Thanks for the truth Ntate Mets­ing

Lesotho Times - - Scrutator -

IT’S al­ways re­fresh­ing to hear a politi­cian speak the truth. This is be­cause pol­i­tics is es­sen­tially re­garded as a syn­onym for ly­ing. Hon­est politi­cians are as rare as the skele­tons of Zin­jan­thropas or Paran­thro­pus Boi­sei. Just think of how hard the an­thro­pol­o­gists have to dig deep and scrounge un­til they get the bones of th­ese mil­lions of years old an­ces­tors of the hu­man race. Un­less you are Don­ald Trump who ap­pears likely to in­sult peo­ple all the way to the White House, the ma­jor­ity of politi­cians mostly lie all their way to power.

But ly­ing of­ten earns politi­cians a lot of ridicule.

Con­sider Char­lie Chap­lin’s peren­nial wis­dom that: “I re­main just one thing only, and that is a clown. It places me on a far higher plain than any politi­cian”. Or Gail Car­riger’s pro­fan­ity that “mon­keys are in fact rein­car­nated politi­cians…….”. Not to men­tion Henry Adams em­pir­i­cal ob­ser­va­tion that “prac­ti­cal pol­i­tics con­sists in ig­nor­ing facts”.

Th­ese un­flat­ter­ing per­cep­tions of pol­i­tics and politi­cians will change if politi­cians the world-over take a cue from our own very Ntate Te­boho Sekata and DPM Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing.

Th­ese two gen­tle­men have re­cently been bold enough to tell truth­ful state­ments that caught my eye. Scru­ta­tor only wishes they main­tain the high stan­dards they have set.

The other day I con­grat­u­lated Ntate Sekata, the spokesman of the LCD, for re­veal­ing the truth that no other politi­cian has been bold enough to tell. This was when he said King Kamoli is here to stay de­spite a rec­om­men­da­tion to the con­trary by the South­ern Africa De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC)’S Jus­tice Mphaphi Phumaphi.

In ba­si­cally declar­ing that King Kamoli is here to stay and lead­ers of the op­po­si­tion can stay in ex­ile if they so wish, Ntate Sekata con­firmed what many in this coun­try had long sus­pected but which the lead­ers of the gov­ern­ment had been shy or afraid to say.

Please don’t mis­un­der­stand me here. I am not say­ing I agree with Ntate Sekata. I am only com­mend­ing him for telling the truth. It al­ways helps if politi­cians tell us the truth be­cause we then know what to do as cit­i­zens.

Even though he is not in gov­ern­ment, Ntate Sekata told the truth. His truth had the im­me­di­ate ben­e­fit of help­ing those liv­ing in a par­al­lel uni­verse of con­stant hope that the SADC res­o­lu­tion on the mighty King will be im­ple­mented. If you know the truth, you can for­mu­late your strate­gies ac­cord­ingly. So if you are a mem­ber of the al­liance of civic groups push­ing to see the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Phumaphi rec­om­men­da­tions, you now have the truth to work with, cour­tesy of Ntate Sekata. You can for­mu­late your strate­gies ac­cord­ingly.

In a dif­fer­ent episode, Ntate Sekata was recorded speak­ing his mind about the LCD’S coali­tion part­ner, the Demo­cratic Congress. In re­marks that have been a hit on so­cial media, Ntate Sekata said in an au­dio record­ing that DC leader Ntate Mo­sisili is old. I must say, I to­tally dis­agree with Ntate Sekata on that point. If you say Ntate Mo­sisili is old at the young age of only 71, then what do you say of that fos­sil Robert Mu­gabe (92) or Cyclone Tom, soon to be 80. If Mu­gabe is a liv­ing mu­seum and still in power, then surely Ntate Mo­sisili is still a po­lit­i­cal tod­dler. Be­ing the spring chicken that he is, he can rule for an­other 20 years (as long as he wins fair elec­tions). I am not en­cour­ag­ing him to go that route nonethe­less. All I am say­ing is he can’t be clas­si­fied as old in pol­i­tics. Re­mem­ber Ntate Sekata, to­day’s 71 in real terms is 61 in prac­ti­cal terms. It helps that Ntate Mo­sisili looks like he has only turned 42.

Ntate Sekata also said the in­creas­ingly gar­ru­lous Ntate Moleleki will never be leader of the DC and by im­pli­ca­tion Prime Min­is­ter.

“The only way he will be a leader of a party is if he can form his own and take a few Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment that sup­port him,” opined Ntate Sekata. Again I to­tally dis­agree with Ntate Sekata here. As things stand, I think Ntate Moleleki is a nat­u­ral suc­ces­sor to Ntate Mo­sisili. Since beat­ing that can­cer bug, just look at how hand­some Ntate Moleleki has be­come. Just look at how nice that new white hair grow­ing all over his head suits him. Ntate Sekata has prob­a­bly not seen the lat­est photos of Ntate Moleleki. The guy has be­come a hunk.

Do you surely see any lady, in the women driven DC, in terms of sup­port base, go­ing for any other leader than the im­mensely hand­some Ntate Moleleki. Me­thinks that Ntate Moleleki will be next Prime Min­is­ter not be­cause of his own self be­lief that he is en­ti­tled to be the next Prime Min­is­ter but be­cause of the nat­u­ral or­der­ing of things.

In the very un­likely even that Ntate Mo­sisili vol­un­tar­ily re­lin­quished power to­day, there is no doubt that Ntate Moleleki will as­cend to the throne. But that’s just my view and it’s com­pletely beside the point.

The point is about truth and pol­i­tics. Even though I dis­agree with Ntate Sekata’s per­spec­tives, I salute him for speak­ing his mind. When con­fronted by his party about the au­dio record­ing, Ntate Sekata re­port­edly did not deny that he was the politi­cian recorded. He nev­er­the­less tried to mol­lify his boss, the young and in­de­fati­ga­ble Se­libe Mo­choboroane, by say­ing he had made a mis­take, ac­cord­ing to Ntate Mo­choboroane’s own ver­sion of what tran­spired when Ntate Sekata was sum­monsed to ex­plain him­self (as re­ported by Pub­lic Eye). What im­pressed me most is that Ntate Sekata did not try to deny that he was the man in the au­dio record­ing. A typ­i­cal dis­hon­est politi­cian would have stood his ground; “It is not me in that au­dio, it is the work of the Amer­i­cans and im­pe­ri­al­ists to try and dis­credit me” or “It’s me but that au­dio mis­quoted me”.

I bet that as long as Ntate Sekata re­mains LCD spokesman, we are in for some more fun.

The other sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment of truth telling came from none other than the LCD leader, Ntate Mets­ing him­self. Ntate Mets­ing re­cently made some pro­found re­marks which bear men­tion in this col­umn. Ac­cord­ing to Ntate Mets­ing, Ba­sotho need to wean them­selves from a de­pen­dency syn­drome if the na­tion har­bours the hope of grad­u­at­ing from its ig­no­ble least de­vel­oped coun­try (LDC) sta­tus.

“As Ba­sotho, we have a de­pen­dency syn­drome and are frankly quite lazy. We de­pend on for­eign aid so much that we can’t even see our own ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and it is high time that we do away with this ret­ro­gres­sive ten­dency. We can’t go on like this,” he said.

Ntate Mets­ing made the re­marks two weeks ago on the side-lines of the High-level Midterm Re­view of the Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Istanbul Pro­gramme of Ac­tion in Turkey —which in essence is a gath­er­ing of the world’s 48 LDCS (least de­vel­oped coun­tries). Be­ing clas­si­fied as an LDC should make ev­ery Mosotho drown in shame.

Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions, LDCS rep­re­sent the poor­est and weak­est seg­ment of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. The United Na­tions Of­fice of the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the Least De­vel­oped Coun­tries, Land­locked De­vel­op­ing Coun­tries and Small Is­land De- velop­ing States’ (UN-OHRLLS) def­i­ni­tion is more damn­ing, and for the sake of em­pha­sis Scru­ta­tor de­cided to copy it in its en­tirety:

“They com­prise more than 880 mil­lion peo­ple (about 12 per cent of world pop­u­la­tion), but ac­count for less than two per­cent of world GDP and about one per­cent of global trade in goods.

“Their low level of so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment is char­ac­terised by weak hu­man and in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­i­ties, low and un­equally dis­trib­uted in­come and scarcity of do­mes­tic financial re­sources. They of­ten suf­fer from gov­er­nance cri­sis, po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity and, in some cases, in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal con­flicts. Their largely agrar­ian economies are af­fected by a vi­cious cy­cle of low pro­duc­tiv­ity and low in­vest­ment. They rely on the ex­port of few pri­mary com­modi­ties as ma­jor source of ex­port and fis­cal earn­ings, which makes them highly vul­ner­a­ble to ex­ter­nal terms-of­trade shocks. Only a hand­ful has been able to di­ver­sify into the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor, though with a limited range of prod­ucts in labour-in­ten­sive in­dus­tries, i.e. tex­tiles and cloth­ing.

“Th­ese con­straints are re­spon­si­ble for in­suf­fi­cient do­mes­tic re­source mo­bil­i­sa­tion, low eco­nomic man­age­ment ca­pac­ity, weak­nesses in pro­gramme de­sign and im­ple­men­ta­tion, chronic ex­ter­nal deficits, high debt bur­dens and heavy de­pen­dence on ex­ter­nal fi­nanc­ing that have kept LDCS in a poverty trap.”

Idon’t know if there is a more suc­cinct de­scrip­tion of Le­sotho than that. The de­scrip­tion de­scribes most, but not all, the el­e­ments that con­spire to keep the Moun­tain King­dom in the dol­drums.

The as­pect that was not men­tioned in the def­i­ni­tion was lazi­ness which Ntate Mets­ing rightly pointed out. The clam­our by most Ba­sotho, be it young and old, is for the gov­ern­ment to churn out high pay­ing jobs to ad­dress the high un­em­ploy­ment rate. Or to sim­ply form hus­band and wife po­lit­i­cal par­ties. Yet the re­al­ity in the rest of Africa and even be­yond is that peo­ple have stopped look­ing to the gov­ern­ment for jobs and found in­no­va­tive ways to earn a liv­ing.

Like most res­i­dents of Maseru, Scru­ta­tor is al­ways peeved by the short­age of good gro­cery out­lets near res­i­den­tial ar­eas. The few shops that are there are run by Chi­nese na­tion­als who have a habit of sell­ing ex­pired food­stuffs that cause stom­achs to churn.

Yet prospec­tive Ba­sotho en­trepreneurs don’t see a clear op­por­tu­nity that is beg­ging to be ex­ploited. In­stead, they con­tinue to cry for the never-to-come jobs with the only area of ex­cep­tion be­ing the now woe­fully over­sub­scribed car wash in­dus­try.

The in­for­mal sec­tor in Africa is boom­ing and a good ex­am­ple is Nige­ria’s econ­omy which man­aged to sur­pass that of South Africa on the pro­ceeds of Nol­ly­wood movies, mu­sic, fash­ion and food among other com­modi­ties.

Af­ter en­dur­ing decades of cor­rup­tion and mis­gov­er­nance, the Nige­ri­ans are slowly learn­ing to be self-re­liant. No ex­am­ple bet­ter il­lus­trates Ntate Mets­ing’s peren­nial truth about the gen­eral lazi­ness of Ba­sotho than our be­lief and faith in the ef­fi­cacy of MMM as a source of in­come and liveli­hoods.

Apeo­ple who be­lieve in a shame­less scam like MMM, run by a con­victed fraud­ster like MMM pro­moter Sergey Mavrodi, is a coun­try in trou­ble. What there­fore is the way out? The only way out is to first con­cede that we are in­deed a lazy na­tion and we have a de­struc­tive de­pen­dency syn­drome as per Ntate Mets­ing’s di­ag­no­sis. Look, we have thou­sands of min­ers troop­ing to South Africa to work in mines there, yet we can es­tab­lish our own mines here.

Why should for­eign­ers be the ones com­ing to open and own all our di­a­mond mines? We do be­cause we don’t have the pedi­gree to sur­vey our own moun­tains, find the di­a­monds, man­ganese, gold and pos­si­bly many other min­eral va­ri­eties and mine them our­selves. We all flock to work in tex­tile firms that are mostly owned by for­eign­ers?

How can we surely fail to own sewing ma­chines, im­port tex­tiles and sim­ply sew T-shirts for ex­port? Why should for­eign­ers do that for us while the best we can of­fer is only cheap labour? We even buy for­eign bread, for­eign eggs and for­eign milk from Sho­prite and Pick n Pay. Why are we un­able to pro­duce th­ese ba­sic goods? Ntate Mets­ing has given us the an­swer.

Just wait and see the havoc of job­less­ness that will arise if Amer­i­cans stick to their guns over the mighty King and AGOA goes and our east­ern friends jet­ti­son us be­cause they will no longer be in­cen­tives for them to stay here. Maybe only then will we emerge from our deep slum­ber and re­al­ize that we must be in­no­va­tive, cre­ate and own our econ­omy and sell other prod­ucts to other coun­tries — not out of the favour of things like AGOA — but be­cause our prod­ucts are orig­i­nal to us and gen­uinely needed in other coun­tries.

Ba­sotho of­ten get an­gry when Scru­ta­tor chides them for their lazi­ness and lack of in­no­va­tion. But now that it’s com­ing from Ntate Mets­ing, I hope they will lis­ten, stop whin­ing and be­gin think­ing about how they can take charge of this coun­try’s des­tiny. In the mean­while, thank you Ntate Mets­ing for shar­ing my long held per­spec­tive.


LCD Spokesper­son Te­boho Sekata. Deputy prime Min­is­ter Mo­thetjoa Mets­ing.

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