MASERU — Youth leagues of the country’s opposition parties say they are not happy that the budget presented last Friday failed to address serious problems affecting youths.
Their major gripe with Finance Minister Timothy Thahane’s budget is that it does not spell out how the government plans to create jobs for the youths and provide start-up capital for aspiring businesspeople.
Thahane’s threats to chase all unpaid student loans, the young politicians said, is misplaced as most of the graduates are not able to repay their debts because they are yet to get jobs.
The Basotho National Party youth leader, Ts’epo Monethi, said there is “nothing in the budget to show that someone ever thought of the problems affecting the youth”.
“The minister does not say clearly how the unemployment rate will be curbed,” Monethi said.
“Securing loans for the youth is a challenge because banks demand security which the youth don’t have because they have not accumulated assets.”
Monethi said instead of threatening to “hunt down” graduates that have not paid their loans the government must first create jobs.
“The government must first create jobs so that we are able to repay the loans. How can we repay those loans if we are not working?”
The problem, Monethi said, is that the youth are not well represented in parliament to push for policy changes that benefit young people.
“This means we are not involved in policy-making processes and that ultimately leads to budgets of this nature.”
All Basotho Convention youth league spokesperson Mohoalohoalo Jane said the budget had totally left out the youths.
“There is no hope whatsoever of a better future for the youth of this country,” Jane said.
“What kind of a country is it without firm structures in place to empower its youth?
“Instead of giving us a clear picture of what the government plans to do to curb the high unemployment rate among the youth, Thahane says he will go all out to get students who still owe the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS).
“Where does he expect those youth with degrees but no jobs to get the money to pay back the NMDS?”
The Lesotho People’s Congress leader, Bokang Ramats’ella, was disappointed that Friday’s budget speech did not specifically say how the government will deal with the escalating HIV infections among the youths.
“The majority of our youth are infected with HIV. Without jobs young people spend most of their time getting involved in extremely risky behaviour,” Ramats’ella said.
“It means we are losing the country’s most productive workforce. There should have been money specifically set aside for the sole purpose of tackling HIV and Aids among the youths.”
Selibe Mochoboroane, the secretary-general of the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy youth league, said the budget was vague on how the youths will be empowered.
“It is a clear indication that the youth were not consulted nor included when the budget was being crafted,” Mochoboroane said.
“Although I do agree with the minister that funds from students sponsored by the NMDS should be recovered the budget does not say clearly say how the government will create jobs for the youths.
“Nobody went to the youths to consult them about their basic needs.”