Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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Transparency and accountability must prevail

Business

Editorial Comment

The 60th birthday celebrations of His Majesty King Letsie III have indeed been a spectacle to behold, capturing the nation’s attention with a series of grand events that marked this significant milestone.

However, what was intended to be a joyous occasion filled with pride and unity has become shrouded in controversy and questions regarding transparency and accountability.

Initially, the government announced a budget of M5.6 million for organizing and hosting the King’s birthday celebrations. Yet, recent revelations indicate that there were additional lavish events not mentioned in the government’s statement, leading to a staggering estimated budget of over M13.7 million.

Such an exorbitant amount could cover school fees for thousands of high school students, raising concerns about the allocation of public funds for extravagant celebrations.

Central to the controversy is the role of the mysterious agency, Brand New Vixion (BNV), which seemingly materialised just in time for the grand festivities. Newsday’s investigation revealed that BNV is not a registered business, casting doubts on its legitimacy and raising questions about how it was engaged to organize such high-profile events.

When questioned by the media, Tlotlisang Setsumi of BNV responded defensively, stating that he was engaged by the Office of the King and not the government. This claim raises eyebrows as the Royal Palace is indeed a public office funded by taxpayers, and any events organised under its auspices should be subject to public scrutiny.

Transparency and accountability are essential in public affairs, especially when it comes to the use of public funds. With the lavish celebrations surrounding the King’s birthday, it is only natural for the public to seek answers and understand the process by which BNV was awarded the contract.

The absence of clear explanations from both BNV and the Office of the King only adds to the suspicions surrounding the matter. To maintain public trust and confidence, it is crucial for all involved parties to be forthcoming with information and be willing to address legitimate concerns.

Additionally, the extravagant celebrations raise questions about priorities in a country where many citizens struggle with poverty and lack of access to basic services. The vast sum allocated to the birthday events could have been channeled towards initiatives that address pressing socio-economic issues, benefiting the wider population.

While commemorating the King’s milestone is important, it should be done in a manner that aligns with the needs and priorities of the nation.

Furthermore, the role and involvement of the government in organizing the celebrations need clarification. The Ministry of Home Affairs is typically responsible for state ceremonies and events, but it appears that the celebrations were organized separately by BNV.

This raises concerns about proper coordination and oversight, as state events should be planned and executed with the utmost professionalism and adherence to regulations.

In light of these controversies, it is imperative that a thorough and independent investigation be conducted to shed light on the entire affair. The public deserves to know how public funds were utilized and whether due processes were followed in engaging BNV for these events.

The establishment of accountability mechanisms and transparency in the use of public resources is crucial to maintaining the public’s faith in its leaders and institutions.

Celebrating the cultural heritage and milestones of a nation’s leaders is a cherished tradition that fosters unity and pride. However, this must be done responsibly and with the utmost respect for the people’s well-being and the prudent use of public funds.

As we look back on the King’s 60th birthday celebrations, let it serve as a wake-up call for improved governance, accountability, and transparency in all public affairs. Only then can we truly celebrate the achievements and progress of our beloved nation, Lesotho, as we move forward into a brighter and more prosperous future.

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