By Seleoe Nonyane
Lesotho’s National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) II came under scrutiny this week, with government opting to extend its lifespan beyond March 2023 instead of developing a new strategy.
Adopted as a five-year strategic plan in 2018, the NSDP II encapsulated foresight and a development path that Basotho chose to take to realise the development goals that they sought to achieve -employment, poverty eradication, shared prosperity, lasting peace and security, strengthened human capital base, and the protection of the fragile ecosystems and cultural heritage.
It aimed to transform Lesotho from a consumer-based economy to a producer and export-driven economy.
The document will serve as a blueprint for all development efforts over the next five years, and will implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the African Union Agenda 2063 Goals, and Vision 2020.
NSDP II emphasised private sector development and gives priority to pursuing people-centred development, a strategy that re-enforced the government’s commitment to directly engage citizens, empowering individuals and encouraging participation in the development process. Four key strategic goals, or key priority areas, were articulated to foster job creation and inclusive growth, and poverty reduction.
The ministry of development planning, which is the custodian of the NSDP II, held a consultative meeting with relevant ministries on Monday, which was aimed at discussing the possible extension of the programme.
Speaking at the meeting, the ministry of development planning’s director of policy and strategic, Mahlape Ramoseme, said the extended NSDP will primarily have the same mandate, although it will have a few adjustments.
“Just to remind you, the first key priority area was enhancing a sustainable and inclusive economic growth that is private sector-lead and the second key priority area was basically referring to the human capital.
“The third key priority area was enabling infrastructure while the last one was strengthening good governance and accountability system.
“So, we have to go back and make adjustments, but the goal remains the same,” she said.
Ramoseme noted the only change is that mining has become part of the productive sector.
“After reviewing the NSDP we realised we had bitten more that we could chew as there were a lot of objectives we had planned to implement in a short period of time. Another challenge is lack of data that indicates where the country was before the NSDP I and II.”
She added that the NSDP II could not be fully implemented due to a lot of challenges, mainly the Covid-19 pandemic which occurred during three of the five years of the programme.
Speaking at the same occasion, the deputy principal secretary for the ministry of finance and development planning, Teboho ‘Mokela, said it is important that all sectors come together to steer Lesotho in the right direction for the benefit of Basotho.
‘Mokela said this can only be achieved by developing sound plans for the country and ensuring their full implementation.
She noted that Lesotho is faced with many pressing challenges and the Covid-19 pandemic had laid bare the deficiencies that the country has.
“Poverty is eminent, unemployment is rife, our infrastructure is in a deteriorative state, our health and education sector in shambles, crime is high; the list is endless.
“It is only through the ministry’s continual efforts, dedication, patriotism, and hard work that stakeholders may change the trajectory of this country to the better,” ‘Mokela added.
Meanwhile, the principal secretary for the ministry of trade, industry, business development, and tourism, Thabo Moleko, recently said government will use the NSDP II to pursue a private sector and export-led economy as well as to instigate product and market diversification.
Moleko said this at a GIZ stakeholder information-sharing workshop in preparation for project implementation earlier this month.
He explained that the government developed the 2019-2025 National AGOA Response Strategy and the 2021-2025 National Export Strategy to contribute towards the achievement of the objectives of the NSDP II.
The EU-Lesotho partnership in trade continues to strengthen after the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the SADC-EPA countries came into force in October 2016. This was followed by the development of the National EPA Implementation Plan which was completed in April 2018.
Moleko noted that the process had come a long way since the development and approval of the Action Document in 2020, followed by the signing of the Financing Agreement on October 28 2020 and May 4 2021 by the EU and the government of Lesotho, respectively.
He further expressed gratitude to the EU for its continued support, Germany for complementing the EU funds and the GIZ for extending their technical expertise to manage the project on behalf of the government of Lesotho.