Lesotho burns as leaders fiddle
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.