Le­sotho burns as lead­ers fid­dle

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

ELSE­WHERE in this edi­tion, global rat­ing agency, Fitch, of­fers a grim eco­nomic out­look for Le­sotho. In its re­cently-re­leased re­port, Fitch re­vised Le­sotho’s out­look down­wards from sta­ble to neg­a­tive ow­ing to re­duc­tions in South African Cus­toms Union (SACU) rev­enues.

Ad­mit­tedly, Le­sotho’s sit­u­a­tion is not unique on the African con­ti­nent. The Moun­tain King­dom is also at the re­ceiv­ing end of a global slump in com­mod­ity prices that has seen top pro­duc­ers such as Nige­ria, An­gola, Ghana, Zam­bia and our neigh­bour South Africa suf­fer­ing from weak min­er­als prices, power short­ages and dif­fi­cult fi­nanc­ing con­di­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to an In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund (IMF) re­port re­leased this week, the slump had pegged African growth back to its weak­est in six years. Cu­ri­ously, the IMF took note of some bright spots amid the doom and gloom. The most no­table ex­am­ple is the West African na­tion of Ivory Coast. The econ­omy of the for­merly war rav­aged na­tion is sched­uled to ex­pand by as much as nine per­cent this year due to an in­vest­ment boom that fol­lowed the end of a civil war in 2012.

Pres­i­dent Alas­sane Ou­at­tara is ex­pected to win this week­end’s elec­tion, which has so far been peace­ful, set­ting the stage for more sta­bil­ity and growth. Back home, Fitch noted in its re­port that the con­tin­ued po­lit­i­cal ten­sion in Le­sotho was neg­a­tively af­fect­ing eco­nomic per­for­mance, re­sult­ing in the coun­try’s World Bank gov­er­nance in­di­ca­tors be­ing down­graded.

While Le­sotho’s eco­nomic woes are, by no means unique, Fitch noted that they were “ex­ac­er­bated by the un­sta­ble po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment caus­ing lower in­vest­ment, con­sump­tion and con­fi­dence”.

The agency fur­ther warned that con­tin­ued po­lit­i­cal tur­moil would not only af­fect macroe­co­nomic sta­bil­ity and gross do­mes­tic prod­uct growth, but also sti­fle ex­ter­nal financial sup­port from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. There can­not be a louder clar­ion call for our lead­ers across the po­lit­i­cal di­vide than this. It is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion that Le­sotho’s fu­ture rests on their shoul­ders.

The coun­try can no longer af­ford this po­lit­i­cal log­jam and dys­func­tion. Amid all the bick­er­ing be­tween gov­ern­ment and the op­po­si­tion, Le­sotho’s eco­nomic for­tunes keep on tum­bling. The first port of call is for th­ese gla­di­a­tors is to be­gin talks that would re­sult in all Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment re­turn­ing to the au­gust house. We can­not run away from the re­al­ity that di­a­logue is the only to bring Le­sotho back on track.

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