Face-to-face with poverty


ITHER the Prime Minister and Democratic Congress (DC) leader Pakalitha Mosisili is a good actor, out of touch with reality or just an honest man.

Otherwise how else can we explain his utter shock after he received a “high five” from poverty during his door-to-door campaign in the villages last Saturday?

In those few hours of a carefully choreographed campaign Mosisili entered homes that looked like hovels and met people who know what it means to go for days without a meal.

He talked to people that hope has long deserted and vendors to whom poverty is a middle name.

From Ha Hoohlo to Thetsane Mosisili was swimming in poverty.

In the Stadium Area he met people who are poverty-stricken but think they are better off because the poverty around them is so debilitating that those who live on crumbs look better.

At a rally after his date with poverty, Mosisili said the experience had unnerved him. And in typical style he started making more promises.

What else was he supposed to say after coming face-to-face with the terrible results of his legacy?



hat poverty has long laid eggs in Lesotho has never been in doubt. We see it every day. Some feel it every day.

Poverty is a way of life in this country.

Scrutator has seen so much poverty in this country that it has ceased to shock her.

Not that she has been desensitised or she doesn’t care. She gives when she can and feels awful when she can’t.

She would love to do more but her own pockets are already perforated by the economic crisis and the galloping food prices.

That the majority of the people in this country are wallowing in poverty should never be an issue for debate.

It’s obvious. It shouldn’t shock anyone especially a person seeking re-election after being prime minister for 15 years.

So why was Mosisili perturbed after seeing the obvious?



here are three possible answers to that question: either he is a good actor, is out of touch with reality or he is just an honest man.

But whichever the answer might be it still doesn’t show him in good light.

If he was feigning that surprise then he is in a wrong profession because Hollywood is in desperate need of people with such brilliant acting skills.

Nollywood too could do with actors like him.

He could give the much-needed oomph to those poorly scripted and shallow Nigerian movies that Basotho love so much.

How fantastic it would be to have our own former prime minister say “Abeg, listen well well. I go land you slap. (Please, pay attention. I will slap you!).

If he was startled because he is out of touch with reality then he has no reason to be seeking a fourth term.

Seriously, how does a leader get shocked by things that even visitors have known for years?

Why should a prime minister be shocked by things happening within a 5km radius of his official residence?

Even George Bush, the former lousy president of America who thought a bibliography has something to do with the Bible and that Botswana is an African animal, knew that poverty resides in Lesotho.

That is why his government gave this country US$362 million (about M2.5 billion).

If Mosisili was shocked because he is just an honest man then God forbid for that clearly shows that all his policies were targeting the wrong people.

It is a subtle admission that those around him have been misleading him for the past 15 years.



crutator is not sure what shocked Mosisili more, the poverty in the villages or the way the villagers manage to keep smiling in the face of such wretched circumstances.

She is however sure that she was shocked by what Mosisili did during the campaign.

He was giving small groceries and money at every house he entered.

Although the DC leader might have done that with good intentions it still smacked of desperate vote-buying.

It looked more like a political gimmick than a genuine show of sympathy.

It was a charade. Phew!

What will free the people from the shackles of poverty are not donations but real policies that empower them.

You judge a government not by the amount of freebies it gives to the poor but by how well it empowers them to work for themselves.

A government must teach the people to fish for themselves.

To do that it must create a conducive environment for them to start their own enterprises.

Jobs and access to capital must not be a privilege.

The poor people Mosisili met on Saturday want to do things for themselves; it’s just that they lack the means.

They have been marginalised for too long.

The pittances and small groceries Mosisili handed to the poor might have helped them in the short-term but what happens when they run out?

You can be sure Mosisili will not be bringing “manna” in the next five years.

Last Saturday’s show was probably his last. When Mosisili’s food is finished those poor people will start scrounging again.

That is the life they know.

They are the Wretched of the Earth (If you are an African and you haven’t read that book by Frantz Fanon Scrutator feels sorry for you).

After 15 years in power Mosisili must have been going around the villages to tout the benefits of his policies and not dish out small donations.

If he had done his work he should have been talking about taking income generating projects to another level instead of making more promises.



here is however some positive things we can deduce from Mosisili’s campaign tactics this year.

At least Mosisili now understands why the urban voters have never warmed up to him.

This campaign has forced Mosisili to engage the poor and to be more humble.

For the first time in a very long time he is actively trying to persuade people to vote for his party.

For once Mosisili is behaving more like a humble underdog than the arrogant incumbent who we have known him to be.

That is precisely because he knows this election will not be a walk in the park.

He knows he will have to sweat if he wants to remain prime minister after May 26.

Isn’t it refreshing that he is no longer insulting the opposition as some spent-force?

His ill-advised decision to leave the Lesotho Congress for Democracy was not that bad after all.

My homeboy has cut himself to size and I love it. Who cares if it’s Size Two or 11?




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