Of bedroom strategies, boardroom plans

Lesotho Times
12 Min Read

moratoa hlongwaIt was quite refreshing for Scrutator to sit through such a stimulating event and hear Lesotho’s honest business people ring some home truths about our entrepreneurial failures.

In their no-holds-barred presentations to a business briefing in Maseru last week, celebrated businessmen Sam Matekane and businesswoman Moratuoa Hlongwa hit the proverbial nail on the head; We Basotho record high business failures because we run our companies on the basis of bedroom strategies instead of boardroom strategies.

This indeed has been the pitfall of many businesses in our country. Wholesale decisions that affect a company are made in the privacy of one’s bedroom where, in the heat of the moment, fatal undertakings are mad asemotions cloud sound judgment.

“The bedroom strategy has no controls nor strategies. The owner will arrive at home and while on the bed says ‘sweetie our client has paid today, lets buy a new Range Rover’ without regard to proper management of the cash flow of the business”, charged Hlongwa.

Scrutator couldn’t agree more. I have seen in this country, many wannabe entrepreneurs or is it tenderpreneurs, after getting a portion of the payment as advance payment to do the job, rush across the border to visit the nearest motor vehicle showroom. They buy the latest or cushiest car that most of the tender money can buy.

The next thing is they fail to complete the project. The client complains until they resort to courts and of course Scrutator’s tribe of scribes dutifully put the news on radio and in newspapers. The next thing, the same tenderpreneur is crying foul that journalists are nosy. But that’s their job – “newshounds”.
But I digress.

This stigma of getting business opportunities and blowing them needed people like our very own Hlongwa to bluntly remind Basotho. She went on to say, “You (Basotho) must jettison this bedroom governance and stop thinking about investing in a plush holiday or your girlfriend first once you have won a tender instead of investing in a business.”

Scrutator vividly remembers a former MP friend who spend most of his interest-free loan on parties. It was party after party. He was about to throw the Mother of All Parties on the shores of Maqalika when
somebody reminded him police had put a moratorium on “Beach Parties”, then.

The guy suddenly had more friends than Scrutator had ever seen her having. And girlfriends
. . . . You guessed right, I will simply leave that to your imagination.

In Scrutator’s mother language we say, Of bedroom strategies, boardroom plans “Motho ea jang peo”. Yes many businesses have ended in still-born births. There is no shortage of business ideas among Basotho.

There are plenty of brilliant ideas. The devil as they say is in the implementation. Most of these ideas remain lofty and high sounding ideas which will not create jobs and if they do that will only be for a short while, unsustainable. This is a tendency that has buried many promising enterprises. Basotho, let’s look at ourselves introspectively and be honest with ourselves. Many fail because they act
as if they have arrived before they even get started.

I have written before at how my heart bleeds at the high rate of business failures in this country. This partly explains why we have no industries to talk about despite our massive potential as a nation.
Our most successful industry, the car wash business, is hardly the stuff that creates prosperous nations.

Scrutator cries when she sees a car wash business open at every corner. What if these were high tech innovative exporting businesses. Would there be unemployment in this country? I ask myself. We, Basotho, even missed on owning our largest employing segment, the textile factories, and left this obligation to those short men and short women with round faces and round eyes from thatother corner of the world. I never stop wandering.

Producing clothes requires the sewing machines, the cloths and patterns. Nothing extraordinary.
Are we so daft that we could not venture to dominate this potentially lucrative sector on our own than bequeath it to the foreigners, who export the proceeds from textile sales and pay us starvation wages?
Lets emerge out of our deep slumber and take charge of our national destiny by producing good ideas for business and running enterprises well. I whole heartedly agree with you Hlongwa. No more bedroom strategies please. Let’s us have boardroom strategies.

This should include less car washes and more innovative factories at these corners.

On a lighter but still sad note is yet another no less common mistake people make in search of money.
Human beings are fickle. You cannot explain why con artists dare dupe even the most learned.
They use the same old trick that earlier generations of tsotsis have used to cheat an ever-present large pool of well meaning but gullible victims.

A man parted with M162 000 of his employer’s money. Worryingly, this is no ordinary man but a bank employee. These are people who were generally above average performers at school who, unlike Scrutator who was never good at numbers that’s why she is a mere writer, were most likely the best maths and accounts students during their school days.

Working for a bank or any financial institution would suggest not only an above-average flair with numbers, one would presume, but also an appreciation of how to manage money and even grow it.
The old complaint most bread winners throw at their dependants, “Money does not grow on tree”, seems to be an overused cliché, yet it seems this particular bank employee still needs such a reminder.

One theory would be that the con artists use magic to hypnotise their victims and before they know it they have signed away their dignity by agreeing to such ridiculous schemes.

Without reopening the old wounds about MKM, at least in that ponzi scheme there was logic and people were dealing with an entity that has a physical address and with Basotho whose faces
they could identify with.

In this case, all that is known is the wonderful money spinner was a stranger from somewhere far in East Africa, if at all he hails from there in the first place.

The morale of the story: “Money does not grow on trees”. People should simply understand
every cent has to be earned, unless you win lotto.

This is not the first time this happened. Last year, we had a similar story in the media from the courts. Scrutator is cork sure we have not heard the last of such cases either. For as long as human being live, there will always be many among us who are tempted to throw away caution to the wing to make a quick buck.

These con artistes use the same tried and tested understanding of human beings. Mankind is a bundle of wants; human beings are greedy. The more one has the more they want. It is this understanding of how human psyche works that will continue to add more statistics to the same old trick.

The guy was made to believe the money would multiply, exponentially from M162 000 to M11 million.
Scrutator could not help but imagine what she would do if M11 million suddenly landed on her lap.
The first thing would be to upgrade her old model corolla, then improve the wadrobe, build her own house, build another for her frail mother, secure a helping hand for her household, eat what she really feels like eating, stop a regular visit to gambling machines. . . the list keeps growing. A list of wants!
This is the human flaw crooks capitalise on: GREED.

All the victims have the same common denominator. They have more things to buy than they can ever afford and they want money

One feels sorry for the victim in question. Wherever he will be he will have to answer the same uncomfortable question over and
over again: What got into you? Interestingly, the man’s defence was he thought this miracle worker was bona fide since there was an advert in the media. Long ago there was a maxim: “A book never lies”.

In this case, it would seem the reasoning was, surely the printed word cannot lie. Yes, that may be true except it’s about the person or
people behind the advert.The mentality among most of these con artists if you ask them is that they are not tsotsis.
They don’t want to be classified as such or be associated with robbers and pick pockets.

They argue that they never force anyone to let go of the money unlike other categories of thieves. They swear that, “If I use my brain to
convince someone to willingly part with their valuables then it’s not a crime”. They even argue further that their “business” is no different from those people who polish a scrap car, put new and shiny mag wheels and a powerful radio and sell to some impressionable aspiring first car owner.

Scrutator knows this is a crime which is likely to be repeated as the festive mood grows towards end of year. Conmen and women are always out to get a “bonus” in order to satisfy their wishes by throwing huge parties like the rest of you. Be warned. Take care of your licente and the loti will take care of itself.


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