Can the opposition engage PM?
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