LAST week saw thousands of Basotho trekking to the polls to vote in the local government election.
I consider the issue of voting in national elections a critical element in the empowerment of Basotho.
But like in previous elections the local government election was marred by general apathy.
This was particularly true for the youths. This was no surprise.
It also shows that even today’s youths still have a long way to go in understanding the significance of voting.
They still cannot understand the rationale of fully immersing themselves in politics.
One could think the youths did not show up last Saturday because they find there is no competent political party with substantive policies and ideals.
But unfortunately this cannot come from Lesotho youths most of whom are so ignorant it hurts!
There is a general feeling by youths that politics is a “dirty game” and so they do not want to participate in it.
They also think politics is evil and is meant for the gray-haired only.
Some think politics is of no importance hence they have no time for voting or attending political rallies. They would rather buy a voter’s card in order to get hired in the civil service. All these misconceptions must come to an end.
If indeed politics is a “dirty game”, as some think, then let us be the first ones to dignify it as Basotho youths.
If people think politics are only meant for old people then let us be the first ones to show the world that even the youths can fully participate in our national politics.
Politics is of most importance, it affects youths in every aspect of their lives.
The tragedy is that most young people now take things of pseudo-value and make them “valuable”. They are so obsessed with the American and British style of life to the point of forgetting that they are in a poverty-stricken country called Lesotho.
As Scrutator puts it, “They are more enthusiastic about beer, casual sex and House music than shaping the future of this country”.
How will using an American or British accent while speaking English take us out of poverty?
How will dressing like American hip-hop or R&B stars or even mimicking them help Lesotho against issues facing it such as the high rate of unemployment, gender inequality, high rate of crime, poor service delivery, mismanagement of the country’s resources and so on?
How will imitating American celebrities take us out of the grinding poverty in this country?
Come-on guys! Stop living in Plato’s world of ideas/forms and come back to reality.
And the real world we are in at the moment is Lesotho.
Everywhere else the youths fight for their corner. They talk about substantial issues like employment, empowerment, human rights, health, education, corruption and so forth.
But the youths of this country are busying themselves with unnecessary practices.
It is good to dream living such life, but if you don’t actualise those dreams by making Lesotho reach such standards then we are doomed.
The only way to make Lesotho reach that far is by having determined young people participating in politics and haul this country out of its current mess.
There is no need to stand by passively as youths and watch this “dirty game”.
At the end of the day the very “dirty game” affects our lives directly as youths.
The very old people we think are worthy and meant for politics will affect us by their decisions once they taste power.
Most of their decisions will affect us as youths, like what we have experienced lately regarding sponsorship and admissions at the National University of Lesotho and other higher learning institutions.
As youths we are vulnerable members of the society.
How many Basotho youths desired to be in university this year, but due to this “dirty game” are still at home hopeless?
How many youths have completed their degrees but are still unemployed and have been abandoned by our ‘people’s government’?
How many youths are willing to become entrepreneurs but can’t get the necessary support from our government?
There are youths in the remote areas of Lesotho whose conditions cry out for help, who never got a chance to get basic education.
It is a serious issue if youths are kept at home to baby-sit or even to go to the cattle post.
Youths don’t have recreational places and facilities. The only places available for recreation are public bars and “brothels”.
Should we, as youths remain passive about these issues?
It is time to come together as Basotho youths and transform our society, our country for the better.
This is time for youths to participate fully in Lesotho’s politics.
Youths are vulnerable and have been used as ‘political condoms’ by our politicians only to be dumped after use.
Youths are recognised only when elections are approaching. We are used by politicians to get votes.
This should come to a halt. I am not suggesting that youths shouldn’t vote.
Indeed they should vote, but they should do that with clear minds, knowing what they are doing.
They should be smart enough not to support party candidates but values and ideals represented by their parties. It is time for all Basotho youths to assert themselves and fully partake in the decision-making processes affecting them in this country.
It is time we have political party which will strive for the betterment of our society, a political party which will appreciate the contributions made by young people in this country.
We need a political party which will not close its doors to youths after using them at the polls.
It is about time we have competent youths as members of the cabinet. It is about time for Lesotho to have young and energetic leaders.
There are so many youths who have sharp minds, with a vision to take this country to greener pastures. There are youths who can work tirelessly as well as selflessly for the betterment of our country.
These are the youths who are not interested in enriching themselves and their families and friends with the little resources of this country.
There are youths who are first and foremost persons rather than machines, who can be moved by seeing Basotho go to bed hungry.
These are youths who can be leaders as well as friends of those they lead.
We have youths who, before implementing foreign strategies, will consider the context in which Basotho find themselves at that particular time.
We do not need a leader who implements decisions with or without the consent of the citizens!
It is time for Basotho youths to come together and with one voice cry out, in Barrack Obama fashion, “yes we can”.
Lepeli Moeketsi is a sub-editor on the Lesotho Times and Sunday Express