MASERU — Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili yesterday said youths have a key role to play in the development of the country.
Mosisili was speaking at the launch of the National Volunteer Corps programme at a local hotel in Maseru yesterday.
The National Volunteer Corps is an initiative of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Recreation aimed at promoting volunteerism among youths.
The ministry also says it wants to mobilise youths to “support development-related activities”.
Mosisili said it was impossible for the government to absorb all youths who are graduating from the country’s academic institutions.
“It is not possible for the government to employ all youth.
“Their involvement, however, is highly regarded in the development of their own country,” Mosisili said.
“Even in my political party the Lesotho Congress for Democracy we value the involvement of youth. Hence we have the party’s youth league.”
Mosisili said while the volunteers will be given a small stipend, the programme will help youths gain valuable experience in the workplace.
“Our volunteers will get small stipends just to keep them going. It is better than nothing.
“The most important thing they gain from volunteering is experience which almost every employer looks for before hiring,” Mosisili said.
He said this was a noble programme to allow volunteers to gain experience.
“Our development is our responsibility. We have to work for ourselves towards our own development,” he said.
The ministry said it will recruit, train and deploy unemployed young graduates in institutions on a volunteer basis for a period of one year.
“It is expected that after one year of engagement in various organisations the graduates shall have acquired enough experience that shall render them more competitive in the labour market,” said a statement from the ministry.
The ministry said a total of 153 volunteers had already been deployed in various government departments and are “making a considerable contribution towards the economic development of our country”.
“Volunteers were familiarised with the way the civil service operates. They were then deployed to different ministries on the basis of their tertiary qualifications,” said Moeketsi Rankhone, an information officer at the Ministry of Youth.
On Tuesday Youth Minister ‘Mathabiso Lepono told parliament that the government was embarking on the youth volunteer project.
But the announcement was met with fierce response from opposition benches.
MPs from opposition parties claimed they had not been consulted and knew nothing about the programme.
Pitso Maisa, from the All Basotho Convention party, said his party had not been consulted about the programme and he was hearing it for the first time in parliament.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday, Sello Maphalla, the deputy leader of the Lesotho Workers Party and MP, said he hoped the programme will not turn out to be a move to terrorise members of opposition parties.
“We are worried that this will be a replay of past events. We know that a similar group of youths was collected during the Basotho National Party government.
“They later turned out to be a mob which was used to harass members of the opposition parties. It has happened in other African countries like Malawi,” Maphalla said.