MASERU- As one of the measures to combat crime and bring about stability in the country, King Letsie III has made a call to law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to strengthen their efforts in ensuring that criminals are brought to book and that justice is fairly and evenly administered to all in a timely manner. The King said this during the official opening of the National Assembly on Thursday, which marked the beginning of the Eleventh Parliament. The official opening follows the October 7 general elections which saw businessman, Ntsokoane Matekane’s newly formed party, Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) forming a new coalition government with partners the Alliance of Democrats (AD) and the Movement for Economic Change (MEC).
Despite a low voter turnout of 38 percent, Matekane’s RFP managed to collect 56 constituencies, slightly falling short of forming a single party government. King III said during the opening that the eleventh parliament has to change the country’s fortunes around, and dealing with crime and corruption should be treated as matters of priority as they also contribute significantly towards economic conditions of the country. “My government remains resolute to ensure that the rule of law is upheld. It is the commitment of my government to fight corruption at all costs and from all ends. Institutions established for this purpose will be empowered to discharge their mandate effectively and without fear of favor.
A call has also been made to law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to strengthen their efforts in ensuring that criminals are brought to book and that justice is fairly and evenly administered to all in a timely manner,” King Letsie III said. In order to ensure accountability and transparency, he added, government should be committed to the process of periodic presentation of reports to the august house to keep the members of parliament and the nation at large informed on the programs of government and of progress in their implementation.
Crime in Lesotho has high rate ranging from carjacking, home invasion, robbery, sexual assault and murder among others. The World Population Report of 2021 ranked Lesotho as the sixth highest with murder rates in the world. The global average murder rate in the same year was seven per 100, 000 people and Lesotho had a rate almost six times higher at 41.25. The report ranked Lesotho as only safer than El Salvador (82.84 per 100, 000 people), Honduras (56.52), Venezuela (56.33), Virgin Islands (49.26) and Jamaica (47.01).
Lesotho, with a population of just over 2 million people, had more homicides than countries in conflict such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Mozambique. The DRC had a homicide score of 13.55 and Mozambique 3.4. Lesotho’s much more populous neighbour, South Africa had 33.97 murders per 100 000 people and was the only other Southern African Development Community country in the top 10 for highest rates of murder.
Police and unresolved killings of women and children are among the highest in the country. The country’s underfunded judiciary has in the past been branded as crippled and sitting on thousands of untried cases. This, and police ineptitude has led to some murders walking free despite gruesome killings. This sense of impunity has resulted in a high number of domestic violence cases. The country is also seen as a significant source country for human trafficking. Due to its location, human trafficking victims from Lesotho are primarily trafficked into various parts of South Africa.
In many cases, human traffickers lure unsuspecting irregular Basotho migrants into forced labour and sexual exploitation with the promise of employment and better economic opportunity in South Africa. “My government remains resolute to ensure that the rule of law is upheld. It is the commitment of my government to fight corruption at all costs and from all ends. Institutions established for this purpose will be empowered to discharge their mandate effectively and without fear of favour.
A call has also been made to law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to strengthen their efforts in ensuring that criminals are brought to book and that justice is fairly and evenly administered to all in a timely manner,” the King further emphasized. The relationship between crime and economy is significant in that crime indirectly reduce the quality of economic growth. Corruption economically weaken the system of production, distribution, marketing and quality of products produced among other things.
The negative impact of an increase in the number of crimes against economic growth in an area is the increase in the variable costs of production produced. Increased costs will have an impact on the value of the selling price of goods or services produced and will reduce the value of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Opposition leaders and other members of the ruling party attest to this scenario, echoing similar sentiments that the new government should lead the way and double efforts in dealing with crime and corruption. The All Basotho Convention leader, Nkaku Kabi, revealed shortly after the opening that the new government should consider addressing the concerns shared by the King.
“It was a powerful speech by His Majesty and the issue of crime is very serious because it contributes towards economic growth. Other issues of importance in that deliberation is that the country has to produce enough food to feed its people and avoid importing everything from other countries. That means a new government really has a lot of work to do to turn things around,” Kabi said after the opening of the Eleventh Parliament.
New in the political circles, former Governor of the Central Bank of Lesotho, Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane who is the current Minister of Finance, added that it is the responsibility of the new government to work collectively to create jobs opportunities which shall eventually see the country collecting more taxes for its development. This, she said, is a matter of urgency and should be addressed immediately.