RIGHT at the time when Basotho were anxiously awaiting government’s word on how it plans to move forward with the New Zealand report, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane officially launched the national status report on the Millennium Development Goals. It was revealed that of the eight goals the nation has set, Lesotho is on track on education, and gender equality while doing fairly well in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It was also revealed that the country is doing relatively well on the environment, particularly the target on water, while off track on maternal health, child mortality and poverty eradication. Following the announcement, the New Zealand report immediately came to mind with the question of what coalition governments serve in Lesotho begged for a response.
The Millennium Development Goals Report has been launched at a time when Lesotho and the rest of the international community are preparing for the strategic continuity of the commitment beyond the year 2015. The process referred to as Post 2015 Development Agenda is supposed to be an extension of the global leadership’s commitment to the development of humanity beyond 2015 which marks the deadline for nationally-led and people-owned processes.
Lesotho started the consultation process for Post 2015 Development Agenda where community voices were heard in the 10 administrative districts of the country. In light of the country’s unimpressive performance in respect to the MDGs and perhaps many other development policies and commitments, governance becomes a key concern in attaining development. The weak governance structure in this country has been identified as one of the challenges for development.
On many occasions, Basotho complain of poor service delivery and told to make peace with the fact that resources are scarce. Given Lesotho’s resource base and economy this is an undeniable fact but what politicians should be compelled to respond to is why not less than 30 percent of the development budget returns unused every other year?
This is clearly a governance issue. The report by the auditor-general is every other year qualified and the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee report which is informed by the auditor-general is equally full of irregularities identifying officials by name and the wrongdoings committed. The government that Basotho need is one that will be able to overcome the institutional capacity limitations and ensure that resources are properly channelled to reverse the trend exposed by the Millennium Development Goals Report.
Now that Basotho are ready to hear from government on how it wants to handle the advice given on managing coalition governments, we should consider that coalition governments are not as effective in service delivery.
Our civil service should be built on the competences of Basotho and which should be reflected in the use of the Post 2015 Development Agenda to reverse the challenges highlighted situation in the Millennium Development Goals Report.
It would be nonsensical, if not downright unfair, to his nation if our leaders invest become comfortable in a coalition setup merely for the sake of it and not to ensure that mothers do not lose life when they deliver.
If Basotho need a stable government, that stability should not be limited to who remains in power and how that power is brokered and shared among the elites. It should be stability that ensures that no children below five years of age die of preventable diseases.
Coalition governments should be made functional not only to provide security of tenure to the politicians who lead such governments but assurance that poverty is eradicated, capacity is enhanced, systems and procedures introduced and adhered to.
The commitments made by principal secretaries to serve to the best of their ability to uplift the lives of Basotho should be understood in the context of ensuring service delivery to the people.
What should Basotho take this commitment to mean? It should be a commitment to use the Post 2015 Development Agenda to ensure the unimplemented policies are implemented. It should be understood by the nation to mean a dedication to ensure that what Vision 2020 provides as a blue print for development is followed. This new commitment by the principal secretaries should not be viewed as just another drama in the public sphere. Basotho expect the principal secretaries to revisit the Vision 2020 document and facilitate its fulfilment. What exactly should the elevation of Rejun Prasad to the level of Commonwealth Special Envoy to Lesotho read with the launch of the Millennium Development Goals Report, coinciding with civil society dialogue around Post 2015 Development Agenda mean to Basotho? It should not be another window dressing session but a real new start and commitment that all those who are entrusted with the responsibility to serve the nation do so with diligence to make the Millennium Development Goals a reality.
The best gift that our leaders, both in government and in opposition, can give to Basotho is to ensure reforms in governance, repositioning of parliamentary and governance processes to the requirements of Mixed Member Proportional have, as their base, a desire to turn the Post 2015 Development Agenda into a momentous process for the realisation of the goals and targets of the national designed development policies.