OP-EDs

ARE OUR POLITICIANS EQUAL TO THE TASK AT HAND?

By Nkopane Mathibeli

“Virtue means doing the right thing in relation to the right person, at the right time, to the right extent, in the right manner and for the right purpose” – Aristotle

Inasmuch as Aristotle said this about a person’s virtue in relation to another person within a social context, the intention here is to adapt the spirit of what he said to Lesotho’s political economic context, with Lesotho politicians as subjects and the country being the object they subject to their virtue, i.e. if they have any.

But are they a virtuous lot? With regard to the economic task ahead, are they capable of doing the right thing i.e. reversing Lesotho’s economic subjugation, by South Africa, at the right time, which is now and in the right manner, which entails giving the country an economy of its own and for the right purpose which is to ensure that Lesotho holds its own in the political economy of Southern Africa?

Are these many men and a handful of women really up to this economic task at hand?

Opinions will always differ particularly in Lesotho where half a loaf is better than no bread, even when it is dry and hardly edible; where what were previously food-for-work schemes have become part of the institutional framework of job creation, passionately credited to politicians/governments and where politicians are considered job creation maestros for kicking out civil servants hired by their opponents only to hire their own supporters.

That is Lesotho for you; the land where unrefined, politically charged and personality cult driven logic becomes superior logic merely because the majority subscribes to it.

The same will definitely apply regarding public opinion on the economic virtue of our politicians [policy wise].

It may make others uncomfortable but we have virtually become a nation of group thinkers whether in the realm of party politics or social/family politics and mind you, that’s the lowest level of organised thought available.

How did we get here? Simple, through the demonisation of free thought. Because our politicians are thoroughly unequal to the economic task at hand, they have successfully diverted the attention of the masses from their mediocrity by using certain sections of the media to engender a group think mentality on a mass scale.

When spoken in isolation i.e. without links to practical realities, this doesn’t make much sense and so perhaps mentioning, in passing, the fate of Teboho Mojapela, Tlali Khasu and maybe even Motlohi Maliehe within the context of ABC’s governance politics, will shine the right light on this issue.

These three were thoroughly demonised after they freely expressed their thoughts against the administrative vices of the party leader.

Ironically, the very same people who were mobilised to demonise them are limitless when expressing their disdain for the current Prime Minister after realising that he doesn’t have what it takes to improve Lesotho’s economic fortunes.

But who amongst Lesotho’s political leaders is up to the task of building Lesotho a strong economic base as a prelude to freeing it from the economic slavery it has been subjected to by South Africa since 1910?

Is it Mokhothu with his Democratic Congress; Moleleki with his Alliance of Democrats; Mochoboroane with his Movement for Economic Change; Metsing with his Lesotho Congress for Democracy; ‘Maseribane with his Basotho National Party or any other political leader not mentioned here?

The group think mentality will not help us answer this question, neither will our traditional infatuation with political leaders/parties.

Importantly, it seems Basotho have to reconfigure their mind when it comes to deciding which political leader/party to vote into power.

Their attachment to a political leader on the basis of how sharply he/she can criticise his opponents and how poetically he/she can wax lyrical about grandiose plans for Lesotho has dismally failed this nation.

Their tangible plans on how Lesotho can become an economic powerhouse in its own right must be instruments we use to evaluate their eligibility.

As a point of departure and a prelude to a follow-up piece, the NSDP says that our workforce is 60 percent of the total population. This might have increased.

Nonetheless, taking into consideration the 2016 de jure census figure, removing the half a million Basotho estimated to be living and working in South Africa leaves us with a de facto population of 1,507,201 and a workforce of 904,321.

Applying the unemployment rate of 27.25 percent leaves us with 246,427 people actively seeking but failing to acquire employment during this third quarter.

Though premised on available data, this inference may not truly reflect the reality on the ground but is nonetheless part of the ammunition in our arsenal to launch an offensive against empty, populist political rhetoric.

Now if I may ask, what does your political leader/party have to say about this; where is the plan; is it watertight? Importantly, are you fool-proof? NW

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