Cor­rup­tion wor­ries Sen­a­tors

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

SEN­A­TORS have urged politi­cians to stop un­nec­es­sary fight­ing and en­sure a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for in­vest­ment.

The Sen­a­tors are also wor­ried about cor­rup­tion and red-tape in govern­ment, which they say are dis­cour­ag­ing in­vest­ment.

Th­ese con­cerns came out in Se­nate on Tues­day as the Sen­a­tors de­bated the coun­try’s econ­omy and pre­vail­ing in­sta­bil­ity. The in­se­cu­rity is now be­ing ad­dressed by the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC), which the Sen­a­tors said was not good for de­vel­op­ment.

Thaba-bo­siu Prin­ci­pal Chief Khoa­bane Theko told his fel­low sen­a­tors that Le­sotho was now al­ways on the SADC agenda “for the wrong rea­sons”, and urged political lead­ers to end their bick­er­ing for the sake of eco­nomic growth.

Sen­a­tor Theko fur­ther said govern­ment should sim­plify pro­cesses lead­ing to the cre­ation of em­ploy­ment, adding ex­ces­sive regulation only chased away po­ten­tial in­vestors.

“Some of the red-tape is in the is­su­ing of min­ing li­cences, an un­favourable tax regime, and slow pro­cess­ing of pay­ments to busi­nesses which pro­vide govern­ment with goods and ser­vices,” Sen­a­tor Theko said.

The out­spo­ken chief fur­ther said con­stant fight­ing by politi­cians com­pounded an al­ready dif­fi­cult in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment.

“Our politi­cians are only fo­cused on their never-end­ing power-strug­gles. We are al­ways on the SADC agenda for the wrong rea­sons. Le­sotho has be­come SADC’S prob­lem child. Is it be­cause we can’t rule and all we want is self-en­rich­ment at the ex­pense of tax­pay­ers?” asked Sen­a­tor Theko.

“The govern­ment should fa­cil­i­tate peace in this coun­try be­cause sta­bil­ity is very essen- tial for the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment. But with the cur­rent political and se­cu­rity in­sta­bil­ity, it has be­come hard to at­tract for­eign in­vestors who now fear their busi­nesses would be af­fected should there be vi­o­lence.

“Politi­cians should as­sist us to­wards build­ing peace in this di­vided na­tion.

“In 1995, King Moshoeshoe II held a na­tional di­a­logue on peace and de­vel­op­ment. We need such fo­rums so we can work our way out of this political in­sta­bil­ity.

“We should find out what is caus­ing this ha­tred and divi­sions within our so­ci­ety. We need to find com­mon ground.

“Even though we are not politi­cians but chiefs, we have a role to play and guide our na­tion to de­vel­op­ment.”

On min­ing li­cences, Chief Theko said “bu- reau­cratic red-tape” should be brought to an end as a mat­ter of ur­gency if this sec­tor is to re­alise its full po­ten­tial and ben­e­fit Ba­sotho.

“Laws reg­u­lat­ing the min­ing in­dus­try are rigid even to this day. We need to learn from our neigh­bours in Swazi­land, Botswana, South Africa and Namibia how they are reg­u­lat­ing their min­ing in­dus­tries to ease do­ing busi­ness in th­ese sec­tors”.

Leribe Prin­ci­pal Chief Joel Motšoene echoed sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments and noted Le­sotho could have achieved “a lot” if the coun­try was sta­ble. Sen­a­tor Motšoene also con­demned the vic­tim­i­sa­tion of po­ten­tial in­vestors due to their political af­fil­i­a­tion.

“There are peo­ple who are be­ing de­nied min­ing li­cences due to their par­ents’ political af­fil­i­a­tion. We have to bring such things to an end and also think of in­tro­duc­ing min­ing reg­is­tra­tion pro­cesses sim­i­lar to the Min­istry of Trade’s One-stop-shop fa­cil­ity, which are sim­pler and in­vestor-friendly,” said Chief Motšoene.

The sen­a­tor also em­pha­sised the need for Ba­sotho to be given first pri­or­ity when ap­ply­ing for min­ing li­cences.

Se­nate Pres­i­dent Seeiso Bereng Seeiso also weighed-in on the im­por­tance of peace and sta­bil­ity in eco­nomic growth.

Prince Seeiso, who is also the Prin­ci­pal Chief of Mat­sieng, fur­ther con­demned cor­rup­tion which he said had be­come a “can­cer” in Le­sotho.

“Peace and sta­bil­ity are im­por­tant for eco­nomic growth. As for cor­rup­tion, it’s a can­cer in the body polity of our coun­try and leads to lack of de­vel­op­ment. When cor­rup­tion is so en­demic in our sys­tem, we fail to grow.

We should have grad­u­ated from this least-de­vel­oped coun­try sta­tus we are in, a long time ago if it was not for cor­rup­tion,” Chief Seeiso said.

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