Africa-Press – Lesotho. MUCKRAKER attended a workshop in Zambia some years ago. It was a blast that ended with an unforgettably hilarious moment. We are drinking at a dingy bar in a Lusaka ghetto when a blind man approaches us.
He is wearing sheds. A walking stick in one hand and a begging tin in another. We all pull out some kwachas to help the poor soul who immediately disappears after his collection.
A few hours later we walk into another bar to find the same beggar vigorously dancing to a Kanindo hit song while gulping a quart of beer. Before we could recover from the shock the man clumbers a table to continue his dancing.
Disgusted, Muckraker demands answers from the ‘blind man’. And lo and behold, he can see. “Are you not the blind man who was begging from us a few hours ago?” Muckraker asks the thief.
The man stares Muckraker into the eyes, takes an elaborate sip from his bottle and laughs like a hyena. “Yes, I am the one,” he says after a long sip.
“So you are begging but you can afford to drink?” Muckraker asks.
“Yes, because my wife won’t allow me to use my salary for beer. I beg to get beer money,” he says.
“But we thought you were begging to feed your children,” Muckraker retorts.
“Well, don’t blame me for your wrong assumptions. Now, leave me alone to enjoy my money. ”
Were it in Maseru, Muckraker would have clobbered the wretched thief. But this was foreign land and she was powerless to mete out instant justice to the crook.
Muckraker thought she would never witness such blatant and uncouth fraud again but she was wrong. Our government has been pulling the same con on foreign governments, donors and NGOs for years.
Like the conman in Lusaka, our government walks around with a begging bowl pretending to be miserable and desperate. The Americans doll out money for roads, pit latrines, hospitals and medicines.
The Japanese chip in with funds to build schools. The EU pays foreign judges and funds other projects. The UNDP funds the reforms while the WFP feeds our primary school students.
There is always someone paying for some project to help Basotho while the government stands arms akimbo or pretends to be busy with other serious problems.
The ‘problems’ that take up the government’s resources are foreign trips, cars for ministers and allowances for MPs. The government says it’s too broke to feed its people yet it has the money to pay MPs’ fuel allowances.
The same government has now turned to the local companies. You know you have a useless government when ministers gleefully accept donations on national TV.
Not a week passes without some puff piece of ministers ululating for handouts. Just this week the police received uniforms and boots from Sam Matekane.
The army was in the same queue to receive an ambulance, uniforms and hospital equipment. Last week, Matekane reportedly bought flight tickets for Basotho students stranded in Ukraine after this governmentnyana pleaded poverty.
The other week, the police were taking delivery of an ambulance from a local insurance company. Our notoriously parochial journalists are always in tow to file rosy reports on such events.
None has ever asked why ministers are not embarrassed to be getting donations from private citizens and what the government does with the taxes it zealously collects.
A government that cannot clothe its police and army must not be taken seriously. It is a silly excuse of a government. Mr Softie should appoint Kabi as the Minister of Donations because it’s now serious business.