Of politi­cians and their my­opia

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

The present lead­er­ship is equally competent, and vi­sion­ary, it is only that for some im­per­cep­ti­ble rea­son it is cling­ing on to poli­cies and a vi­sion that is counter-pro­duc­tive and it in­sid­i­ously if not ar­rested, lead­ing our coun­try to junk sta­tus, for lack of a bet­ter term

THE public sphere is abuzz with quotes from our lead­ers that are not only dis­turb­ing, un­for­tu­nate and dis­tress­ing but quite my­opic in the ex­treme.

I was par­tic­u­larly dis­turbed by the fol­low­ing quotes, in se­ri­atim:

“It is bet­ter to mis-gov­ern our­selves than be gov­erned (cor­rectly) by for­eign­ers.”

On the face of it, this state­ment might sound mag­nan­i­mous and hum­ble but to a sea­soned politi­cian it is counter-pro­duc­tive and smacks of the an­ti­quated dis-proven rhetoric of the for­mer lib­er­a­tion fight­ers in colo­nial Africa, in­clud­ing South Africa and dis­turbingly Robert Mu­gabe in Zim­babwe, who sym­bol­izes the com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tic of African lead­ers who cling on to power ir­re­spec­tive of their ob­vi­ous past their sell-by-date.

This state­ment demon­strates a leader who sub-con­sciously ac­knowl­edges that he is mis­gov­ern­ing a coun­try thereby lead­ing his peo­ple to perdi­tion through his un­ten­able and de­struc­tive poli­cies but nev­er­the­less who feels it is his di­vine right en­dowed only on him to mis-gov­ern his coun­try. This state­ment en­cap­su­lates a leader who feels that he is in­dis­pens­able to the po­lit­i­cal land­scape of his coun­try.

Un­for­tu­nately, such lead­ers are disin­gen­u­ous to the sad re­al­ity that with the pas­sage of time there are young ca­pa­ble lead­ers with new vi­sion and poli­cies that can lead to their re­spec­tive coun­tries to the bet­ter­ment of their peo­ple.

Un­for­tu­nately, as ear­lier al­luded to, Le­sotho is not alone in this malaise. This is a com­mon thread that runs through vir­tu­ally all African lead­ers.

The sec­ond seg­ment of this quote, which ow­ing to lack of space I did not quote in ex­tenso, re­it­er­ates that be­ing gov­erned by for­eign­ers is an an­tithe­sis to self-gov­ern­ment and in­de­pen­dence. Un­for­tu­nately, this is not the case. The sad re­al­ity is that re­al­iz­ing that his poli­cies no longer pass the de­vel­op­men­tal muster this leader in­stead of mov­ing from his im­prac­ti­ca­ble poli­cies disin­gen­u­ously cast the blame on for­eign­ers. The truth of the mat­ter is there is a dire need for fresh ideas and poli­cies from lead­ers with new vi­sion tak­ing the coun­try for­ward.

In a tone rem­i­nis­cent of lead­ers of mod­ern post-apartheid South Africa who blame the white su­prem­a­cists for all their un­work­able poli­cies and in­sid­i­ous plun­der­ing of the coun­try’s wealth, our lead­ers stress the sovereignty of Le­sotho while our coun­try is in ef­fect re­gress­ing. They blame all th­ese un­for­tu­nate sce­nar­ios on rhetoric such as Le­sotho is an in­de­pen­dent coun­try that gained it sta­tus through the blood of our fore­fa­thers. This they con­tinue blam­ing on for­eign­ers.

In a sce­nario that is rem­i­nis­cent of the dif­fer­ence be­tween day and night and is hyp­o­crit­i­cal in the ex­treme, the very next day be­cause our lead­ers have run the coun­try to ground eco­nom­i­cally ow­ing to their unimag­i­na­tive poli­cies they take on a charm of­fen­sive on the very same for­eign­ers for as­sis­tance that they so ve­he­mently launched a vit­ri­olic at­tack on for the self- in­flicted mis­for­tunes of their na­tion that was brought about by their own ill-fated poli­cies.

I am not ad­vo­cat­ing that Le­sotho should be re-col­o­nized but rather that my moth­er­land should be gov­erned prop­erly by lead­ers with fresh ideas and new vi­sion. In­deed, I has­ten to add, the present lead­er­ship is equally competent, and vi­sion­ary, it is only that for some im­per­cep­ti­ble rea­son it is cling­ing on to poli­cies and a vi­sion that is counter-pro­duc­tive and it in­sid­i­ously if not ar­rested, lead­ing our coun­try to junk sta­tus, for lack of a bet­ter term.

Our coun­try will soon de­gen­er­ate into a pariah state yet our lead­er­ship wants to cast the blame on for­eign­ers. All that is needed to ex­tri­cate our coun­try from this mo­rass is sim­ply to em­brace demo­cratic ideals and lais­sez-faire poli­cies on the eco­nomic front in ad­di­tion to cre­at­ing an in­vestor-friendly en­vi­ron­ment and cre­at­ing job op­por­tu­ni­ties for Ba­sotho.

“Theirs is a very un­for­tu­nate guest be­cause if it is col­lapse (AGOA),… will not be in­di­vid­u­ally af­fected or any of the min­is­ters. Those who will suf­fer are peo­ple work­ing in tex­tile fac­to­ries who will lose their jobs as a re­sult”.

This quote demon­strates ego­tism at its most po­tent and worst form. It de­fies logic, com­mon sense, hu­mil­ity, lead­er­ship qual­i­ties, com­pas­sion and above all else, vi­sion for a leader to even dream of ut­ter­ing th­ese words.

For pur­pose of clar­ity, let me re­cite this anec­dote: a cap­tain is by con­ven­tion, sup­posed to be the last per­son, to aban­don a stricken ship. Yet in this sce­nario, ow­ing to his ill-fated poli­cies and stew­ard­ship, the cap­tain of our imag­i­nary ship, Le­sotho, upon re­al­iz­ing that the ship is in­evitably list­ing later to be wholly sub­merged un­der the sea, bar­ring a mir­a­cle, shouts over the public ad­dress sys­tem to all pas­sen­gers on board, that be­cause of the in­escapable demise of the ves­sel, he is leav­ing them in an in­flat­able boat so they may all meet their wa­tery grave. As for

him and his col­leagues, he shouts, they will be safe on dry land.

Politi­cians, by virtue of be­ing elected to public of­fice by pop­u­lar vote as in Le­sotho, ought to feel pity for the fate that will seem­ingly be­fall us the or­di­nary cit­i­zens who for the life of me, are not the author of the cri­sis that this im­pov­er­ished na­tion is teetering to­wards un­less some­thing dras­tic and re­me­dial is un­der­taken by our lead­ers to sal­vage the in­evitable demise of this na­tion.

Yet, lo and be­hold; some politi­cian with seem­ingly no com­pas­sion has the au­dac­ity to warn the poor Ba­sotho that he and his col­leagues will not suf­fer. They will con­tinue liv­ing their life­style ir­re­spec­tive of what­ever en­sues, AGOA or no AGOA.

The hurt on us poor Ba­sotho, be­comes un­bear­able when we con­sider that the cri­sis is not of our mak­ing and that th­ese self-same politi­cians oc­cupy those lofty po­si­tions be­cause of our com­bined vote.

They miss the point that the with­drawal of AGOA will re­ver­ber­ate across the en­tire Ba­sotho na­tion in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment rev­enue on which they sur­vive, tak­ing a telling knock.

The con­se­quences will be too ghastly to con­tem­plate as the old overused cliché goes, and have far-reach­ing reper­cus­sions on our em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, crime rate, moral de­gen­er­a­tion, fund­ing of so­cial up­lift­ment pro­grammes, sta­bil­ity and over­all gover­nance. The with­drawal of AGOA for this politi­cian, to know, will only com­pound prob­lems for Ba­sotho and their gov­ern­ment. Maybe he is tak­ing a cue from Zim­babwe, Swaziland and oth­ers that no longer ben­e­fit from AGOA.

How­ever, un­be­known to him, th­ese coun­tries’ eco­nom­ics are far stronger that our beloved Le­sotho’s.

Omi­nously, they no longer prac­tice any­thing close to democ­racy, ac­count­able and trans­par­ent gov­ern- ments that ob­serve the rule of law and pro­tect hu­man rights.

All those gov­ern­ments are au­to­cratic to main­tain their lead­ers in power.

We can­not wish this sce­nario on Le­sotho. Pe­riod!

In con­clu­sion, all th­ese quotes clearly demon­strate how our demo­cratic ideals and as­pi­ra­tions as es­poused in our Con­sti­tu­tion for the bet­ter­ment of all of us Ba­sotho, and in re­la­tions with other coun­tries and the world, are slowly be­ing eroded at the ex­pense of con­ve­nience to a few politi­cians. This can be summed up in one word: My­opia.

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