No land for de­vel­op­ment in Le­sotho

Lesotho Times - - Feedback -

within the road re­serve. There is no land al­lo­cated to fac­to­ries, schools and ser­vices (wa­ter and elec­tric­ity).

A so­lu­tion is to con­vert some of the lo­cal coun­cils into au­ton­o­mous mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties but em­pha­sis must be placed on get­ting qual­i­fied vi­sion­ar­ies to be city man­agers.

Prob­lem 5: Hoard­ing of prime

land by churches Is it eth­i­cal for churches to own land and prop­er­ties worth bil­lions of mal­oti yet chil­dren and young peo­ple live in con­stant des­per­a­tion, anx­i­ety and poverty?

This topic con­flicts with what Je­sus Christ stood and fought for. From what I have learnt, Je­sus Christ was a free­dom fighter be­cause he fought for the rights of the youths, the poor, the sick and the marginalised. Je­sus Christ was an ad­vo­cate of jus­tice for the poor.

Our churches in Le­sotho are do­ing the ex­act op­po­site of what Je­sus Christ stood for. A val­u­a­tion of lands and prop­er­ties owned by Le­sotho churches would run into bil­lions of mal­oti. Un­for­tu­nately, very few peo­ple are aware of that fact.

Most churches own acres of prime land and prop­er­ties that re­main idle and un­de­vel­oped with the ex­cep­tion of the LEC/KEL Church. From my ex­pe­ri­ence, the KEL Church is the most or­gan­ised re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tion that has an of­fice ded­i­cated to prop­erty de­vel­op­ment and man­age­ment. There is also an ef­fort here and there from the Angli­can Church of Le­sotho.

Churches hoard fer­tile land that has po­ten­tial to feed thou­sands of hun­gry kids coun­try­wide. Churches also lock land that has po­ten­tial to ed­u­cate hun­dreds of thou­sands of young peo­ple from the en­tire con­ti­nent.

Churches also hoard prime land that has a po­ten­tial to be de­vel­oped into prime prop­er­ties that can em­ploy thou­sands of un­em­ployed young peo­ple.

What I re­ally find sad is that, Churches spear­headed de­vel­op­ment in Le­sotho. Churches were re­spon­si­ble for build­ing schools, hospitals, uni­ver­si­ties and even cre­ated jobs and that was what Je­sus stood for. A bet­ter life for all.

It’s also un­for­tu­nate to re­alise that in mod­ern times, our churches are just okay with not de­vel­op­ing the coun­try. They are also okay with not feed­ing and ed­u­cat­ing the poor. All they are af­ter is the Sun­day of­fer­ing and life can go on as nor­mal.

Our churches need to re­mem­ber that they are equally re­spon­si­ble for de­vel­op­ing Le­sotho in or­der to cre­ate jobs. Our churches also need to re­mem­ber that it is their re­spon­si­bil­ity to ed­u­cate young minds and to pro­vide for their well-be­ing.

I be­lieve that it is very un­eth­i­cal for in­sti­tu­tions that rep­re­sent Christ to deny ci­ti­zens a means to a bet­ter life. It is also sin­ful for Le­sotho’s youths to live in con­stant des­per­a­tion and anx­i­ety of not know­ing what the fu­ture holds, yet in­sti­tu­tions that are meant to pro­vide hope and life are worth bil­lions.

If churches are not pre­pared to de­velop Le­sotho as they have done in the past, then they should be pre­pared to pay tax like all other in­sti­tu­tions. I am sure that the Le­sotho Rev­enue Au­thor­ity would be happy to col­lect a few ex­tra mil­lions an­nu­ally.

Prob­lem 6: Lack of a city-based

univer­sity I have taken great in­ter­est in city uni­ver­si­ties such as the Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand, Univer­sity of South Africa, Univer­sity of the Free State and the Univer­sity of Pre­to­ria. All those uni­ver­si­ties are lo­cated in the cen­tral busi­ness dis­tricts and act as en­gines of growth to the econ­omy.

In­dus­try feeds from re­search and knowhow of uni­ver­si­ties and in re­turn, uni­ver­si­ties get fund­ing and re­sources from the in­dus­try. Stu­dents also ac­quire first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence on how in­dus­tries op­er­ate. It ac­tu­ally works like magic.

I be­lieve, that it was a big mis­take that Le­sotho never thought of in­vest­ing in a univer­sity lo­cated in Maseru’s cen­tral busi­ness dis­trict.

It is proven be­yond rea­son­able doubt that the cur­rent lo­ca­tion of the Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho is not of ben­e­fit to the gov­ern­ment or the pri­vate sec­tor be­cause it’s just too far. It is also not ben­e­fi­cial to stu­dents for them to get prac­ti­cal knowl­edge from the in­dus­try.

Le­sotho needs to make a bold move and in­vest in a world-class univer­sity even if it means un­lock­ing the land oc­cu­pied by the prison, PTC and Ratjo­mose Bar­racks.

Basotho ci­ti­zens need to do what Batswana ci­ti­zens did about 50 years ago when they had to build a univer­sity from scratch. Each Motswana ci­ti­zen had to con­trib­ute a cow and the cam­paign was named, “One man, one cow”. Since, wealth of Basotho lies in 4+1 taxis, each Mosotho can con­trib­ute a 4+1, and name the cam­paign, “one man, one 4+1”.

Prob­lem 7: Land and prop­er­ties in

wrong hands King Moshoeshoe I fought for Basotho to own land that they are able to live in peace and pros­per­ity for gen­er­a­tions to come. It is sad to re­alise that what King Moshoeshoe I fought hard for has been re­duced to noth­ing.

I am not against Asians do­ing busi­ness in Le­sotho but I am against Basotho be­ing de­nied an op­por­tu­nity to de­velop what is right­fully theirs. Basotho ci­ti­zens de­serve first pri­or­ity and have ev­ery right to own any piece of land in their coun­try.

In mod­ern times, one sees Asian com­muni- ties that re­ally don’t care about the well­be­ing of Basotho yet they own prime land in ma­jor ur­ban ar­eas of Le­sotho. One sees sub-stan­dard, low-grade prop­er­ties that re­ally leave much to be de­sired. One sees prop­er­ties that lack ba­sic ser­vices such as public toi­lets. Like re­ally? Se­ri­ously? Is that how low we have be­come as a so­ci­ety?

I am not be­ing xeno­pho­bic and will try to be sen­si­tive on this topic but how do Asians end up own­ing prime land in Le­sotho? Are Basotho that cheap?

An­other im­por­tant point on land and prop­er­ties that are in the wrong hands is of money flow­ing to the wrong hands. Wrong hands can be loosely in­ter­preted as ir­re­spon­si­ble ci­ti­zens.

I have wit­nessed a tragedy of sorts whereby money “chooses” to go to ir­re­spon­si­ble peo­ple in Le­sotho. Yes, it can be Basotho na­tion­als, born and bred in Le­sotho. Those are the kind of peo­ple who are not pre­pared to de­velop the coun­try at all yet they own prime prop­er­ties and land. The big­gest tragedy of all, are in­di­vid­u­als that in­herit prop­erty and land and end up in bit­ter fam­ily bat­tles at the ex­pense of de­vel­op­ment.

In Con­clu­sion De­vel­op­ment be­gins with hav­ing po­lit­i­cal will and that’s a will to get things done.

It will be very dif­fi­cult for the 4 x 4 gov­ern­ment to gen­er­ate jobs un­less most of the above men­tioned points are ad­dressed. A lack of jobs has very dev­as­ta­tion ef­fects on so­cial is­sues, which end up be­com­ing a bur­den on the state and tax-pay­ers.

Se­condly, the 4 x 4 gov­ern­ment needs to take busi­ness very se­ri­ously if it ex­pects the tax rev­enue to in­crease. A na­tional tax col­lec­tion of less than M6 bil­lion in 2017 is noth­ing but a joke. It means busi­ness is ei­ther play­ing silly games or non-ex­is­tent.

Gov­ern­ment needs to cre­ate proper lan­duse poli­cies that are pro-de­vel­op­ment for the sake of jobs. It is im­pos­si­ble to get eco­nomic growth if the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to lock prime land that can be con­verted for com­mer­cial use.

Land is an im­por­tant sub­ject that can­not be ig­nored. I would ad­vise the gov­ern­ment to have a land sum­mit be­fore jump­ing straight into a jobs sum­mit. I would also like to ad­vice the par­lia­ment to have ro­bust par­lia­men­tary sub-com­mit­tees.

Gov­ern­ment agen­cies need to be called be­fore par­lia­ment to an­swer per­ti­nent ques­tions about their role in de­stroy­ing Le­sotho’s econ­omy. Those par­lia­men­tary ses­sions should be tele­vised live so that all un­em­ployed youths and old peo­ple know the rea­son why they are poor.

Hon­ourable Mach­esetsa and Hon­ourable Litjobo, kindly fol­low-up on these is­sues ur­gently!

It can’t be busi­ness as usual!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.