Do unto oth­ers . . .

Lesotho Times - - Leader - Ut­loang ka­jeno

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

Con­tin­ued on Page 16 . . .

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