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Reforms won’t work unless people do



Banna! Ha se ka party ntho e Lesotho mona, ke tloho-u-tlo-bona! Motho ha tsoha o sa theha party (There are so many parties in Lesotho. Everyday someone somewhere forms a new political party). Even my good friend Majakathata Mokoena has formed a party. Ache, re’a mo lebohela, ka ‘nete.

Have you ever wondered why a system named IFMIS failed to work in Lesotho yet it was so successful in countries such as Tanzania? Hold on to that thought.
There’s a saying that goes: you are never in trouble until you start praying in your mother language. “Oe! Nthuse Morena (Oh! Help me God).”

And I see this nation heading towards that direction in the foreseeable future. I see this nation praying with sincerity in its Sesotho language because the situation would have reached rock bottom.
I once saw a person talking from the bottom of their heart. I guess it was because he had a near-death experience. This was a major turning point in his life and let me tell you why.

About 20 years ago, one of my closest friends who will remain anonymous for the purpose of this conversation, was going through a state of confusion in his life.
He was a heavy drinker, smoked and indulged in a very risky lifestyle of going to pubs until the wee hours of the morning.

Well, before you judge me and wonder about the company I keep, I have friends in very high and very low places. That’s how diverse I am. But this was more than a friend but more of a brother (Mfowethu).

So, on one random day, around the year 1999, my friend was swayed into joining a high-speed frenzy with some of the boys in the neighbourhood. The plan was to travel to Maputsoe on a high-speed, booze outing.

The boys all jumped in the back of the Toyota van and were packed like sardines. They packed their booze and the vehicle drove off. As the van hit the Main North, it passed through suburbs such as Ha Mabote and Khubetsoana at the speed of lightning.

As it approached Ha-Foso, there is a bridge located next to Thebe-ea-Khale’s estate (mane lebollong, ha u theosetsa lengopeng) — at the initiation school towards the donga. As the van was about to cross that bridge, the driver lost control of the vehicle and it overturned.

The boys were thrown out of the vehicle (ea ba hlatsa) and were scattered onto the road. My friend hit the road surface (sekontiri) ‘bang’ with his face and you can imagine the pain of hitting a hot and hard surface on high-impact.

Fast-forward, the boys were taken to the nearest hospital and luckily, there were no fatalities besides bruised faces. So, when my friend returned home after being discharged from hospital, I asked another brother of mine named Hlalele Rasephei, to go see the condition of our anonymous friend.

I tell you, it was as if our friend had Jesus Christ and vowed to be a “Born-again Christian”.
The poor guy had a bruised face but the most horrific thing was that the front of the face had shifted to the side of the head. The head was completely disfigured. I had never seen a thing like that.

So, the poor guy came into the lounge where we had been waiting for him, limping and in severe pain. His eyes were full of tears.
He started giving us a lecture about how things like drinking, smoking and girls were all a waste of time. He kept on saying, “Ka ‘nete, ntho tseno, ha li na thuso.” Remember what I said about the mother tongue.

He was speaking from the bottom of his heart and to our surprise, he was even quoting verses from the Bible. Hee banna! I silently thought, “athe motho eo o ntsa tseba le lentsoe la Molimo” (so he can quote the bible).

Look, this was a person that was doing the most ungodly things, such as drinking and smoking le li cheri (with females). Well, according to childhood standards.
Hee, you can imagine the surprise and shock on our face upon hearing our friend telling us about God’s mercy. I guess it was because of the pain. As I’ve once said, sethoto, se hlalefa ke ho utloa bohloko. (It takes a wise man to learn from his mistakes).

My friend had reformed. He was born again! And he wouldn’t have changed had it not been of the tragedy.
Here is my point, I strongly believe that Basotho and more especially, Lesotho government civil/public servants, need to reform first, in order for reforms to truly be successful.

Basotho need to reform internally and shed old skin (bad habits), so that a new skin emerges. New habits need to emerge and out with the old.
I’m currently reading an interesting book titled Atomic Habits. It talks about how one can transform their lives by adjusting the small habits (Atomic Habits). But you see, people do not learn and resist change unless there’s a push factor.

Our people (civil servants) never learn. No matter how many opinion pieces we can pen or how many interviews we can have on the radio, the message enters in one ear and exits out through the other one (li kena ka mona, li tsoa le ka mane).

This reminds me of one interesting advert I recently heard on Harvest FM. It’s about a businessman that goes into a government accounts department to ask for his payment and he is told that, “Hela, ke re ‘muso ha o na chelete. Hona joale Bahlomphehi ba ea ofa-sisi (overseas).” (The government does not have money. Right now our ministers are flying overseas).

It is an undeniable truth that Lesotho’s economy has collapsed largely due to the sabotage by its civil servants. No, let’s be honest for a change. Lesotho has been sabotaged by its civil servants.
Politicians have had their fair share mismanaging the economy but the systems have collapsed due to the making and direct influence of the civil servants.

Look, the public service sector has collapsed and the government is unable to render services no matter how skilled or strong-willed a PS or Minister can be. Le mohlang RFP e kenang pusong, e tlo fasoa matsoho le maoto ke bahlanka.

Civil/public servants know how to paralyse the system so that it is completely dysfunctional. They know how to create a perfect climate for corruption to succeed. Bahlanka! ( Civil servants).
When systems have collapsed, this will then give way for corruption to take place. Look at the chaos at the Traffic Department.

As I’ve asked, have you ever wondered why a system named IFMIS failed to work in Lesotho yet it was so successful in countries like Tanzania? Yes, it was by design so that service providers to the government get frustrated and become desperate for payment and resort to offer brown envelopes.

In any case, reforms won’t work unless people reform themselves. But the only solution is for our civil servants to feel the pinch or wrath of fire (ba tlabohe menoana) in order for them to reform. I am also including the MPs and Cabinet ministers.

In my view and I don’t wish this to happen but would definitely be necessary. The only solution that would truly reform this country, is for the government funds to dry up and salaries to be delayed for a period of three months. Le lipeterole li fele, makoloi a ‘muso a pake.

I mean our businesses must go unpaid for years (deliberately) and civil servants give us a damn when we demand payments. Three months of no salaries would be nothing. Surely!
Can you imagine what this would do for this country? It will be a true blessing in disguise. Yes it would be very painful but necessary. Why do I say so?

For the first time, our civil servants will learn to value and respect the business sector because it is the one responsible for contributing taxes that pay the same civil servants. Money does not grow on trees.

Secondly, the civil servants will for the first time see the ugly side of corruption. They will for the first time see what the effects of corruption are.
Thirdly, our members of Parliament and Cabinet ministers will for the first time, feel and internalise how it feels when a person says, “I’m unemployed and desperate for a job.”

I tell you, this would be a revolution. I wish the sweeping fire (Holy-ghost) could start at Maseru City Council. How many proposals have been tabled at Maseru City Council and civil servants decided to ignore them? Projects that are meant to bring in FDI and generate jobs? No, civil servants are not interested in those things. Other things preoccupy their minds.

This tragedy would help our people to transform and really ask themselves pertinent questions about the future of this country. But most importantly all the rotten apples would fall off.

This is what happened with Rwanda during the 1993/’94 genocide. It was bad and very painful but a new nation was born. A nation that was more focused, resilient, determined to change, driven and patriotic emerged from the fire.

Look at nations such as Germany after the WWII. They came out stronger than ever.
As I’ve once said, pula ke mahlopha a senya, (after every rain there is a silver lining)maybe it could be a blessing in disguise for everything to collapse. Yes, it will be painful but a new leader that is determined to change the country will emerge. A new leader will emerge unexpectedly.

Lastly, diamonds are formed when coal is placed under severe pressure and heat. The same goes with the purification of gold. It has to go through extreme temperature for it to be in its purest form.
Basotho and Zimbabweans are feeling an excruciating form of heat but will emerge better and stronger than ever before.

‘Mako Bohloa

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