Managing Director of the Governance Institute for Sustainable Development and Editor-In-Chief of thizkingdom.com
Active participation in partisan politics
If there is any sector of society that draws masses to whatever it is doing, it is partisan politics. Basotho do not pay much attention to many engagements, especially those that directly affect their lives. In sports, they have a lacklustre interest. In entrepreneurship, they do not go in masses. In community-based projects and civil society engagement, they are also selective. But in partisan politics, they go in droves and spare a lot of their time and energy during weekends and other time to ensure their full participation. They are often in political rallies, protest matches organized by politicians and everywhere else where partisan politics is involved. The reason for Basotho's unparalleled interest in active politics is that they live in the hope that they will ultimately derive the benefit of being considered when job opportunities emerge. There is an unchallenged belief that a person who is politically active and connected to the right people in power gets lucrative jobs and other opportunities faster and better than the one who is not. This naturally draws people to active partisan politics because of that hope of enjoying these benefits.
Creating an employment-based economy
Lesotho has proven beyond doubt that it is an economy driven not by entrepreneurship like it has become a practice everywhere else. Basotho are a society that believes in being employed and paid a paltry salary at the end of the month to earn a living. A small percentage of the population takes a deliberate effort to get into business and pursue their personal dreams of becoming successful entrepreneurs. Most of them have no dreams except being employed, securing jobs and earning monthly salaries and then being pensionable. The vision for most of the employment-minded Basotho is stability of paid employment, not contribution to the country's long-term economic development, which would come through entrepreneurship. Society seems to have set a basic standard for every Mosotho child as he or she pursues personal goals – get education, get a job, earn a satisfactory salary, buy or build a house, send your children to expensive schools, buy a nice car, wear expensive clothes, dine in known restaurants and be in the company of ‘the people’. Then you are fulfilled in life. This is a a largely personal goal that has little impact for Lesotho’s national development. It seems to have been standardised by society.
Studies indicate that a small proportion of Basotho which ventures into entrepreneurship is driven by triggers such as desperation for survival where business is the last resort. For example, for a widowed woman whose late husband was a breadwinner, when that source gets dry through death, she becomes desperately in need of being in business to earn a living. The ultimate goal here is to earn a living through profits made from a business. For a pensioner who has retired from formal employment, entrepreneurship becomes a last resort as life has to continue beyond formal employment. For a youth who has failed to advance his or her educational horizons to the next levels, entrepreneurship becomes the last resort as she or he has no choice, but to eke out a living in some way.
Therefore, for those who are not prepared to go into business, even if they are educated, since the destination of every Mosotho child is to be employed, active participation in politics becomes of paramount importance. They have seen their friends, acquaintances and family members securing jobs in the civil service as a result of affiliation to ruling parties. They have witnessed them being assigned to diplomatic missions abroad and also growing through the ranks of political parties. They have seen them become Members of Parliament, deputy ministers and ultimately ministers as a result of political affiliation. Some live what is perceived to be normal life as a result of political affiliation of some sort.
Youth who craft their career in politics have a hidden agenda of deriving benefits of job opportunities availed to them. They start to become active in partisan politics at branch level, constituency level and ultimately grow to the national level where they are exposed to senior people in political parties and ultimately become leaders. This is the gateway to economic benefits and lucrative job opportunities, because wielding political power translates to wielding economic power.
Even when they are active in partisan politics, one still has to carve his or her way in, struggle for recognition, tussle to get close to real powers until one's true political colours are seen. It does not come by easily by just being active, but one has to go another step further than that. One still has to intelligently choose the right camps to belong to so that he or she taps the right buttons. So, it is rare that people get appointed to these positions by virtue of their qualifications. Loyalty not only to one's political formation, but to those who wield real political power will bear fruit for one in terms of securing the lucrative jobs and derive benefits that accompany that.
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