OP-EDs

REMOVING TRUMP’S OFFENSIVE SHITHOLE LABEL – ARE WE THERE YET?

Can Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s government make Lesotho great again? Someone may ask; when was Lesotho ever great? And I wouldn’t be surprised. Most Basotho do not know Lesotho differently.

By Nkopane Mathibeli

First Published on Mathibeli’s blog

Very few Africans were not annoyed at U.S. President Donald Trump’s insinuation that they are pieces of pooh and that their countries are holes that keep the pooh where it belongs; not to creep into the America he pledged to make great again during his election campaign.

What is the basis of Trump’s disregard for countries like ours?

Despite the government spokesperson’s assertion, after Trump’s rant, that our Kingdom is not included in Trump’s classification, not many of us were and are still not convinced.

It would therefore be helpful to cease being in denial but rather to address the issues that actually make us look like a shithole. Who amongst us is not aware of such issues?

The mass emigration of our people is a glaring sign that the economic environment of our Kingdom is unacceptably hostile.

In the same breath, the perennial political squabbles, the general ignorance of the masses and intermittent spells of military delinquency give the health of our Kingdom away and actually dictate how some, including Trump, judge us.

The only reasons I make mention of Trump are his presidential status and the fact that the words he otherwise would not want publicised found their way into the public domain.

Have you ever thought of the likelihood that in their private conversations, officials of the South African government, our so called neighbour, talk about us in even worse, unprintable language? Otherwise, what explains the hostility our people experience regarding their contact with their country?

Can Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s government make Lesotho great again?
Someone may ask; when was Lesotho ever great? …and I wouldn’t be surprised. Most Basotho do not know Lesotho differently.

This notwithstanding, it is documented that we were once a great nation. A nation at peace with itself and prosperous enough to keep everyone adequately nourished.

None of these ancient traits hold true anymore.
Is this who we really are? Absolutely not and neither were we destined for this.

The truth is that we are actually in the abyss and Trump’s only sin was to put his own cynical twist to our already annoying reality. It would therefore not be helpful to sulk at Trump or the USA but rather to work tirelessly and strategically to restore our long lost dignity.

But is the incumbent government up to this task? By virtue of the coalition agreement signed on the 31st August 2017, it has undertaken to do just that.

However, to objectively assess whether it is indeed up to the task requires one not only to judge its performance against the set objectives.

One would also have to know the capabilities of individual Ministers, Principal Secretaries, Directors and Heads of Departments; to find out whether the bureaucracy through which they are mandated to achieve these objectives is a meritocracy.

What is however plain for everyone to see and safe to say is that instead of making Lesotho great again, Thabane’s government seems hell bent on making it the worst it has ever been.

The long term prospects of dismantling the shithole classification.

The government cannot obviously restore Lesotho’s dignity within this two years and two months it has been in office.

It is also important to note that on the basis of having been elected at the height of the dark days of military delinquency, extra-judicial killings and the impunity of the perpetrators, the masses had significant confidence in the capabilities of the government but specifically, the capabilities of the Prime Minister.

They believed that his word was bond.

His government has however gone out of its way to squander such confidence, simultaneously dimming the prospects of dismantling Lesotho’s shithole classification.

Lesotho’s destiny is however not in Thabane’s government or any one among the numerous political parties currently registered.

It is actually in the hands of the people who still have many years of the life left to endure, as Trump would probably say, a shithole existence. These are the youth.

The million-dollar question is, are they politically conscious enough?

In that case, I only have Bertolt Brecht’s words for them: “The political illiterate is the worst illiterate. He hears nothing, sees nothing and take no part in political life” NW

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