b) Honest and ethical conduct, including potential or perceived conflicts of personal and professional interests c) Compliance with applicable governmental rules and regulations and d) Protection of confidential information and avoidance of insider trading.
I am making this precept to debunk argument by the politicians in government who are always up in arms in the public domain claiming that Lesotho is stable and adheres to rules of governance, human rights, transparency and the rule of law.
They go further to argue that international development partners and politicians on the opposite side of the spectrum, including other stakeholders in Lesotho’s affairs are making a mountain out of a molehill about the fragility Lesotho’s economic and political stability. They argue that Lesotho is very stable, peaceful, investor friendly and creditworthy.
Of critical importance to debunk these unfortunate statements by government spin doctors is that Fitch is an internationally reputable credit rating agency that has done its business or mandate according to a code of conduct and guidelines that have been applied over the years to whatever subjects worth credit rating.
These spin doctors cannot be heard to say as they often say in the media that Fitch is biased against the Lesotho government.
Commentators and politicians as well as other stakeholders have long decried the fact that the autocratic unimaginative policies of our government are likely to bring the fragile economy of Lesotho to ground.
These coupled with systematic violation of human rights, erosion of rule of law, governance, transparency, and an investor friendly environment. However, this clarion call has fallen on deaf ears, with no remedial action in sight.
Instead, the country is regressing economically at an alarming rate. Further, the country is being discussed at global fora such as Southern African Development Community (SADC), African Union (AU), European Union (EU) and critically, the United Nations (UN) for all the wrong reasons that are authored by our democratically-elected leaders.
Fitch has, to its credit, cited this downgrading to the decline in the revenues of SACU that Lesotho is a founder member of.
In terms of the SACU agreement the giant South African economy in the subcontinent, disburses a certain percentage of the SACU revenue pool to the smaller economies of Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho. This percentage oscillates yearly depending on size of the revenue pool per year.
Disturbingly, this year Lesotho’s budget, like the rest of its partners in the union, has declined considerably, a factor that has noticeably shrunk our national budget.
This development has not escaped the eagle eye of Fitch, hence our downgrade by the agency.
Fitch becomes more generous in its assessment of Lesotho’s credit rating by further ascribing the downgrade to what it calls “perceptions of political instability which have impacted on investor confidence in the country”.
I can only observe that, as a Mosotho, who is conversant with the political landscape of our country, Fitch is only becoming generous and diplomatic on this issue. It is on record internationally and domestically that Lesotho has no political stability.
How else would members of the opposition in Parliament boycott the august house for months citing the flight of their leaders to neighbouring South Africa for security reasons?
How else does government ministers go on media to claim without any arrests and prosecutions, that the many unsolved killings are committed by the opposition?
How else does the United States government agency, Millennium Challenge Corporation and US trade representative Ambassador Froman, state unequivocally to the Lesotho government to observe certain criteria and benchmarks for eligibility for African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) the Millennium Challenge Account Assistance?
Continues on Page 14 . . .