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Poll Mosisili’s biggest test

IN six day’s time Basotho will go to the polls to elect a new government. Saturday’s election is being seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s 15-year rule.
This will be Mosisili’s biggest test since he replaced Ntsu Mokhehle as premier in 1997.
The election comes at a time when Mosisili, who has been the “poster boy” for Lesotho politics for years, appears mortally wounded.
This election will lay to bed questions whether Mosisili was right to quit the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), a party he had led successfully past two national elections in 1998 and 2007, to form the Democratic Congress (DC) in February.
This election will therefore be a referendum on Mosisili himself.
Are voters satisfied with his performance over the past 15 years?
On Saturday voters have an opportunity to either endorse him or kick him out.
We believe and trust that Basotho are intelligent enough to make their own choice regarding who they want as leader over the next five years.
This is the reason why we have refrained as a newspaper from endorsing any of the dozen contesting parties.
However, we wish to state that we will continue to play our role as a fearless defender of our democratic project in holding to account those entrusted with the reins of power.
It is within this framework that we want to hold politicians to account for their numerous promises they have made in the campaign period.
Lesotho needs honest politicians.
It would be dereliction of duty on our part were we to fail to instil a culture of accountability within our politics.
Take for instance the promises that we have had among factory workers.
We agree that factory workers are a key constituency that has been abused over a long time. We wait with interest to see what the new government will do after the election to improve their lot.
Almost every politician who matters has been at pains to promise a new era for factory workers who are among some of the worst paid in Lesotho.
The lowest paid factory worker is said to be earning around M900 a month.
We have in the past urged the government to set up a realistic minimum wage and ensure that workers earn a living wage.
We expect to see a dramatic improvement in the workers’ salaries and conditions of service post-May 26.
We have also heard encouraging noises about plans to revamp the ownership structure of foreign-owned companies.
Politicians have also promised to do something positive about Lesotho’s diamond resources.
We expect the incoming government to get the ball rolling in delivering better services to the people.
This newspaper has also been at the forefront in reminding the government about the vast potential in the tourism sector.
We are on record as having said Lesotho can be the “tourist Mecca” of southern Africa because of its God-given breathtaking scenery.
Even though we have shouted our voices hoarse on this issue we are disappointed that there has been very little debate during this election campaign about what the incoming government plans to do to tap this vast potential.
Is it because the politicians who are charged with running our tourism are clueless about what they should be doing?
Promising to build industries and factories to generate jobs might bamboozle potential voters but they remain mere promises.
As Lesotho we must seek to exploit what we already have – our natural resources and beautiful scenery.
We need not remind the incoming government that tourism was the third biggest foreign currency earner in Zimbabwe before President Robert Mugabe decided to wreck it all with his ill-advised, haphazard land reform programme in 2000.
In Kenya, the tourism industry has been the leading source of foreign exchange revenue since 1997.
With better planning we are convinced that Lesotho can alleviate the shocking and unacceptable levels of poverty that we have seen in this country by tapping the vast potential in that sector.
But to realise this potential the new government must not sit on its brains.

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