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By ‘Majirata Latela
Lesotho’s Head of State King Letsie III says the new administration which came to power after the October 7 general elections is committed to its mandate of ensuring effective service delivery for all citizens.
The King said this yesterday when delivering the speech from the throne at the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament – National Assembly and the Senate.
He said his government ascends to power at a time when the economy of the country is very unstable due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the war between Russia and Ukraine and the climate change crisis. He said the ever-changing climatic patterns bring about drought and floods which negatively affect the agricultural sector.
“In this worrying situation, I therefore call upon parliament to come up with strategies to grow the economy of the country so that Basotho can live harmoniously in their country. Lesotho is faced with a lot of challenges but that does not mean we have to give up; instead, we have to work hard to change the situation.
“It is impressive that once again Lesotho held peaceful elections. It is, however, worth noting that we all are aware that Basotho are no longer interested in the elections as the Independent Electoral Commission has indicated that only 37.7 percent of registered Basotho showed up on the day of elections. This is an indication that Basotho are no longer interested in elections and the political parties that we have.
“If we continue like this, this will negatively affect our democracy. I call upon the current parliament to work effectively, timeously with respect and loyalty and put the country and the Basotho nation first. Members of Parliament have been sent by the nation to make laws that will positively change their lives,” he said.
The country’s constitutional Monarch also appealed to the legislators to protect the image of the two Houses by avoiding utterances that might taint their image. He emphasised that good conduct of parliamentarians may bring hope to Basotho for the benefit of good governance and democracy.
He also pointed out that many Bills fell off during the last government due to failure to work timeously to pass them. He, therefore, beseeched the 11th Parliament to work hard and ensure that those Bills are enacted into law.
He added that the current parliament should prioritise the reforms process and reforms-oriented Bills that were not enacted by the past government.
He said his administration is determined to turn around Lesotho’s fortunes and in doing so will work in collaboration with all stakeholders to bring into operation programmes which are geared toward economic growth.
Those programmes include investment and agriculture, food security and nutrition, effectively management of natural resources to make sure to meet the needs of the current and future generations as well as selling water to South African and Botswana.
He further said the government will also look into the rehabilitation and construction of roads and bridges and other infrastructure projects, generation of renewable energy, improvement of the manufacturing sector, review of the natural resources management and the mining sector while also developing tourism sector.
“The government will do all the above while also fighting crime and changing the way government uses public funds. Funds will be used on capital projects while reducing recurrent expenditure.”
Commenting on the speech the minister of health and Member of Parliament for Thabana Morena Selibe Mochoborone, said the speech serves as a policy that outlines the direction to be taken by the government in the next five years period. He said the King started off by explaining the economic situation that the country is faced with, so growing the economy is one of the priorities of government.
“It is up to us as the current government to deliver all that the King has laid out. All these we can achieve if we work in partnership with the international partners and the Basotho nation,” Mochoboroane said.
On the one hand, Leader of Basotho Action Party (BAP) Professor Nqosa Mahao said the speech from the throne was not ‘exciting’, given that the new party that is leading the government promised the electorate that it was going to do things differently. He said all the things that were laid out are business as usual.
He said the speech lacks the ‘how part’ of executing the plans that have been outlined. Some of the plans, he thought, have not been thought through by the government. He singled out farming and food security as the major challenges facing the country.
He was adamant that the new government will not achieve anything to improve agriculture and farming in this cropping season.
Already the Food and Agricultural Organisation has already shown that from October this year, 320 000 Basotho are going to be leaving in poverty. It is even worse in seeing that this year, government will not be investing in food production as they have indicated.
Mahao also said on the part of changing the curriculum in tertiary institutions, governments should know that higher education institutions work on changing “curriculums every year but if they don’t invest in tertiary education there is no way they will realise curriculum review.”
“I have not heard anything about investing in the curriculum. I have also not heard anything mentioned about investing in research and innovation. This is the one country that does not spend a cent on research and innovation. You cannot develop unless you invest in those two things,” Mahao reiterated.