FORMER Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has pleaded with his successor Thomas Thabane to ensure the completion of various development projects that were started or mooted by the former’s seven parties’ coalition.
Dr Mosisili said this during the recent sod turning ceremony ahead of the construction of the 92-kilometre Ha Mpiti-Sehlabathebe road in the Qacha’s Nek district where the former premier hails from.
Other multi-million-dollar projects that Dr Mosisili wants to see completed include the Maseru Hospital and Eye Centre as well as the Hlotse Dam in the Leribe district.
Speaking at the sod turning ceremony which was also attended by Dr Thabane, government ministers, the Chinese diplomats and business people, Dr Mosisili expressed his joy that the road construction would finally commence.
He said it was one of the projects his government had initiated and he had become sceptical that it would ever take off after hearing of alleged plans by the Thabane to divert the funds to other projects.
He pleaded with Dr Thabane not to stop projects initiated by his former government just to spite him (Dr Mosisili).
“I am very happy that this (road) project has become a reality,” said Dr Mosisili who was at the helm of the previous government from 2015 to June 2017 when he lost the elections to Dr Thabane.
“I had started pestering officials at the Ministry of Public Works about this road as I was devastated when I learned that there were plans to divert the funds to other projects. That would have been a big mistake if that was done to spite Mosisili for this road does not belong to Mosisili but to the nation.
“The (envisaged) road leads to the most beautiful place in Lesotho (the Sehlabathebe National Park), the only place in the country to be declared as the world heritage site. The road will boost our economy in that investors will come and build hotels at Sehlabathebe. The place has plants and animals that have become extinct (in other areas). There is a fish called Nino which was deemed extinct worldwide but the Tsoelikana River, in Sehlabathebe is the only place in the world which has that type of fish.”
Dr Mosisili, who is the legislator for Tsoelike, also used the occasion to plead with government ministers to address the challenges affecting his constituency including food insecurity, unemployment and general poverty.
“I learned that over 500 jobs will be created during the construction of this road. It is my plea again that there be fairness in hiring people and this must not be done on the basis of their political affiliation. I pray that people within the vicinity of the construction zone be given priority when recruitments are done.
“Furthermore, Minister (of Public Works and Transport, Prince Maliehe), transport operators set their own taxi fares that are too much to bear for the public here. For example, people pay M20 from Waterfall to town and that distance is less than 3 kilometres. They also pay M30 from Waterfall to Matlaling and that distance is less than 10 kilometres. Please protect us by ensuring that transport operators respect fares set by the ministry.
Mr Maliehe responded by assuring Dr Mosisili that the recruitment of employees to work on the road would be conducted in a transparent manner in collaboration with the area chiefs.
“I can assure you Ntate Mosisili that no one will be hired on political grounds. We have already liaised with concerned area chiefs about recruitments which are meant to start on 10 December and all communities should find out from their chiefs where the hiring will be conducted,” Mr Maliehe said.
Dr Mosisili also implored Agriculture Minister to ensure there would be food aid for his constituency. His call comes against the background of forcasts by the International Research Institute (IRI) for Climate and Society that at least 300 000 people will require food aid due to the El-Niño induced drought which is expected to hit the country during the 2018/2019 farming season.
“Furthermore, the sun is scorching on us and rather than getting rain we are tormented by heavy winds. I am glad Agriculture Minister Mahala Molapo is here so we can address the issue of drought which has hindered the ploughing of fields. It will be important to think how this community will be assisted with food aid to avoid having corpses from hunger,” Dr Mosisili said.