Unmasking Mosisili’s message

AS per tradition Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili delivered his annual Christmas message last month.

The Christmas message is an innovative way of highlighting government successes as well as failures over the year.

It is also one brilliant way of providing a mirror to reflect on the past and refocus on the future.

The PM’s Christmas messages have however sparked controversy in the past.

This is mainly because of the seeming inconsistencies between reality on the ground and what is contained in the speech.

In my opinion the PM’s Christmas message for the past year was one of the most controversial ones that he has ever delivered.

I feel that the message should not be allowed to pass without interrogation.

Basotho deserve to understand what happened and get all facts and information which is accurate and well researched.

In contrast with other Christmas messages one could argue that last year’s message only focused on the supposed achievements.

As a result the message gave an impression that everything was well which is not consistent with the reality on the ground.

This article will seek to interrogate the “achievements” that the government claimed to have made last year.

Of course the prime minister acknowledged that there were challenges.

His message was on the whole a positive one, highlighting the major successes that his government scored.

He said the year was marked by treaties and declarations such as the Thaba Bosiu Peace Declaration which was signed by the country’s political leaders.

He also highlighted the continued government spending on scholarships for Basotho students studying locally and abroad.

He also said the government had spent heavily on agricultural subsidies for block farmers.

He also said the mining sector continued to play a pivotal role in the country’s development.

The premier however failed to share with the public the benchmarks that his government had used to measure the success of projects he alluded to.

Neither the Lesotho Vision 2020 nor the African Peer Review Mechanism was cited as the basis for the assessments.

There was therefore no clear connection between these instruments and his end-of-year message.

Although political parties signed the Thaba Bosiu Peace Declaration no political party including Mosisili’s ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy appeared fully committed to the ideals of the agreement.

Instead what we saw were political parties that were eager to tear each other apart as they continued their vendetta against each other.

Civil society, under the leadership of the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL), was harassed by political parties after it was invited to a regional summit to brief Sadc leaders on the progress of the mediation process.

The CCL had proposed to political parties to sign a memorandum of understanding on the specific points they had agreed upon.

Up to this stage no single party has signed the agreement.

The PM will need to persuade sceptics among us that the Thaba Bosiu Agreement was a success when politicians still have no shame in disrespecting the church which they invited to mediate.

I am not convinced that the Thaba Bosiu Peace Declaration was a success.

Besides, the opposition parties refused to participate in the peace march which was organised by the government.

It is a well known fact that it is mostly the politicians who are to blame for the absence of peace and stability in the country.

Without the commitment of politicians, peace can only remain a mirage.

The government claims it spent heavily on scholarships.

But last year saw some of the worst strikes by university students protesting over government scholarships.

Our two universities were also shut down following violent protests.

The National Manpower Development Secretariat also turned down applications from students who wished to further their studies abroad.

While our memories were still fresh over the block farming scandal it was with shock that the prime minister spoke about agricultural subsidies being a success.

This was quite shocking because the majority of these farmers have still not accounted for the funds they received from the government.

It is simply scandalous to deem the block farming programme a success.

Government ministries have been forced to slash their budgets to focus on the critical areas only.

The production of passports is still a major challenge for the government.

The working conditions for nurses and other civil servants remain poor.

It is therefore important that the prime minister and the public build a common understanding of these so-called successes before he delivers his end-of-year message.

It is quite obvious that some of the information that he relies upon which he would have been given by his ministers is not accurate.

The prime minister needs to verify such information before presenting it to the public.

The issues that the prime minister raised in his Christmas message needed more supportive evidence before they could be presented to the nation.

Such an approach will give the public a much more balanced picture of what is happening in their country.

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