SUMMARY OF EVENTS IN LESOTHO

Volume 2, Number 3 (Third Quarter 1995)

Summary of events in Lesotho is a quarterly publication compiled and published by  David Ambrose since 1993 at the National University of Lesotho, P. O. Roma 180, Lesotho.

BCP ‘Refugees’ Return to Lesotho
Cabinet Reshuffle
State Visit by Nelson Mandela
Prison Officers on Strike
Continuing Unrest Amongst Teachers
Local Government Elections
BCP Candidate Wins Hlotse By-Election

BCP ‘Refugees’ Return to Lesotho

As a sequel to the case involving APLA members from South Africa supplying arms illegally to BCP members, Government despatched a mission to Johannesburg to provide assurances so that BCP members who had fled from Lesotho could return safely. Amongst those who travelled to Johannesburg was the BCP General Secretary, G. M. Kolisang. 96 members of the former LLA and the BCP Youth League returned to Lesotho from Pretoria and Qwaqwa in buses on Saturday 22 Julyback to top.

Cabinet Reshuffle

Legal Notice No. 100 of 1995

ALLOCATION OF PORTFOLIOS, 20 JULY 1995

Deputy PM & Minister of Home Affairs Pakalitha Mosisili

Minister of Justice & Human Rights,

Law & Constitutional Affairs Molapo Qhobela

Minister of Works Ntsukunyane Mphanya

Minister of Transport & Communications Lesao Lehohla

Minister of Natural Resources Dr. Khauhelo Raditapole

Minister of Foreign Affairs Kelebone Maope

Minister of Education & Manpower Dev. Tšeliso Makhakhe

Minister of Health & Social Welfare Sekoala Toloane

Minister of Agriculture, Co-operatives,

Marketing & Youth Affairs Mopshatla Mabitle

Minister of Tourism, Sports & Culture Pashu Mochesane

On Thursday 20 July, a comprehensive Cabinet reshuffle took place. Each Minister was apparently called in and informed of his new portfolio, while two Ministers were dropped from the Cabinet. Amongst significant changes were the transfer of the Minister of Justice, Kelebone Maope, to the Foreign Affairs portfolio, and the transfer of the Molapo Qhobela to the Justice portfolio. Pakalitha Mosisili remained Deputy Prime Minister but became Minister of Home Affairs & Local Government, while the Ministry of Natural Resources went to the former Minister of Health, Dr. Deborah Raditapole. The new Minister of Education was the former Minister of Natural Resources, Tšeliso Makhakhe, himself a teacher by profession. Those who retained their portfolios intact were the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance & Economic Planning, Dr. M. P Senaoana, and the Minister of Labour & Employment, Notši Molopo. The Prime Minister’s brother, Shakhane Mokhehle retained the Trade & Industry portfolio, but lost the Tourism portfolio, which was combined with Sports & Culture (formerly linked with Education) to form a new under Pashu Mochesane.

Those dropped from the Cabinet included the Minister of Works, Mr. David Mochochoko and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mpho Malie. Rumour was rife as how the Ntsu Mokhehle had decided on the changes, Although, some would have it that the Prime Minister had independently decided on the shuffle, others saw Tom Thabane as having been particularly influential. Of those Ministers who had lost their portfolios completely, it was noted that David Mochochoko had (with much justification) made strong statements against the police earlier in the year, while Mpho Malie’s impish style of work had embarrassed the Prime Minister earlier in the year at the OAU Meeting in Addis Ababa. His hitching a ride on the South African Foreign Minister’s helicopter to go on a personal trip to Johannesburg had also been an undignified breach of protocol. back to top

State Visit by Nelson Mandela

At the time of Mpho Malie’s indiscretion, Alfred Nzo had been in Lesotho’s finalising details for the State Visit of President Nelson Mandela, which duly took place on Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 July. Mandela undertook a gruelling programme in which he made no less than ten separate speeches, including a speech to the two Houses of Parliament. He also laid wreaths and made a moving speech at the graves of ANC cadres murdered in Maseru during the December 1982 and other South African raids on Maseru. This was still on the Wednesday, and on the following day flew by helicopter to Hlotse, where he undertook the official naming of the access road to the Katse dam as the Nelson Mandela Highway. back to top

Prison Officers on Strike

Indiscipline in the armed forces, police and security service had plagued the Government for a period of over 18 months. Prison officers had been amongst those who went on strike for more pay. New problems within the prison service became apparent from 14 July, when a go-slow strike was instituted by prison officers. The stated reason for the protest was that Colonel S. Khethang Mafatlane, who had previously retired in 1994 had been reinstated as Deputy Director of Prisons. Some light on the reasons for the protest appeared in The Mirror of 9 August 1995. It appeared that there was a belief that Mafatlane had been brought back to the prison service to facilitate the employment of Reconciliation Officers (the name given to former members of the Lesotho Liberation Army) in the prison service.

On 4 August, prison officers armed with rifles invaded the Ministry of Justice & Human Rights. The Principal Secretary, Ms. Matsoana Fanana was sufficiently intimidated by their actions that she allowed keys to Ministry vehicles to be handed over to the strikers.

Striking prison workers, perhaps in an attempt to gain public sympathy, gave interviews stating that they were also striking for better conditions for prisoners whose cells were overcrowded, and who did not get sufficient food, clothing and medical care (Mopheme, 8 Aug 1995). Meanwhile, there were reports from various prisons of actions in which prison officers were engaging in various acts of indiscipline towards senior prison officers, in some cases imprisoning them. The strikers added to their demands that the Director of Prisons, Major-General Tšeliso Khalieli be dismissed.back to top

Continuing Unrest Amongst Teachers

Unrest amongst teachers had subsided because schools were on holiday throughout most of June and July. When schools opened again, one teachers’ union the LTTU (Lesotho Teachers’ Trade Union) announced strike action would resume, and this began on 15th August. The other union the LAT (Lesotho Association of Teachers) voted to continue working. Because membership of the unions was largely sectarian, the effect was that most Catholic schools in the country were closed, while all schools of the Lesotho Evangelical Church remained open. Some Anglican schools were open and some closed. At first Government continued to pay teachers, but when the strike continued, teachers who were still striking did not receive September salary cheques. back to top

Local Government Elections

The long awaited local government elections went ahead on 10-11 August 1995. This was despite the fact that some chiefs (including some Principal Chiefs) had instructed their subjects not to co-operate with government electoral staff. Under the revised law, the new Village Development Councils no longer allowed each chief to be ex officio chairperson of the VDC. The chief was nevertheless still ex officio a member of the VDC. District and Ward Development Council elections were held later in the month. In all these elections the qualification to vote was rather different from national elections. Persons over the age of 18 were eligible to vote, and residence in a particular area, not nationality, was the test for eligibility. The regulations containing this information were gazetted only shortly before the actual elections, and it seems were not generally known to the public as a whole.

It was noted that Local Government in Lesotho was still indeed a fragile and untried exercise. Back in the late 1960s, District Councils had been dissolved by the Government of Leabua Jonathan, this act being attributed by most people to the fact that they had the unfortunate attribute of being almost invariably controlled by a BCP majority. There had however been another contributory cause. A report of Sir Walter Coutts at the time had criticised the cost of having two parallel administrations (local government and the chieftainship). Britain was at the time providing subventions towards recurrent expenditure, and he recommended that local government might be left in the hands of the chiefs as a cost saving measure, this despite a lengthy and diligent attempt by the colonial administration to establish viable district councils, and having sent numbers of Basotho to Britain to study local government in action. In the late 1960s, the Ministry of Local Government had had over twenty professional staff in post. In 1995, there was just one person, Mr. Ernest Monyau, who had been appointed shortly after Village Development Committees (later to be known as Councils) had been established after the Military Coup in 1986. Ernest Monyau retired from his post in mid-1995, leaving no continuity whatsoever.

The lack of viable local government had become a severe embarrassment, and threatened the largest development in Lesotho, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, revenue from which was expected to accrue at some $55 million per annum, some 14% of Government total revenue. The Rural Development Programme, of all components of the LHWP, could least afford to be ‘top down’. Moreover, the Compensation Plan could also benefit from having local government authorities involved in implementation. However, the Malibamatšo valley was fragmented between numerous Village Development Council areas of quite disparate sizes in four different districts. Discussions resulting from initiatives within the Lesotho Highlands Water Project had proposed a Malibamatšo district or sub-district with headquarters at Lejone, and grouping of the VDCs into Local Government Areas of workable size, but without staff to implement this, the Ministry of Local Government had done very little. Meanwhile the World Bank had shown its displeasure, and provided a cue for other supporters. For example the British Minister of Overseas Development, Baroness Chalker, in a letter (see The Mirror 15 November 1995) stated ‘... in talking to the Hon. Minister for Natural Resources, Dr. Deborah Raditapole, I emphasised our concern about implementation delays with the Rural Development Programme and compensation plan. I made no secret of the fact that we attach great importance to the successful resolution of the environmental and social issues currently affecting Phase 1A. Specifically, I told the Minister that we fully supported the World Bank in their view that it would be inappropriate for them to consider further financial support to Phase 1B unless these issues were effectively addressed.’ back to top

BCP Candidate Wins Hlotse By-Election

A much delayed by-election was held in the Hlotse constituency on 26 August 1995. It was necessitated by the murder on 14 April 1994 of the Deputy Prime Minister, Selometsi Baholo, who was also the MP for the constituency.

The seat was retained by the Basutoland Congress Party, whose candidate, Sello Maphalla, received 2560 votes. None of the major opposition parties contested the seat, and the only other candidates were an independent, Thabo Chakela, who received 78 votes, while Antony Clovis Manyeli of the National Independence Party received 14 votes and Khauta Khasu of the Hareeng Basotho Party received 12 votes. 2685 persons voted out of a total of 11569 registered voters. back to top