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Thabane must keep his eyes on the ball

Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was inaugurated at Setsoto Stadium on Friday amid euphoric scenes in Maseru.

This was the first time since Lesotho’s independence in 1966 that political power has been allowed to change hands peacefully.

For that we are grateful.

As the new government gets down to business tomorrow it finds itself faced with a host of challenges in its in-tray.

Chief among these is rampant poverty, massive joblessness, corruption and disease.

The new administration must therefore hit the road running as it seeks to tackle these challenges and lessen the burden on the people.

But as they discharge their duties Thabane and his new administration must resist the temptation to seek to settle old scores.

Such a route would only make the government lose its focus on the key issues crying out for attention.

We must however hasten to warn that the new government faces a crisis of expectations.

It is an understatement to state that Basotho are expecting a miraculous turn-around of the status quo.

This is not going to be easy.

As the new administration seeks to balance the expectations of their supporters with the realities on the ground the new government must resist the urge to pursue populist policies.

Such policies can only succeed in chasing foreign investors.

The reality is that Lesotho desperately needs foreign investment to generate jobs and deal with the rampant unemployment in this country.

If there is any time foreign investors need some reassurance that time is now. They must be reassured that their investments are safe.

We all know how touchy foreign investors can be. The reality is that Lesotho needs foreign investors than the investors need Lesotho.

The new government must therefore strike a balance between the interests of foreign investors and those of our people.

The results of the May 26 election suggest Basotho are hungry for change. They want to see dramatic changes in their own lives.

Factory workers want to see an improvement in their monthly wages.

Civil servants also expect a betterment of their lives.

Basotho want the new administration to deal decisively with the culture of corruption that had been allowed to fester for years.

They want the government to put a halt to the awarding of lucrative government tenders to a cabal of well connected party functionaries.

For instance, there was something rotten about the manner the previous administration handled the multi-million dollar Identity Card tender.

It would be in the national interest for the new government to halt the tender and launch a fresh investigation into how that tender was awarded.

We also expect the new government to move with speed to deal with the South Africa-Lesotho border crisis.

We want to see a better working relationship with our giant neighbour.

But the first step would be by ensuring that we overhaul the way we have been running the Home Affairs Ministry.

We have never understood why it should be such a big problem providing passports to all the 1.8 million Basotho in this country.

The new government must ensure all Basotho are properly documented.

Only when all Basotho have proper identification documents can we start pestering the South African government to give better concessions to Basotho.

The ball is in our court.

While the majority of Basotho would welcome these changes we are mindful that they also have certain areas that they do not want touched.

Chief among these are the largely progressive reforms that had been initiated at the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

In principle we think the new administration need not halt the changes that had been set in motion at Roma.

The new government needs a workforce that is in line with the 21st century and any attempts to halt such reforms would be suicidal.

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