- move aimed at curbing corruption
Pascalinah Kabi | Nthatuoa Koeshe | Ntsebeng Motsoeli
NEWLY appointed Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro says his government’s priorities are to ensure food security and ending corruption in government.
He also ordered ministers and other senior government officials to declare their assets within the next 14 days as part of efforts to fight corruption.
Dr Majoro said this in a televised national address to the nation on Monday.
This was his first address after he replaced Thomas Thabane on 20 May 2020.
Outlining his government’s two-year plan, Dr Majoro said the deadly novel coronavirus (Covid-19) had exposed Lesotho’s food dependence on South Africa but this could soon be a thing of the past if the government prioritised farming.
Dr Majoro said his government came into being at a time when the country was faced with serious challenges including poverty, hunger and lawlessness characterised by stock theft and brutal murders.
He said his government would therefore work to achieve food security by embarking on a large-scale summer cropping. He said they would procure agricultural machinery to free local farmers from dependency on their South African counterparts.
“We all know that farming is the backbone of this country,” Dr Majoro said.
“This is why food security is every government’s obligation to its people. We need to produce food in order for us to win the fight against hunger and poverty.
“Furthermore, we will ensure a wider access and usage of green houses and shed nets as well as embarking on agricultural technology.”
He said the deadly coronavirus had exposed Lesotho’s food insecurity even further, proving that it was unwise for any country to entirely depend on another for food.
He said they would work closely with farmers to ensure the success of the 2020-21 summer cropping project.
“This (summer cropping project) will ensure that we win the fight against hunger within a short space of time. The government will provide space for agricultural exhibitions for food production.
On animal products like meat and milk, Dr Majoro said his administration would come up with clear policies which will result in improved livestock production as well as increased wool and mohair yields.
“We will also protect and rehabilitate wetlands and green pastures. This government will do this in collaboration with farmers.
“We will also ensure access to clean water by building dams for provision of water for household use and agricultural projects.”
He appealed to the nation to stop using arable land for residential construction or any other projects besides farming.
To stem corruption in government, Dr Majoro ordered government officials including ministers to declare their assets in the next two weeks.
Apart from ministers, others are expected to declare their assets are the principal secretaries, legislators, heads of procurement departments, and senior civil servants.
“Corruption, especially within the civil service, is a cancer that has been ravaging Lesotho’s economy for a very long time… We are determined set a precedent on this matter and His Majesty’s cabinet, principal secretaries, senior government officials and heads of procurement and supply chains will have declared their assets in the next 14 days,” Dr Majoro said.
He said the government is working to fortify all laws and regulations to enable the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to perform its crime-fighting role without any obstacles.
The government will in the next 90 days produce a document on the code of conduct for the executive, legislators and all other critical departments, he added.
Dr Majoro also deplored the high rate of crime including armed robberies, livestock theft, gender-based violence and the murders of the elderly.
“Just last week there were a number of reported criminal cases. In some incidence, people were shot dead. Those (incidents) are just too many. We must take the fight against crime very seriously.
“We are already forming a task team to fight the escalating criminal activities. The task team will consist of police officers, soldiers and members of the community policing forums,” Dr Majoro said.