An insight in the Director’s Office

By Malisema Mahloane

MASERU – With the Lesotho Smart Partnership Hub (LSPH) reporting directly to the Prime Minister’s office, a Director’s position may seem highly lucrative but Shata Mothae shows that since taking office in 2019 it has been a challenging journey or continues to be even worse.

Shata explains that for developing economies to catch up with the advanced economies there should be some sharing of technologies to speed up economic growth, therefore smart partnership hub was found to be the solution and Lesotho adapted the concept in 2000.

Smart Partnership is a way of bringing together people who share an informed belief in what technology can do to improve the lives of millions through socio-economic transformation.

The mandate of LSPH director’s office is to hold dialogues with the nation. It is to ensure that all the eight social sectors of Basotho which are identified as specialized links work in harmony. The links are governance and politics, business, labour, media, arts and culture, social issues, academia and club 29. It is the Director’s obligation to confirm these links are engaged about all issues concerning the nation.

“As the Director of LSPH in the Prime Minister’s Office, I coordinate, network and support or monitor community-based partnerships engaged in poverty reduction and community upliftment initiatives throughout the country. I equip communities with knowledge and skills. I empower them to create opportunities to enrich their lives and to create opportunities for social and economic growth. “

Adding to his many duties, Shata also serves in a variety of Task Teams for the Ministry’s collaborative projects with private sector, voluntary and international organizations – working with stakeholders to develop strategies to respond to the changing political, socio-economic and policy environment.

“In consultation with community members and their chiefs, we make enquiries on which projects critically need improvement thereafter engage potential partners or funders to collaborate and invest. We have managed to assist over 100 projects to kick off in all the 8 different sectors or links mentioned. Some of these include poultry business, vibrant youth centers, building construction and food production like aloe wine and organic honey.  We have approached government ministries to provide enterprise development services to the needy.”

Coming to the youth in business they have succeeded to create some permanent partnerships where the young business owners joined forces with bigger ones to exchange resources. According to Shata, it is his office desire to assist the youth particularly as they constitute a high number of unemployment statistics. However sad, the office is extremely under resourced financially hence they cannot offer much financial assistance. They wish to have a bigger budget that can be utilized to manage the past projects and create new partnerships while serving the needs of Basotho.

Shata has been massively involved in building the country’s migration profile – a collaborative project between the government and the International Organization on Migration (IOM). Phase 1 of the project, which was to develop Lesotho’s National Diaspora Policy, and establish the Diaspora Directorate, has been successfully completed!
Over the years in his office he has participated in spearheading strategic partnerships across departments, agencies and NGOs for mutually beneficial relationships. Developing partnerships with CSO’s engaged in bottom-up initiatives for community upliftment and development forms the core of this strategy, and as a result, there a better collaboration between the state and non-state actors.

He is proud they have become part of the initial engagements as part of their mandate. Adding to his office successes, Shata mentions the ex-mineworkers compensation program. As the Director he facilitating a fair, transparent and accountable compensation process for Basotho Ex-miners (and their families) suffering from occupational TB and/or Silicosis. He is leading the Task Team compromising different government ministries and departments and representatives of ex-miners associations. This is a collaborative and a whole-of-government approach to addressing one of the complex socio-economic challenges facing the country.

“Under our specialized link and by virtue that the matter was brought to the attention of the Prime Minister’s office, which we report to, we had to chip in. A dialogue was set up where a multi stakeholder task team was called to meet and find the ultimate solution. Tshiamiso Trust was the main stakeholder since it is the one paying. A lot of discussions are ongoing as we speak it is expected that the SADC region will engage in more talks to reach the ultimate solution.”

With a staff compliment of 12, the hub is centralized meaning all its operations are managed by “a one man show” being the director himself. It is also the director’s work to draw operational plans and draft financial budgets while taking priority of the current year requirements particularly the resources needed. Although he feels the hub is massively understaffed especially in the highlands, he oversees 8 field officers in the districts and administrative staff at the head offices.

One important message Shata gives to future employees particularly those wishing to work in the LSPH is that the office is severely under resourced. The office operates under extreme tight budget and therefore one has to be highly tactful to finding a way around. The office make use of one laptop which rotates from the director down to the admin staff. Collecting databases becomes a huge challenge sometimes it is never done properly. In accessing the ten districts they utilize one motor vehicle sadly it compromises their work as they fail to reach some remote areas. The use of technology is alien in other areas and they have to be physically present. In the end everyone has to work smart, create partnerships and get the work done.