EU head blasts Basotho leaders




MASERU – A top diplomat has launched a blistering attack on Basotho politicians for spending too much time competing for positions and power instead of buttressing national causes.

Head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Lesotho Dr Christian Manahl today said there was a greater need now than ever before for Basotho leaders to set aside the pursuit of parochial interests and focus on stabilising the country, both politically and economically.

Manahl was speaking in Maseru at the commemoration of Europe Day. Although the country had cobbled together grandiose plans aimed at boosting economic growth and job creation, political instability was hampering full implementation of these programmes. “…Its implementation in Lesotho has been hampered by the recurrent political instability, which has diverted attention from policy implementation to electoral competition, including within political parties.

“Or let me express it in plain language: a country where politicians spend too much time competing for positions and power, and where public servants are too often selected for their political loyalty, and where they have no long-term security of tenure that would allow them to initiate and see through the implementation of policies, such a country will find it hard to stand its ground in a fiercely competitive global business environment,” he said.

Manahl’s scathing statement comes on the heels of a bitter fight for political power in the All Basotho Convention (ABC) which was threatening to torpedo the two-year-old coalition government it leads. Subsequent to the ABC turmoil, Lesotho was gripped in the throes of inter party schisms that have seen the country hold two elections in five years. Prime Minister Tom Thabane recently conceded his government faced collapse but flipped last week, saying the government was on firm ground.

But Manahl believes the country should stick with its Sadc inspired four-thematic reform agenda to lift itself out of intractable poverty. “Lesotho needs to solve these problems, and the currently ongoing reforms offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do so. “You, the main political and social leaders and the intellectual elite of the country, you can now agree on reforms that will transform the political and economic dynamics of Lesotho, and open the way towards a brighter, a more stable, and a more prosperous future.

“For the sake of your country and in particular for the young people of this nation, I appeal to you not to miss this chance.” Sadc has forced Basotho – kicking and screaming – to the negotiating table in a bid to reshape the country’s political landscape, judiciary, media and security sectors. A Sadc investigative team two years ago recommendation a revamp of these key sectors, identifying these as pillars to construction of a stable base on which to launch an economic makeover.

Manahl said Lesotho should use its geographical location – and the fact that it is surrounded by South Africa – to reinvigorate its comatose economy. “Lesotho may be facing serious challenges today, but its future can be different. With the right policy choices, you can unlock the potential of your people and of your natural environment.” This way, Lesotho would dust itself off and regain its former position as a regional power broker.

“A reinvigorated, stable and economically dynamic Lesotho will drop from Sadc’s list of ‘trouble countries’ and will once agains be able to assume its rightful place in regional politics, as it has done during the Apartheid era, when you offered refuge and support to numerous South African activists who fought for freedom and equality.”

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