Home Scrutator OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER MATEKANE 

OPEN LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER MATEKANE 

by Lesotho Times
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   Please break up this humungous and unmanageable ministry 

Dear Ntate Sam 

Congratulations Prime Minister. Your baby – the Revolution for Prosperity (aka RFP) has just turned two. I was honoured to turn up uninvited at your baby’s second anniversary celebrations at the Racecourse. 

Judging by the poor attendance, it could be that the event was poorly organised. Or it could be that Basotho are fulminating because the prosperity you promised them is yet to rain down upon them. 

Which is why I think you were right to use the anniversary event to plead for patience. I have indeed met many Basotho complaining that your promised revolution for prosperity is very slow in materializing. They need bread and butter now. But your Lady Scrutator does not understand these, Basotho. How do they expect your prosperity revolution to have materialised in a mere one and half years? Don’t they know this country has been ruined, plundered and misgoverned for 200 years? 

How do they expect all that to be undone in your short period in office since October 7 2022?  They even forget that we were so irresponsible as Basotho to allow ourselves to – at one stage – be led by Lady Dee (the first ever female prime minister).  The results of her traumatic rule are still reverberating. 

Which is why I listened to you attentively and wholly agreed with your exhortation for patience.  Every Mosotho worth the name must know that creating jobs is a process and not an event. After all, we are not talking of car wash or tomato and onion vending jobs. Or even jobs for lawyers. We already have too many of those. We are talking of real gainful jobs in the manufacturing, agriculture, high-tech, mining, construction and other sectors.  Basotho must therefore give you time. 

I want you to succeed Prime Minister. I have no doubt that if your heart remains in the right place and if you take right decisions: ie implement sound economic policies, fire incompetent cabinet ministers, curb endemic corruption and demand results from all those you have tasked with delivering your revolution for prosperity, then every Mosotho will sooner or later be zooming through Kingsway in a Lamborghini. We deserve it Prime Minister. There are just two million of us and we are blessed with abundant resources. 

                                            Huge Mistake 

There is one catastrophic mistake you made though which needs urgent correction.  I accept you made the mistake in good faith. But it needs immediate reversal.   

In originally slashing the number of ministries from more than 30 to just 15, you rightly wanted to eliminate the ‘jobs for the boys’ syndrome – that define our politics – and save money for better purposes.   

Your decision to merge ministries and departments with more or less corresponding functions was generally well thought out. For instance, it made sense to merge development planning and finance into one Ministry of Finance. It made sense to have one Justice and Law Ministry instead of having it splintered into numerous ministries like before.  It also made sense to have one National Resources Ministry instead of having multiple ministries responsible for each sectoral resource. 

What I found wholly incomprehensible was your decision to combine the local government, police and home affairs portfolios into one humungous Ministry of Local Government, Chieftainship, Home Affairs and Police. There you got it wrong Ntate Sam despite your noble intentions. 

For efficient service delivery, please break this ministry into two or three portfolios. In other countries, the police are normally put under Home Affairs. But Lesotho has become a byword for crime.  In light of Holomo Molibeli’s systematic destruction of the LMPS, this ministry needs special focus.  

It must also be embarrassing for you Ntate Sam that your government can now not even issue  passports to Basotho wanting to travel and search for prosperity abroad? 

The minister responsible for this unmanageable ministry, Lebona Lephema, told parliament this week that he can only produce 60 000 of the 200 000 passports needed by Basotho. How have we come to this Ntate Sam? Of course, the fashionable thing for ministers is to blame everything on lack of funds. I beg to differ.  Issuing passports and identity documents is an inalienable citizen right.  An efficient government will always ensure that money for that is always there. 

Even when Lady Dee was Prime minister, we never ran short of passports? 

Local government is the basic unit of governance. Service delivery must begin at the local government level. I don’t know much about the chieftainship aspect (I really don’t know the use of traditional chiefs) but without efficient local government, there can be no service delivery. To combine this crucial portfolio with Home Affairs and Police simply does not make sense Ntate Sam.  Add to that this aspect of chiefs, who generally hold high opinions of themselves, and you have an unmanageable ministry. 

Everyone can see Ntate Sam that Ntate Lebona is overwhelmed by his responsibilities. There is no excuse because we suddenly cannot have passports. You inherited serious crime. You did not invent it. You came to power when Basotho had made killing each other a national spot. But as prime minister, it is your responsibility to deal with what you inherited. Without a minister devoted to the police and to fighting crime only, there is going to be no respite. Investors will sadly stay away, further hampering your promised prosperity revolution. 

When you dished out new jobs for the opportunists (Mahao and company) to forestall Machesetsa’s motion, I had thought you would deservedly create more portfolios from breaking up Ntate Lebona’s ministry. Why you left this ministry intact is perplexing. 

                                             Dangerous Rumour 

A rumour that has been doing the rounds is that Ntate Lebona refused to have his ministry split, presumably because he wants to be in charge of a big ministry and feel good about himself.  I want to hope and believe that this rumour is not true. But if it is, then you have a bid problem Prime Minister that can potentially derail your revolution for prosperity. It means you are not in charge of your government. You thus need to take charge. No government can ever succeed with such indiscipline by ministers. 

Assuming the rumour is true, it needs you to face Ntate Lebona  straight into his debatably handsome face and tell him he is not bigger than Lesotho. He cannot wake up each morning, clad himself in one of his many lavish striped suits, look himself in the mirror and smile that he is at the helm of a very large ministry. This is not about Ntate Lebona. It’s about Basotho. No single minister – no matter how competent – can efficiently run such a humungous ministry with diametrically non-aligned portfolios and departments.  Please break up this ministry, Ntate Sam. There are better ways of saving money than creating an unmanageable ministry. Splitting the ministry will also enable you to boost your coalition numbers. Remember, Machesetsa is not  done with you yet.  He will not rest until he sees you in Mantsunyane permanently. 

The problem with rumours is that they are hard to authenticate. Another rumour is that you wanted to switch Ntate Mohlomi Moleko to Finance and redeploy M’e Retsilisitsoe  Matlanyane to another portfolio.  The rumour claims this did not happen because M’e Retsilisitsoe too threatened to resign and quit, parliament, the RFP (quit just about everything) if she is removed from finance. Scrutator thinks this rumour is false. I have utmost respect in M’e Retsilisitsoe. She is not only the prettiest Mosotho woman. She is the most educated. She should know better that being appointed minister is a privilege not a right. It does not come with title deeds. 

But let’s assume all these rumours are true, just for argument purposes.  They mean you are not in control of your cabinet Prime Minister. You then must take charge. Everybody must know they serve at your pleasure.  Take a leaf from your predecessor, Moeketsi Majoro, who upon taking over went straight to Thabo Thakalekoala’s office and fired him as a prime ministerial spokesman, saving this country of undeserved embarrassment. 

And as an aside, Ntate Moleko is a highly efficient and accessible public servant and politician. He is also forthright. Read his interview elsewhere in this newspaper.  Just like M’e Tsili, he is highly trained in numbers. He will be a good finance minister. The reason I would love him in that office Prime Minister is that contrary to your promises, many suppliers are still not paid. You won’t believe it prime minister, but I am now working pro bono. I am not getting a salary. The Publisher told me he can no longer afford to pay me because government has not settled all the huge legacy debts to this newspaper. He told me he tried to reach out to both you and M’e Tsili with no success and decided not to pursue the issue further because he does not enjoy chasing after people. Please Ntate Sam, do something. Many suppliers out there remain unpaid. The rumour is that only RFP functionaries have been paid. This is the kind of rumour that can adversely affect your reputation and halt your revolution for prosperity.  Be fair to all of us. 

Allow me to conclude by stating categorially that I want you to succeed Ntate Sam. I will not hesitate to give you unsolicited advice as long as I think it’s necessary and for the country’s good. Many African leaders fail because they only want to hear what they want to hear. Only time will tell if you are one of them or not Ntate Sam. For now, I will proceed on the basis that you are not one of them. You must therefore listen to me and split Ntate Lebona’s ministry. Also do everything to ensure that all suppliers holding legacy government debts are paid. I hope this article reaches you. If not, I hope anyone who really likes you brings it to your attention. It’s for your own good. 

 

Yours Comradely 

Scrutator 

Ache!!! 

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