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Tour operators lament frequent change of ministers, PSs

Limpho Sello

LOCAL tour operators say the continued change of ministers and principal secretaries in the ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture has slowed down the sector’s progress.

The comments come after the recent sacking of Motlohi Maliehe from the tourism minister post. Mr Maliehe was appointed minster in February replacing the then Minister of Tourism Ms Mamotsie Motsie who this week also resigned from her Minister of Forestry post.

The tour operators said progress in the ministry has been stalled by high turnover of ministers and PSs without the proper hand over take over to ensure continuity of projects.

Speaking to the Lesotho Times recently, T- Connexion Lesotho managing director Thabo Maretlane said successive governments have disrupted the smooth flow of work in the ministry by removing ministers before the end of their terms.

He said this has restricted the ministry’s input into the economy to nominal contribution.

Mr Maretlane said in nine years the ministry has had seven different ministers and ten principal secretaries which has caused lack of continuity.

“You can imagine having worked on a certain project today and eventually you have to take a different direction the next day because there is a new minister,” Mr Maretlane said.

“The worst part is that no proper handover is done to continue the progress already made and ensure that there is always continuity. When the other minister is reshuffled of fired, the new one comes in with his or her own ideas sidelining the old ones and ignoring the progress that has been made.

“The biggest problem we have is lack of continuity and in a country where there is no political stability frequent reshuffles chase away investors so we are concerned as citizens.”

He said the trend would force investors to sideline Lesotho and settle for other countries.

Mr Maretlane further noted that the delay in the enactment of the tour Operators Bill which has lay dormant as a draft for years has hindered growth and independence of local tour operators.

For his part Tsela Tours and Adventure managing director Kemang Leluma said the obtaining situation in the ministry is saddening and called it the “thanksgiving ministry”.

He said the ministry is used as platform by politicians to reward their supporters by awarding the ministerial position to political allies.

“The Ministry of Tourism is treated like a thanks giving ministry which is not good,” Mr Leluma said.

Contacted for comment this week government’s spokesperson Nthakeng Selinyane said he could not comment on whether or not government was right.

“This is a political question which I cannot address because I do not comment on the right or wrong of government action,” Mr Selinyane said.

He however, indicated that the issue of frequent change of minsters had been noted in one of the reports that he was compiling.

“At least one ministry has said in its annual report that it has had a problem of non-passage of international reports and legislation due to the rapid turnover of ministers.

“I think this cannot escape the notice of those who make decisions and they could be driven into such situations of moving ministers around rapidly by unavoidable circumstances. But again, those are decisions that are never explained. Therefore, I cannot know because they are never explained or published.  I am again not mandated to talk to them or ask about them.

“However, there is no doubt that as advisers of government and spokespersons we should bring it to the attention of the decision makers that there are already concerns in this direction even from the insiders. I am supposed to take heat of the concerns and transmit them as such and advise accordingly about the effects of these issues that are registered by the participants in the sectors that are affected by these reshuffles,” Mr Selinyane said.

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