By Thoboloko Ntšonyane
MASERU – During his inauguration speech on October 28, last year, the Prime Minister Rt. Hon Ntsokoane Matekane made bold declarations and statements promising to change the economic fortunes of Lesotho.
He came into power, after his led party Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) won the majority of the constituencies but could not assume the reins of power single-handedly as it fell short of achieving 60 plus seats at the National Assembly. It had to form coalition and consequently announced the pact with the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and the Alliance of Democrats (AD).
Matekane rose into power with many Basotho having pinned their hopes in him as a successful and decorated multiple business mogul.
“Recent research shows that Lesotho’s macroeconomic position has been deteriorating since 2015. Our economy has been in recession since 2017. Lesotho’s public spending has increased over the last few years, and has reached 65% of GDP [Gross Domestic Product] in this financial year. Today 86% of Lesotho’s national budget is absorbed by government consumption, particularly public wages that are estimated at 32% of our GDP.
“Public procurement, which is roughly 35 percent of GDP, is key in determining the effectiveness of government in delivering essential services, programmes and projects; but it is arguably the worst managed,” he said.
The Matekane led administration had passed what is called the “honeymoon” phase and the nation expect the deliverables as promised in the campaign leading to the October 7, national elections.
The PM also tabulated what he called the key strategic goals contained in the National Strategic Development Plan II. They talk to enhancing inclusive and sustainable economic growth and private sector job creation; strengthening the human capital; building an enabling infrastructure; strengthening the national governance and accountability systems for improved service delivery; strengthening the climate risk management resilience and adaptation, and also strengthening of public financial management.
In his speech, he tabled a 100 days programme that will guide the course of action to be undertaken by his administration.
One of the things that also earned him admiration to the nation, development partners and the international community was slashing the cabinet size from 27 ministers including the deputies to 15 ministers without deputies. This move is set to have saved the country millions.
He directed the Government Secretary (GS) to roll out the 20-point programme to be realized in the first 100 days tenure in office further promising to report to the public on the progress which did not happen.
Still there have not been report from the government to the nation as promised about what has been achieved in the 100 days, this is despite the government having reached those weeks ago.
Although the government had not reported on the 100 days performance, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane had painted a gloomy picture of the state of the government’s finances, saying they have inherited the broke government.
Top in the agenda of the 20-point programme was the performance contract of the PM and those of the cabinet Ministers. He had also instructed the GS to prepare and sign performance contracts of the Principal Secretaries in 30 days saying they should also be made public.
Meanwhile, this publication has established that these had not happened and the government has not reported to the nation.
The Premier also ordered that a model tool for standardized system performance for reporting and reflection of the government including the District Administrators and Local Authorities in the first 100 days. This has also not been realized.
“Develop a system through which citizens can monitor and report on the performance of the public sector and through which their inputs can be recorded and responded to, in the first 100 days.
“Use appropriate public service legislation and policies and deploy relevant public officials to the authority of District Administrators, and District, Urban and Community Councils in 100 days, and 19 make sure that District Administrators and Councils are accountable for the government’s programme of action and service delivery in their respective districts,” these are said to be in progress.
The PM further instructed that cost-cutting plan be developed and implemented in order to cut unnecessary government spending on fleet management and fuel consumption. This has since not been realized.
We also are yet to see the plan on how the government should capacitate the Institution of Chieftainship for improved service delivery, accountability and good governance, targeting chiefs who serve their communities on a daily basis for twenty-four hours.
Similarly, it is unclear at this stage if the stock-taking of all government vehicles was undertaken with a view to rationalize as well as provide each local authority in the country with at least one vehicle to enable such office to discharge their duties with ease.
Matekane had also instructed that report on budget monitoring for all capital projects be compiled and state what projects are ongoing, which should be discontinued and those that should be redesigned for “maximum impact” within a period of 30 days. It is also not clear if such report was prepared.
He said there will be a reporting plan for all state-owned enterprises in 30 days, the report which its contents he instructed that they be publicized had not been publicized as per his directive.
While the PM said his led government will “take action” on the M6.1 billion, the government has since backtracked following resistance by some political parties and section of the society against the amnesty that for the people who will return what they stole from the government purse.
This publication had established that the attempts to establish why companies which the government has shares on, which are paying and which are not, has been undertaken partially.
The crime control programme which was slated to be mounted within 15 days in office has also not seen the light of the day, amid high crime rate in the country.
The people are owned by the government have been paid but it is unclear how many have received their payment as such exercise is ongoing.
Among his achievements in his few days in office, the PM had an audience with the media community, international community and development partners, farmers, the business community, the civil society and the District Administrators and Councils Chairpersons.
Also, this publication has learned that the process of paying the outstanding allowances of the village health workers is ongoing.
Matekane had also promised to expedite the implementation of the national reforms programme. Meanwhile, this led government has added 14 months upon which the reforms should be completed, that by the end of the incoming financial year.
Attempts to solicit a reaction from the Minister of Information, Communications, Science, Technology, and Innovation Hon Nthati Moorosi did not materialize as her phone was not answered and by the time going to press, she had not responded to the questions left to her on WhatsApp.