MASERU – Leader of the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and currently the Minister of Development Planning, Selibe Mochoboroane, says poor service delivery in Lesotho results from political party manifestos that are ‘wish lists’ that do not align with the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP). The second five year NSDP 2018/19-2022/23 – themed “In pursuit of economic and institutional transformation for private sector-led job creation and inclusive growth” – is intended to communicate the need for change of mindset and cultivate the understanding that the key role of the government in accelerating economic growth is about investment facilitation.
According to Mochoboroane, implementation and service delivery is thus affected and not being implemented because the parties’ elections manifestos are a ‘beautiful shopping lists’. Speaking at his campaign rally in Maputsoe last weekend, Mochoboroane said: “It has now become a tendency that when going for elections we publicise our manifestos without stating how we will strengthen the sources of income for service delivery that we promise.” Failure to strengthen and improve sources of income will leave the country’s status quo intact.
He further noted: “While launching the party’s manifesto some months ago, I noted that how we tabulated our ‘shopping list’ in accordance to what we will do. I stated that we will not achieve that unless we have the proper plan on how we will strengthen our sources of income with which we will do the mentioned service delivery. “Even if we can give a long ‘shopping list’, as long as our sources of income remain in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) revenue, we will remain in the status quo.”
He noted that the SACU revenue is the biggest source of income for this country followed by the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA). Speaking of some of the changes that his party will implement if elected into government, Mochoboroane said village health workers are side-lined by the government and are paid very little yet they deserve better and need to be trained.
He said in an MEC-led government village workers will receive a minimum wage of M2 000 per month. However, the current situation is that village health workers earn M2 400 quarterly which was raised from M1 200. Speaking to Public Eye, two village health workers named Maphoka Setofolo and Liako Makhetha – one working in Qacha’s Nek and the other in Mafeteng district, respectively, said they would gladly welcome a raise of their minimum wage and that they would also be glad to receive it monthly.
Makhetha and Setofolo both told this paper in separate interviews that they do not receive their payment of time. Makhetha noted that they need health equipment such as first aid kits and that they need to be provided with warm winter clothing. On the other hand, Setofolo also alluded to Makhetha’s needs such as first aid kits and added that unless they fight to get equipment like rubber gloves, they do not get them.
She said her wish is that the ministry of health could also assist them by identifying or having a house they could work from specifically for attending to patients, especially in villages where clinics are remote. “Sometimes we have to help a woman in labour and we find ourselves having to send children to stay out in the cold when we help the woman. This is mostly a struggle in families where they do not have many houses or rooms,” she said.
Setofolo added that sometimes family members, especially minors have to suffer seeing their loved one in pain of sickness. She said a building structure for village health workers could be very helpful as it will be a house of patients in the village. The health sector appears as a key priority area in the NSDP II document and, according to this document’s situational analysis, health requires a highly functioning health care delivery system backed by committed health care professionals capable of delivering effective public health responses.
It continues to state that adequate training of doctors, nurses, managers, and outreach workers, followed by deployment, is critical. The NSDP II document states that there is a challenge for Lesotho, with not only financial constraints but also with a population of about two million and fewer than 200 medical doctors (1:10 000 ratio). “This is further compounded by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, tuberculosis infections, and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cancer which place a considerable strain on an already under-resourced health system,” it states.
Speaking about disability, Mochoboroane said people with disabilities need to be given monthly allowances as opposed to receiving their allowances quarterly. However, Mochoboroane did not specify how much will their minimum wage should be. The current situation is that people with disabilities receive M1 200 for those who do not need a helper’s assistance while those who need a helper’s assistance receive M1 650 quarterly.
With regard to disability, the NSDP II states that the strategic objective is to improve socio-economic conditions of people with disabilities and protect their rights, while the intervention will be to realise the potential of people with disabilities, empower them to actively participate in development processes and economic activities, promote disability mainstreaming and inclusion in all sector frameworks as well as to improve access to public services and strengthen coordination amongst key disability stakeholders.
Mochoboroane also touched on agriculture stating that the country is likely to face starvations in three months from now since there is not enough food for the nation despite the government efforts to assist farmers to plough their fields. “When it comes to agriculture, the nation has been doing it wrong because looking back, on previous reports, the numbers on the report from Bureau of Statistics states that, in the past 20 years, Lesotho produced 153 000 metric tons of maize but agriculture census results of 2020 states that it has decreased to 64 000 metric tons of maize per year.”
He added that agriculture needs to improve and the government needs to have a plan of how to improve it. He said the MEC-led government will build a parastatal that will be led by farmers so that when the government releases funding, it will be controlled by farmers to decentralize the availability of agricultural products across the country. According to the NSDP II document, agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy where 65.8 percent of the population lives. It further states that agriculture’s contribution to GDP has declined from the high of 15.2 percent in 1984 to 5.2 percent in 2014 with a slight increase to 6.9 percent in 2019.
The document also states that the sector is estimated to employ 8.5 percent of the urban population and 54.3 percent of the rural population. On agriculture, the document states that the strategic objective is to build capacity of farmers, agricultural institutions, and associations. Intervention should seek to organise producers and industry players into enterprise-based associations (system) in order to transform the Lesotho agri-food system, to provide institutional framework and enforcement mechanisms for development of well-functioning producer organisations and industry associations and raise awareness of farmers advocating for adoption of climate smart and conservation agricultural practices.
In an interview with Public Eye, Mochoboroane said the MEC’s ‘shopping list’ is aligned with the NSDP. He said: “Whatever I say is aligned with the NSDP and the NSDP does not change depending on whether we come from elections. In my opinion the parties’ manifestos are supposed to be the same. What we need to differ with is how we will implement the NSDP.”