Tuesday

Lesotho + South Africa

Murray says:
I've read Andrew's post at Southern Cross, and I don't think that he's saying that Lesotho should become part of South Africa (although Richard is). His argument is instead that donor countries should be able to request institutional changes in exchange for aid, so as to ensure that disasters such as famines don't recur. That might compromise sovereignty, but it doesn't amount to joining another country.

Personally, I see no reason why Lesotho should merge with South Africa. In Europe small countries such as Luxemburg and Lithuania manage fine on their own, provided that appropriate trade agreements and so on are in place. One has to ask: how would it benefit Lesotho to join South Africa?
Andrew had initially said that two things struck him, in relation with famine and the call for international aid.
Those two things are: 1 - The famines that often stalk with droughts are almost invariably avoidable. South Africa is experiencing the same drought as Lesotho but possesses the resources and institutional capacity to deal with it. I mention this because it seems likely that once the inevitable aid mission has been mounted and catastrophe averted, very little will be done to address the underlying causes. Rather than donor states periodically mounting rescues it would make more sense to help build up organisational capacity in the recipient nations themselves. Which brings me to my second point.
2 - Before the process of building up institutional capacity can begin there has to be an admission on the part of recipient nations that changes are needed and a willingness to accept outside assistance. This may seem an obvious point, but it is not always clear that African leaders see such acknowledgment as in their own interests. I recently found the SADC annual report for 2002/2003 in which Zimbabwe's food crisis is blamed on, you guessed it, the ongoing drought. To give another example, this Reuters report suggests that Swaziland's failure to declare a state of emergency as a result of it's drought is largely attributable to King Mswati's fear of close scrutiny of royal expenditure.
Before then Richard had said,
Not being sure how to broach the subject, Ill just step right into it. Do you think Lesotho is a viable political entity? Wouldnt Lesotho fare much better as the tenth South African province?

South Africa is already a strong multicultural Society in which the Basotho is [sic] heavily integrated. Also, given the fact that South Africa has shown it will send in the troops if Lesotho misbehaves, dont you think that the Basotho also deserve a say in the running of South Africa?
While I do believe that in the best interests of Basotho and of the entire region, Lesotho and South Africa should move closer, much closer to each other, I am convinced that such a venture would never get off the ground unless certain conditions were respected.

i/. One country must unite with another on an equal footing. There must not be any talk of one party joining another or becoming part of another (I might have sinned in the past on this point);
ii/. The rapprochement must be gradual, spanning at least two generations. Everything must be debated and debated and planned and planned. Parallels must be drawn with Europe and with other examples (the US, if a federal system is to be employed);
iii/. After the debating and the planning, the setting-up must be an inch-by-inch affair, ie Currency first, then a Common Constitution, etc;
iv/. The advantages must be made plain to both the high-level executive and the veld herdboy. Every head must be made to feel part of the whole (easier said than done, I know);
v/. I've never really sat down to consider how this could practically be done, but I'm sure there a few other points that would have to be respected.

The borders between Lesotho and South Africa are quite porous. From the Lesotho banks of the Mohokare river we used to swim across to the South African side, steal peaches by the branch and swim back. At the border gates Basotho practically just walk through, much as South Africans do when they come over to Lesotho. In Lesotho the South African Rand is used side by side with the Lesotho Loti. No sweat. We're already living together, but we've accepted the disadvantages (border gates) without the advantages (Let's share some of that technical know-how you have, and some of this water I have. While we're at it, use my mountains and my snow to make some nice ski resorts so we can make us some serious dosh). The Orange Free State is Basotho country. There are Basotho all over the place. Last time I went home from Europe my brother-in-law picked me up in Johannesburg and we drove down to Maseru. Once we reached the OFS he addressed everybody in Sesotho and everybody replied in perfect Sesotho. The original names of many OFS towns are in Sesotho, notably Bloemfontein, which is Mangaung (place of leopards) in Sesotho.

This is just a little of my conviction, but, I mean, we are the same people and we really could do better sharing than not. Couldn't we?