Im­ple­men­ta­tion is the right move

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili this week pro­nounced the gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity’s (SADC) Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into Le­sotho’s in­sta­bil­ity. Among the ma­jor take-aways from the premier’s vo­lu­mi­nous speech was the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to im­ple­ment the Jus­tice Mphaphi Phumaphi-led Com­mis­sion of In­quiry’s rec­om­men­da­tions al­beit with some reser­va­tions.

That com­mit­ment is com­mend­able given that it was Dr Mo­sisili him­self who re­quested the re­gional bloc to set up the probe team with the in­ten­tion of ad­dress­ing Le­sotho’s po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges af­ter the fa­tal shoot­ing of former army com­man­der, Maa­parankoe Ma­hao on 25 June 2015. For the bulk of his speech, Dr Mo­sisili crit­i­cized the Com­mis­sion and its find­ings, which he is cer­tainly en­ti­tled to do. How­ever, it re­mains a fact that in­quiries of such a large scope and unique cir­cum­stances will by-and-large be far from per­fect. It’s un­likely any other group of peo­ple would have fared bet­ter given the chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances in which it was un­der­taken, with some of the wit­nesses tes­ti­fy­ing while in ex­ile.

The long and short of it is that SADC came to Le­sotho’s aid by ac­qui­esc­ing to the re­quest for a com­mis­sion of in­quiry at very great cost. What Le­sotho now needs to fo­cus on is im­ple­men­ta­tion of the rec­om­men­da­tions with­out fur­ther de­lay. Some of the rec­om­men­da­tions are like sour-tast­ing medicine which is not po­lit­i­cal­ly­con­ve­nient. It goes with­out say­ing that the im­ple­men­ta­tion process will be far from easy. How­ever, it of­fers a his­toric op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress many struc­tural chal­lenges Le­sotho has faced since in­de­pen­dence in 1966.

Over the past 50 years, Le­sotho has been caught in this pol­i­tics-first time warp while eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties pass us by. Im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions will give the gov­ern­ment an op­por­tu­nity to fo­cus on the de­vel­op­men­tal is­sues they promised to ad­dress while cam­paign­ing to get elected. Af­ter all is said and done, the or­di­nary man or woman in the street is not par­tic­u­larly con­cerned with who holds what po­si­tion, but with their ma­te­rial liv­ing con­di­tions.

The ma­jor­ity in this coun­try elected the seven par­ties gov­ern­ing this na­tion with the hope and ex­pec­ta­tion that their lives would markedly im­prove over the course of its ten­ure. Im­ple­men­ta­tion will also en­sure the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing SADC, the African Union and de­vel­op­ment part­ners, con­tinue to be by Le­sotho’s side as we chart our de­vel­op­men­tal path. There is cer­tainly noth­ing to be gained in as­sum­ing a pariah sta­tus as can be at­tested by such coun­tries as North Korea, Venezuela and Zim­babwe among oth­ers.

Le­sotho cer­tainly re­serves its right to sovereignty, but in this case it is not at stake. We can­not pre­tend to be able to ad­dress this na­tion’s chal­lenges on our own. Just last week, a De­mo­graphic and Health Sur­vey re­port re­vealed that Le­sotho’s HIV preva­lence rate had spiked from 23 per­cent to 25 per­cent.

Some of the causes of the spike are un­der­ly­ing so­cio­cul­tural, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal fac­tors. Af­ter all, Le­sotho is be­set by high poverty and un­em­ploy­ment rates which in­crease Ba­sotho’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity to get­ting in­fected with the virus. These are the is­sues that should rank high on the gov­ern­ment’s pri­or­ity list in­stead of fire­fight­ing the grow­ing neg­a­tive per­cep­tion of the coun­try.

Count­less global fi­nan­cial agen­cies have un­der­scored the ur­gent need for Le­sotho to im­prove the busi­ness cli­mate to strengthen com­pet­i­tive­ness, build in­vestor con­fi­dence, and boost the coun­try’s growth po­ten­tial. In­ter­na­tional rat­ing agency, Fitch Rat­ings, in April this year noted that per­cep­tions of po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity had neg­a­tively im­pacted on in­vestor con­fi­dence in the coun­try and re­sulted in weak real Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct growth.

Im­ple­ment­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions is also in the gov­ern­ment’s long-term in­ter­ests. Only un­der a sta­ble po­lit­i­cal frame­work can the eco­nomic poli­cies and in­sti­tu­tional changes needed to build the econ­omy be ef­fected. In a thriv­ing econ­omy, cit­i­zens see the folly of fight­ing each other and fo­cus on ex­ploit­ing the eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties be­fore them. How­ever, if poverty and de­pri­va­tion re­main the or­der of the day, un­rest will con­tinue to the detri­ment of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

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