Why the youth should vote in the elec­tions

Lesotho Times - - Leader - Lepheana P. mosooane

ELSE­WHERE in this edi­tion, Gov­ern­ment Sec­re­tary Moahloli Mphaka has re­vealed that the is­sue of the four Le­sotho De­fence Force (LDF) mem­bers al­legedly ar­rested in South Africa while on a mission to “fin­ish off” their two col­leagues hos­pi­talised in Bloem­fontein was not dis­cussed in the meet­ing be­tween coali­tion gov­ern­ment lead­ers and South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

This rev­e­la­tion is sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing the se­ri­ous­ness of th­ese al­le­ga­tions which Act­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Joang Mo­lapo made fol­low­ing the gun battle that en­sued a fort­night ago.

The shootout, which took place near the Royal Palace, claimed the life of a pri­vate se­cu­rity guard, Mohau Qo­bete, who was on duty at the nearby Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing head-of­fice.

Two of Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane’s body­guards were also shot and wounded in the melee and have since been re­cov­er­ing in a hos­pi­tal in Bloem­fontein.

Chief Mo­lapo had claimed last Fri­day that the four LDF of­fi­cers had been ar­rested by South African po­lice be­fore they could neu­tralise Dr Tha­bane’s body­guards, although South African po­lice are yet to con­firm the re­ports.

Said Chief Mo­lapo: “The would-be-as­sas­sins were heav­ily armed when the South African po­lice caught them at the Bloem­fontein hos­pi­tal where the two sol­diers were be­ing treated. We ex­pect the sus­pects are go­ing to ap­pear in the South African courts soon.”

How­ever, the is­sue’s con­spic­u­ous ab­sence from the agenda of the meet­ing be­tween Mr Zuma and the coali­tion gov­ern­ment lead­ers speaks vol­umes con­sid­er­ing its se­ri­ous­ness. The meet­ing had been at­tended by Mr Zuma’s deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) leader, Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane, Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) leader, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mothe­joa Mets­ing, and Ba­sotho Na­tional Party (BNP) leader Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane and other se­nior South African gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials.

To put the al­le­ga­tions into con­text, in 2010 the South African gov­ern­ment re­called its am­bas­sador to Rwanda fol­low­ing a diplo­matic fall­out over the as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt of Gen­eral Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, a critic and ri­val of the east African coun­try’s Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame.

Frankly, it sounds more like a sto­ry­line from a Hol­ly­wood block­buster than any­thing the LDF could con­jure up. If the LDF had in­deed sent as­sas­sins to Bloem­fontein, it would be an un­prece­dented move on their part with dire con­se­quences on the per­pe­tra­tors.

How­ever, Chief Mo­lapo has been ac­cused of milk­ing the shoot­ing at the Royal Palace for all its worth in a bid to de­lay the 28 Fe­bru­ary elec­tion.

He sub­mit­ted a re­port to the African Union Sum­mit held in Ethiopia on be­half of the ABC and BNP side of gov­ern­ment which cast as­per­sions on the readi­ness of the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC) to hold cred­i­ble elec­tions only weeks be­fore Ba­sotho de­cide on their next lead­ers.

Mean­while, Mr Mets­ing has come out strongly in dis­miss­ing Chief Mo­lapo’s story of the LDF as­sas­sins, say­ing it was a ploy by the ABC-BNP al­liance to post­pone the elec­tions.

Ul­ti­mately, it is as clear as day that the road to elec­tions is now ir­re­versible, and can­not be derailed at this stage given what is at stake.

The coun­try has been hog­ging the lime­light for the wrong rea­sons in re­cent years and re­gress­ing eco­nom­i­cally while the rest of the south­ern Africa re­gion, bar a few, is reg­is­ter­ing growth.

The per­pet­ual in­sta­bil­ity which has left Le­sotho many a time on the brink of civil war needs to end to en­sure this coun­try’s eco­nomic and so­cial ad­vance­ment. Added to this, gov­ern­ment de­part­ments have been vir­tu­ally on a stand­still as politi­cians have been busy can­vass­ing for votes to the detri­ment of ser­vice de­liv­ery.

And while our coali­tion gov­ern­ment has been shut­tling from pil­lar to post in their never end­ing squab­bles, Le­sotho over­took Botswana in hav­ing the sec­ond high­est HIV/AIDS in­fec­tion rate, with Swazi­land tak­ing the ig­no­ble prize.

Our lead­ers owe it to this na­tion to be good ste­wards of the reins of power and do their ut­most to en­sure the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis that has be­dev­illed this na­tion be­comes a thing of the past. IN ev­ery nook and cranny of the coun­try, the images of party lead­ers and their man­i­festos have been hoisted on the bill­boards as part of the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 elec­tion cam­paign.

The streets are bustling with young peo­ple talk­ing about elec­tions; be it be on so­cial me­dia or youths’ hang out spots or even in public trans­port.

How­ever, there is still a per­cent­age of the youth which does not be­lieve in vot­ing and, in­stead, takes vot­ing as a bor­ing ex­er­cise best re­served for el­derly peo­ple and idle minds.

Nonethe­less, the very same young peo­ple are the ones who com­plain that the gov­ern­ment is not de­liv­er­ing on its prom­ises.

So, isn’t it time that the youth woke up an elected the gov­ern­ment of their own choice?

Many young peo­ple to­day com­plain that they will never vote as politi­cians are just ponzi-schemers hid­ing be­hind the so-called rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy.

Although there might be an el­e­ment of truth to this, apathy should not be an op­tion, as by not vot­ing, the youth are ac­tu­ally giv­ing away votes to the wrong party which will then win leav­ing them to con­tinue com­plain­ing about poor ser­vice de­liv­ery time and again.

Con­sid­er­ing the fact that the youth con­sti­tutes about 34.8 per­cent of the ap­prox­i­mately two mil­lion peo­ple in Le­sotho, it should also be borne in mind that the youth un­em­ploy­ment rate is 34 per­cent in a coun­try where the peo­ple be­low the poverty da­tum line con­sti­tute a mas­sive 57.3 per­cent.

Added to this, the HIV preva­lence rate is 23.2 per­cent (the sec­ond high­est in the world); it would be ex­pected of the youth to be on the fore­front of de­bates dur­ing the elec­tion sea­son so that they vote for the gov­ern­ment of their choice.

Over the years, there has been a con­sis­tent group of youths who have been vot­ing in ev­ery elec­tion but still com­plain that they do not see any change.

Although it is sad but ul­ti­mately true, some of them may have been self- ishly vot­ing alone and need­lessly hold­ing on to the past.

So what if the youth of to­day can mo­bilise their fam­i­lies, neigh­bours, friends and strangers? Wouldn’t that make the party of their choice win and sub­se­quently at­tain their de­sired re­sults?

Some youths may even ar­gue that they are not paid any­thing af­ter vot­ing but there is no big­ger pay­ment than vot­ing for the party of your choice which sub­se­quently achieves what you aspire and hope for.

Judg­ing by the dy­namic way our ed­u­ca­tion has evolved to be­come, and the man­ner in which the youth can ac­cess in­for­ma­tion, it is safe to as­sume that once the party of their choice is in power, young peo­ple can en­sure their el­ders keep their prom­ises of good ser­vice de­liv­ery.

Even when the gov­ern­ment goes off track in terms of what it promised to do, the youth can be the ones to put it back on the right track since it would be an ad­min­is­tra­tion they would have voted into power.

Po­lit­i­cally in­ac­tive as some youths maybe, the fact that we all need the gov­ern­ment of the day to de­liver ser­vices will al­ways re­main and we there­fore need to vote in our num­bers.

The youth also need to bear in mind that the strate­gies em­ployed to­day can be im­ple­mented to­mor­row, which will be ei­ther af­fect­ing us pos­i­tively or neg­a­tively in our twi­light years.

As they say that the power of life and death is in the tongue, the so­cio-eco­nomic progress of this na­tion and the abil­ity to take it to new de­vel­op­men­tal heights lies in the hands of our young peo­ple.

To young peo­ple I say that the gov­ern­ment that de­liv­ers all that you dream and aspire for can only be­come a re­al­ity if you take the step to cre­ate and nur­ture it.

Your vote gives you the power but if you de­cide not to vote, you in­ad­ver­tently give power and the pre­rog­a­tive to those who stand to go the op­po­site route to the di­rec­tion you want the na­tion to take.

Ev­ery sin­gle vote counts and it only takes one vote to make the changes we need to make in this coun­try and the bulk of that power lies in the young peo­ple.

Also re­mem­ber that if you don’t vote, you are leav­ing oth­ers you don’t nec­es­sar­ily agree with to vote on your be­half, who might end up mak­ing the wrong choice for you.

I, there­fore, urge the young and old alike to in­vite their fam­ily, friends, col­leagues as well as neigh­bours so that you can all vote for the gov­ern­ment of our choice. Gone are the days when youths were re­ferred to as the lead­ers of to­mor­row. Now we are the lead­ers of to­day and we should make the choices that de­fine our fu­ture.

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