IN this edition, we interview Home Affairs Minister Tsukutlane Au, who outlines his plans to revamp the ministry which has been bedevilled by corruption and poor service delivery over the years.
Among the minister’s goals is the publishing of operational standards for all the services offered by the ministry and an electronic queue management system to prevent corruption in queues for various services such as identity documents and passports.
Mr Au also stressed the need for customer care by Home Affairs ministry personnel, adding that he would ensure that all frontline staffers would be trained on that.
Of course, committing to something is one thing and actually doing it quite another. We await to see tangible deliverables from the Ministry of Home Affairs. The good thing about the ministry is that one does not need to look very far to know if it is well managed or not.
But the crux of the matter is that service delivery from all ministries is key to the Prime Minister Thomas Thabane-led government’s ability to serve its full term. Even if it may sound like a cliché, service delivery is integral to any government’s success and political stability. Even countries with limited political freedoms but excellent service delivery like Singapore and Malaysia are more likely than not to be stable.
This is not to encourage the establishment of an autocratic government in Lesotho but to underscore the fact that the longevity of governments is usually determined by their ability to deliver on their promises to voters.
The electorate’s apathetic response to previously-held elections – with the latest being the 30 September 2017 local government polls – highlights the point we are making. Voters are more in tune with issues of service delivery than with the brinkmanship that has seen one government succeed another in two-year cycles.
Politicians need to meet the electorate at their point of need and not to molly coddle them with superficial promises. Voters who spoke to this publication after the 30 September polls were primarily concerned with the delivery of various services and amenities such as water, electricity and good roads than they were with the congress or nationalist divide.
It does not require a rocket scientist to decipher that Basotho are no longer a passive electorate that can be hoodwinked by colourful tee shirts, loud barring music and even alcohol at rallies after which politicians go on to help themselves to huge servings of the national cake.
Also in this edition, Dr Thabane has committed to ensure Lesotho transitions from being a least developed country to a developing country when he finishes his five-year term.
The premier said he intends to harness the talent and expertise of Basotho who have emigrated to other countries such as Botswana and South Africa. For us to keep our brightest and sharpest in the country, we should move beyond producing raw materials to building dynamic and competitive manufacturing sectors with higher value added. Knowledge of other countries’ experiences can also help Lesotho address some of the developmental pitfalls.
Development is never automatic.
We also call for the harnessing of expatriate skills for the benefit of locals through skills transfer and economic development. Instead of Lesotho chasing away foreign skilled people, we need to harness their talents to open new industries beyond the mining sector and other resources extraction sectors.
The 21st century is regarded as a knowledge-based era and the countries that will thrive are those that focus on harnessing human resources and not chasing them away. A prime and relatable example is Rwanda, whose Vision 2020 aims to turn the country into a knowledge-based economy similar to that of Singapore in South East Asia.