IT is common knowledge that one of the major casualties of the ensuing discord in the coalition government has been service delivery. As our political class dithers, the development of our already impoverished Mountain Kingdom has continued to take a back seat.
As a result, Lesotho is lagging behind other nations in the southern African region in terms of economic development and infrastructure development. The Lesotho National Development Corporation recently rang the alarm bells saying the unfolding political crisis has taken its toll on local industry and is scuttling foreign direct investment.
Some investors, we are told, opted out of Lesotho for another country in the region owing to the persistent uncertainty that continues to plague this nation. The negative publicity this nation is getting is also putting off any potential donors.
However, it seems the people we elected to lead us are unmoved as they continue to dig in their positions.
Elsewhere in this edition, the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services Principal Secretary (PS) Teboho Mohlomi pleaded with government to grant his department more funding to enable the refurbishment of its dilapidated prisons, some of which he said were no longer fit for human occupation.
According to Mr Mohlomi, his department was forced to transfer all the inmates who were at Mafeteng Correctional Facility to Mohale’s Hoek and Maseru due to the dilapidated state of the institution, which ended up crumbling.
Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky said the degree of civilisation in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. Judging by the alarming state of our correctional system, we are certainly found wanting in that regard.
The purpose of the correctional institutions is totally defeated when inmates are subjected to inhumane living conditions. The desired outcome from incarceration should be the resocialising, reform and re-integration of an inmate into society.
However, if they are treated like animals, the inmates will come out hardened and ready to inflict more harm than they had been initially incarcerated for. The successful rehabilitation of a prisoner is only possible if they are not placed in health-threateningly bad conditions, enjoy access to medical care and are protected from other forms of serious ill-treatment.
It also does not help when the Lesotho Correctional Services staff are underpaid and demotivated. It creates a vicious circle which ultimately leads to the rise of crime in this nation.
Unfortunately, the state of our prisons mirrors the situation obtaining in most areas of service delivery. In this day and age, some school children still have to endure learning under trees as there are not enough classrooms. As if that is not enough, some of them come to school barefoot as their guardians cannot afford to buy them shoes. Instead of banking on government, these children’s hope lies with well-wishers and corporates who have to fill the gaping hole left by our leaders.
These are the issues that our leaders should be seized with instead of dragging this nation through the mud with their endless feuds.
Lesotho needs leaders who don’t think of politics as an income-generating activity but serve the nation’s interests.