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A simplistic way of tackling a major ill



TWO MPs have been caught up in a storm after they allegedly promised to give jobs to unemployed youths in their constituencies and then failed to deliver on their promises.
The two MPs, former Defence Minister Tefo Mapesela and the MP for Tele constituency, Mothepu Mahapa, were said to have promised to dish out jobs within the army for the youths.

Having failed to deliver on the promises, the youths are now said to be up in arms against the MPs.
The story is a classic illustration of the dirty politics of patronage and nepotism in Lesotho.
It is also vividly illustrates the immense challenges that our politicians are facing in delivering on their electoral promises of creating jobs for thousands of unemployed youths in Lesotho.

It is sad that in the face of massive joblessness, our politicians can only think of one solution – manipulating the systems so as to employ their own people in the army and within the already bloated civil service.
That to us is a very simplistic way of tackling what is a major social ill.
Youth unemployment currently stands at an estimated 40 percent. Thousands of qualified yet unemployed youths are roaming our streets with no prospects that they will ever get employed anytime soon.

It would therefore be an act of folly for any politician to think that all these unemployed youths will be absorbed in the civil service, particularly the army.

Our politicians must be disabused of the notion that they can deal with the problem of unemployment by just parceling the few jobs that are available within the army to their supporters.
Such a “solution” would be hugely myopic.

We all know that the issue of youth unemployment is perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing Lesotho’s politicians. It is breeding a desperate generation of young adults with nothing to lose.
That is very dangerous for Lesotho.
If left unattended, such raw anger and frustration might one day explode into open violence.

That is why it is urgent for the government to create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive. The government must create an environment in which there are better opportunities for its people.
We believe it is the private sector which can generate meaningful jobs for the youths. The government must never abdicate its responsibility to create that conducive environment for the private sector.

It would be the height of folly for anyone to think governments are there to create jobs for their party supporters.
We must also move away from the toxic politics that have characterised how we do business in Lesotho. The reality is that our cake is small and there is a mad stampede for the little resources available.

This is the biggest problem that we face as a country. How we deal with such a problem will determine whether we shall have social harmony in Lesotho or we shall continue to have conflicts.
The solution as we have argued above lies in creating a strong private sector to generate jobs.  That will require that we diversify our economy so that we do not just rely on the civil service and the textile sector for jobs.
That will mean strengthening the agriculture sector and tap the vast potential within the tourism sector.

But the growth of the economy can only come if we have stability within our politics and within the security sector. That is why it is urgent that our politicians break the current political stalemate.
Breaking that stalemate will be crucial in moving the country forward.

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