Young gen­er­a­tion must lead the way

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

The groundswell of out­rage, across the political di­vide, over the M32 mil­lion govern­ment bailout for Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment (MPS) is a heart­en­ing de­vel­op­ment in our democ­racy.

As re­ported else­where in this edi­tion, the youth leagues of var­i­ous con­tend­ing political par­ties have co­a­lesced around the de­mand for MPS to pay back the money. They have also called for the abo­li­tion of the M500 000 in­ter­est-free loans fa­cil­ity for leg­is­la­tors.

Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy Youth League spokesper­son, Theko Tle­bere, rightly noted that the is­sue went be­yond political af­fil­i­a­tions and was about the proper use of tax­pay­ers’ money. For the tax­pay­ers oil­ing govern­ment op­er­a­tions, M500 000 might as well be a sum from an­other planet, as they are barely paid enough to keep body and soul to­gether.

Those lucky enough to be em­ployed, es­pe­cially in the tex­tile sec­tor, take home just around M1 000 from which rent, trans­port, school fees, food, elec­tric­ity etc. are sup­posed to em­anate.

Given the im­mense poverty the ma­jor­ity in this coun­try are grap­pling with, M32 mil­lion is an ob­scene amount for set­tling per­sonal loans. The out­rage is cer­tainly well placed con­sid­er­ing that the MPS are sup­posed to be the peo­ple’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

even if they ware un­der the au­thor­ity of their party lead­ers, the youth leagues are ul­ti­mately ac­count­able to the peo­ple, es­pe­cially their age mates who wal­low in de­spon­dency as op­por­tu­ni­ties re­main elu­sive. In the in­ter­est of the peo­ple they serve, young peo­ple should de­vi­ate from the party hymn sheet and call a spade a spade.

The MPS across the political di­vide were clearly greedy in de­mand­ing and ac­cept­ing bailout for per­sonal loans from the state. What do they ex­pect stu­dents who are sup­posed to pay back the Na­tional Man­power De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tar­iat loan bur­saries to do af­ter see­ing their el­ders get away with mur­der?

Ba­sotho Na­tional Party Youth League Sec­re­tary, Joseph Le­tooane, hit the nail on the prover­bial head when he said: “The de­ci­sion to bail out the MPS gives the im­pres­sion to the pub­lic that pol­i­tics is about the en­rich­ment of a se­lect few crooks and not the de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try and its peo­ple.”

In­deed with a leg­is­la­ture bent on lin­ing its pock­ets at the ex­pense of the pop­u­lace, con­fi­dence in state in­sti­tu­tions will con­tinue to plum­met.

Ac­count­abil­ity is a nec­es­sary con­di­tion for the de­vel­op­ment of a healthy and ef­fec­tive democ­racy. It is cer­tainly clear from the MPS’ con­duct that it is sorely lack­ing in the au­gust house.

No won­der Le­sotho has sig­nif­i­cantly lagged be­hind the rest of Africa in terms of eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion. In­stead of chart­ing a course to­wards bet­ter­ing the for­tunes of most Ba­sotho blighted with poverty and dis­ease, the leg­is­la­tors were busy se­cur­ing their own in­ter­ests. Par­lia­ment is sup­posed to hold the ex­ec­u­tive to ac­count by ques­tion­ing and chal­leng­ing its poli­cies and ac­tions.

Amid the dis­ap­point­ment over the MPS’ con­duct, we can take so­lace in the knowl­edge that young peo­ple across the political di­vide are re­al­iz­ing that Le­sotho’s fu­ture is be­ing jeop­ar­dized by a cul­ture of en­ti­tle­ment which is not backed up by de­liv­ery.

As a na­tion, we can­not go on like this. It has many ef­fects, all of them neg­a­tive. Peo­ple sit on their back­sides, wait­ing for govern­ment to pro­vide while oth­ers jos­tle for po­si­tions to get on the gravy train.

As the big­gest de­mo­graphic group, young peo­ple need to par­tic­i­pate in de­ci­sion-mak­ing pro­cesses, es­pe­cially on is­sues af­fect­ing their lives. This can only be achieved by the youths de­mand­ing ac­count­abil­ity from their lead­ers and not re­main­ing in the side­lines.

Democ­racy needs strong and sus­tain­able political par­ties with the ca­pac­ity to rep­re­sent cit­i­zens and pro­vide pol­icy choices that demon­strate their abil­ity to gov­ern for the pub­lic good. Young peo­ple are in­vari­ably the most pro­gres­sive mem­bers of so­ci­ety and have a unique role to play in en­hanc­ing the pro­file and per­for­mance of political par­ties.

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