Time to turn a new leaf

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

LE­SOTHO trudged into the New Year last Fri­day sad­dled with a plethora of chal­lenges brought for­ward from 2015. The coun­try is be­set by a dev­as­tat­ing drought, not been seen in n 43 years due to a weather phe­nom­e­non called El Niño.

The im­pli­ca­tions of the cli­matic phe­nom­e­non, char­ac­terised by in­ad­e­quate rain in Le­sotho and other South­ern African coun­tries floods in other parts of the world, is the short­en­ing of the farm­ing sea­son, lead­ing to re­duced agri­cul­tural out­put.

Given the scale of the drought, Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili rightly de­clared a state of emer­gency in the coun­try last week, to en­sure those in need of food, wa­ter and other ameni­ties ex­pe­di­tiously get as­sis­tance.

A note­wor­thy point in the premier’s speech was his re­quest for de­vel­op­ment part­ners and “all the friends of Le­sotho to as­sist in ef­forts to regress the sit­u­a­tion”. In­deed Le­sotho, be­ing a least de­vel­oped na­tion, needs the as­sis­tance of all well-wish­ers to stem the ef­fects of this po­ten­tially cat­a­strophic drought.

What this na­tion can ill-af­ford is the with­drawal of any hu­man­i­tar­ian and eco­nomic as­sis­tance we have been re­ceiv­ing over is­sues which can be re­solved. It is be­yond doubt that Le­sotho is a sov­er­eign na­tion with the pre­rog­a­tive to chart her own des­tiny. How­ever, the Moun­tain King­dom is also within the com­mu­nity of na­tions with a re­spon­si­bil­ity to keep her house in or­der. Along with the rights to sovereignty and self-de­ter­mi­na­tion are re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to en­sure rule of law and good gov­er­nance.

Ul­ti­mately all stake­hold­ers, be it the govern­ment and de­vel­op­ment part­ners, need to re­main cog­nizant of th­ese tenets as they go about their busi­ness. You can’t have one and leave out the oth­ers.

This also ap­plies to the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the govern­ment and the op­po­si­tion or civil so­ci­ety and churches among other stake­hold­ers.

In the case of the op­po­si­tion, its role is to hold govern­ment to ac­count for its poli­cies and put the spot­light on se­ri­ous is­sues that need to be re­solved quickly. It is thus in­cum­bent on both the govern­ment and op­po­si­tion to keep the na­tional in­ter­est above par­ti­san con­sid­er­a­tions. How­ever, as the sit­u­a­tion cur­rently stands, this is not the case to the detri­ment of the un­der­served pop­u­lace.

Nat­u­rally, there is a lot of back and forth fin­ger point­ing be­tween the govern­ment and op­po­si­tion with re­gards to who is at fault for the boy­cott of the Na­tional As­sem­bly by the lat­ter. That is, how­ever, im­ma­te­rial in the grander scheme of things, be­cause the na­tion’s progress is be­ing ham­strung by the dis­cord in the cor­ri­dors of power.

Amid the bick­er­ing, a host of chal­lenges con­tinue to beg for at­ten­tion. The call for Le­sotho to di­ver­sify its econ­omy, es­pe­cially in light of its strong de­pen­dence on the dwin­dling South African Cus­toms Union rev­enues, has been made ad nau­seam. We can­not af­ford to wait for the econ­omy to col­lapse be­fore con­crete steps are made to en­sure all our eggs are not in one bas­ket.

The HIV/AIDS pan­demic is still at an un­sus­tain­able preva­lence rate of 23 per­cent, and more de­ci­sive mea­sures need to be ef­fected to turn the tide against the dis­ease. Th­ese chal­lenges, and many oth­ers which have not been men­tioned in this col­umn, will con­tinue to dog our beloved land un­til all stake­hold­ers come to­gether and work to­wards the ad­vance­ment of this na­tion.

As the new year un­folds, our lead­ers also need to take the cue by opt­ing for rap­proche­ment in­stead of an­tag­o­nism. Govern­ment and the op­po­si­tion need to cre­ate an at­mos­phere which is con­ducive for dis­cus­sions to take place in 2016. We just can­not con­tinue to op­er­ate in per­pet­ual cri­sis mode.

That Le­sotho’s chal­lenges are sur­mount­able is be­yond dis­pute. It only needs all stake­hold­ers to ac­knowl­edge that we need each other for this na­tion to pros­per. A new ap­proach is needed from all sides to take this na­tion for­ward. But the re­spon­si­bil­ity to chart a new course that brings ev­ery­body un­der the same tent rests on the shoul­ders of govern­ment as it is the one com­mand­ing the reins of power. Ini­tia­tives and pro­grammes that foster co­op­er­a­tion among all stake­hold­ers, in­stead of merely en­trench­ing the govern­ment’s power, is what this coun­try badly needs,

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.