We moan about everything: from our own government to the governments of other countries.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa did that in spectacular fashion last week when he complained about South Africa’s border regulations.
Tsekoa was so bitter he did not realise he was performing an epic diplomatic gaffe when he said the South African government was treating Basotho worse than the former white government.
If you didn’t know better you would have been forgiven for thinking that South Africa had instituted a blockade on Basotho.
Scrutator cannot understand what this brouhaha over South Africa’s border regulations is all about.
Unless Minister Tsekoa suffers from selective amnesia he would know that as a sovereign state South Africa is allowed to secure its borders.
Lesotho is in South Africa’s belly but it too remains a sovereign state that interacts with other countries as an equal.
The problem is that Lesotho doesn’t know what it wants from its relationship with South Africa.
The clamour for free border movement is one typical example of Lesotho crying crimson tears over nothing.
Yes, I said it!
And I will say it again before the cock crows three times: Our leaders don’t know what they want from South Africa.
They don’t know whether they want South Africa to treat Lesotho as a province or an equal.
If our leaders want Lesotho to be a province of South Africa then they haven’t said so.
If they want Lesotho to be treated as an equal then they are crying for a status this country already enjoys.
That is why Scrutator believes this noise about free border movement is just hot air.
Why should South Africa open its borders to every Tom, Dick and Harry because they come from a country that has the misfortune of being located in its belly?
Does the minister want Basotho to cross into South Africa like they are moving from Thamae to Ha Matala?
It doesn’t make sense at all and the reasons advanced for such dangerous border concessions are preposterous.
But the question is what has that got to do with South Africa securing its borders?
In any case why does Lesotho want to behave like they are the only country that assisted the ANC during apartheid?
There were ANC cadres in Zambia, Swaziland, Mozambique, Britain, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Russia, Tanzania, Cuba, Angola and many other places.
Yet those countries are not asking that South Africa opens its borders to their citizens like it is opening a cattle pen.
If that is the logic then perhaps the Afrikaners should now demand that they be given a portion of all government tenders in Lesotho because they gave Ntsu Mokhehle, the LCD founder, sanctuary in Valkplaas when he had been declared persona non grata by the Organisation of African Unity.
The second argument is that South Africans have no right to stop Basotho from crossing into their country because Lesotho actually extends to the Vaal River.
Mmmmmmm, now this is what Scrutator calls clutching at straws.
We may cry all we want but the fact remains that the Free State is part of South Africa.
Whether our forefathers were chased from that province or our families were divided by the whites, we still need passports to cross the border.
The Organisation of African Unity ruled that the colonial borders will remain intact and Lesotho did not even put it on record
that they were owed land by South Africa.
During the press conference the minister introduced yet another funny argument.
He said South Africa’s immigration policy was blocking investors from coming to Lesotho.
That sounds highly improbable because real investors don’t just leave their bases like headless chickens and they will never get chased from a port of entry because they check the rules first, unless the minister is talking about those “Mickey Mouse
investors” coming to open tiny “mom and papa” shops in Lesotho.
the bulk of the blame.
South Africa told Lesotho as far back as early 2010 that it was going to ban emergency travel documents and suspend the six months border permit.
But instead of dealing with the issue we went into a deep slumber and only woke up when the queues at the border were longer than Mohokare River.
Lesotho caused the problem by dismally failing to provide passports to its less than two million people.
Basotho spend years waiting for passports yet some rich bribe-paying foreigners get theirs in a few hours.
It would be better if our passports were credible.
It’s in wrong hands and it’s far easier to forge than a ticket for a chicken bus to Semongkong.
The ETDs were a temporary thing that our inept passport department made permanent.
In the end the department was busy issuing ETDs only and not passports.
South Africa is only asking Lesotho to put its house in order.
It’s not as if South Africa is conducting DNA tests on Basotho before it allows them to cross the border.
All they want is a valid passport.
Scrutator also knows that Lesotho is yet to take up South Africa’s offer to help make passports for Basotho.
Did you know that Lesotho has not seriously engaged South Africa on the border issue since 2010?
Did you know that the idea of free border movement that Lesotho’s politicians cry about so much was actually a proposal made by South Africa?
And did you know that during the previous holidays Lesotho rejected South Africa’s proposal to extend the operating hours of some borders because it was too stingy to pay the immigration officers’ overtime?
This is not NSS stuff.
Most of us are cramming the border because we want to go and buy trinkets in South Africa.
There are many Basotho who think they would have demeaned themselves if they buy groceries and clothes in Lesotho.
Then there are those who cross the border because they want to fornicate freely away from the prying eyes in Maseru.
Some cross the border to have dinner in that farming town called Ladybrand.
If such people stayed in Maseru, bought locally, fornicated locally and ate locally the queues at the border would be shorter.
But local is never good for some of us.
But try as she might she often struggles to find anything positive to highlight.
If it is not those lecturers throwing tantrums at that school in Roma, she is dealing with the culture of laziness within the civil
service or the bingeing habit in the villages.
The shenanigan at our local football association has also kept her thoroughly busy.
But, if she needed proof that our football is being managed by a bunch of incompetent people, last week’s embarrassing episode proved so in abundance.
A whole national team rushed to the Central Bank of Lesotho to look for foreign currency a few hours before they left for Sao Tome.
You don’t need to have set foot at NUL to know that a central bank is not in the business of dishing out foreign or local currency to individuals.
Any administrator worth paying a salary should have known such basic information.
For a whole team to run like headless chickens to the bank looking for US dollars was indeed one big, embarrassing gaffe.
No wonder we remain the butt of cruel jokes.
That’s my laugh from the gut.