MINISTER of Foreign Affairs Tlohang Sekhamane says the coalition government is working to tackle poverty and foster citizens’ participation in governance to stem the periodic instability that has rocked Lesotho.
Mr Sekhamane made the remarks during a Development for Peace Education (DPE) memorial dialogue in Maseru held to honour Sister Veronica Mapaseka Phafoli who founded the organisation in 1993. Among other objectives, the DPE seeks to find ways by which people can transform their material conditions for the better and extricate themselves from a state of helplessness.
The theme of the dialogue revolved around building an enabling environment for peace in Lesotho to fulfil the tenets of the Vision 2020, National Strategic Development Plan, Africa Peer Review Mechanism and the government’s Coalition Agreement programme.
In response to the question raised by participants of why episodes of instability continue to recur in Lesotho’s body politic, Mr Sekhamane said deprivation played a key part.
“We need not forget that poverty and hunger are the biggest and worst problems we have. Even a Christian ends up committing crime as a result of poverty,” he said.
“Most conflicts are a result of the poverty prevalent among our people. As a government, we realise the need for Lesotho to graduate from its current Least Developed Country status.”
He added that government needed to urgently address the high unemployment rate in the country, which is mostly affecting young people.
“When our youths study hard in universities and colleges only to be faced with unemployment, it fuels bitterness and anguish which increases the vulnerability to conflict scenarios,” said Mr Sekhamane.
He said the seven-party coalition government had already put in place measures to foster peace and stability in Lesotho.
“Our government’s Coalition Agreement clearly indicates, in its Broad Objectives on section A, its intention to restore national peace and political stability as well as deepen democracy and respect for human rights.
“We also have a priority policy programme on security reform in which the coalition government will address the security challenges to ensure that disciplined forces are professional, non-partisan and fit for the purpose of fulfilling Lesotho’s security needs,” said Mr Sekhamane.
He also highlighted the need for government to foster the participation of Basotho in the governance process.
“Increasing citizens’ participation can be achieved through placing a greater focus on consultation. We need our people to know what is happening in their government and take part in development initiatives,” Mr Sekhamane noted, adding that they intended to enact legislation to increase the public’s input in how they are governed.