Let them eat live frogs

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

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

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