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Is this too much to ask?



Have you ever played a game of snakes and ladders? In this game there are ladders and snakes. The ladders on the game mat allow you to move upwards and get ahead faster. If you land exactly on a square that shows an image of the bottom of a ladder, then you may move your game piece all the way up to the square at the top of the ladder. If you land at the top of a ladder or somewhere in the middle of a ladder, just stay put. You never move down ladders. Slide down snakes. Snakes move you back down on the mat. If you land exactly at the top of a snake head, slide your game piece all the way to the square at the tail of the snake. If you land on a square that is in the middle or at the tail. You only slide down if you land on the top square of a snake. The game of snakes and ladders has taught me that political life is not meant to be a one-sided affair. Leaders will face both the good and bad times. Leaders will face ups and downs. Just like ladders (ups) and snakes (downs), leaders will meet good and evil around them and they will also do both the right and wrong things as they go through the political term of five years. Our nation has been traumatised these past five years by the wool and mohair robbery, corruption, John Xie’s state capture, the Covid-19 virus, economic collapse, and a polarised electorate. The five-year political term must end with a national election this year. These past five years have been deeply painful for most Basotho, but undoubtedly for some much more than others. It has not been the term we expected. This is an important year for Basotho as they will go to the polls. I have had the privilege of voting several times and I cherish that privilege. I believe in having the right to vote, but the problem arises when you are unsure if it really makes a difference. So, should you vote or not? I strongly believe that every Mosotho of voting age should vote. If you want better healthcare, education and childcare, fairer taxation, basic income for all, good recycling facilities, better roads and transport, better local amenities it is essential to vote because your government, national and local, runs all these services and your vote in this year’s election will send a message about what sort of Lesotho you want and expect. Employment, safe roads, modern hospitals, access to electricity, clean drinkable water, world standard schools and universities, an all conducive environment to excel, arts and culture support, decent playgrounds and halls….the list is endless! Is this really too much to ask for? Are not all Basotho in Lesotho entitled to all this? While government officials and their families bask in the comfort provided by the wealth of Lesotho, shopping in South Africa, schooling their children and relatives abroad, able to afford vacations while other civilised countries that have good electricity supply, running clean water, safe traffic controlled roads….have access to the best medical care keeping their families safe, while you and me, our mothers, fathers, relatives, elderly, youth and babies know nothing but hunger and poverty. Nothing but the struggle to survive! Then they come back to request your vote. Your vote to keep you right where you are….forever begging. The vote I cast this year will determine my future. The promises my party has promised me must be fulfilled, it is make or break for them too. They must deliver or they will lose my vote in the future. Bad leadership destroyed this country in one term. Nothing functions in this country. I believe that a good leader is one that knows people, respects them and can have their dwelling among them. The leaders of today do not dwell amongst us. They build fancy houses with the people’s money on hilltops and in the stars to get away from the conditions which the average Mosotho is facing. One thing they cannot get away from though is the deterioration of planet Earth. People who are passionate about protecting the Earth, passionate about peace, and passionate about creating positive changes should stand and vote for change instead of complaining. As we vote this year, political leaders are going to submit their resumes to Basotho. As they apply for the most important job in this country, our job the owners of this country is to make sure we hire the most competent leader. Basotho this year must hire a leader who has the ability to transform this country. Such a leader must have these two key qualities: competence and patriotism. In my opinion when I talk about competence I mean having the essential, proven skillset and experience vital to public administration. I define patriotism as putting Lesotho above political party bias and personal gain which usually drives the leaders. I am definitely not looking for angels: just competent and patriotic leaders. Is that too much to ask? The Prime Minister must have the mind-set of a project manager. The project, in this case, is an economic and human development agenda for this country. Many jump into politics without understanding what governance requires. From what we can see, most are only motivated by the perks of power and the easy wealth that flows therefrom. Some are blank when you discuss development with them. From the outset, the leader — as the project manager, must have clearly defined goals, complete with timelines and deadlines, picking the right core team, setting performance baseline for them, guiding them efficiently, appraising them regularly, and dropping the deadwood to keep the team healthy, motivated and productive. No matter how many geniuses are in a Prime Minister’s team, the buck does not stop with them. It stops at the Prime Minister’s desk. Therefore, it is not enough to appoint good hands — there must be regular guidance, monitoring, appraisal and rejigging. Political appointees should not be made to feel performance is inconsequential. Basotho, is that too much to ask? My expectations of the next Prime Minister that I have listed so far are not complicated: a competent and patriotic candidate with a clear development agenda; one who will be passionate for the country above party politics and selfish interests; one who will assemble a core team to implement the development agenda; and one who will assess policies regularly to keep them fit for purpose. Is that too much to ask? This country reminds me of the game of snakes and ladders. When we have made progress, we then land on the snake after elections that forces this country to slide down. It is like a game of snakes and ladders, with the snakes outnumbering the ladders by 2:1. Bad leaders outnumber the good ones. We keep falling off the ladder. We will be taking one step forward and two backwards as we have been doing for decades. Ramahooana Matlosa

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