Too many parties Lesotho’s undoing
SCrutator has always said it. Now Justice Mpaphi Phumaphi, the most eminent, venerable and distinguished man to hit our shores has repeated it. lesotho just has too many political parties.
and for this reason, lesotho indeed remains a fertile ground for instability. in fact, it is the ubiquity of these parties that is at the core of our problems as the honourable Phumaphi rightly observes.
Now to all those of you who remain stuck in denial about my deep wisdom, there you have it. None other than the venerable Judge Phumaphi agrees with me.
i intended to write about this subject last week but was too hung-over from my most favourite holy water and decided to take a break.
But for all those who have been following commission proceedings, you will recall what the good judge Phumaphi said when civil society members, Seabata Motsamai and Sofonea Shale appeared before the SADC Commission of inquiry during last of last week.
Motsamai and Sofonea were representing non-governmental organisations and made the very poignant observation that because the government is the main employer in lesotho, “everyone wants to be part of it” resulting in the perennial bitter fighting among political parties.
“You will notice that the country’s capability to provide employment relies with government; it is the main employer.
“So because the cake is small, everybody wants to put his or her hand in it, whatever the means,” Motsamai told the commission in some of the most intelligible remarks i have ever heard from a fellow Mosotho.
“We need to find means to expand the basin so that, one day, we can be able to address issues and move from a partisan to a national approach while agreeing to say Lesotho first and our political parties after.”
the good judge then interjected while Motsamai spoke and retorted: “i agree with you entirely that part of lesotho’s problem is the capacity of the private sector to provide sizeable employment.
this has been the reason for everybody to look to government for employment.
“i was shocked to learn that there are 23 political parties in lesotho. once upon a time when i was living in lesotho, the parties were only three. one was a minor one, Marematlou Freedom Party.
“it was very small then. and the major contenders were Basotho National Party and Basotho Congress Party. and today, lesotho’s situation is a fertile ground for instability.” Even in the current government, some of the players might decide to shift their loyalty and combine with the all Basotho Convention (ABC) and government might change.
“the government can change without an election here. that political situation, by itself, is fertile ground for instability,” said the judge.
there you have it. these are all sentiments I have expressed before. Followers of this column will recall my perennial denunciations of the husband and wife parties or nephew uncle parties that serve the sole purpose of planting confusion on an already confused political scene. None have any coherent policies to talk about.
Most of the parties are formed to create employment for their leaders by accessing proportional representation seats; thanks to our overly generous electoral system.
Most of the parties are like hippos. Now you see them (at election time), now you don’t (after the elections).
How can any self-respecting small country surely have more political parties and political aspirants than its entire abundant herd of sheep and goats or the actual voters themselves? For me this is the crux of the matter.
as long as Basotho fail to address this critical issue and continue looking forward to politics and government as the sole main source of wealth, then we are likely to remain stuck in the gutters, flowing directly to plunge in the main deep sewer.
today, it is Mophato Monyake forming his so called Progressive Democrats (PD) with all its wacky ideas of converting lesotho into a federation, perhaps to rival the United States, so that the folks in Mokhotlong and Qacha can form their own regional governments with their own premiers.
tomorrow, another politician will emerge with even more hare-brained ideas. all this would be laughable if it were not tragic. Monyake is, for instance, an eminently qualified engineer who could play an immense contribution to this economy if he formed a proper engineering business to help localise our key infrastructure projects instead of outsourcing these to the Raubexes and Group Fives while perennially exporting money to South africa.
i am told that if Ntate Matekane — for whatever reason — cannot do any major infrastructure job, no other Mosotho can, resulting in foreign companies coming to pillage our wealth.
imagine if all lesotho Highlands water projects were handled by local companies.
No Mosotho would go hungry. No Mosotho would go without a job. But for lack of capacity, all the money from this mammoth project would have to flow to foreign conglomerates.
For the record, i have nothing against Monyake. He is just an example of a bright and educated Mosotho who in my opinion should be deploying his skills in the private sector to create jobs instead of aspiring to be another political freeloader. We have too many of those already. He could also use his many years of experience as an engineer in South africa to foster a proper skills transfer programme to ensure that we have as many qualified Basotho engineers.
But i bet this is the last thing on his mind. When he formed the PD, with its incongruous middle finger (to voters) symbol, he knew very well his strange party could never win elections.
But hoping to rely on prospective supporters from his days in the ABC, he rated his chances of accessing a PR seat and becoming another free loader very brightly. Unfortunately for him, that was never to be and he is now wallowing in the wilderness.
When all has been said and done, there is one thing that lesotho in particular but also africa generally needs: Capitalists who can create and run businesses.
Government tenders are not business and business is not government tenders.
Yet, in lesotho, business is synonymous with government tenders. So when the Lesotho Mounted Police Service floats tenders for its officers’ uniforms, everyone throngs the pre-bid meetings. in fact you can easily faint in that hall. Where are the innovative entrepreneurs to bring us viable ideas?
i am not at all suggesting that educated people like Monyake should frown upon politics. Not at all. You don’t have to be a politician to actively participate in politics.
Your vote is good enough to advance anyone’s political agenda. the problem is we just have too many politicians.
it seems that every Mosotho is a politician aspiring to form a party. Rather than become a full time politician and form a hopeless party, people like Monyake should be captains of industry.
in fact, like in america why should we have politicians who have made their mark in business first. Business should breed and make politicians instead of vice versa.
lesotho does not need politicians to help the country graduate from its current medieval status.
We need engineers in their various manifestations, pilots, scientists (including rocket scientists), qualified and well-educated teachers to groom our children, mathematicians, doctors, oncologists, chartered accountants (proper ones), it technicians and a lot of other educated, innovative and ever thinking citizens.
instead, what do we have; political tsotsis, intellectual dwarfs and midgets, sheep and goat herders, bush lawyers operating from dilapidated buildings and from the boots of their second, third or even fourth hand Japanese car imports (Justice tšeliso Monaphathi’s wisdom), airtime vendors and intersection crocodiles. We also have King Kamoli.
Until we stop looking to politics and government as the main source of employment and prosperity, then we will forever condemn ourselves into a nation of no hopers forever at war with each other. i have often spoken of my admiration of Singapore, a small city state roughly a third of lesotho’s size that now sits among the top three highest per capita income achievers in the world but was built from scratch without the minutest resource base.
What about Dubai, the ever flourishing city which was converted from a barren desert into becoming a foremost financial services and trade centre?
all these places have one thing in common: they don’t have citizens rushing to form political parties at a whim and everyone aspiring to join the political bandwagon.
above all, they have good well educated citizens who are masters of their own individual and national destinies.
they take responsibility and know that none but themselves can make a difference to themselves and their countries. they also don’t have rapacious militaries.
Unlike Dubai and Singapore, we in lesotho are endowed with natural beauty. ours is the most sumptuous mountainous terrain of any country in the world. We beat the South of France.
But we don’t have a clue about what to do with all our God given natural beauty.
tourism is a very intensive wealth and job generating sector but has not taken off in lesotho and will likely never take off.
We are just clueless about how we can harness foreign investment into this sector and use it as a launch pad for our economic re- naissance.
our manufacturing is as good as nonexistent since we have to import chalk and pencils from South africa.
agriculture will forever remain demure with no Basotho able to dig their yards and install runs and sties to raise chickens and pigs respectively.
So unless the WFP runs into our homes in the mountains with packets of beans, we will most likely starve this year of a ravenous drought.
We just cannot seem to do the basics that citizens of any country must do.
Closer to home, another small island called Mauritius tops every prosperity ranking in africa every year.
like Dubai and Singapore, it was built from nothing. in fact Mauritius still has nothing in terms of natural resources except the beauty of the indian ocean that surrounds it.
But it has made good use of that and transmogrified into an economic powerhouse. thanks to the innovativeness and perseverance of its citizens Mauritius, like Dubai, is now Africa’s foremost financial services and trade centre.
Only two parties ever exchange power in Mauritius. Singapore has been ruled by a single party since independence more than 50 years ago.
in virtually all of the most established prosperous democracies, power exchanges between two main parties. america with more than 300 million people is a two party system. So is the UK, Germany, France etc. lesotho with two million people has 23 parties. Wow. What a feat?
america with a budget of $14 trillion has a cabinet of about 16 state secretaries (ministers).
lesotho with a budget equivalent to a third of the wealth of Roman abramovich or about half the cash in hand on aliko Dangote’s personal balance sheet is run by a government of more than 30 ministers and deputies. Wow! again, What a feat?
Without knowledge entrepreneurs, who can start and run businesses we are doomed. Without a good education that can breed such entrepreneurs we are doomed.
We will forever remain a nation of traders awaiting government tenders.
if Mark Zuckerberg can start and build a $300 billion company by just exploring the internet soon after bonking his Chinese girlfriend in a Harvard University dormitory, then it means the sky is the limit for any nation of good brained people.
Can we have one such Mosotho to change our fortunes so that when Nigerians, South africans and Zimbabweans ever visit our country, they are doing so to seek jobs as our goat and sheep herders and not to start successful businesses in our place?
For prosperity sake, let’s have more capitalists than politicians. Please, please, please mighty God.
Ache & Amen!!!!
PD leader Mophato Monyake.
FACEBOOK founder Mark Zuckerberg.