of our coun­try col­lec­tively.

Chart­ing the way into a pros­per­ous fu­ture would then be sim­ple and not be based on some vi­cious di­ag­no­sis which I tend to think that the NSDP was in­formed by.

Let’s to­gether build a bright Le­sotho which our de­scen­dants will be proud of.

As your re­spec­tive slo­gans state; “Sech­aba Pele ho Tsohle” and “Plan for bet­ter re­sults”.

God bless Le­sotho and Ba­sotho.

Min­is­ter of De­vel­op­ment and Plan­ning Moeketsi Ma­joro.

Min­is­ter of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions se­libe Mo­choboroane.

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