Young generation must lead the way
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.