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Queen Mamohato now a village clinic



I have observed that in this country when someone talks about their horrible manager, nearly everyone can relate. It is because Basotho have all experienced the effects of bad managers. Bad managers come in many different forms and if there is one thing we do not need more of, it is bad managers. Unfortunately my country has an abundance of such managers. On the flip side, how about when somebody shares the experience they had with a great manager? Feels different, right? Those stories seem to be fewer in number in this country. It is a fact when you have had the good fortune of working for a great leader, you never forget it. Styles Phumo (Arsenal coach), Thabo Khasipe, Mohlalefi Sefika, Mpho Vumbukani, Molefi Leqhaoe and a few others are names of Basotho who have managed well in different sectors of our society. Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital used to be managed by a consortium called Tšepong, which was mostly owned by a South African company. A few months ago the ownership of the hospital changed and it is now fully owned by the government of Lesotho. Worldwide governments are the most inefficient and ineffective institutions. To make matters worse, lately Lesotho is in a season of terrible managers. As a country we have never prioritised management. The National University of Lesotho does not produce managers. In fact Lesotho does not have an institution that is dedicated to the development of managers. This country is poorly managed but we have never been intentional about the development of managers. When Tšepong left they took everything, including good management. No wonder Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital has today been relegated to a village clinic, no Computed Tomography (CT) scan, no facilities that make a proper hospital. Basotho expected the Minister of Health Semano Sekatle to have all the answers, have a clear vision of where he was heading, have anticipated all the possible obstacles, know what transitional manager the hospital needs. But it appears he has no clue. As usual transition was not well thought out. Basotho have experienced terrible managers at different levels of management. Remember former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, a man who was given an opportunity to manage this country. He possessed in abundance all the traits of a bad manager. There was lack of transparency in his administration. He could not listen to anyone except his wife. His cabinet and Principal Secretaries possessed the lethal combo: ego and insecurity. There was generally lack of empathy in his administration. Thabane refused to learn (good managers never stop learning). His administration lacked the vision and strategy to take this country forward. Thabane was very good at apportioning blame, he never owned up to his mistakes. He was very inconsistent and disrespectful. Thabane is an example of a terrible manager. Look around you, Lesotho is full of the Thabanes we do not want. Did Sekatle have clear reason for the change: Why change? Why now? He never bothered to explain what he was changing and what was not changing? How will this impact staff and their work? Nobody wants to work for a village clinic with no equipment. Top talent will resign if it is not already resigning at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital. The root cause of their departure is poor management. Bad management can impact employees and the hospital’s overall operations. We have incompetent managers at the hospital and they already have challenges relating to staff members and keeping them motivated. Sekatle should have known that bad management has caused many organisations in this country to permanently close their doors. Poor leadership results in high turnover of employees; the cost of recruitment and training becomes prohibitive, which impacts on the organisation’s ability to continue operations. Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital has been turned into a village clinic. We all know what happens in a village clinic, bad management does affect the coffers directly, too, funds are usually mismanaged or the budget is overextended in comparison with revenues earned. Without sufficient reserves, most village clinics are unable to absorb consistent losses, and the clinics eventually fail. Why is it so common to have bad management in this country? It seems ridiculous to me that most governments or private sector organisations knowingly employ people in an important role who are not good at performing this vital function. To highlight how silly this is, politicians employed bad managers at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital. The question is: “Will Minister Sekatle go to the same hospital if he was to become sick?” Of course not. We know why Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital has been relegated to a village clinic. That was because of the rushed decision to terminate the contract with Tšepong and deployment of incompetent people in management. It has become common practice to promote people to supervisory roles, regardless of whether they have the competencies to perform that role. It is clearly folly to do this, but at least we have an explanation for how this happens. So now a better question is: Why do we still have bad managers? It’s one thing to put someone unqualified into the role. But once you have done so and are admitting that they are bad at it, why do you keep them in a role they are obviously unsuited for? This is just compounding the mistake. The Minister of Health must account for this mess. If I had an opportunity I would ask the Minister of Health if by some chance he found bad management when in South Africa at a private hospital, what would he do about it? I am sure his answer would be that he will complain about poor managers and request that the bad managers be removed from the role with all due haste. But back at home we not only put bad managers into the role, we knowingly keep them there. I wonder why a Minister of Health will find this acceptable? Does it mean he does not comprehend the true costs of poor management: lost productivity, turnover of high performing professionals and millions lost in healthcare costs? So what can we do about this problem, a problem which can now accurately be called an epidemic in this country? As is so often the case, the first step is admitting you have a problem. We need to accept (and convince those in leadership) that we have bad managers at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital and other institutions and that there is a real cost to having bad managers. Then we need to take action. So step one is to select people for the role who have the competencies for the role, just as we do for literally every other position. I believe that the greatest source of dysfunction in this country is the abundance of bad managers. They have cost us productivity and drive away our talent. But this is also our greatest area of opportunity. This situation can be turned around. Ramahooana Matlosa

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