Academics discuss Lesotho, SA relations

 MATHATISI SEBUSI

MASERU – The Academic Forum for Development (AFDeL) in collaboration with Transformation Resource Centre, the National University of Lesotho and the University of South Africa Academics plans to bring together political leaders and the government of Lesotho to discuss matters relating to the current relationship between Lesotho and South Africa.

AFDeL Deputy President, Professor Tefetso Mothibe, said during a media briefing in Maseru this week that the forum that will be held between March 19 to 21 will, among others, explore an inclusive and sustainable development in Lesotho with a view to examining explanations for Basotho’s experiences of their country’s relationship with South Africa more deeply.

He said the forum will also propose a relationship or relationships that can best address inequalities Basotho suffer in South Africa as today. Mothibe further pointed out that at present, Basotho struggle to enter South Africa to access socio-economic services due to restrictions and control measures put at border gates. He said as a result a majority of Basotho suffer inequalities that profoundly affect their ability to live quality lives in line with set global Sustainable Development Goals.

Another point of concern is South Africa’s non-renewal of the Lesotho special permit which Mothibe says does not just threaten Basotho’s jobs but also pus their lives in danger especially now with threatening calls by South Africans for ‘foreigners’ to leave their country under claims that they ‘steal’ their jobs. “There is little agreement on why Basotho’s experiences of their country’s relationship with South Africa should be what they are. For some, the explanation is structural, and has to do with the quantity and quality of the size of Basotho’s territory; namely, the limited territorial space and inadequate economic endowments.

“For others, the country has lacked leadership that has failed to marshal and distribute the country’s limited resources in an equitable manner,” he said. He further noted that the other reason for the not-so-friendly relationship between the two countries is lack of imaginativeness necessary to fully appreciate ways in which current Lesotho/South Africa relations have a bearing on Basotho’s ability to live better lives.

He said this failure means that over the last 56 years, Lesotho’s ruling elite has not explored ways in which the relationship between the two countries can be changed with a view to relieving the majority of Basotho of the hardships they experience on a daily basis.

Mothibe further noted that analysts and observers agree that some combination of Lesotho’s limited resources and lack of imagination among those who have ruled the country are the reasons why Lesotho lacks capacity to fund and manage public institutions in ways that can ensure good governance, provide society with adequate services in health and education, and to provide society with adequate socio-economic security.

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