THE United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is closely monitoring the progress of Lesotho’s multi-sector reforms process as consultations continue to determine the size of the multi-million dollar second compact grant.
The MCC is also tracking the Lesotho’s maintenance of its first compact investments, including the health clinics that were built throughout the country.
This was revealed by the United States embassy in an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday.
An MCC delegation led by, Kyeh Kim, the MCC’s Principal Deputy Vice President, Africa Region, visited Lesotho in February this year to begin consultations for the release of the sizeable aid package.
During their visit they told this publication that although discussions for the release of the funds were still in the early stages, the second compact would be focused on the removal of constraints to economic growth and poverty reduction.
The delegation nevertheless emphasised that Lesotho’s eligibility for the compact funding was premised on satisfactory progress by the government in restoring the rule of law and implementing multi-sector reforms. The project could be suspended if the government reneges on its commitment to implementing the reforms.
The MCC is a multilateral American foreign aid agency established by the United States Congress in 2004, with beneficiary countries expected to meet certain conditions with regards to good governance and respect for the rule of law to qualify.
In 2007, MCC and Lesotho signed the first US$362.6 million (more than M3 billion) compact to reduce poverty and spur economic growth.
In 2015, the MCC stalled in renewing the compact programme over rampant human rights abuses perpetrated under former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s regime.
Lesotho’s eligibility for the second compact was however confirmed by the MCC Board in December 2017 after the ouster of the Mosisili regime in the June elections and the return to power of Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane, whose coalition set out to dismantle the edifice of rights violations erected during the Mosisili era.
Yesterday the US embassy’s Public Affairs Officer, Melissa Schumi Jones, provided an update on the progress of the on-going consultations for the second compact, saying “Since the MCC’s Board of Directors approved Lesotho’s reselection for development of a second compact in December 2017, the MCC has been working with the Lesotho Millennium Development Agency (LMDA) to determine Lesotho’s current economic constraints to growth”.
“This has involved consultations with hundreds of private and public sector representatives. Once these constraints have has been finalised, MCC will soon begin the next phase, conducting a root cause analysis of these constraints.”
Ms Schumi Jones said it was however, “important to note that even as compact development continues, the second compact has not yet been signed”.
She said the signing would also depend on the country’s progress in implementing the multi-sector reforms as well as its ability to maintain the investments of the first compact.
“The MCC reselected Lesotho largely based on the country’s progress on rule of law challenges. However, the MCC is closely monitoring Lesotho’s national reform process for progress. It is also closely tracking the maintenance of its first compact investments, including health clinics throughout the country,” she said.
The reforms now being driven by the Thomas Thabane-led coalition were recommended by the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) after it established a commission of inquiry into perennial instability in Lesotho in the wake of the shooting of former Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) commander Maaparankoe Mahao in June 2015.