Remarks by Ambassador Rebecca Gonzales at the Democracy Work Foundation Citizen Scorecard

Bo ‘M’e le Bo ‘Ntate

Good morning and welcome to all of you.

Before I begin, please allow me to pay my respects to:

His Majesty the King

The Right Honorable the Prime Minister

Honorable President of the Senate

Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly

Her Ladyship the Chief Justice

Honorable Members of His Majesty’s Cabinet

Honorable Vice President of the Senate

Honorable Members of the National Assembly

Party leaders and representatives

Representatives of Local Service Providers

Democracy Works Foundation Team and Other Members of Civil Society

Ladies and Gentlemen

Welcome!

Thank you all for your attendance today for this important project. This project not only showcases the tremendous value of cross-party collaboration in Lesotho but also has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of all Basotho.

I am very proud that the United States’ Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development chose to help fund this initiative, which is being facilitated by the Democracy Works Foundation and Freedom House-Southern Africa. Thank you to our facilitators here today who have worked very hard to get us to this point.  Looking over the agenda and materials for this workshop, it is clear that the team put in tremendous work to prepare the best possible workshop for all of you.

When I spoke at the first workshop in October, I stressed how lucky Lesotho is to possess such immense natural resources in terms of its water reserves and solar power. Every Mosotho should be proud of these resources and be eager to see them utilized in the most sustainable and beneficial way possible.

In May, I was honored to sign a grant on behalf of the U.S. Government, which pledged 8.6 million Maloti to OnePower, an American and Basotho partnership that will build a 20 megawatt solar power plant in Mafeteng. OnePower was actually founded by a former US Peace Corps volunteer based in Mohale’s Hoek, who was determined to bring electricity to his village.

My colleagues and I enthusiastically support increasing solar- and hydro-power access across this country, in hopes that Lesotho will one day be energy independent.  But why make that the end goal? It is fully within Lesotho’s capacity to become a net exporter of energy in the future.

Yes, it is easy to state such a lofty goal. Developing the necessary policies, strategies, and implementing them to reach that goal – that’s the hard part. So where do you begin?  Well, just by coming here today and participating in this workshop is a fantastic start.

And in your participation today, I ask that you be both respectful and honest. Evaluating the effectiveness of water and energy service providers as well as politicians in delivering on their respective responsibilities requires frank conversation. You may even have to redefine what those responsibilities are.  But you need to establish a baseline of the current challenges before you can begin to develop smart policies that generate improvement.

Aside from the U.S. assistance I already mentioned, we are currently working to develop a second Millennium Challenge Corporation compact between Lesotho and the United States. A centerpiece to the potential compact will likely include improvement of delivery of public goods and services. I look forward to seeing how your and MCC’s projects both make strides in this important goal.

Finally, I want to stress how important the role each one of you plans in  in optimizing the use of Lesotho’s water and energy resources. Just like in Lesotho’s national reform process, your development partners are here to support and to encourage you.  But we can’t want progress more than Basotho want progress for themselves.  Other countries and external organizations might be able to fund various initiatives, advise, or facilitate, but you are the true duty bearers for Lesotho. The work you do now to protect and harness Lesotho’s precious water and energy has the potential to benefit Basotho generations to come – failure to fulfill these responsibilities undoubtedly will have an opposite and damaging effect.

I wish you luck in this week’s workshop and thank you once again for your participation.

Kea Leboha, Bo-‘M’e le Bo-Ntate.

Khotso, Pula, Nala.