THE United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) indicates that as far as economic development is concerned, Lesotho is going nowhere and very fast too.
According to UNCTAD Economic Affairs Officer, Giovanni Valensisi, the country’s failure to meet development criteria means it will not graduate from the ranks of Least Developed Countries (LDC) at least until the year 2025.
Instead, the country will watch from the lower rungs as its erstwhile partner countries ascend the ladder of development to a higher stage because of its failure to improve on the criteria which defines LDCs, including Per-Capita Income Index, Human Asset Index, and Economic Vulnerability Index.
And it would appear not to matter to our government that the United Nations currently runs the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) aimed at helping LDCs achieve developmental goals, with a target of ensuring half of the LDCs graduate by 2020.
Despite the IPoA, Mr Valensisi said that out of the current 48 LDC countries, only 16 were on track towards graduating from the LDC status to a higher level from 2017 to 2024, while Lesotho and the rest may only graduate beyond 2025 if at all they begin to attend to the fundamentals that stimulate economic development.
And it does not matter to government how much we, international development partners, workers’ unions and the general public have made noise in demanding they implement policies that could encourage growth.
As we report elsewhere in this edition, the European Union points out that unfortunately it has been a defining trait of past and present Lesotho governments to focus on politics at the detriment of economics.
It is something that has never ended well everywhere where it has been tried. In Venezuela, the government subordinated prudent economic policies to politics and the result has been untold suffering by ordinary citizens. Much closer to home, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has tried it and reduced the former breadbasket of the SADC region to its basket case which extends its begging bowl to neighbours Zambia and even Malawi for the staple maize food crop to avert starvation.
President Mugabe used his fiery speeches to denounce the Americans and other development partners as imperialists who had no right to rebuke him for gross human rights violations and dared them to withdraw their assistance.
The results have been catastrophic in our SADC sister country and one would have thought our own government would know that madness is repeating an action and expecting a different result.
But alas, our leaders seem to have read from the Mugabe copybook and have been thumping their noses at the Americans for threatening to withdraw the country’s benefits in terms of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) should the country fail to meet the qualification criteria which emphasises good governance, respect for the rule of law and the implementation of SADC recommendations aimed at achieving lasting peace and stability in the country.
Our leaders, as we report elsewhere, have been taking turns to attack the Americans, alleging interference in national sovereignty instead of simply implementing the good governance requirements to save more than 40 000 jobs that are at stake.
And we wonder who, apart from Mugabe, would be impressed by this brazen display of political brinkmanship. Needless to say that America has not called for anything to be done outside the scope of the recommendations from SADC which Lesotho subscribes to and which only made the recommendations at the behest of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.
We will never tire of saying how as citizens we deserve better from government. We can do without the reckless bravado. We just require our leaders to be selfless for once and focus on the bread and butter issues that affect ordinary Basotho.