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The Mosisili I know



LAST week former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili celebrated his birthday. He told the Democratic Congress (DC) youth who had brought him presents that he will no longer stand for elections. Mosisili is one of the most underrated politicians in Lesotho.His legacy is rarely appreciated. That is precisely for two reasons. The first is that a prophet is without honour in his home town. The second is that we are so politically polarised that we refuse to give credit where it’s due. We deride everything done by a political opponent even if it’s meant to benefit the country and future generations. Yet it should never be this way. Real political maturity is about separating fundamental issues, not emotions. It should be a contest in big ideas and policies that take the country forward. Whoever is pushing those ideas and policies should not matter as long as it benefits the country. I have been fortunate to have walked with Mosisili. A lot has happened since he left office but I am sure his name shall live forever. Even some of his most staunch opponents will accept that Mosisili is a democrat. Few politicians in this country have willingly left active politics like he is about to do now. He wasn’t forced to quit the DC leadership but he did. Any other politician would have hung on to that position for a few more years. Former Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan served this country well until 1970 when he refused to hand over power to former Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle. But Mosisili took this country to elections every five years and eventually handed over power to former Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane. As Mosisili retires we bask in a sense of pride that we have achieved an unparalleled record of success when it comes to holding free and fair elections every five years and sometimes prematurely when the rules of democracy forced us to do so. Mosisili never imposed himself on the people. One of Mosisili’s biggest achievements was in education. He clearly understood that education is a right, not a privilege. His administration introduced free and compulsory primary education that ensured Basotho children, rich or poor, have equal access to basic education. That policy created a foundation for many children who might not have made it to a primary school class. The criticism, which is justified, is that it was not extended to secondary level. It is disappointing that successors have not done so. He also introduced the free school feeding programme in Lesotho schools that was administered by village entrepreneurs. This move ensured that all Basotho children do not learn on empty stomachs regardless of their economic status. That in itself is not short of the necessary patrimony epitomised by leaders who love their people. When Mosisili got into government, National University of Lesotho (NUL) was the only priority for National Manpower Development Services (NMDS). Today students from Lerotholi Polytechnic, Lesotho College of Education, private institutions and institutions outside of the country are able to get scholarships. Thousands of students benefited from this new policy. Mosisili’s administration had a baptism of fire when it started in 1998. The Basotho National Party (BNP) and Basotho Congress Party (BCP) activists were burning down most of Maseru’s central business district and looting whatever remained of the city. It was Mosisili who rebuilt Maseru city from the ashes. It was Mosisili’s administration that we achieved the economic growth rate of 6 percent. The last time our economy grew by that much was in 2012. Mosisili’s administration ensured a fledgling economy and even money circulating among people created a lively society as opposed to the currently compressed economy where money is mostly in the hands of the few who are mostly politically connected to the major ruling party. It is during this time of sustainable economic growth that most Basotho-owned small and medium businesses boomed, with many registering their businesses and playing a meaningful role in the country’s GDP. Mosisili’s administration ensured that industrial areas of Thetsane, Maputsoe, Tikoe, Ha Belo, Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek benefited from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Those industrial areas have kept 45 000 people in jobs and sustained more than 160 000 people. His opponent might call these dirty jobs but they will be hard-pressed to point at any job they created. The Basotho Old Age Pension gave dignity to our elderly who were living in wretched poverty. It served many old people from the indignity of having to beg for food from relatives. Mosisili’s administration brought the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) to Lesotho. That move ensured the construction of over 120 clinics in Lesotho, covering even the hard to reach areas of the maluti mountains so that ordinary Basotho can access basic health care services in their localities. Queen ‘Mamohato Referral Hospital is also a brainchild of Mosisili’s administration. The building of this hospital contributed immensely to empowering the health sector in Lesotho. Mosisili’s administration constructed the Metolong Dam that supplies water to Maseru, Roma and Morija. Water is life to any living organism, the supply of clean drinking water from Metolong to Maseru, Roma and Morija ensured that ordinary Basotho have access to safe and healthy drinking water, a move that complements and augments the prerequisites of healthy living for ordinary Basotho because of Mosisili’s administration. It’s still in Mosisili’s administration that no less than 400 000 Basotho households were connected to electricity supply. That improved the lives of ordinary Basotho in terms of lighting, cooking, food preservation and security. Ordinary Basotho children schools also benefited from electricity connection because new technologies like computers could now be used in Lesotho schools. Such feats were achieved at the back of deep-rooted patriotism that characterised Mosisili administration. Mosisili administration managed to navigate through economic challenges and other factors affecting developing countries. The same cannot be said for those who have come after him. There are those who will argue that Mosisili could have achieved more. They are right but that doesn’t mean we should minimise what he achieved. If you think what Mosisili achieved during his tenure is small, just look at what has been achieved since he left. what have those who came after him built? What life-changing policy have they implemented? How many lives have they transformed? Now count how many lives they have made miserable in the short time they are or were in power. You will be shocked. Ramahooana Matlosa

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