Let them eat live frogs
Dhope you are now firmly ensconced in State house after shafting Cyclone Tom back to his abode in Abia.
It must be very nice reclaiming the grandeur of the place you called home for nearly 15 years before the Cyclone temporarily hit and swept you off your lofty pedestal. Welcome back to business.
I have decided to address this column specifically to you and share my wisdom about what I think you must do to make a success of your second bite of the power cherry and transform the lives of impoverished Basotho for the better.
As an experienced politician, and one of Africa’s longest serving leaders, you probably know about all these things already. Some of them are pretty obvious. But I will still dare remind you.
Firstly, it was very refreshing to read about you vowing to jettison your customary arrogance in favour of becoming a more amiable individual ready to work with others.
“These election results have truly humbled me. Today, the arrogance of absolute majority that I had in the past is no more, and we are starting a new era of cooperation with fellow politicians.
“We are now in a government of seven political parties where we are supposed to make collective decisions, and I am ready for this unity of purpose,” the Lesotho Times quoted you as saying at your 70th birthday anniversary celebrations.
“The seven parties in the new government need each other regardless of our numbers in parliament. I used to be very arrogant and never needed to plead with anyone when I formed government in the past, but these elections have made me a different person.
“We need to stick together and work for unity, peace and the development of Lesotho.”
These are indeed admirable words of wisdom. When a man identifies and openly admits to a shortcoming, Scrutator is always the first to acknowledge and applaud.
Arrogance is always a very bad attribute and there is a widespread perception that you possessed a lot of it during your earlier tenure Mr Size Two.
Many educated Basotho who could have helped with good ideas felt alienated. Literate Lesotho urbanites abandoned your party in droves. The arrogance of power is a disease that easily afflicts politicians. One can also partly attribute Cyclone Tom’s demise to a certain level of arrogance. Power seems to have sprinted to his head so fast that he indeed forgot that he was in a coalition. Some of his unilateral actions where indeed unnecessary.
He should and must have consulted on some decisions he made unilaterally which needlessly ended up causing ructions between him and Kingmaker Metsing.
I cannot understand why Ntate Thabane would simply not be humble enough to sit with the Kingmaker over their favourite drink and lobby him around any decision before announcing it.
The Kingmaker would most probably have agreed to most of the decisions for he was then a marshmallow. Why let your main coalition partner read about key decisions in the press? power and arrogance seem to have saddled Cyclone Tom so fast that he forgot he had gained State House by arrangement. Some of his firings seem to have been done for no other reason than to demonstrate who wields the axe of power. They became firings for firing sake. But all that is now history.
Your promise to do things differently is thus futuristic Mr Size Two. Your first challenge is to live up to your promise to drop your arrogance and begin the process of engaging with all Basotho and not your coalition partners only.
You desperately need to win back the important constituency of Lesotho townies whom you have long alienated and who endorsed Cyclone Tom in droves in last month’s elections.
You certainly don’t want to be remembered as the leader who relied on the illiterates from the mountains to win and retain power.
Remember, most of these sheep and goat herders erroneously believe the social grants you afforded them to win their loyalty during your first tenure in power are drawn from your own private wallet.
If they ever get to know the truth and abandon you, you will be left with no supporters. So please govern for all Basotho.
My biggest fear is that you are going to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to keep this coalition intact at the expense of the national interest.
Cyclone Tom could not hold a coalition of only three together parties.
Your task with seven is indisputably mammoth. My advice to you is that as the lead coalition partner, you bear the onus of ultimately determining what is best for this country.
Certain things that are good for this country may not be necessary convenient for your coalition partners. They must nevertheless be done regardless of whether your coalition partners agree or not.
For instance, what will you do if appointees from all your coalition partners are caught with their hands in the national cookie jar?
Will you ignore their shenanigans just for the sake of saving your coalition?
If you do that, you would have let Basotho down. Remember again, your partners have nothing much to lose as they scored fairly paltry votes. You will be the biggest loser if your coalition fails to live up to expectations. In other words, if your coalition must collapse on principle, then let it be and let’s have new elections.
That might earn you more respect in the end.
Despite all his weaknesses, Cyclone Tom did a good thing in the end by agreeing to go for fresh elections than expend time on saving a moribund coalition.
So please be guided by good decision making in the national interest and not the desire to save the coalition at all costs.
The nation still anxiously awaits to see how you will pronounce on the Kingmaker’s ordeal.
The other important thing that must consume you is strict observance of the doctrine of meritocracy. It goes without saying that Africa remains a perennial laggard because its leaders rarely consider merit when making key appointments.
Witness how your double headed counterpart in South africa is destroying virtually every institution of significance in that country by basing appointments on cronyism instead of merit.
If Jacob Zuma is not appoint- ing his clueless concubines to lead key institutions like South African Airways and the SABC, he is deploying dunderhead ANC cadres mostly from Kwazulu Natal to key jobs they are least qualified at institutions that require skill and competence.
As a result, if you are South African, you now stand a better chance of finding a needle in a haystack than enjoying uninterrupted electrical supplies into your home. Eskom has been destroyed by cronyism. We don’t need that here.
Your resumption of power, Mr Size Two, has coincided with the death of Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father and first premier of Singapore, a man from whom you can learn a lot from.
If you have been busy shifting your trunks of clothes into State House, you will probably have missed the global eulogy for Lee Kuan who died this week aged 91.
If so, (and since I am told you are not technologically savvy) please spare a moment and ask Rethabile (your son) to keep away from the bar for a just an hour and help you google Lee Kuan on a State House computer.
Witness how everybody who is anybody of significance in this world has hailed Lee Kuan for his work in spearheading the transformation of Singapore from being a poor, disease-infested colonial backwater into one of the world’s most prosperous and orderly states.
Lesotho got independence from Britain not long after Singapore was liberated by the same colonial power. But several decades on, one cannot even begin comparing the two. While Lesotho remains an impoverished dawdler, Singapore has grown into commanding the third highest per capita income levels globally. There is almost zero poverty and unemployment in Singapore.
Virtually everything there works.
Ishall not seek to repeat how Lee Kuan achieved success for his country suffice to recommend that if you haven’t done so already, you read his book: From Third World to First World: The Singapore Story 1965 -2000.
Therein you will learn very instructive lessons about how a leader’s determination to make a difference for his people propelled him into transforming a tiny country with not a single natural resource into one of the world’s most prosperous.
The mere fact that the death of a former prime minister of a tiny city state of 5.6 million attracts so much world attention speaks volumes of the greatness of this man and the lessons his experiences impart.
So successful did Singapore become under Lee Kuan that every other world leader from Ronald reagan to Maggie Thatcher sought his wise counsel. Only our scoundrels from Africa did not do so and look where we are.
Of course it is not entirely your fault Mr Size Two that Lesotho is light years away from matching a tiny fraction of the Singapore success story. What of the many years spent under the rule of the Leabua Jonathans of this world. But it is never too late to learn from the Lee Kuan Yew experience.
One thing that the late Singaporean Prime Minister did well was to make his country a meritocracy in which every job and contract was awarded on merit and incompetence was regarded as a crime.
ne of your perceived weaknesses Mr Size Two is your softly-softly approach to those who don’t deliver. This must change and you must hold your ministers and senior civil servants to the most high standards of performance.
Last week, I exhorted you to keep away the dead wood and comedians from government. Those appointed to key ministerial and administrative position must be held accountable. You must have zero tolerance on corruption.
Lee Kuan was a tough man who jailed ministers without trial for long periods for incompetence and failure to meet agreed performance targets.
I suggest that you mete out even tougher punishment to any incompetent ministers and senior civil servants.
Haul them to State House and force them to eat live bull frogs.
Once the frog is in the plate, the first bite from the official under punishment must dismember the bull frog’s head from the torso. The incompetent minister or PS must then be forced to eat the rest of the frog’s torso with no cutlery, no tomato sauce or salt. Only through such heavy punishment will our leaders feel compelled to serve the people.
Iwill happily contribute to this honourable effort of punishing incompetents by harvesting the bull frogs from Senqu River and delivering them to State House in my battered bakkie.
We need to push this country forward and we cannot do it with lazy bones in key positions.
Thanks to Lee Kuan’s visionary leadership, the Singaporeans way of life is now defined by what they call the “Five C’s – cash, condo, car, credit card, country club” . Imagine Mr Size Two that yours truly Lady Scrutator, the purveyor of all this boundless wisdom, does not even have a credit card. Probably only one in every 100 000 Basotho qualifies for one.
So please get on with the job of improving this country. You will have to as soon as possible define a clear economic development vision for this country and how you plan to revive its fortunes. Unlike Singapore back then, we have lots of natural resources.
How do you plan to harness these for the benefit of Basotho? I remember an address you gave to the Private Sector Foundation during your earlier tenure when you said you want to see the proliferation of as many Basotho millionaires as possible?
That’s a noble objective? But how can it be achieved? Some of your coalition partners fought the elections on a promise to erect as many gravel roads as possible for Basotho and to give more powers to the King.
Hardly the stuff that can help create millionaires. You and your coalition partners must coalesce on a practical economic programme to transform Lesotho beyond the objective lists in your manifestos. I have many more ideas to share with you.
All you need to do is to invite me to State house and ensure a steady supply of my intoxicating liquor.
For the avoidance of all doubt and out of respect for Mme Mosisili, I will not put a mini-skirt.
A VIEW of the central business district of Singapore
PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili