PM should address issue of Basotho who died at Welkom

AS I SEE IT

TWO weeks ago I attended a ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) rally in Butha-Buthe which was addressed by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Mosisili delivered an eloquent speech on what the LCD had achieved over the years.

I also heard the prime minister elaborate on how his government plans to install electricity for free for people living in rural settlements.

He also talked about how his government plans to ensure that people had clean drinking water.

“Lesotho is rich in water and many refer to it as our white gold. But what is the point of us selling water to South Africa to generate money when Basotho don’t have clean water in their backyards?” said Mosisili.

His promises were sweet enough to earn him one round of applause after another. Women ululated while men whistled.

I smiled to myself thinking: “Now my granny in the village will have electricity in the house and access clean water from her backyard.”

My heart danced at the thought of visiting grandmother in the village without missing the daily comforts of city life.

But despite my joy, I still felt the PM owed Basotho something more than just promises of development.

I continued to listen waiting with bated breath for him to address what I thought was the most important issue.

But he wrapped up his mighty speech without addressing what I felt was the topic of the week across the country.

I was extremely disappointed that the PM had not addressed the issue of 46 Basotho who died at Welkom in the Free State in the mining disaster.

Mosisili did not say anything about the men who put their lives on the line in order to provide for their families.

He did not bother to say anything about the families which have been plunged into mourning after losing husbands and fathers.

These are men who provided for them in order to escape the state of utter poverty in Lesotho.

Their dependants will now be forced to live from hand to mouth.

Some of them might even be forced to sleep on empty stomachs once whatever money they had been saving dries up.

Please do not get me wrong. I am not siding with the deceased men. What they got up to was clearly illegal as we all know.

But there must have been some aggravating circumstances that perpetuated their departure from Lesotho to seek greener pastures in South Africa.

Top of my list are two factors: the lack of jobs and intense poverty in Lesotho.

Shouldn’t the prime minister have at least expressed his sadness over the tragedy even if he did not feel any compassion, just so that Basotho would feel they have a compassionate man for a prime minister, who cares for the marginalised?

Was it not his obligation to console the men’s families as a way of playing out his role of being the father of the nation?

He should at least have promised that the government would try to work towards creating jobs so that Basotho men and women are not compelled to resort to risky measures to keep the wolf at bay.

LCD’s rivals are having a field day lashing out at the PM and dissecting his government’s credibility; and quite frankly I do not blame them.

What message is the PM passing on to the people whose votes put him in office? People who had faith enough in him to cast their ballots in his party’s favour? 

What if he has now sacrificed thousands of LCD votes to the opposition?

Maybe it is time for the LCD administration to do some introspection, try to identify where it is going wrong and speedily rectify those weaknesses.

Surely die-hard supporters of LCD do not wish for their beloved party to cease to be the beautiful home that thousands of Basotho take it for?

Because at this rate the ruling party just might cease to be the attractive home that the PM appealed to his people to make in order to lure more supporters.

It was really moving to see leaders like Lekhetho Rakuoane of Popular Front Democracy (PFD) and privately-owned companies like Nthane Bros stepping in to help the bereaved.

They reached deep into their personal coffers to help ease the burden on the shoulders of the bereaved families.

My firm opinion is that the Prime Minister should have delved deep into the matter while it was still raw; more especially because the tragedy dominated the front pages of some local newspapers, newspapers which I believe the prime minister reads from time to time.

Would it not have been a wise move for our beloved PM to at least observe a minute of silence at the rally as a tribute to the men who were untimely swallowed by the earth?

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