Time to turn a new leaf



LESOTHO trudged into the New Year last Friday saddled with a plethora of challenges brought forward from 2015. The country is beset by a devastating drought, the likes of which have not been seen in n 43 years due to a weather phenomenon called El Niño.

The implications of the climatic phenomenon, which is characterised by inadequate rain in Lesotho and floods in other parts of the world, is the shortening of the farming season, leading to reduced agricultural output.

Given the scale of the drought, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili rightly declared a state of emergency in the country last week, to ensure those in need of food, water and other amenities expeditiously get assistance.

A noteworthy point in the premier’s speech was his request for development partners and “all the friends of Lesotho to assist in efforts to regress the situation”. Indeed Lesotho, being a least developed nation, needs the assistance of all well-wishers to stem the effects of this potentially catastrophic drought.

What this nation can ill-afford is the withdrawal of any humanitarian and economic assistance we have been receiving over issues which can be resolved. It is beyond doubt that Lesotho is a sovereign nation with the prerogative to chart her own destiny. However, the Mountain Kingdom is also within the community of nations with a responsibility to keep her house in order. Along with the rights to sovereignty and self-determination are responsibilities to ensure rule of law and good governance.

Ultimately all stakeholders, be it the government and development partners, need to remain cognizant of these tenets as they go about their business. You can’t have one and leave out the others.

This also applies to the relationship between the government and the opposition or civil society and churches among other stakeholders.

In the case of the opposition, its role is to hold government to account for its policies and put the spotlight on serious issues that need to be resolved quickly. It is thus incumbent on both the government and opposition to keep the national interest above partisan considerations. However, as the situation currently stands, this is not the case to the detriment of the underserved populace.

Naturally, there is a lot of back and forth finger pointing between the government and opposition with regards to who is at fault for the boycott of the National Assembly by the latter. That is, however, immaterial in the grander scheme of things, because the nation’s progress is being hamstrung by the discord in the corridors of power.

Amid the bickering, a host of challenges continue to beg for attention. The call for Lesotho to diversify its economy, especially in light of the strong dependence on dwindling the South African Customs Union revenue, has been made ad nauseam. We cannot afford to wait for the economy to collapse before concrete steps are made to ensure all our eggs are not in one basket.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic is still at an unsustainable prevalence rate of 23 percent, and more decisive measures need to be effected to turn the tide against the disease. These challenges, and many others which have not been mentioned in this column, will continue to dog our beloved land until all stakeholders come together and work towards the advancement of this nation.

As the new year unfolds, our leaders also need to take the cue by opting for rapprochement instead of antagonism. Government and the opposition need to create an atmosphere which is conducive for discussions to take place in 2016. We just cannot continue to operate in perpetual crisis mode.

That Lesotho’s challenges are surmountable is beyond dispute. It only needs all stakeholders to acknowledge that we need each other for this nation to prosper. A new approach is needed from all sides to take this nation forward.

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