How Le­sotho can beat scourge of poverty

Lesotho Times - - Opinion & Analysis -

THE United States of America is the land of op­por­tu­ni­ties and a Canaan for refuge seek­ers. In Aus­tralia, you can build your own wealth and pros­per. Ice­land is re­garded as one of the most peace­ful coun­tries glob­ally.

Lux­em­bourg is a coun­try with im­mense while the Swiss are among the world’s rich­est coun­tries. How do all these coun­tries make it to the top and how do they man­age to stay on top while their coun­ter­parts con­tinue to dis­solve into ex­treme poverty? Poverty means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

Ac­cord­ing to the Econ­o­mist in 2011, the poor in Europe are those whose in­come is be­low 60 per­cent of the me­dian. The US, how­ever, uses a method achieved by de­ter­min­ing over­all cost of food for a house­hold mul­ti­plied by three.

If the fam­ily’s pre-tax in­come falls be­low this num­ber, then they are poor. Gen­er­ally, a coun­try is deemed poor when its re­sources do not con­trib­ute to the liveli­hood of the peo­ple or can­not sus­tain them.

In most cases, such a coun­try has low capita per in­come. In­come per capita is mean or av­er­age in­come of peo­ple in a par­tic­u­lar area such as coun­try or city.

This be­ing clar­i­fied, one can eas­ily see which coun­tries are do­ing bet­ter and how long they have been do­ing so while oth­ers seem to be like dirty wa­ter rush­ing through a drain, and this be­ing clas­si­fied, lets look at the case of our beloved mother king­dom.

Le­sotho on its own is a story to be told which un­for­tu­nately has no epi­logue. Le­sotho is among the few coun­tries in the world with re­new­able elec­tric­ity.

The very idea that Le­sotho has 100 per­cent re­new­able elec­tric­ity poses the first ques­tion of why the coun­try is still so poor. This pro­duc­tion of elec­tric­ity should be enough to carry Le­sotho to a cer­tain level of de­vel­op­ment but for some rea­sons, it has not done so.

Then there is the Letšeng di­a­mond mine which is the high­est av­er­age dol­lar per carat kim­ber­lite mine in the world.

Letšeng pro­duces large di­a­monds of top white which are ex­ported mainly to Europe, An­twerp to be par­tic­u­lar. This mine of ex­cep­tional qual­ity pro­duce is in a coun­try deemed as one of the poor­est in the world.

The first phase of how a coun­try gets poor is de­nied in Le­sotho. Le­sotho has enough re­sources to sus­tain the coun­try and its neigh­bours. South Africa de­pends on Le­sotho for wa­ter and other re­sources pro­duced by wa­ter.

Amaz­ingly enough, de­spite the large bod­ies of wa­ter in Le­sotho, some Ba­sotho still don’t have ac­cess to clean, safe drink­ing wa­ter. This be­gins the first chap­ter of poverty in Le­sotho. If we have so much that we can even share, why do we as cit­i­zens of this wealthy coun­try go with­out? The mis­man­age­ment of re­sources in Le­sotho is not the only rea­son we have sunk into the state we are in.

Le­sotho keeps sink­ing deeper into cor­rup­tion each day and this is the very cause of our poverty. Le­sotho as a whole is a coun­try ca­pa­ble of sus­tain­ing its peo­ple and mov­ing for­ward but the peo­ple some­how pre­vent it from do­ing so.

I find it quite mo­ronic for Ba­sotho to con­tinue hop­ing that a cer­tain politi­cian or po­lit­i­cal party will bring about change to our King­dom. At this stage, it is fair to say ev­ery politi­cian has been granted a fair chance to bring about a new to­mor­row to Ba­sotho, but we are still liv­ing in the dark, wait­ing and hop­ing.

If the very peo­ple we trust with our coun­try seem to be be­hind its de­struc­tion then what shall we do? Are we go­ing to sit down, cry and watch them ruin it to the very last or are we go­ing to stand united and fight?

I think each and ev­ery Mosotho had a cer­tain politi­cian in mind that they thought and be­lieved would change Le­sotho and make it Canaan, alas, such thoughts have since died.

As Ba­sotho, it was part of our cul­ture to blame ev­ery prob­lem on the cur­rent govern­ment, claim­ing that so and so would do bet­ter. But so and so to­gether failed to lead us else­where un­til another group of so and so came in and things still don’t look bet­ter. What do we do now, go back and re­think the idea of grand coali­tion or give up on Le­sotho?

At this point it is clear that our lead­ers, politi­cians and peo­ple do not fully un­der­stand what pol­i­tics mean and what they should achieve. Trac­ing the his­tory of pol­i­tics in Le­sotho and Africa in gen­eral, there is one thing in com­mon.

Those in lead­er­ship al­ways seem to think they own the peo­ple and coun­try. Many Africans who ven­ture into pol­i­tics think­ing it’s their golden ticket. They es­cape the poverty in their homes with­out re­al­is­ing that they shift that poverty to the whole coun­try. One man gets rich while many get poor.

The very no­tion of pol­i­tics has caused so much death to many Africans and sadly it still con­tin­ues. Pol­i­tics, how­ever, is meant to bring to­gether in­tel­lec­tu­als who can move a coun­try for­ward and help turn re­sources into liveli­hood.

How many politi­cians ever think of this and those who do, how many make it a re­al­ity. The squab­bling amongst the men in suits makes them for­get even the sim­plest life rules; hu­man­ity first!

Now back to his­tory of pol­i­tics in his­tory. If through­out time, all lead­ers had one prob­lem of col­o­niz­ing the peo­ple with­out their con­cern, then surely one thing would solve this; merg­ing of more politi­cians to form a govern­ment. When three peo­ple come to­gether, cor­rup­tion is re­duced be­cause ideas are shared and equal­ity re­formed.

How­ever in the case of Le­sotho, the join­ing of more peo­ple means more cor­rup­tion, more squab­bles and mas­sive ha­tred so much that those peo­ple are never go­ing to work to­gether again.

We can­not deny here then that our lead­ers did not take time to fully study the sci­ence of pol­i­tics. Their main is­sue is that of at­tain­ing power and ac­cu­mu­lat­ing wealth for them­selves.

Do these peo­ple love Le­sotho like we do or do they see Le­sotho as a whore who can give them in­fi­nite plea­sure? More Ba­sotho are go­ing hun­gry while Le­sotho feeds only the few se­lects.

It’s time we as peo­ple did some- thing to change our lives. If there is still some­one out there who thinks the govern­ment and lead­ers will help them out, then they are truly un­der a mys­tery spell. Right now, the only so­lu­tion to our prob­lems is to help each other.

If some­one out there needs cap­i­tal to start a sur­vival busi­ness, then some­one who has ex­tra M200 should con­sider help­ing out. When the per­son helped out has col­lected enough, she should help out some­one else too.

When one sees a hun­gry per­son, give them a plate of food and then help them start some­thing that will sus­tain them in the long run.

If we as peo­ple do not help each other, then there will be many peo­ple who will go to bed with­out food and even­tu­ally die from hunger. Is that what we re­ally want? There is a man in my vil­lage who started by sell­ing fat-cakes.

Fat-cakes al­ways sell be­cause no mat­ter how bad things are, one al­ways has to eat and they are quite af­ford­able. Within a year he had saved enough to build a big­ger room, moved from a shack he used and sold even bet­ter in a house.

Last week when I passed by, he was fin­ish­ing off a house which he plans to lease out to an In­dian su­per­mar­ket owner. It all took pa­tience and en­durance.

To­day he has em­ployed two more Ba­sotho and the busi­ness keeps bloom­ing, not to men­tion more Ba­sotho who will be em­ployed in the In­dian su­per­mar­ket. The no­tion here is, Mosotho help out another Mosotho and we will de­feat this im­ped­ing poverty.

We don’t even need thou­sands of mal­oti, just M200 to start a fat­cake stall, just M500 to start a spaza shop. If one can spare such an amount, then please go ahead, for the sake of Le­sotho.

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