The Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) is driving a revolutionary agenda in Lesotho’s politics. The revolutionary character should be reflected in the Party’s manifesto in the manner it will drive its government if elected.
The entry of the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) in the politics of Lesotho sent spines of many politicians shivering.
Its announcement as a political party brought fears in the political landscape of Lesotho, especially among the old political horses.
It conjured up images of a dramatic shift and turning of the tables in the politics of the country.
First, the name of the party, has a telling on what the party envisions to do, to overthrow the politics of the country, which, for decades have failed to bring about economic prosperity. This assumption is based on the definitions of a revolution discussed above.
Two, going by the definition of a revolution, the party’s intent is to marshal or champion a revolt on the status quo due to disgruntlement of the voters and the need to rally them to take up arms against the prevailing situation and demand rapid change.
Further defined, to revolt is to take a violent action against an established government or ruler. It is to rebel against an established authority or better still, an attempt to end the authority of a person or body by rebelling.
Three, a look at the leader of the RFP, who is a successful business mogul, creates images of sudden change in the political power of the country for rapid economic change for the economically-oppressed.
Configuration of Sam Matekane as a politician conjures up images in the minds of the voters at the formation of the RFP, of sudden revolt against the political elite of the day for benefit of the day.
However, a critical question is whether the RFP is indeed revolutionary, if the given definitions of a revolution are anything to go by.
Indeed, the political situation of the country, and by implication, its economic situation warrants a revolutionary change.
The situation is so untenable that it requires revolutionary actions to bring about the needed change in the lives of the people.
The political and economic situations in the country require political leaders with a strategic and revolutionary mind-set. It requires leaders who will champion rapid change, otherwise the ship is sinking.
Basotho pinned their hopes on the national multi-sector reforms, that the reform agenda would marshal a new Lesotho for the benefit of its people.
However, the opportunity for the country bedevilled by nasty episodes of going against the developmental tide has been squandered by politicians who are short-sighted in their thinking about the country.
Now, left with nothing when there are signals that the national reform agenda of the country is pushed to the brink, hope could be pinned on revolutionary and strategic politicians.
Basotho have nothing left of them except to hope that a new crop of leaders will emerge to salvage this country from the doldrums created by a body politic that has not vision for the country except for self-aggrandisement.
Soon, this country will fall into its abyss as long as it is left in the hands of a crop of politicians who squander every opportunity given to them to reform the nation.
Instead, they shift the direction of the reforms to pursue narrow agendas of looking for opportunities in the reforms where they, and their cohorts, can personally benefit from the reforms.
The current crop of leadership has the audacity to embark on the very activates that fly against the reforms during the reform season, such as the spree of deployments to missions abroad when elections are just are couple of weeks.
This is not only an affront to the prescriptions of the reforms, but a travesty of the aspirations of Basotho and shattering of their hopes for a Lesotho that they want.
A question at the doorsteps of the RFP is whether it can inspire hope in Basotho to take them to the next level after their expectations were shattered by the mentioned crop of politicians.
If given the opportunity to rule, will the RFP, with revolutionary change as its catch phrase of intervention in Lesotho’s politics, being about rapid change in the lives of people?
A radical electoral campaign for a party competing for power
In his preface to the party’s manifesto that it sells to the nation ahead of the 2022 elections, the RFP leader, Sam Matekane states that their electoral campaign offer to the nation is predicated on ‘systems and structural changes’ that are required to set Lesotho on the path to success.
Mr Matekane professes that the RFP is tasked ‘to reshape the government into an efficient machine that delivers for every Mosotho,’ a task which he argues, he cannot undertake alone.
Mr Matekane promises that his party has put up ‘a team of capable men and women – whose accomplishments speak for themselves.’
This is a powerful statement coming from a leader who believes in his colonels, who will lead the soldiers into the war - a war on the maladies of poverty, deprivation, despair and corruption. He says they have volunteered themselves towards this cause.
Mr Matekane says in his words: “Our collective hope is that we can establish a firm and irreversible foundation of transparent and accountable government systems whose effect will cascade into an upliftment of the quality of life and prosperity for all people living Lesotho; present and future generations.”
The above statement coming from a manifesto, which is a promise about change that the party will bring to the nation, is predicated on building a solid good governance architecture for the country.
Many studies undertaken on Lesotho’s major challenges to its developmental state suggest that the country is faced with a challenge of a serious governance deficit.
If the party can address this shortfall, which stands in the way of Lesotho’s development architecture, it will see light at the end of the tunnel.
Many political parties have been formed and some have gone down the memory lane, some with good intentions. However, most of them have failed to address key challenges of the country because they were aiming at addressing a wrong challenge facing the country.
Most of them are established with the aim of being conduits for their leaders to get to parliament, particularly after the advent of the Proportional Representation (PR) component of the country’s Mixed Member Proportional Electoral model.
The desired economic development of Lesotho is dwarfed by rampant corruption, poor vision for the future by its political leadership, self-aggrandisement at the expense of the nation.
Coupled with these maladies are politically weakened institutions of good governance, a culture of impunity, which has been cultivated and continued public malfeasance in the public service for narrow and selfish gain.
These challenges promote a spell of poor service delivery to the nation, leading to deprivation, hunger and squalor.
The manifesto of the RFP brings to the fore, ten policy prescriptions, upon which it will formulate national development policy if it becomes government after the 2022 general elections.
The proposed policy areas, which the RFP puts forward as revolutionary changes include food security and agriculture revolution, healthcare revolution, energy sector revolution, industrialization revolution and development finance revolution.
Other revolutionary change areas in terms of policy proscription are extractive industry revolution, good governance revolution, social security revolution and ICT revolution and implementation revolution. This articles takes a cursory look at some of the policy prescriptions presented by the RFP as it lures voters to vote for the party in this election.
In the arena of food security and agriculture the RFP intends to increase the productive capacity of Lesotho’s agricultural sector.
Supposedly, this is to ensure that there is food security to feed the famine and hunger-stricken country.
The party says it will place a high premium on labour productivity growth by among others improving the tertiary institution of agriculture to enhance national expertise and revive the now defunct agricultural extension and business support programmes.
With the intent to adapt to technological changes across all levels, the party promises to introduce tech-driven methods to Lesotho farming, including more climate-change-resilient methods such as smart technology linked hydroponics.
In the health sector, the RFP promises to improve primary health care by building the capacity of village health workers.
If successfully executed this will revert the country to its former glory in the health sector as one of the shining stars in the sub-Saharan African region during the early 1980, where it had a strong child immunisation programme and a solid health care system.
One of the challenges facing the country is proper coordination and management of its existing facilities, which are left to ruin.
The party intends to improve management and governance of the health centres to better provide comprehensive primary health care services to communities. Properly implemented, this will add value to the health system of the country.
Lesotho Government built the Lesotho Pharmaceutical Corporation in Mafeteng some decades back with the intent to enhance pharmaceutical industry for production of medicines.
It his vision is revived, the RFP intends to extend it to medicinal cannabis and other local medicinal plants. Lesotho has one of the best human resources in the health sector.
But as the party states, there is a high brain drain with scores of Basotho medical professionals leaving for green pastures in South Africa and Europe, especially nurses.
The country is left in a lurch with acute shortages of nurses in its health centres. The party’s intent to incentivize and compensate medical personnel adequately will put this malady to a definite stop.
However, RFP prioritizes HIV and other pandemics, Covid-19, and TB, through provision of modern medicine, as well as health education in schools and communities to the exclusion of one of the dangerously killer diseases - cancer.
On the development finance front, the RFP promises to enhance a policy on credit guidance for all credit giving financial institutions ‘to ensure that they extend credit sufficiently to support sustainable sectoral and broad-based economic growth.’
The party says it will formulate policies that guide financial institutions to extend more business credit to propel and catalyse local investment, growth and employment creation, and limit capital flight out of Lesotho.
The RFP also makes a commitment to embark on a comprehensive organisational re-engineering of two institutions mandated with enterprise development and capacity-building. These are Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) and the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO).
The intent is to refocus these institutions’ development finance mandate. It also intends to strengthen and capacitate Lesotho Post Bank so that it effectively discharges its financial inclusion mandate.
To address a major deficit in the country, which is an elephant in the room against Lesotho’s development efforts, the RFP intends ‘to establish and maintain a system on recruitment and employment of good governance personnel.’
The party claims that the governance system will be predicated on merit, competency, integrity, and professionalism. It is resolute on establishing a ‘fit for purpose’ framework for public office bearers. This also extends to establishing a ‘fit for purpose’ framework for political candidates.
In the latter front of a fit-for-purpose framework for political candidates, the party has experienced a backlash when it placed a high premium on meritocracy in the nomination of candidates to stand for election in constituencies.
There was a revolt by those who were nominated, but the party disregarded them on the basis that they did not master the requirements when assessed through interviews. This was a new innovation by the RFP that of deviating from the traditional norm of nominating candidates at the primaries based on the whims of voters in the constituencies.
Seen as a normal democratic way of doing things, those who lost by virtue of the new norm felt disenfranchised.
The new norm was sealed by the verdicts of courts of law and the RFP lost petitions by the ‘rightful candidates’, according to the old norm and the interpretation of courts of law.
The RFP had set out to emphasise a fit-for-purpose framework for fielding candidates, but this seems to not have sunk to the membership of the party.
An argument that can be advanced is that the practice of direct tickets is not a misnomer at all. It happens in other country where some candidates, who are felt to be loyal to the cause of the party and who can defend what it stands for are accorded direct tickets.
Maybe it was necessary that they should not have been subjected to competition in the first place.
As part of its crusade on building firm good governance architecture, the RFP also intends to review regulatory frameworks in various sectors intended to ensure an ethical and corruption-free culture. This is the bedrock of building compliance which is at its lowest ebb in Lesotho. By implementing annual declarations and disclosure of assets and other interests by public office bearers, the party will instil a culture of sensitivity to professional and ethical conduct by those in charge of public office.
It will go a long way in eradicating public malfeasance and impunity which have become order of day, ravaging the moral aptitude of office bearers who have created their own fiefdoms in the public service.
It will inspire the nation’s lost confidence in the public institutions and the entire civil service, which has been eroded by malpractices of corruption, bribery and graft.
By enacting whistle-blowing legislation and strengthening institutions of good governance such the justice agencies such as the judiciary and the police, the RFP will have contributed largely to the consolidation of democracy.
By providing the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) with prosecutorial powers and according it its deserved financial and operational autonomy, the party will have added value to the fight against corruption and graft, which are rampant in the country.
Also eminent in the manifesto of the RFP is the plan to establish a specialised crimes court on corruption, fraud, money-laundering and other economic offences.
It also seeks to empower the Office of the Ombudsman to ensure that its recommendations and decisions are binding.
Most of these policy pronouncements by the RFP are part of the national reforms currently under way.
Basotho’s hopes, which have been shattered by the current regime, are pinned on a political party which will place a high premium on the national reform when it is government after elections.
Another elephant in the room, which is a defeating factor to Lesotho’s development is the in ability to implement the set programmes, plans and targets. Financial and human resources, put aside, Basotho are a nation devoid of implementation. There are grand development blue prints, which gather dust in the shelves of government, but not seeing light of day. To offset this good governance deficit, the RFP intends establish ‘a semi-independent Authority whose mandate will be to focus only on the implementation of the priorities of the RFP government.’ The party opines that the envisaged Unit will be manned by staff recruited on merit and led by a Board of Directors that reports to the Office of the Prime Minister. The Unit will lead the monitoring and evaluation of the Prime Minister’s priorities following cutting edge project management techniques. Whereas such projects will be falling under the purview of various government Ministries, the Unit will ensure a coordination and prioritization of projects assigned to it.
The party’s manifesto further talks to adherence to meritocracy when appointing appointment of Chief Accounting Officers. It asserts that recruitment process for government and other strategic positions shall be led transparency and openly by a competitively appointed private company. It is in the view of the party that this will inject a culture of recruiting competent and apolitical individuals who will be champion the change in the culture of the civil service.
The party further intends to institute a performance management system that recognizes good performance while also weeding out the poor performers.
The RFP promises to commence a holistic restructuring of the civil service, whose output is intended to be enhanced productivity, motivation and morale of civil servants.
A lowest common denominator across all the policy pronouncements is a culture of meritocracy, which is underpinned by competence, an ethical and law-abiding culture among Basotho, resulting in a motivated civil service.
If these will be realised after the RFP becomes government, as it is indeed the vision of every contesting political party, it will be a great revolution for the nation.
Lesotho has been bedevilled by the nasty and unpalatable episodes in its governance since independence. Lesotho needs a revolutionary mind-set, politically, economically and in all spheres of the Basotho nation.