‘Small busi­nesses cen­tre of econ­omy’

Lesotho Times - - Business -

PRIME Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili’s de­ci­sion to reshuf­fle Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD) Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Se­libe Mo­choboroane from the En­ergy and Me­te­o­rol­ogy min­istry to the Small Business De­vel­op­ment, Co-op­er­a­tives and Mar­ket­ing portfolio was per­ceived by many as a de­mo­tion in light of the in­fight­ing rock­ing the government.

How­ever, Mr Mo­choboroane has begged to dif­fer, say­ing he viewed it as a new chal­lenge to bet­ter the lives of bud­ding en­trepreneurs. Mr Mo­choboroane re­placed Thabiso Litšiba who was fired along with two other min­is­ters and a deputy min­is­ter.

In this wide-rang­ing in­ter­view, Mr Mo­choboroane tells Le­sotho Times (LT) re­porter Pas­cali­nah Kabi about his new man­date and the pri­or­ity ar­eas for the min­istry.

LT: Do you re­gard your trans­fer as a de­mo­tion?

Mo­choboroane: I sus­pec­tus­pect I came to my new min­istry at an op­por­tune­tune time. Many peo­ple might see it as a de­mo­tion,mo­tion, but I see it as a bless­ing in dis­guisee be­cause this is one of the min­istries I amm pas­sion­ate about.

So for me, this is a pro­mo­tion. If ad-ad­min­is­tered well withh proper mecha-mech­a­nisms in place, this min­istrymin­istry is and can ac­tu­ally be our eco­nomicmic lib­er­a­tor. We have just cel­e­brated 50 years of in­de­pen­dence and the way I in­ter­pret this in-in­de­pen­dence is to­tallyally dif­fer­ent from manyny peo­ple’s un­der­stand­ing.

My un­der­stand­ing is that Le­sotho’s past 50 years of in­de­pen­dence were only po­lit­i­cal. We have been freed po­lit­i­cally but still colonised eco­nom­i­cally be­cause our econ­omy is en­tirely in­flu­enced by that of South Africa.

If South African’s econ­omy sneezes, Le­sotho im­me­di­ately catches flue and I am call­ing for all of us Ba­sotho to work to­gether for the next 50 years for our econ­omy’s in­de­pen­dence.

So, for me, this can only be a de­mo­tion if our good plans to lib­er­ate the coun­try from its de­pen­dency on the South African econ­omy don’t get a buy-in from the lead­ers in government. LT: What are you go­ing to do dif­fer­ently from your pre­de­ces­sor to en­sure that your Min­istry PLAYS A SIG­NIF­I­CANT ROLE IN chang­ing the coun­try’s econ­omy?

Mo­choboroane: My first as­sign­ment was to study the man­date of the Min­istry of Small Business De­vel­op­ment, Co-op­er­a­tives and Mar­ket­ing. I needed to fully un­der­stand the laws and poli­cies that gov­ern this min­istry so I could pre­pare my­self for the long jour­ney of ex­tri­cat­ing Ba­sotho from poverty. I have a strong con­vic­tion­conv that small busi­ness­es­nesses and the in­for­main­for­mal sec­tor are the cen­tre of the econ­omy oof this coun­try. This is why I am trav­trav­el­ling through­out the coun­try to meemeet the women and men op­er­at­ing in this sec­tor. So far, I have been in three dis­tricts, making­ing our local pro­duc­ers aware that this coun­try hhas laws to pro­tect lo­cal­cal pro­duce. Prior to my district vis­its, I askasked civil ser­vants in ththe min­istry to com­pile a de­tailed import and eex­port re­port. The re­port showed that 80 per­cent of the prod­ucts we con­sume are im­ported from South Africa, prov­ing the point that Le­sotho is still at the smallscale level of pro­duc­tion. I have asked the llo­cal pro­duc­ers on the mea­sures we need to take as a coun­try to meet the con­sump­tion de­mands and to en­sure our econ­omy is not de­pen­dent on South Africa.

In 2014 alone, Le­sotho im­ported chicken worth of M626 365 461.15; cab­bage worth M60 mil­lion and im­ported bot­tled wa­ter stood at M69 311 088.66 all from South Africa. Are we se­ri­ously im­port­ing bot­tled wa­ter worth mil­lions from South Africa when we have our own com­pe­tent bot­tling com­pa­nies?

If you look at the en­tire re­port, you will re­alise where our main chal­lenge lies and that an­other coun­try is de­vel­op­ing at our ex­pense.

So my sec­ond move is to en­sure we stop be­ing eco­nom­i­cally-de­pen­dent on South Africa be­cause it is driv­ing us into poverty. We need to sus­tain our econ­omy and en­sure it ac­tu­ally grows by pro­duc­ing local prod­ucts. We have the po­ten­tial to be eco­nom­i­cally-in­de­pen­dent and this min­istry has all the pow­ers to lead Le­sotho to eco­nomic free­dom.

For in­stance, we need to in­crease the scale of wool pro­duc­tion and in­crease farm­ers’ ca­pac­ity.

LT: What are some of the key chal­lenges you have spot­ted dur­ing the three district vis­its you have taken since be­ing trans­ferred to this min­istry?

Mo­choboroane: I re­alised that we don’t have a solid data­base of local pro­duc­ers who can sus­tain­ably sup­ply our coun­try for 5-6 months with­out any dif­fi­cul­ties. So our very point of en­try is to sen­si­tise our local pro­duc­ers and make them be­lieve in them­selves be­cause they ac­tu­ally have the po­ten­tially to feed this coun­try for six months with­out depend­ing on South Africa.

This will help us build our own data­base. Our de­part­ment of mar­ket­ing is help­ing us com­pile this data­base and en­sure that po­ten­tial local pro­duc­ers are em­pow­ered. As government, we have made a con­scious de­ci­sion to sup­port local pro­duc­ers and en­sure we buy from them first and South African pro­duc­ers later.

There is no deny­ing that we have well es­tab­lished local pro­duc­ers man­u­fac­tur­ing qual­ity prod­ucts, but can they cater for the local mar­ket due to high de­mands.

The other ma­jor chal­lenge is lack of ac­cess to fund­ing. If we are to win this war, we need to en­sure that Ba­sotho are not given sub­si­dies but rather as government we re­move all the strin­gent reg­u­la­tions for them to be able to ac­cess fund­ing from com­mer­cial fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions.

Sub­si­dies have cre­ated a can­cer­ous de­pen­dency syn­drome among our peo­ple, and we can­not move for­ward with this ten­dency if we are se­ri­ous about eco­nomic free­dom. Ba­sotho should think out of the box and meet me half way in lib­er­at­ing this coun­try eco­nom­i­cally.

Pric­ing is still a ma­jor prob­lem among our local pro­duc­ers. They need to un­der­stand that re­tail­ing and con­sumer prices are dif­fer­ent, and as pro­duc­ers they must sell at the re­tail prices. Their prod­ucts should meet the set local qual­ity stan­dards, and be com­pet­i­tive in the mar­ket.

We need to start by lov­ing our own coun­try as this will help us to sup­port our local pro­duc­ers. I see a lot of po­ten­tial. For me, Le­sotho is a vir­gin wait­ing to be ex­plored eco­nom­i­cally and I am glad to be lead­ing a min­istry whose man­date is to lib­er­ate the coun­try eco­nom­i­cally.

The min­istry is mulling plans to es­tab­lish its own chicken and pig­gery abat­toir. But be­fore we do that, we need to en­sure we can sus­tain the sup­ply chain for the mar­ket. This will help de­crease the high un­em­ploy­ment rate in Le­sotho.

As part of so­lu­tions to the prob­lems I have men­tioned above, we are also go­ing to re­vive the fa­mous auc­tions we used to have in Le­sotho. These auc­tions cre­ated a guar­an­teed mar­ket for our local live­stock farm­ers and plans are un­der­way to have one be­fore Christ­mas.

The de­part­ment of mar­ket­ing is also mak­ing prepa­ra­tions to hold ex­ten­sive business train­ings for our local pro­duc­ers. We also want to have a flea mar­ket once every month where our local pro­duc­ers will dis­play their

Small Business De­vel­op­ment, Co-op­er­a­tives and mar­ket­ing min­is­ter Se­libe mo­choboroane.

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