Min­is­ter calls for pol­i­tics paradigm shift

Lesotho Times - - News - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

MIN­IS­TER of Min­ing, Keketso Sello, says he joined pol­i­tics out of a strong de­sire to help cre­ate a new Le­sotho teem­ing with eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for all cit­i­zens. As a busi­ness­man, Mr Sello, said he was alive to the need for trans­parency, fair­ness and ac­count­abil­ity in the award­ing of ten­ders. He said he was par­tic­u­larly galled by the cul­ture of crony­ism and the fail­ure of politi­cians to cre­ate a con­ducive at­mos­phere for ten­ders to be awarded to de­serv­ing com­pa­nies, a de­vel­op­ment which had neg­a­tive con­se­quences for the econ­omy and over­all na­tional de­vel­op­ment. “I am a business man and have al­ways been,” said the son of an un­der­taker who in­her­ited the fam­ily business. “I de­cided to ven­ture into pol­i­tics af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dis­ap­point­ment at the hands of politi­cians we had voted into power. I felt it was time I stopped be­ing a spec­ta­tor and needed to play a part in ef­fect­ing the change I wanted to see. “I was com­pelled to join pol­i­tics to find out why it was so hard for politi­cians to cre­ate a con­ducive play­ing field for all business peo­ple. For the long­est time politi­cians have failed to pro­tect business peo­ple. There has al­ways been favouritism in award­ing of ten­ders and this has never sat well with me.” And he should know be­cause af­ter all, the rul­ing All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion’s leg­is­la­tor for the Hlotse #13 con­stituency in the Leribe dis­trict is a business man of note. Born to an un­der­taker in 1970, Mr Sello in­her­ited the fam­ily business. He said his min­is­te­rial ap­point­ment as a came as a great sur­prise that he never saw com­ing. “Be­ing ap­pointed a min­is­ter came as a shock, let alone the min­is­ter of such an im­por­tant port­fo­lio as min­ing which has the po­ten­tial to change Ba­sotho’s liveli­hoods. I felt hon­oured and hum­bled. It also ex­cited me be­cause I am very am­bi­tious and I ac­cepted the chal­lenge as I would like to turn around the min­ing sec­tor.” He said the trans­for­ma­tion of the min­ing sec­tor started with ad­her- ence to the pro­ce­dures by min­ing ap­pli­cants and those who award ten­ders on the ba­sis of crony­ism and cor­rup­tion.

He said he was ad­vo­cat­ing for zero tol­er­ance of cor­rup­tion in min­ing be­cause this was one of the sec­tors that was hit hard by graft.

“There are a whole lot of pend­ing court cases in min­ing and gov­ern­ment needs to clear them. Even though I am not a part of the min­ing board, I am go­ing to make it my business to push for trans­parency in the award­ing of ten­ders. I will ad­vise them un­til they do the right thing. No to cor­rup­tion.”

He vowed to vet every min­ing li­cence is­sued, start­ing from the rec­om­men­da­tions for­warded to him be­fore ap­pend­ing his sig­na­ture.

“All li­censes should be awarded trans­par­ently be­cause I won’t sign any­thing I am not com­fort­able with just be­cause it has been for­warded to me by the (min­ing) board.”

He said there was still the chal­lenge of en­gag­ing ex­pa­tri­ates even for jobs that could be done by lo­cals, adding this em­anated from lack of co­or­di­na­tion between his min­istry and that of Labour and Em­ploy­ment.

“There is need for the two min­istries to work to­gether as they are in­ter­twined. No min­istry can op­er­ate in si­los and it is for us to make it hap­pen. Ex­pa­tri­ates should be there for two years and there is a se­ri­ous need for se­ri­ous trans­fer of skills and I feel that this is long over­due.”

As an un­der­taker who owns the Le­sotho Fu­neral Ser­vices, Mr Sello is par­tic­u­larly in­censed by the gen­eral ne­glect of the dead which has seen him ar­range for the free burial of corpses that of­ten went un­claimed by rel­a­tives.

He chal­lenged gov­ern­ment to do some­thing about the sit­u­a­tion, say­ing “th­ese are the same peo­ple who were lured into vot­ing politi­cians into power and yet they were ne­glected once they died”.

“Politi­cians only care about vot­ers while they are still alive,” he said.

“Be­ing in my line of business has re­ally hum­bled me to ap­pre­ci­ate God’s great­ness and also un­der­stand that we are what we are be­cause of other peo­ple.

“So I have also learnt to al­ways help out when­ever I can as I am some­times stuck with ne­glected corpses out of neg­li­gence or even out of des­ti­tu­tion.”

Mr Sello con­cluded by call­ing for a paradigm shift in the way politi­cians went about their business, dis­ap­point­ing the elec­torate in the process.

MIN­IS­TER of Min­ing Keketso Sello.

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