EDITORIAL: Maqelepo’s breach of diplomatic procedures is disturbing

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Health Minister Motlatsi Maqelepo
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Last week, Lesotho introduced rapid Covid-19 testing at the Maseru port of entry/exit for Basotho who wanted to cross into neighbouring South Africa. However, those who took the test and tested negative were barred entry into SA by immigration officers on the other side of the border.

Prior to this, Lesotho’s health minister, one Motlatsi Maqelepo, had gone on and on about how he had made arrangements with the Free State provincial minister (known as MEC) of health, for Basotho to gain entry into SA upon production of a negative result certificate.

The reason for the rejection of the certificates? It turns out the SA immigration officials had told the MEC to her face that they do not take orders from her; they report to the national minister of home affairs and they had not received directives from Pretoria to allow Basotho to pass through, who had taken the rapid test.

Valid point. Now, how did Maqelepo – a minister of the government of Lesotho – liaise with a provincial minister instead of a minister of the national government of South Africa?

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Does Maqelepo understand that a matter involving two states is discussed at state level, and that – given his position – the people he is supposed to talk to are the likes of Zweli Mkhize, Aaron Motswaledi and Naledi Pandor, not Montseng Tsiu? In any event, one would have expected such talks to have been preceded by discussions between Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and SA President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Maqelepo has succeeded at embarrassing Lesotho. One might cynically be tempted to ask ‘what’s there to embarrass?’

That is neither here nor there. But when it comes to leadership, the people you lead eventually begun to be like you, they become a reflection of you. If you don’t have competence, over time, the people you lead begin to behave like you (and you attract a lot of your kind). Only the leader sets the tone for sane behaviour.