SCORES of youths this week braved Maseru colds to petition Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to address an array of grievances that include unemployment and reckless government spending among others.
About 200 youths marched from the Maseru Race Course to the King Moshoeshoe I statue where they handed their petition to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Temeki Tšolo.
In their lengthy petition, the youths accused Dr Thabane’s administration of failing to implement plans which were set towards achieving development. They said politicians have become big on making populist rhetoric but have failed to deliver on all that they have promised.
“Lesotho’s politics have historically failed to match speech with action and the youth demand an end to this,” part of the petition reads.
“Strategic plans and budget speeches have detailed objectives and promised progress towards development and growth goals. Unfortunately, these documents are presented to the nation and seemingly forgotten.”
The youths said despite the government calling for austerity measures to restrict unnecessary spending, senior government officials have failed to effect such measures. They accused Dr Thabane of spending too much on his health check-ups in neighbouring South Africa.
“In his 2019/20 budget speech, Finance minister Moeketsi detailed plans to cut public expenditure and redirect spending to the employment of Basotho yet our own Prime Minister travels to South Africa with several bodyguards and a huge budget,” the petition reads.
The youths said the government was making bad choices at the expense of basic necessities for the good the affluent minority. They also called on the government to revamp the current National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) saying it was ineffective and requires endless revenue. The youths said the current system lacks equitable selection process and the will to track down graduates and enforce loan repayments.
They also said while the government promised to create jobs, there was no direction as to how, for whom, and in which sectors these jobs would be created.
“The government should clearly explain to the public how it intends to generate long-term jobs and set a realistic deadline of when this mandate will be achieved.
“According to the Bureau of Statistics, Lesotho’s current unemployment rate stands at 32, 8 percent, a figure that continually rises as the economy continues to deteriorate.”
The youths also demanded that private companies be compelled to offer internship to local students and also urged the government to support SMEs.
The other demands include the fostering of the ease to do business, reduction of red-tapes such as high registration fees and inefficient issuing of licences, training of youths in rural and urban areas to generate employment opportunities and the scrapping of food allowances for parliamentarians.
They also called for the government to implement legislation to protect the rights of minority groups such as lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders to encourage inclusivity.
The youths said they were expecting a response from the government with a clear implementation road map within seven days failure of which they would continue with mass protests.