No land for development in Lesotho
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!