Moves afoot to pull Lesotho into South Africa

2010-04-07 13:25

MASSIVE migration, abject poverty, decreased life expectancy and a growing HIV/Aids pandemic are threatening the existence of Lesotho as a state.

Questions are now being asked in Lesotho and South Africa about the “value of Lesotho’s sovereignty” and the need for it to be integrated into South ­Africa economically, at least, and perhaps politically in the long run.

This can be derived from the latest findings by the African Peer Review Mechanism (ARPM), ­endorsed by Lesotho’s governing council.

The Lesotho government is not hiding the eventual demise of the landlocked country from its people. A popular version of its APRM country report has been printed in Sesotho and English in booklet form for distribution to public institutions.

The report was presented to the SA Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) by ambassador ­Masuhla Leteka, the head of the secretariat of ­Lesotho’s governing council.

Leteka said discussions were under way with South Africa about issuing South African ID documents to Lesotho citizens.

Consideration is also being given to the free movement of Basotho between South Africa and Lesotho as well as arrangements to give citizens of that country equal access to South African jobs.

These issues will be discussed with President Jacob Zuma in an upcoming state visit to Maseru, says Leteka.

“The lingering threat of internal conflict that is fuelled by intraparty and interparty tensions could distract from normal (government) operations.”

The report adds: “There is the perception of a dominant executive branch that is not sufficiently countered by parliament.”

Oversight bodies such as the office of the auditor-general are weak.

Public service efficiency, effectiveness and ­accountability are poor.

“Corruption is perceived to affect all sectors, ­private and political spheres.”

The ARPM report and Leteka agree that integration into South Africa is the answer.

“We are not talking about becoming a province at this time, but integration is a matter of urgency,” says Leteka. Lesotho is not only landlocked, “it is South Africa-locked”.

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