PRINCE Seeiso Bereng Seeiso’s statement bemoaning the “far slower pace” of Lesotho’s politico-economic and social development in relation to its “sister” countries should be food for thought for all progressive Basotho.
Elsewhere in this edition, we report that during the this week’s opening of Senate in which he is president, Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso lamented the fact that although Lesotho and Botswana recently celebrated 50 years of independence, the former lags far behind in terms of development.
“I invite us all to make an objective and realistic assessment of our country and reflect on what independence has meant for us and what the future holds for our children and grand-children,” he said.
He said while there were some achievements, “we also have to be true to ourselves and recognise that in comparative terms, our country has politically, economically and socially developed at a far slower pace than her sister protectorates and we must therefore challenge ourselves as to why”.
Indeed as the Prince alluded to in his address, the reasons for this parlous state lie in governance, it certainly boils down to how we have governed ourselves and there is an urgent need to adopt the right principles of democratic governance.
By contrast, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili suggested in his independence anniversary speech that it would be better to misgovern ourselves than to be governed well by outsiders.
While the issue of Lesotho’s sovereignty is non-negotiable and of paramount importance, it is trite to note that it cannot be sovereignty for the sake of it.
Independence or political power comes with aspirations, and these are always aspirations to prosper in all spheres of life, socially, politically and economically.
And it has been proved time and again that these facets of development require good governance.
We do not have to look further than our Tswana counterparts for evidence. Botswana is the perfect example of what Lesotho is not and perhaps more importantly what Lesotho could become in terms of development.
With roughly the same population as ours, Botswana has used the same 50 years of independence that we have had to pick itself from being the veritable wasteland of poverty that it was in 1966 to become a middle income country.
At one time it even boasted the world’s fastest growing economy and that economy was based on diamonds which Lesotho also possesses in abundance. Lesotho has the added advantage of possessing more abundant water resources.
However, the difference has been that Lesotho has lacked the good governance structures which have been at the foundation of our counterparts’ rapid development.
Interestingly our celebrations were also attended by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, a leader who was advised at the his country’s independence ceremony in 1980 by the late Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere to handle with care, the “jewel of Africa” that he had inherited from the British colonial power.
From the breadbasket of the SADC, region, Zimbabwe has unfortunately been reduced to being its basket case. Its story is a telling example of how the abundance of natural resources without the necessary good governance can ruin a country.
Therefore, Lesotho and its leadership cannot afford to pay lip service to Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso’s call for self-introspection and indeed the setting up of good stable governance structures.
History has already recorded the gallant efforts of our founding fathers in securing this independence we so rightly cherish. However as we enter the next half century, we need to ask ourselves what history will record of us as we confront our own particular challenge of uplifting the standards of living of our people.
It is within the realm of practical possibility to develop this country, if only we first establish a culture of good governance.