BASOTHO National Party (BNP) will set a retirement age for chiefs and introduce pension benefits for them if the party is voted into power.
BNP leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, early this week told his party followers during a manifesto launch rally in Maputsoe, ahead of the 2022 general elections that his government would also equip chief with resources.
He said chiefs play a crucial role in governance yet they were poorly looked after by the government and often have a shortage of necessary resources to adequately dispatch their duties.
Mr Mofomobe said BNP making chiefs pensionable would be one of their top priorities if they are elected to power. BNP has been a junior partner in ruling coalition governments in 2012 and 2017.
“BNP is aware that although chiefs earn monthly salaries, they are not pensionable. BNP government will make provision for pensions for chiefs, which means that chiefs will be included in the pension fund and scheme. They will be expected to retire at a certain age.”
Mr Mofomobe said to begin with, BNP would fix a retirement age for chiefs, which is currently undefined.
“We are saying under our rule chiefs will get retirement pensions after reaching retirement age, which we will decide on. The work of the chieftainship is a noble one. For instance, if a person needs an emergency lodging for the night in the community they will seek such refuge at the chief’s house, although how poorly they are paid they still feed them,” he said.
Addressing hundreds of his party supporters who braved the bitterly cold weather to the rally, Mr Mofomobe said BNP strongly believed in preservation and protection of the country’s monarchy.
Since its formation in 1959, the party has always been associated and aligned with the chieftainship rule, with its first two leaders being chiefs themselves.
BNP’s founding leader, Chief Leabua Jonathan who led the party from 1959 to 1987, and his successor Chief Retšelisitsoe Sekhonyana (1992 to 1998) were both chiefs. Former BNP leader Thesele Maseribane (2011 to 2020) is also a chief.
“BNP will continue to observe the chieftaincy as the apex of governance structure in Lesotho,” Mr Mofomobe said.
The party would also ensure support for chieftaincy in terms of funds and other resources to execute their duties.
Mr Mofomobe said BNP would bring a clear economic recovery plan for the country’s economy as it was currently in the doldrums due to the poor governance of the past regimes.
“BNP believes strongly in preserving and protecting our Monarchy and Religion. Its aim is to promote issues of heritage, conservation, job creation, rule of law, youth empowerment, quality education, promotion of foreign direct investment (FDI), infrastructure development and strong governance ethos among others. These are some of the points that the party has held strong beliefs on and are its ticket to winning elections.”
He said they would revive the country’s agricultural production to be self-sufficient and reduce agricultural imports.
“According to Bureau of statistics 70 percent of food consumed in Lesotho are sourced from the Republic of South Africa while the local producers produce only 30 percent of grains, vegetables and fruits to cite but a few.
“This means that Lesotho loses 70 percent of jobs that ought to emanate from agricultural activities.”
The party also wants to put in place agro-business programmes that will enhance the state of agriculture from subsistence to commercial production for grain production.
“With the aim of creating national food security, the BNP government will build a national granary milling for storage of grain produced by Basotho farmers.”
BNP government will resuscitate and expand the currently unoperational Basotho Fruit and Vegetable Canners to promote export of cash crops.
The party has also promised to open up the cannabis industry for locals.
“BNP government will mainstream cannabis plantation and encourage wider local participation and shall advocate for revision of the current legal framework in order to enable cultivation of cannabis for other uses, other than medicinal or research purposes as prescribed by the International Law. Strains like hemp are used for production of textile materials like clothes and socks,” Mr Mofomobe said.
Leveraging on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) dams, Mr Mofomobe said the party will develop commercial fish farming to help with job creation and food security. The country already has a number of fish farms on these which are producing trout mainly for the export market, he said.
“The BNP government has identified fisheries as one of the new economic areas that can help in terms of exports, job creation and food security. Salmon and Trout are the two fish species that have been found to be suitable for the environment and water in Lesotho.
“We will also upgrade Moshoeshoe l Airport to meet the acceptable international standard of airports and resuscitate the domestic air strips to enable faster transportation of goods and services,” Mr Mofomobe said.