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It’s time to vote wisely

LESOTHO is bracing for its second local government elections in a couple of months.
The first were held in April 2005.
This marked the kingdom’s modernisation of a system of government King Moshoeshoe I had used since he founded the Basotho nation in the 1820s, albeit in the form of chieftaincy.
Even up to this day every village falls under a chief whose roles are outlined in a semi-official document known as the Laws of Lerotholi.
Their duties include the allocation of farming land, settling village disputes and controlling livestock ownership and pastures.
However, powers of the chief have over the years been gradually reduced with the enactment of new laws.
The Local Government Act of 1997 made provision for the establishment of local authorities that would be charged with the regulation, control and administration of issues within areas over which they have authority.
Thus in 2005, after tortuous efforts to reform the decentralisation of power, Basotho voted for local government councils.
In the next two months or so, eligible voters will be casting their ballots for those they want to represent them in either rural or urban councils.
But is it necessary to have local government councils in the first place, many might wonder.
Of course it is necessary, but it appears very few appreciate the purpose of councils and little energy has been expended in enlightening the populace.
Our politicians have been disappointing in this regard.
As the jostling for council seats hots up, all they have been concerned about is simply winning for the sake of it.
That’s why all the noise has been about amending the law that governs the election of councillors. Fair and fine.
In any case, a level playing field is the hallmark of truly democratic elections.
But why is it that the same politicians have not enunciated how they intend to improve their communities once they are elected into office?
We do not have roads in our suburbs and villages.
If they are there, they are a little more than strips and footpaths that can be impassable especially this rainy season.
For all the water we are blessed with, it’s a scandal that only a few have potable water piped to their houses.
We can’t even dare talk about sanitary and refuse issues, let alone the non-enforcement of by-laws regarding the rearing of livestock in urban settings.
Basotho deserve better.
And if we dream of transforming Lesotho into a modern country, those are the critical areas to start with.
This is why we found it critical to remind incumbent councillors and interested candidates of what the citizenry expects from them.
Generally, councils are required to make decisions and set directions for promoting the social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being of their communities.
This, in short, should translate into properly planned residential areas, the building of roads, the provision of water and electricity as well as sanitation facilities.
The challenge is quite enormous but not insurmountable.
We hope the next time our politicians open their mouths they will be talking about how they intend to influence positive change and to, ultimately, make life better and enjoyable for Basotho.
Evidence on the ground clearly indicates that the current crop of councillors have either failed in this regard or that they had no idea  what they were doing for the past five years they have been in the councils.
It is important that those who seek to be elected as councillors this year understand that they are seeking a very crucial responsibility in our society.
Development starts at council level.
The sum total of the development in the councils then translates into national development.
But to achieve this, councillors need to prioritise the interests of the people ahead of theirs.
We the people who are led have responsibility too.
We have a duty to elect people who understand our problems.
We have a duty to demand proper and timely service delivery.
People need clean water, proper roads, refuse collection, hospitals and schools.
If your councillor has no clue about these basic needs, now is the time to vote them out.

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