Ut­loang ka­jeno

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

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 . . .

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