Do unto others . . .
FINANCE Minister Dr ‘ Mamphono Khaketla’s budget speech last week struck all the right notes given the difficult macro-economic circumstances Lesotho finds itself in. Among the positive interventions the minister announced was the involvement of the private sector in the development of prime land in Maseru. She said the initiative was not only meant to create jobs, but also generate revenue for both government and the private sector with the added benefit of improving the landscape of the city, which Dr Khaketla rightly noted was littered with eyesores of dilapidated buildings.
Such a development is not only long overdue, but necessary if this country is to emerge from its woeful least developed status. The government is lagging behind in meeting its obligation to provide basic infrastructure services such as clean water, sewage, roads, electricity, telecommunications, to name a few to support the basic livelihood of citizens and businesses.
Without such basic services, the long yearned-for foreign direct investment will remain a pie in the sky as the country does not have the competitive edge to stand out among other potential investment destinations. As elucidated in the budget presentation, Lesotho will have to cope with a highly uncertain global environment. The economy faces a state of heightened risk because of macroeconomic pressures, chief of which is the reduced Southern African Customs Union revenue and the slowdown in the South African economy.
With the monetary union faltering, Lesotho needs to carve her own niche by identifying sources of growth to replace those now becoming exhausted. Lesotho needs to gravitate towards the manufacturing and service industries to ensure increased productivity and growth performance. However, with the government clearly unable to fill the infrastructure gap, strategic partnerships with the private sector are the way to go.
In this edition, we report that the World Bank has commended the benefits that have accrued from the publicprivate partnership (PPP) initiative that resulted in the construction of Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) and four primary care clinics. While acknowledging the challenges the PPP is facing, such as its high cost to the government, the World Bank was unequivocal that it had achieved better health outcomes for a larger number of patients, including providing more advanced medical technologies than were previously available in the country. Another benefit the World Bank noted was that the health network was operating more efficiently and caring for more patients at less cost per patient.
Empirical evidence also attests to the benefits of PPPS such as incentivising the private sector to deliver projects on time and within budget and supplementing limited public sector capacities to meet the growing demand for infrastructure development.
PPPS also help develop local private sector capabilities through joint ventures with large international firms, as well as sub-contracting opportunities for local firms in areas such as civil works, electrical works, facilities management, security services, cleaning services, maintenance services.
If properly implemented, PPPS can also result in the transfer of skills ensuring that locals can ultimately run their own operations professionally and eventually bid for projects without foreign help. While the PPP framework is far from perfect, since the QMMH deal is facing some problems which need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, it is the government’s best bet to quickly address the debilitating infrastructure shortfall to spur economic growth and development.
Experts recommend that in implementing PPPS, the government would need to build and maintain the capacity to manage them, and to monitor and enforce the terms of the contracts. PPPS, they say, do not eliminate, but rather change and intensify the need for a government’s continuous involvement in monitoring performance in service delivery.
Given the long-term nature of such projects and the complexity associated, it would be difficult if not impossible to identify all possible contingencies during project development and events and issues may arise that were not anticipated in the documents or by the parties at the time of the contract. If the need arises, the government and its partners would then need to renegotiate the contract to accommodate these contingencies.
Ultimately, the buck stops with the government since citizens will continue to hold them accountable for the quality of utility services. THESE seminal impeccable words cited from the Book of Matthew 7:12, are advisory to our current political leaders. They are a truism today as they were in days of our Lord Jesus Christ, for they embody the civil way that we ought to treat one another as people.
This anecdote will serve as a vivid reminder to all of us. During the reign of the then military regime in Lesotho from 1986 to 1993, the army rulers passed laws that among others, prevented their detained fellow soldiers from attending family functions and funerals of their close relatives, while in detention.
As fate would have it, one of the then military rulers, who was later in detention himself, wanted to attend the funeral of one of his cousins. His colleagues then in power, denied him that opportunity citing the very same regulations that he invoked to defy fellow detained soldiers to attend family activities while in detention.
You can well imagine the deep-seated pain the man must have undergone in those most trying times in a lonely prison cell. The moral theme behind this sad episode, which I condemn with the contempt it deserves, is that; if you reach the summit of a tall building using a ladder, do not kick it down, to prevent others from reaching those lofty heights, with the intention of preventing others from reaching the same. You will have great difficulty when you either descend or when they are above you in terms of power.
The Phumaphi Report (Mahao Family) It is very disturbing that the government never saw it prudent to avail the Mahao family with a copy of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) — Phumaphi Report setup to enquire the circumstances surrounding the killing of the former commander of the Lesotho Defense Force (LDF), Lieutenant–general Maaparankoe Mahao. Lt-gen Mahao was, by their own admission, gunned down by fellow soldiers at his home village of Mokema for allegedly resisting arrest.
To add insult to injury, SADC had specifically asked the Lesotho government not to publish the photographs of the body of the late commander as they were too graphic and explicit therefore likely to elicit resentment from both the Mahao family and the general public.
However, despite these warnings, the government nevertheless went ahead with publishing the graphic photos. As if that was not enough, it found it in its wisdom to expunge from the said report names of the soldiers that were allegedly involved in the killing of the late general. This is utterly insensitive in the ex- treme and deserves utter condemnation.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you …….”
The Phumaphi Report (former Prime Minister) The former Prime Minister (PM) Thomas Thabane is by law, the leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament, in effect, leads a government-in-waiting, should things come to that.
He is by law, accorded better treatment and enjoys better benefits and salary than ordinary leaders of opposition political parties and other Members of Parliament (MP’S). To compound the former PM’S difficult position even further, including those of the other leaders of the tripartite alliance, he fled the country to neighboring South Africa after death threats from the LDF, an institution that is directly controlled and funded by the government yet government is unwilling or acquiescing to their misconduct.
This much is fortified by the Phumaphi Commission Report, therefore it is not a self-created threat that the former PM and others are running away from and scared of the LDF.
To buttress my point about the senior position of the former PM among other MP’S and to illustrate that he is the counterpart of the incumbent PM, every official government document that needs the attention of the PM or has an impact on his office is sent in a special manner to his office.
Conventional wisdom and practice dictate that the PM, so does the leader of the Official Opposition, need to be served through their respective offices, all correspondence and documents that impact on their high positions. For instance, during the 2016-17 Budget speech, the PM was not in the august house but owing his high office, presumably, he had been furnished with the copy even before it was read, (that is if reports that he was not in attendance are true).
The same treatment should be accorded the leader of the Official Opposition more so given his peculiar circumstances not of his own making.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…….”
Partnerships the way to go
Points of Order in august house Three or four years ago the Members of Parliament (MP’S) of the now new sevenparty coalition government sang a rendition of the national anthem in Parliament, haggling and disrupting proceedings in the august house in protest at what they saw as in their own words “muzzling of the representatives of the people”.
If my memory serves me right and I am subject to correction, despite the obvious disruptions in the Parliament, these MP’S were never suspended from the house.
Yet when the new opposition MP’S register their protests by joining the singing initiated by government MP’S and raising legitimate “Point of Order” in protest at what they regard as “tabling” not “publication” of the critically expunged Phumaphi Report, by the own admission of the PM, and these protests being raised in compliance with parliamentary rules, and procedures, four (4) opposition MP’S were slapped with a weekly suspension. This in a democratic dispensation when they were acting within the bounds of the law. Awful! “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”
Demise of the Lt-gen Mahao
and T Ts’osane In the first half of 2015 two prominent Basotho, Lt-gen Mahao and Thabiso Tšosane, a prominent businessman and supporter of the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) and a well-known philanthropist, were both gunned down in Maseru.
As for the latter, no one has been arrested or questioned in regard to this coldblooded murder. He was buried in a massive funeral befitting a king attended by thousands of mourners. He was the provider to literally thousands of destitute of Basotho and provided job opportunities to hundreds.
On both occasions, when opposition MPS tried to raise their killings in the august house, their questions regarding the apparent lax security in the country, which by law and convention ought to be provided by government, they were met
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