LESOTHO is feeling first hand English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton’s third law which states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Put simply, it means that whenever an object pushes another object it gets pushed back in the opposite direction equally hard.
The decision by Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to defer a vote on the reselection of Lesotho for a second Compact brought to mind this principle as the stand-off between the Lesotho and United States governments intensifies.
What were mere threats by the Americans over the course of the year are beginning to translate into real policies with serious consequences for this nation. As early as April this year, the American government warned that it would withdraw aid to Lesotho should the coalition administration fail to adhere to “democratic principles” and observe the rule of law as enshrined in the country’s constitution.
Hopefully, the Americans will not follow through on their threat, since Lesotho’s well-being, if not survival, hinges on such programmes.
However, the Lesotho government has met the threats with belligerence, accusing the US of “meddling” in Lesotho’s internal affairs. As if the Americans were not enough of a target, the seven-party coalition has also lashed out at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) after it called for expediting of a court case blocking the release of the bloc’s inquiry into the killing of former army commander Maaparankoe Mahao.
While declarations of sovereignty may have currency at political rallies, they don’t put food on the tables of most Basotho who are eking out a painful existence due to the endemic poverty. This hostile approach towards agencies and nations that only want to assist us does not benefit anyone. It is astounding that our political leaders can strut the length and breadth of this country and brag about “sovereignty” when they depend on aid to provide the nation with the most basic needs.
Far from wanting to colonise Lesotho, the Americans have been merely setting benchmarks for their aid so that their taxpayers’ money is not wasted.
What Lesotho needs is to get her act together, economically and politically, to ensure a better future for all.
Curiously, the MCC selected Ivory Coast, Kosovo and Senegal, countries that are coming out of the cold of misrule and civil strife. The economy of the formerly war ravaged Ivory Coast is scheduled to expand by as much as nine percent this year due to an investment boom that followed the end of a civil war in 2012.
Meanwhile, the east African nation of Rwanda is on its way to becoming the information and communications technology hub in the region. These are the issues our government should be focusing on instead of making the country lose momentum on gains made so far.
With all the diplomatic tiffs and the boycott by opposition parliamentarians, the next elections will likely pop up with the coalition having nothing to show the electorate for its stay in power.
That a paradigm shift is needed for this nation to move forward is no longer in dispute. This should be accompanied by fundamental structural reforms by government on its posture to create an enabling business environment that attracts, not only aid, but investment and ensures growth.