PRIME Minister-elect Pakalitha Mosisili’s remarks elsewhere in this edition are cause for optimism. The Democratic Congress leader said he had learnt from the mistakes made by the coalition government led by outgoing Prime Minister Thomas Thabane during his time in opposition.
Dr Mosisili said after watching the outgoing government falter after serving only two of its five-year term, he would ensure the incoming seven-party coalition did not suffer the same fate.
Chief among the mistakes he highlighted was the outgoing government’s failure to abide by the tenets of their coalition agreement with Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing complaining time and again about Dr Thabane making unilateral decisions on issues with a bearing on governance.
He said trust and respect would be the core elements of his government, adding that he would work to restore stability in the security sector.
Indeed Lesotho needs stability and to make world headlines for the wrong reasons. Dr Mosisili will need to rise above partisan interests to bring an end to the political polarisation that has brought this nation to a gridlock.
In some cases, he will need to show assertive leadership. For instance Dr Mosisili will have to rein in some within the incoming coalition government’s ranks who have promised retribution against their perceived enemies.
If Lesotho is to attain some modicum of normalcy, the incoming government will need to set a positive tone and not be the cause of the problems itself.
The new administration needs to reach out to friends and foes alike to show that government is not about certain political parties, but for the nation as a whole. Only then can the much-needed national healing process begin.
On the issue of combating corruption, the new government has a lot to prove since Dr Mosisili has, in the past, been accused of watching idly by while perpetrators stole from the government purse with impunity.
We commend the incoming premier for committing to equip the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences so it can fulfil its mandate.
While it is common cause that corruption can never be completely eliminated from a society, countries with effective corruption busting agencies which are able to combat it, have better economic prospects than those who ignore it.
Corruption levels in any nation are now one of the key indicators to gauge investor interest of which Lesotho sorely needs.
Another issue which should seize the incoming government is Lesotho’s failure to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS, whose 23 percent prevalence rate has earned the nation the ignoble accolade of having the second-highest prevalence rate in the world after Swaziland.
As Dr Mosisili deliberates on his cabinet appointments, it would be prudent to hire a competent and qualified minister in the health portfolio to arrest this alarming trend. Government needs to take the lead in the fight against the pandemic by coming up with variety of approaches in conjunction with local and international partners.
Not least among this nation’s challenges is the chronic poverty and underdevelopment. This is also coupled with the dearth of basic infrastructure for Lesotho’s two million citizens.
The new administration will need to streamline the booming government spending and devote more resources to not only infrastructure development, but also social needs.
More effective public spending will be crucial to make the benefits of this country’s resources trickle down to the people, which so far has not really been the case.
With Lesotho having lagged behind other countries in the southern Africa region economically, we also expect the new government to craft an industrial policy to create the environmental conditions that support private sector growth.
This can be done by cutting down on government bureaucracy and regulation as well as robustly addressing the all too pervasive corruption.