Can the op­po­si­tion en­gage PM?

Lesotho Times - - Leader - So­fonea shale

LE­SOTHO fi­nally opened its own med­i­cal school last year, mark­ing a mile­stone made pos­si­ble through tire­less ef­forts by var­i­ous stake­hold­ers.

Af­ter re­ly­ing on other coun­tries for the train­ing of our doc­tors, the med­i­cal col­lege gave the na­tion hope that the short­age of th­ese crit­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als would soon be a thing of the past.

how­ever, this op­ti­mism could soon turn to de­spair should the col­lege be shut down due to the many chal­lenges it has been grap­pling with since its first in­take in Au­gust 2014.

Prob­a­bly the most ob­vi­ous of th­ese chal­lenges is lack of in­fra­struc­ture as the school is op­er­at­ing from the Na­tional health Train­ing Cen­tre and not its own premises where it would have the nec­es­sary fa­cil­i­ties for its stu­dents.

In­sid­ers also say lack of fund­ing has re­sulted in stu­dents fail­ing to un­der­take cru­cial as­sign­ments while in­ad­e­quate teach­ing staff is also said to be a huge prob­lem.

Be­cause of th­ese chal­lenges, the Le­sotho Coun­cil of higher education (Che) has now re­fused to recog­nise the col­lege — throw­ing the fu­ture of the in­sti­tu­tion, and in­deed the stu­dents, into doubt.

how­ever, the irony of the mat­ter is that the col­lege is owned by the govern­ment which worked so hard, one would as­sume, to es­tab­lish it in the first place.

Be­fore com­ing up with such a mas­sive un­der­tak­ing, it is nec­es­sary to make the nec­es­sary con­sul­ta­tion and plan­ning, which does not ap­pear to have been the case in this mat­ter.

health Min­is­ter Dr Molotsi Monya­mane says govern­ment is not go­ing to al­low the school to shut down be­cause of th­ese prob­lems and has pledged fund­ing for the school in the next fi­nan­cial year.

This dec­la­ra­tion is quite com­fort­ing as it shows that at least some­thing is be­ing done about the sit­u­a­tion.

But still, the ques­tion is why has the govern­ment al­lowed the sit­u­a­tion to de­te­ri­o­rate to its cur­rent state where the stu­dents are no longer sure if their qual­i­fi­ca­tions meet the re­quired in­ter­na­tional stan­dards?

The ex­tent of the school’s prob­lems sug­gests poor plan­ning for the pro­ject from the on­set and while the min­is­ter is adamant that the col­lege would con­tinue and pro­vide the na­tion with the home-grown doc­tors it des­per­ately needs, the re­as­sur­ance is com­ing a bit late for some stake­hold­ers who are no longer sure if es­tab­lish­ing the school was the right de­ci­sion in the first place.

But Dr Monya­mane has made a bold dec­la­ra­tion which we hope is go­ing to save this col­lege.

“It is not in the best in­ter­est of the govern­ment for the school to be closed; we should be mind­ful that the med­i­cal school is about ac­cess to education and ac­cess to health­care.

“We need more doc­tors, so for us to get them, we need this school to func­tion prop­erly un­der the laws of this coun­try.

“We have been ad­vised by the Coun­cil of Higher education that the school needs to be func­tion­ing un­der an al­ready es­tab­lished in­sti­tu­tion to guar­an­tee that it con­forms to the laws that es­tab­lished Che in 2004, hence the on-go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the NUL.

“We want to see this med­i­cal school in­crease the num­ber of spe­cial­ist doc­tors in our hospi­tals so that we can re­duce the bur­den on Queen ‘Mamo­hato Me­mo­rial hos­pi­tal.

“We want to see the school cur­ricu­lum in­clude cour­ses for com­mu­nity health ex­ten­sion of­fi­cers who would be pro­fes­sion­ally trained and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble to com­mu­ni­ties.

“The govern­ment of Le­sotho is ded­i­cated to sup­port­ing the med­i­cal school as it needs to have its own in­sti­tu­tion that trains doc­tors,” the min­is­ter is quoted else­where in this is­sue.

Brave words by the min­is­ter and hope­fully, a prom­ise he would be able to keep come the next fi­nan­cial year. The Prime Min­is­ter’s na­tional ad­dress on the oc­ca­sion of fes­tive cel­e­bra­tions touched on a num­ber of is­sues in a man­ner be­fit­ting the govern­ment ac­count ad­dress. his ad­dress was re­ceived with dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions mainly in­formed by the political di­vide that in­forms the political po­lar­ity of Ba­sotho.

Some found the Prime Min­is­ter com­pletely ir­rel­e­vant to the press­ing na­tional is­sues in his ad­dress while oth­ers be­lieved that he was spot on and read the sit­u­a­tion very well. But can the Op­po­si­tion en­gage the Prime Min­is­ter?

In an all-en­com­pass­ing ad­dress the Prime Min­is­ter rounded the Min­is­te­rial high­lights on dif­fer­ent govern­ment ini­tia­tives but for the pur­poses of this dis­cus­sion only two or three ex­am­ples would be cited.

The Prime Min­is­ter noted the ef­forts made by the Min­istry of home Affairs in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the free move­ment of per­sons and their prop­erty be­tween Le­sotho and South Africa.

This he de­scribed as a great­est re­lief to the Ba­sotho who are work­ing in South Africa who for years have suf­fered un­told tor­ture.

The Min­istry of home Affairs has made ground-break­ing agree­ments with its South African coun­ter­part to reg­u­larise the stay of thou­sands of Ba­sotho in the neigh­bour­ing South Africa start­ing with grant­ing gen­eral amnesty to those who tres­passed im­mi­gra­tion laws to eas­ing work and other per­mits of stay.

Ba­sotho would be saved from many dif­fi­cul­ties in­clud­ing where they would toil for days and then pounced on by the po­lice when they ex­pected pay­ment, on claims that they would have no work per­mits.

Those lucky to get monthly pay­ments would lose all, if not the bet­ter part of their to­tal earn­ings, to the crooks , both uni­formed and in pri­vate who fa­cil­i­tated their il­le­gal cross over.

The Min­istry has also been in the me­dia this fes­tive sea­son but for a dif­fer­ent rea­son this time.

The ex­tended work­ing hours for the is­suance of birth reg­is­tra­tion and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ments has im­pressed peo­ple and the im­me­di­ate avail­abil­ity of the Chief of Staff in the Na­tional Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and Civil Reg­is­tra­tion of the Min­istry on dif­fer­ent me­dia out­lets to ad­dress emerg­ing is­sues and con­cerns made this Min­istry not only an ideal but a pace-set­ter in the con­tem­plated pub- lic sec­tor re­form.

This is quite re­mark­able but surely not with­out chal­lenges. Can the Op­po­si­tion come to the ser­vice of the na­tion and iden­tify gaps and flops so that this could be per­fected? For those who may not be so well-po­si­tioned and re­sourced feed­back could only be lim­ited to per­sonal ex­peri- ences.

If one is badly treated then for one the en­tire sys­tem is bad but good if one is well treated. In this way per­sonal feed­back is good in con­firm­ing some claims but for gen­eral trends, some­thing more com­pre­hen­sive is needed.

The ef­fi­ciency and high con­sump­tive ca­pac­ity demon­strated by the Min­istry of En­ergy through elec­tri­fi­ca­tion is un­heard of. What char­ac­terises the bud­get speech in Le­sotho is a wor­ry­ing phrase that the con­sid­er­able part of the al­ready low cap­i­tal bud­get re­turns un­spent.

Dif­fer­ently it is re­ported that this Min­istry con­sumed its cap­i­tal bud­get within the first three months of the fi­nan­cial year. Per­haps it must be ap­pre­ci­ated that elec­tri­fi­ca­tion is one for the key pri­or­i­ties for de­vel­op­ment, at least in the view of the ru­ral ma­jor­ity.

Does the al­lo­ca­tion re­flect this? While the work of this Min­istry has well sur­passed ex­pec­ta­tions in the util­i­sa­tion of na­tional re­sources put at its dis­posal, it can­not be true that this work is with­out chal­lenges.

Un­der­stand­ably the ro­bust elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of the coun­try will put pres­sure on the sup­plies. The Min­istry is plan­ning to cover for this po­ten­tial stress by find­ing al­ter­na­tive and green power gen­er­a­tion. Is in­vest­ment on this part com­men­su­rate with the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion rate?

Though the Prime Min­is­ter has de­clared the state of emer­gency on hunger, it may be nec­es­sary for the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Food Se­cu­rity to ac­count for the ap­palling sum­mer crop­ping.

But where is the Op­po­si­tion to take govern­ment head on and hold it ac­count­able?

This is im­por­tant be­cause there were con­cerns that the Min­istry is re­spon­si­ble for the ma­jor part of con­tem­plated short­age of food.

On gov­er­nance, the Prime Min­is­ter treaded care­fully ex­plain­ing the dif­fer­ences be­tween SADC and the King­dom on the Phumaphi Re­port and also call­ing for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to help Ba­sotho in the chal­lenges brought by the se­vere drought.

This is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent tone from the harsh, less tact­ful and para­noia kind of ap­proach to SADC and the US govern­ment re­cently.

The Prime Min­is­ter de­scribes Le­sotho as hav­ing mirac­u­lously re­solved its gov­er­nance chal­lenges fol­low­ing the col­lapse of govern­ment un­der the pre­vi­ous coali­tion regime ex­cept for few fin­ish­ing touches. Con­tin­ued on Page 14 . . .

The Min­istry of Home Affairs has made ground-break­ing agree­ments with its South African coun­ter­part to reg­u­larise the stay of thou­sands of Ba­sotho in the neigh­bour­ing South Africa start­ing with grant­ing gen­eral amnesty to those who tres­passed im­mi­gra­tion laws to eas­ing work and other per­mits of stay

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