IT is election season once again in Lesotho and as is the norm, the politicians have been reaching out to different sectors of the country’s body politic with a plethora of promises designed to sway the vote in favour of their parties.
Lesotho heads for the polls on 3 June, the third time the country is holding elections in five years.
This comes against the background of the collapse of the Pakalitha Mosisili-led seven parties’ coalition government after a no confidence vote by the opposition parties on 1 March.
And if the politicians are to be believed, the country could well become the Biblical Promised Land flowing with milk and honey.
Roads will be refurbished, jobs will be created and the senior citizens will received decent monthly gratuities.
And even sport, so long a neglected sector, will receive the much-needed funding and support so that Lesotho can finally take its place among the great sporting nations of the world.
No more will sporting associations such as the Lesotho Netball Association as well as Federation of Lesotho Rugby receive a paltry M100 000 as annual subvention as they did in 2016.
Those peanuts made it almost impossible for them to compete in international competitions let alone put in place development programmes.
The Lesotho Times Sports Reporter Mikia Kalati caught up with different political figures who promised a new era for the sporting fraternity in the event they achieved power after the polls.
Movement of Economic Change leader, Selibe Mochoboroane said his party stood for uplifting the economy and it would therefore allocate adequate resources towards developing the youth including through sport.
“We are aware of the role that sports can play in growing the economy and our policy is to utilise every weapon that can uplift our economy,” Mr Mochoboroane said, adding, “So we will put a lot of focus on sports development and empowering the youth”.
The former Small Business Development Minister said they would allocate more resources as well as encourage Lesotho Television to dedicate greater coverage to local sports as a way of marketing them to the global stage where they could secure more lucrative contracts.
“Despite digitalisation, Lesotho Television has not done its part in promoting our athletes and sports events to the outside world.
“So we will do our best to improve LTV so that it has better content and allocate more time for sports programmes than what it has done over the years.
“We can go as far as creating a sports channel to market our athletes and sports activities,” he said.
For his part, ABC leader and former prime Minister, Thomas Thabane said his government would play its part by “investing in sports and encouraging our youth to take part in sports activities from an early age”.
Dr Thabane, who is remembered for giving the senior Likuena soccer players a motivational talk just days after his inauguration as the prime minister in 2012, said his party has always been committed to youth empowerment.
“We have been firm on our manifesto that youth empowerment is a priority and we are aware that sports is no longer a means of entertainment, but athletes make a good living out of it hence we have to support them by investing in sports infrastructure,” he said, adding, “It is well known that the whole world loves and enjoy sports activities and we cannot be left out.”
“Sport has also become a way of fighting poverty and boosting the economy of the country.
“So we will also play our part by investing in sports and encouraging our youth to take part in sports activities from an early age as it is also encouraged to promote good health,” Dr Thabane said.
Basotho National Party leader, Thesele Maseribane said one of the main items on his party’s agenda was to ensure Lesotho became a destination of choice for sporting events like it did in 2013 during his tenure as Minister of Sports.
Lesotho hosted the regional under-20 COSAFA Cup.
“As a Minister of Sports, you should ensure your country can at least host regional and continental competitions such as the COSAFA Cup as we did when I was minister a few years back,” Chief Maseribane said.
“One of my goals would be infrastructural development as well as programmes to nurture young talent.
“The primary schools and secondary need facilities to identify and nurture talent.”
The BNP leader said there was also a challenge when it came to the sports administration, adding it would be necessary to hold stakeholders conference to map a way forward.
“There is need to bring all stakeholders together to find solutions to our problems in sports.
“The corporate world, international sports bodies and national associations, should all be brought together to commercialise sports. We need to proper systems including marketing to so that our players can go overseas and make money from their God-given talents.
He said the country could also benefit by promoting winter sports which would also boost tourism.
“But at the same time corruption has become a problem and I believe if the money this country had had been used properly then there would be greater progress by now,” he said.
For his part, Minister of Mining, Lebohang Thotanyana said much more had to be done in the provision of infrastructure to help in sports development.
Mr Thotanyana, who is also Lioli president however, said sports associations also had a role to play by putting their houses in order and being more accountable in order to get more funding.
“Government has tried to assist in sports development but the sporting fraternity must also know what they want.
“Yes, there is more that can be done, but there should be a clear roadmap from the sports associations of what they want to achieve.”
Mr Thotanyana who also served as the premier league chairperson and at the Lesotho Football Association before his ministerial appointment, said his Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party was committed to developing sports in the country.
“We (LCD) support sports empowerment among the youth because we know how important it is to this country.”
He said infrastructure is the biggest challenge for Lesotho to be able to reach the level of its counterparts in the southern African region.
As chairperson of Lioli FC, Thotanyana also said he was aware of the financials constraints that were holding back the country’s development.
“I think the most important thing in this matter is accountability and there is more that government can do if there are clear policies from associations in the way they operate,” he said.