Too many par­ties Le­sotho’s un­do­ing

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

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.

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