Sombre future for Southern Africa Highlighted at AIDS Conference
New Principal Secretaries
Take Up Positions
Funeral of Father Ignatius Malebo
Airmail Postal Rates Reduced
Death of Dr T. K. Maphathe
Schedule for General Election
Closure of the Tourist Board
New Political Parties Registered
Lesotho Beats Angola in Cosafa Cup Semifinal, but Fails Against Zimbabwe in
Radio Lesotho Unavailable in Southern Lesotho after Transformer Catches Fire
Bribery Case against
Commission of Inquiry into the 1998 Political Disturbances Continues Hearings
and WHO Appoint New Lesotho Resident Representatives
Second World War Veterans Suffer from Pension Maladministration
Delivered in Case against Police
Verdict Given in One Court Martial; Other Court Martial Continues
New Lesotho High
Commissioner to Britain
of Chieftainess of Ha Maama
German Consulate Opened in Maseru
Bus Accident at
Teyateyaneng Wipes Out Whole Family
New Central Bank Act changes
“s” to “L”
Media Stories of Satanism Provoke Opposition to Universal Church
Major New Study on
Poverty in Lesotho Published
University Year Opens with
Condemns Widespread Theft of Telephone Lines
Traditional Healer Causes Stir in Village
Second Session of Fifth
Pedestrian Overbridges Opened
Death of Mrs Matšeliso Moshabesha
Semonkong Becomes a Town
EU Finances New Lesotho Roads
for Accounting Studies Taken Over by Lesotho Government
Lesotho Sends 15-Strong
Team to Olympic Games
Joy FM Radio
Station Celebrates First Anniversary
Service Initiated as Option for Minor Offences
Unclaimed Corpses Buried
Death of Rev. Ben Mokoteli
University Embarks on
Lesotho Withdraws from Hosting the Africa Zone VI Under-20 Games
Unusual Wedding in Maseru
Prime Minister’s Son Married
Mohlanka Newspaper Reappears
Land Commission Releases Report
Graduation Ceremony of National University of Lesotho
The 13th International AIDS
Conference, held in Durban in the first week of July, reinforced what was
already apparent to many, that the AIDS pandemic in southern Africa was so
serious that it would hardly leave untouched any family or enterprise, and would
also be likely to severely damage the economies of all the countries of the
For reasons not entirely clear,
AIDS was having an impact on southern Africa which was greater than it had so
far inflicted on any other part of the World. A map published in the Mail &
Guardian of 7 July 2000 showed 1999 adult prevalence rates in excess of 15% for
Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, and rates only a little less in
Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. An article in the same newspaper, however,
stated that 20% of adults were believed to be infected in seven southern African
countries. This was in stark contrast to North and West Africa, where prevalence
rates were stable and just below 3%.
The worst affected country
appeared to be Botswana, where 36% of adults were HIV positive. However,
infection statistics were far from precise, and the situation in Lesotho, where
35% of pregnant women were HIV positive according to 1999 statistics, was hardly
significantly better. It was already apparent that extended families throughout
the region were having difficulty coping with the large numbers of sick adults
and orphaned children.
AIDS in Lesotho is often
associated with tuberculosis, and indeed according to Dr Pearl Ntšekhe of the
Disease Control Programme (quoted in Likereke Ntlafatsong (no. 2 of 2000)) 50%
of all tuberculosis sufferers in Lesotho also have HIV/AIDS infection. Unlike
AIDS, where the majority of sufferers in Lesotho are women, 70% of TB cases are
male. TB cases were 7806 in 1998, and since 1996 had been rising steeply by some
1000 cases per year.
A speech by the Prime Minister,
Pakalitha Mosisili, was reported by the newspaper Moafrika of 11 August 2000. It
had been made at Thabana-Tšooana in the Seqonoka constituency of Berea District
on 4 August 2000, and in it the Prime Minister said that 70% of all funerals
taking place in Lesotho at the present time were of persons who had died from
In the first years after
Independence, the staff members of the civil service in each ministry were
headed by a Permanent Secretary, who should have provided continuity when and if
there were changes of government. In reality, the positions became politicized,
incumbents were frequently changed and there was little justification for
retaining the adjective ‘permanent’. Consequently, the term Principal Secretary
The changed situation persisted
even after the restoration of democracy in 1993, and it has become the practice
to rotate senior civil servants amongst ministries. The latest list of new
assignments for principal secretaries was announced by the Office of the Prime
Minister in June, and by early July they had taken up their positions.
J. T. Metsing has moved from
being Principal Secretary of Foreign Affairs to become PS for Natural Resources;
Bore Motsamai has moved from being PS in the Ministry of Environment, Gender,
and Youth Affairs (MEGYA) to become PS in the Ministry of Communications
(Information, Broadcasting, Posts and Telecommunications); and Monyane Mathibeli
who had been PS in this same Ministry has moved to become PS for Labour &
Employment. The new PS for Finance is Ms M. C. Mphutlane, and the new PS for
Education is Tlohang Sekhamane. The positions of PS in Foreign Affairs, MEGYA
and Tourism, Sports & Culture are now occupied by S. Kikine, Paul Motholo and
Mrs M. Matlanyane respectively.
Father Ignatius Tobetsa Malebo, a
retired priest of the Anglican Church, was buried after a service at the
Anglican Cathedral in Maseru on 8 July. He had died on 27 June following a brief
Ignatius Malebo had been born in
Teyateyaneng on 31 May 1922, and was educated in South Africa. He had served as
priest in a number of parishes in Lesotho and also at St Monica’s, Kuruman and
All Saints, Mafikeng, both in South Africa. He had also been chaplain at the
Moroka Hospital in Thaba Nchu.
Father Malebo is survived by his
wife and nine children.
Since January 1998, Lesotho
airmail rates had been anomalously high. The rate per 10 g for an air mail
letter had tripled on 1 January 1998, rising from M1.50 to M4.50, making it
approximately three times the South African rate. As a result it was not long
before Maseru offices whose staff included daily commuters from Ladybrand were
selling South African stamps and keeping a box for outgoing airmail via
Ladybrand, thus avoiding the high Lesotho rates.
It appears that the Lesotho post
office, far from making extra revenue, was actually losing customers, and in a
move unusual in inflationary times, the postal rates have now been reduced. The
southern African airmail rate is now M1.40 per 10g (down from M2.00); the rate
to other parts of Africa now M1.50 per 10g (down from M3.00); and the rate for
the rest of the World now M2.10 per 10g (down from M4.50).
The reduced rates were, however,
not publicised. There seem to have been no radio or newspaper announcements, and
the issue of the Lesotho Government Gazette with the new rates (which were
supposed to come into force on 1 June) bore the date 7 June, but in fact was
apparently printed on an even later date. It only reached post offices early in
There remains still an anomaly in
the postal rates in that aerogrammes still cost the same as air letters. Another
problem is using the airmail small packet service, which is more economical than
the air letter rate for items of more than 50 g. This service requires the user
to affix a green customs label, but the labels themselves have been out of print
and unavailable at post offices for over a year.
It was not until July that
Lesotho newspapers reported the death of Dr Thulo Kenneth Maphathe, a well-known
former medical practitioner and politician who had died in Ladybrand two months
earlier at the age of 85.
Maphathe was born on 10 July 1914 at Ha Patsa, near Hermon in Mafeteng District.
His parents moved shortly after his birth to the town of Mafeteng, and he was
educated in Mafeteng, Herschel, and Adams College where he qualified as a
teacher in 1933. In 1939 he went to Fort Hare where he undertook training for
four years as a medical aide. On completion of the course, he worked for a short
time in a hospital in Rietfontein in Transvaal. He then returned to Lesotho and
worked with his parents selling sorghum. He became soon afterwards the owner of
the Mphatlalatsane bus which plied between Mafeteng and Maseru. He was also a
keen sportsman, and is remembered as being goalkeeper for Bantu FC as well as a
keen cricket and tennis player.
In 1960, after studies in
Ireland, he qualified as a medical practitioner and he subsequently worked for
the government medical service in Mokhotlong and at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital
in Maseru. From 1976-85, he was part of the government of Prime Minister Leabua
Jonathan, serving in several different cabinet posts. On retirement, he went
back into business in Mafeteng, and was the creator of the Patsa Centre. Given
his political affiliation, it is ironical that this modern shopping centre, the
centrepiece of the Mafeteng Central Business District, should have been
destroyed during the 1998 political riots.
Dr Maphathe moved in 1995 to
Ladybrand, and died there on 22 May 2000 after a long illness. His body was
cremated and the ashes were interred in Mafeteng in the grave of his first wife
and one of his sons, both of whom had predeceased him. He leaves his second
wife, four sons and ten grandchildren.
According to information provided
to the church newspaper Likereke Ntlafatsong (issue no. 4 of 2000) by the
Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, Leshele Thoahlane, there is
now a provisional timetable leading up to the forthcoming Lesotho General
Election which it is proposed will be held on 26 May 2001. Registration will
take place from 1 October to 1 December 2000, Parliament will be dissolved on 1
March 2001, and the election campaign period will last from 24 March to 24 May
Changes were still necessary in
the Electoral Law to make provision for the use of finger print technology in
voter registration. Apparently it was proposed to introduce this in place of
signatures. Computer technology was now available so that if anyone registered
twice in different parts of Lesotho, even under different names, this could be
detected from the finger prints. This was the first time such technology had
been used in an African election.
The IEC Chairman said that the
electoral model was still being debated by the Interim Political Authority, but
a Parliament with 80 ‘first past the post’ and 40 proportional representation
seats was now being contemplated. Seats would be allocated to parties which
secured the necessary proportion after dividing all votes by 120. 17 parties had
already registered for the election.
That there was still deadlock
over some issues was made clear in an article by Rethabile Pholo in Southern
Star of 21 July 2000. He had interviewed Lekhetho Rakuoane, co-chairperson of
the Interim Political Authority, who referred to 56 different decisions which
had been made by the IPA. The use of finger print technology had been agreed in
decision 15, while decisions 21 to 23 dealt with the definition of consensus,
electoral models and the size of Parliament. Bills required to implement
decisions 22 and 23 were still to be passed by Parliament (in recess until
August), which was leading to delays.
The dissolution of the Lesotho
Tourist Board had been common knowledge in June, although details had been hard
In the July and final issue of
the Lesotho Tourist Board magazine, Motsamai, details were provided in an
article headed ‘LTB Closes’. The article mentioned that the LTB had been
established by a 1983 Act of Parliament, and had been formally operating since
April 1984. It would cease operations on 31 July 2000, when its activities would
revert to the parent Ministry of Tourism, Sports & Culture. This was to pave the
way for the creation of a Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation, still the
subject of a draft bill.
A notice issued in the Lesotho
Government Gazette of 21 July 2000 by K. D. Ralitsie, Director of Elections,
gave the names of three new political parties which had been registered at his
office. These were the New Lesotho Freedom Party registered on 2 August 1999;
the Social Democratic Party, registered on 21 October 1999; and the National
Democratic Party, registered on 26 April 2000.
Not much was known about two of
these parties, but the Social Democratic Party (SDP) managed to gain some media
attention as a result of the travels of its leader, Masitise Seleso. In the
space of a month in July and August, he had met with the Swedish, Danish and
Norwegian Prime Ministers, with President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and with
Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai’s rapid rise to become Leader of the Opposition only nine months
after his party’s registration provided an indicator of what might be possible
for a new political party.
On Sunday 23 July, a freezing
windy afternoon which probably favoured the home team, Lesotho managed to defeat
the cup holders Angola by 2 goals to 1 in the Cosafa Castle Cup semifinal match
in Maseru. Cosafa stands for the Confederation of Southern African Football
Associations, and the competition for the Cosafa Castle Cup (sponsored by Castle
Lager) is now four years old.
In the Angola match, the visitors
went into the lead in the 29th minute after a goal from a free kick. However,
Likoena fought back with a goal from Motlatsi Maseela and a winning goal from a
free kick with only one minute of normal time remaining. Lesotho thus qualified
for the final of the competition against Zimbabwe, which defeated South Africa
in the other semifinal.
However in the first leg of the
final, played in Maseru, Likoena lost to Zimbabwe Warriors by 3 goals to nil.
The match on Sunday 13 August was overshadowed by a strike by players on the
previous Friday, who demanded high match fees and equipment, failing which they
would not play. The strike collapsed only when the Lesotho Football Association
(LEFA) decided to disband the whole team and create a new one. The players then
capitulated and pleaded to be reinstated, but there was a suspicion that they
had subsequently played less than their best. Immediately after the Zimbabwe
match a five-man Commission of Inquiry was set up by LEFA under Justice
Mathealira Ramodibedi to look into the events which resulted in Likoena’s poor
performance. This Commission, which reported within a week, recommended that 14
additional players be added to the Likoena team, but that from the new pool of
34 players there should then be a progressive reduction in numbers as less able
players are phased out.
There was still the second leg of
the final to be played in Bulawayo. Zimbabwe again won by 3 goals to nil, an
overall six goals to nil aggregate. However, by reaching the final, Lesotho
still managed to secure prize money of R250000. It also qualifies the national
team to start in the quarter finals of next year’s Fifth Cosafa Cup competition.
Meanwhile, FIFA, the
international football body, released a listing of the 50 African countries with
active football teams. These showed Lesotho to have risen to position 31,
immediately ahead of Tanzania. South Africa heads the table, followed by Morocco
and Tunisia. At the foot of the table is Somalia, with Djibouti just above, and
Seychelles in the 48th position.
Radio Lesotho bulletins on 3
August 2000 announced to listeners in the Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing
Districts that Radio Lesotho would not be available to them following a fire at
a transmitter in Mafeteng. Presumably, however, this announcement was itself
unavailable to the listeners, since it was made after the fire had taken place.
The court case in Maseru
continued throughout July, August and September against some 15 international
companies which were facing charges that they paid bribes to the former Chief
Executive of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority. The former Chief
Executive, Masupha Sole, is also charged with fraud and perjury.
Because four British firms are
amongst those charged, the case was featured in Britain on Channel 4 Television
News on 14 June 2000. The programme profiled three of the accused. Of these,
Andrew Griffiths, was representing the British firm of Sir Alexander Gibb, which
was charged with paying a bribe of £51000 through a middleman; Jacobus du Plooy,
a South African was charged with paying at least £250000 in bribes on behalf of
Highlands Water Venture, a consortium which includes two British firms; and
Martin Linz, resident in Lesotho was representing the Lesotho Highlands Project
Consortium, which includes the British firm of Balfour Beatty. LHPC had
allegedly paid the largest bribe of all, about £1 million, through a middleman.
Evidence being led in court
include Swiss bank account records showing £2.2 million paid in bribes. Channel
4 News claimed it had seen the records which were the basis of the prosecution’s
case. It pointed out that it was not just Lesotho’s reputation which was at
stake, but also the funds of British taxpayers, which had underwritten loans to
the British firms, while some of the firms had also received European Union
grants. The EU and World Bank had in fact become so concerned about the case
that they had offered to pay Lesotho the prosecution costs in the case.
Channel 4 News managed to
interview Masupha Sole, alleged recipient of the bribes. He confirmed he knew
the alleged middleman, a French national, Max Cohen. However, Cohen had
disappeared and Lesotho police were pursuing him through Interpol.
The outcome of the case is
crucial to the firms in court. If they are found guilty, apart from the
penalties which may be invoked, they are likely to become ineligible to be
awarded future World Bank financed contracts.
Bribery beyond the shores of
Britain is not at present an offence in Britain, even when the perpetrators are
British individuals or firms. The ramifications of the Lesotho case are such
that it might lead to a rethink in Britain, and legislation might be introduced
to make overseas bribery an offence.
The three South African judges
who comprise the Leon Commission of Inquiry into the 1998 political disturbances
were originally to have submitted their report before the end of May. However,
hearings continued until 30 June and then resumed on 19 July. There was a
three-week break in August and a further resumption on Monday 4 September 2000.
That the hearings would be likely to continue for a long time (and well into the
run-up to the next election) was indicated by Legal Notice no. 113, dated 6 July
2000, which indicated that the Commission of Inquiry (Political Disturbances)
had had the date for the submission of its report extended until 31 January
Meanwhile the hearings continued
to be broadcast live over Radio Lesotho, and some of the evidence was also
reported in the press. Public Eye of 11 August 2000, for example, included
evidence from a number of Mohale’s Hoek residents implicating the police, who
had apparently taken several vehicle loads of stolen clothes from looters, but
without arresting them. The LCD party paper, Mololi, of 16 August 2000, reported
evidence by one Raphuroane John Ramahlape that the Principal Chief of Likhoele,
Chief Lerotholi Seeiso, had been associated with BNP youth league members in
burning the Frasers Store in Mafeteng town.
of 15 August reported evidence being given of events much more distant in time.
In his evidence, Majara Molapo of the BNP was refuting evidence given by LCD
government ministers, Kelebone Maope and Tom Thabane that the BNP regime had
buried people alive. He provided a detailed account of the diamond miners’
uprising in April 1970. Those who had been buried in a mass grave at
Lipheketheng, Hlotse had been killed several days earlier in a battle with the
police at Ha Koasa.
Amongst the damage in September
1998 was destruction of the offices of the Department of Rural Development at
Khubetsoana north-east of Maseru. The nearby book depot of the School Supply
Unit of the Ministry of Education was also destroyed including the stock of over
a million books supplied free to primary schools. At a ceremony to mark the
opening of Irish-financed replacement offices for the Department of Rural
Development, the Minister of Public Works, Mr Moerane Mofelehetsi appealed for
Basotho to give evidence to the Leon Commission about what happened when the
previous building had been burned down.
The Leon Commission made
inspections in loco during early September of various sites where buildings had
been burned or other incidents had taken place in September 1998. Hearings were
adjourned on 28 September and it was announced that the Commission would
reconvene on 15 January 2001 to submit its report.
Meanwhile, the broadcasting of
the hearings live on Radio Lesotho had gained a certain following. Most evidence
was in Sesotho and translated into English, but many of those giving evidence
complained about the accuracy of the translations, and preferred to speak in
English or in both languages. Sekhooa sa bo-My Lord became a new phrase to
explain the English spoken by the interpreters. They became known as bo-My Lord,
because of their frequent use of the expression ‘My Lord’ in addressing the
elderly judges of the Commission of Inquiry.
The 14 July 2000 issue of the
newspaper, Southern Star, provided a profile of the new Lesotho UNICEF Resident
Representative. She is Ms Kimberly Gamble-Payne, a former staff member of the
United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Ms Gamble-Payne at
university in Stanford and Berkeley acted as spokesperson for African-Americans
on liberation struggle issues. She joined UNICEF in 1986, and before coming to
Lesotho served as Regional Adviser for Child Rights and Child Protection in
The following 21 July 2000 issue
of Southern Star, provided a profile of the new World Health Organization
Representative, Dr Tembi Ruth Tshabalala. Dr Tshabalala was in 1971 the first
Swazi woman national to qualify as a doctor. She worked for a while in Swaziland
Government service and undertook postgraduate training in London. She joined WHO
in 1986, was WHO representative in the Gambia from 1986 to 1988, after which she
served from 1989 to 1994 in Liberia and 1994 to 1996 in Botswana. Until March
2000, when appointed to Lesotho, she had worked in Congo-Brazzaville as director
in charge of health promotion.
A long standing and apparently
legitimate grievance amongst elderly war veterans and their families received
ventilation in the press during July 2000. According to The Mirror of 11 July
2000, some M60 million was handed by the British Government in the early 1980s
so that it could take over responsibility for paying pensions. Those eligible
were those wounded or handicapped by war service, and widows or survivors of war
What happened subsequently to the
money was far from clear, but it appeared that eligible persons had not received
their pensions, and that there had been intervention from the South African
Legion on their behalf to try to pressurise the Lesotho Government to act and to
pay the pensions. According to The Mirror some of those eligible (who had been
petitioning the Government since the restoration of democracy in 1993) did
receive a pension of M50 per month beginning in 1999, and this had now been
increased to M100 per month. However those eligible, all of whom were now very
elderly, often had problems in obtaining even this amount, because they were
expected to travel to the office of the nearest District Secretary where the
pensions were paid out. The Minister of Finance was stated to have recently
provided an annual budget of M2.5 million to pay the war veterans, although such
a sum would be less than the interest that Government could have been receiving
on the original M60 million.
Judgment was finally given on 20
July 2000 in the trial in which 31 police (most of whom had been in gaol since
February 1997) had been accused of High Treason, Sedition and Contravention of
the Internal Security Act. The trial had arisen from the events in February 1997
when police (some of whom were at the time to be arrested on a charge of
murdering fellow police in an incident on 31 October 1995) had rebelled against
their superior officers and taken over the police headquarters building. The
rebellion had lasted for 10 days before units of the Defence Force had stormed
the police headquarters on 16 February 1997. Most of the rebel police had then
been captured, although the self-appointed leader of the rebellion, Second
Lieutenant Phakiso Molise, had temporarily escaped to South Africa. One of the
rebel police, Sergeant Makateng had also escaped to South Africa, and had still
not been traced.
Those who had been arrested
included virtually the whole of the Police Response Unit, an elite squad who had
had specialised training in riot control as well as diving, rock climbing and
fire fighting training. Of the 18 members of the unit, only two had escaped
because they were on leave at the time, one of them on sick leave. The Police
Response Unit ceased to exist as a result of the arrests.
Justice Baptista Molai, who had
presided over the trial for 2½ years, found that the elements necessary to
establish high treason were not proven. He also acquitted 5 of the 31 defendants
of the other charges. Sentences were announced on Friday 28 July. Four police,
Phakiso Molise, Matamo Leuta, Tšokolo Mosae and Lefata Ramakhula, were sentenced
to three years imprisonment with one year suspended. Others were sentenced to
two years with one year suspended; and to one year (or a fine of M1000) and one
The case against the defendants
had originally been opened on 24 November 1997 and subsequently been set down to
last from 9 to 27 February 1998. In reality, because of further delays requested
by the Director of Public Prosecutions, the trial began (as reported in Moeletsi
oa Basotho of 1 March 1998) on 20 February 1998. From 20 February 1998 to 28
July 2000 is a total of 890 days inclusive, although actual sittings may have
been held on only about half this number of days. Nevertheless the trial
appeared to have set a world record for a criminal trial. (According to the
Guinness Book of Records, the world’s longest criminal trial lasted from 30
November 1992 to 29 November 1994 in Hong Kong. The High Court then sat for 398
days to hear charges against 14 South Vietnamese boat people accused of
murdering 24 North Vietnamese adults and children who died in a blazing hut
during a riot at a refugee camp in Hong Kong in February 1992. The defendants
were eventually acquitted, although some were convicted on lesser charges.)
Another case in which seven of
the same policemen, including Phakiso Molise, are charged with murder, attempted
murder and kidnapping, arising from the shooting of senior policemen at the
Maseru Charge Office in October 1995, was still proceeding. However by late
August, evidence in this trial had been completed, and the judge, Justice
Ntšabeng Mofolo, announced that he would pass judgment on 28 September. In the
event, however, judgment was further postponed to a later date.
In one of the two Court Martials
in which soldiers of the Lesotho Defence Force are accused of mutiny, Judge
Advocate Timothy McNully found the three soldiers guilty as charged. Private
Hosana Sako was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment, Corporal Tšeliso Seoka to 11
years, and Private Lechesa Mohapi to 5 years imprisonment. (Radio and some
newspaper accounts gave the sentences for the first two convicted as 15 and 13
years respectively instead of 13 and 11 years.)
This Court Martial, which had
been convened later, had in fact completed its task much sooner than the first
Court Martial under Judge Advocate Peter Cullinan in which 37 soldiers were
accused of mutiny. The Court Martial in which the larger number of soldiers had
been accused first convened on 4 January 1999 and was still in progress at the
end of September 2000.
The new Lesotho High Commissioner
to the United Kingdom is Miss Lebohang Ramohlanka, who replaces Mr Ben Masilo.
She holds a Master of Education degree, and most recently has been Counsellor in
the Lesotho Embassy in Denmark.
On Thursday 27 July, Lebohang
Matšeliso Ramohlanka was formally given her Letters of Commission in a ceremony
at the Lesotho Royal Palace. She was received in audience by Queen Elizabeth II
on Thursday 2 November 2000, and at that time presented the Letters of Recall of
her predecessor as well as her own Letters of Commission.
Mabela Seeiso Maama was installed as Principal Chief of the Ward of Ha Maama by
King Letsie III on Saturday 29 July 2000. The installation took place at the
Chief’s village of Boinyatso (also known as St Michael’s), and it was hoped this
would bring stability to the chieftainship which had suffered from lack of
continuity since Chief Mohale Seeiso Maama (‘Tiger’) had died at the age of 82
in 1994. Tiger had been replaced briefly by his wife Chieftainess ’Mamotena, and
on her death by his son Seeiso Mohale Seeiso Maama. However Chief Seeiso had
been shot and killed by an unknown assailant, after which his wife, Mabela
Seeiso Maama, had become Acting Principal Chief. In this capacity she had been a
Senator for some years. The formal installation now confirmed her as Chief of
the Manonyane or ‘Little Vultures’ as her subjects are commonly known.
A guard of honour of horsemen
riding in columns single file on each side of the road accompanied distinguished
guests to the installation ceremony, and amongst the choirs which performed was
one from the appropriately named Manonyane High School. Chieftainess Mabela did
not wear the scapular and headdress of vulture feathers, which had been the
ceremonial dress of her father-in-law when he was chief. She preferred instead
to wear for the ceremony a Basotho blanket of distinctive design.
An office for the German Honorary
Consul, Mr Heinz Fiebeg, was opened at Lenyora House by the German Ambassador to
Lesotho, Mr Harald Gaans, on 2 August 2000. Germany formerly had a resident
ambassador in Lesotho, but the embassy was closed in the early 1990s.
The German Honorary Consul is a
businessman who has lived in Lesotho for some years where he has had mixed
fortunes. According to Leseli ka Sepolesa of 17 August 2000, he lost M4.5
million when three of his businesses were burned in the September 1998 riots.
Subsequently he had had to cut his payroll to 120 employees instead of 280.
August 2000 was also not his lucky month. Two days after the opening of the new
office, he was attacked by armed robbers. However, after the incident, police
detained two men and recovered from them M12000, a galilee rifle and a land
In an accident close to St Agnes
Mission at Teyateyaneng, a Lesotho Freight Bus Service vehicle collided head on
with a passenger car, which finished underneath the bus, which crushed it and
killed a family of four instantly.
The accident took place at about
10 a.m. on Saturday 5 August and those who died were Johannes and Kutloano
Mohapi, their son aged 3, and Naphtali Mohapi, uncle to Johannes Mohapi.
The members of the family were
travelling to Roma, where they had lived until recently, to attend two funerals,
one of them being that of Nkhono ’Mascout, widow of one of the founders of
Thoteng Ha Scout, the village which is situated immediately west of the
university campus. The other funeral was that of Tsietsi Tjatji of the same
village. He had also been killed in a separate road accident. This accident had
occurred a few days earlier on the Maseru By-Pass, and had also claimed the life
of the Chief of Nyakosoba, a village 10 km from Roma on the road to Ramabanta.
Tjatji, who had formerly worked at the Mazenod Printing Works, had been working
in the University Printing Department. Kutloano Mohapi was the daughter of
Ntlapu Makhetha (née Selepe) a university employee for some 35 years, now
working in the archives section of the university’s Thomas Mofolo Library.
A new Central Bank of Lesotho Act
2000 (Act 2 of 2000) was published in a Lesotho Government Gazette Extraordinary
of 7 August 2000. This replaces the old Lesotho Monetary Authority Act 1978,
which had been amended in 1982 so that all references to ‘Lesotho Monetary
Authority’ were replaced by ‘Central Bank of Lesotho’.
One surprising feature of the new
Act is that the symbol for Lesotho’s smaller currency unit, the sente, which in
the previous legislation was clearly stated to be “s” is now stated to be “L”.
The reason for this, other than a whim of the legal draughtsman, is far from
clear. Although the plural of sente in Sesotho is lisente, the singular of the
larger currency unit, maloti (still symbolized by “M”) is loti, so confusion is
possible if “L” is used. Moreover, almost all countries, when they have a larger
and a smaller currency unit, use a lower case letter for the smaller unit, as in
R1 = 100c (South Africa), P1 = 100t (Botswana), E1 = 100c (Swaziland), £1 = 100p
(UK), $1 = 100c (US, Canada, Zimbabwe etc), K1 = 100t (Malawi), K1 = 100n
(Zambia), 1 = 100k (Nigeria) (although in the case of the last few of these
countries, the smaller unit has disappeared as a result of inflation).
The matter seems to have escaped
the notice of Parliament and the press. Moreover the legislation was only
published well after Parliament had passed the Act. The Lesotho Government
Gazette usually reaches its subscribers a month or more after its nominal
publication date, and as a periodical it cannot be said to be a bestseller. Thus
very few people became aware of the change, which became effective (because the
Act then became effective) on the date of publication in the Gazette.
The implications could, however,
be expensive. Most postage stamps in use are of the 70s denomination (the
internal letter rate) and this would have to be changed to 70L. The duty on
cheques is 4s, and is printed thus on Lesotho Bank cheques. However, the most
expensive change (unless Parliament sees fit to the amend the Act) will be to
school textbooks. In the case of the secondary mathematics book, the series is
shared by Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, so there are implications at the
international publishing level.
Publishers may, however, simply
choose to ignore the change, and wait for inflation to render it unnecessary.
Already the 1s and 2s coins have been withdrawn from circulation, leaving just
5s, 10s, 20s and 50s coins. These can equally well be 5L, 10L, 20L and 50L coins
because the word LISENTE is written on them in full.
As it happens, although Lesotho
1s and 2s coins have disappeared, South African 1c and 2c coins do still
circulate in Lesotho. They are still used because the 10% sales tax on purchases
frequently results in amounts to be paid which are not multiples of 5s/5L, and
customers like to get the exact change, even though the 1c coin is of negligible
worth (equivalent to less than 0.1p (UK) or about 0.15c (US))
A large number of column
centimetres and many hours of radio time were consumed in the months of May to
August 2000 by stories about supposed Satanism, interest in which became so much
of an obsession that many people eagerly looked forward to certain Catholic
Radio FM programmes. Three hours a week (7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays
and Fridays) were devoted to phone-in programmes featuring a supposed erstwhile
Satanist called Israele ‘Neng-neng’ Manosa, a man in his early 20s, who shared
the programme with a Catholic priest and various other brought in to comment.
By now, Israele’s life story (or
at least his version of it) was common knowledge to anyone who could listen to
Catholic Radio or Moafrika FM, or who was reading any one of several Sesotho
newspapers. His mother had left their village in Mohale’s Hoek when his father
had taken a second ‘wife’. They went to live with an aunt at Thoteng-ea-Moli Ha
Masana. When his father died, the second wife took all his father’s belongings
and Israele’s response was to burn down the family house and destroy the family
property. He then became a fugitive, but met up with a nurse from Roma who
suggested he join the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a church which
occupies shop-like premises in Maseru and elsewhere, and which offers prayer
services at hourly intervals daily around the clock. Its members are commonly
known as mahlahlahla, a name which implies that they are people who encourage
people to desert their own churches.
What happened next has been
widely accepted as fact by a large number of gullible persons, but given that
Israele Manosa has spent a great deal of time in hospitals including a period in
Mohlomi Hospital, the Lesotho mental hospital, it might more plausibly be
considered a psychotic confabulation.
has explained over the radio and in newspapers that the Universal Church
recruited persons like himself to serve Satan by visiting hospital patients,
pricking them with pins and drawing blood from them. When they subsequently
collapsed and died, they were taken to the mortuary, where they were awakened
and recruited by waiting members of the church so that they would serve Satan.
The corpse of the dead person in the coffin was substituted with a dead puppy so
convincingly disguised that the family buried the dog thinking that it was their
Other rather more plausible
supposed activities of the Universal Church were aired over the Catholic Radio
by disenchanted persons who had sought relief for their problems from the
church. It was said by some that the church claimed to have the power to double
money. For a few it had worked, but one poor lady had contributed M50 and got
nothing back. She was told that the money-doubling could not work for her
because she had mixed prayers of the Universal Church with Catholic prayers.
The church was also engaging in
other ways with the poorest people, particularly the vast numbers of job
seekers. Youths near the Cathedral and bus station in Maseru had bowls of water
in which you could wash your hands, a process which would facilitate finding a
job. Another device was a stone smeared with oil, which you carried to where the
job was sought, discarding it in the garden outside, immediately before meeting
a potential employer. These devices clearly owed something to the practices of
traditional herbalists, and of course they were only available if you
contributed something to the church.
The press and particularly the
newspaper, Moafrika, kept the story alive for many weeks, also allowing Israele
Manosa space to provide commentary on various supposed Satanic symbols, which
might be found on clothing or jewellery. Indeed even the buttons of the Lesotho
Defence Force were supposed at one time to include Satanic symbols. Given also
that the digits of the year 1999 when inverted included 666, the number of the
beast in the Book of Revelation, there was plenty of scope for finding Satanism
everywhere. Wearing a Satanic symbol was enough to turn a person who told the
truth into a liar and a sober person into a drunkard (at least that was the
message of Israele Manosa in the lead story in Moafrika of 11 August under the
headline Manosa o re balimo ke manyeloi a Satane (‘Manosa says that the
ancestors are Satan’s angels’)).
While most might have expected
the story to have died a natural death, there were after several months still
many persons eager to hear more about the acts of Satanists. Israele Manosa had
suddenly found that for the first time in his life he was very much in demand.
The Universal Church was not so happy. Without its own radio station and
newspaper, it was unhappy that it had become in popular parlance Kereke ea
Satane (‘the Church of Satan’) and could not easily restore its image.
A new 242-page book, Poverty and
livelihoods in Lesotho 2000, became available in August. It was published by
Sechaba Consultants in Maseru at a price of M110 and compiled by John Gay and
David Hall, with contributions from 11 other persons. The book follows earlier
poverty studies published in 1991 and 1994, each reporting essentially on the
situation a year earlier, so the statistics refer mainly to the years 1990, 1993
and 1999. 3200 households in 130 randomly selected villages were visited during
the 1999 survey, 500 ‘focus group’ discussions were held, and representatives
from 18 of the research villages presented their concerns at 2 days of ‘poverty
hearings’ at Morija in March 2000.
Unlike the decennial censuses,
which since 1976 have used different enumerator’s areas on each occasion, making
local level comparisons virtually impossible, the poverty reports use a fixed
set of areas, based on the 1985 constituency delimitation, which divided the
country into 60 areas of approximately equal population.
The 2000 report places greater
emphasis than earlier reports on the political and macro-economic environments
that impact directly on the lives of the poor. For example there is a chapter on
‘Political developments: 1993-1999’, which has a very useful and well-informed
account of internal political and military conflicts. There is also a chapter
which describes the Lesotho economy over the same period.
The chapter on the ‘Geographic
Distribution of Poverty’ enables comparisons to be made between 1999 and the
earlier surveys made in 1990 and 1993. There is a wealth of detail here on
matters such as health and education as well as household incomes and
possessions. Amongst the findings are that there has been a serious decline in
employment between 1993 and 1999, and the present situation is that more than
80% of adults are without wage employment in every one of the 15 geographical
areas into which the report groups the various constituencies. The most serious
drop in employment has been amongst migrant labourers, with male mining
employment in South Africa dropping from 21.4% in 1993 to 10.5% in 1999. As far
as ‘destitute’ families are concerned (families with average monthly incomes in
1999 of less than M40 per household member per month), the report shows the
highest proportion to occur in the Eastern Mountains (86%, up from 82% in 1993)
and the lowest in the Maseru Urban area (25%, down from 34% in 1993). Overall
the proportion of households with bank accounts decreased from 36% in 1990 to
34% in 1993, and then dropped significantly to only 20% in 1999, factors being
the collapse of the Lesotho Agricultural Development Bank, the reduction in the
number of Lesotho Bank branches, and the increased minimum balance of M500
required by Lesotho Bank. The overall summary of poverty indicators shows the
wealthiest areas to be those which include the Maseru, Hlotse, Teyteyaneng and
Mafeteng urban areas. The poorest areas are in the central Maloti and the area
south of Semonkong. Of the 32 poverty indicators used in the study, 12 have
showed an improvement, 2 have remained unchanged, and 18 have showed a decline.
A chapter ‘Surviving in the Face
of Poverty’ emphasizes that wealth is more than cash income, and describes
strategies that people use to survive. Another chapter on ‘Visions for a Future
Lesotho’ looks at the conflict between the visions of ordinary people and the
visions of planners. For example, the people’s vision on employment is that the
‘State has [a] moral obligation to create jobs for the people’ whereas the
planners’ vision is that the ‘State should refrain from creating jobs and
privatise existing state owned factories and institutions’.
A final chapter lists 80 separate
recommendations, including (to quote but a few) promoting social justice through
public action; strengthening democracy; promoting empowerment of the poor;
prioritising decentralisation on the basis of new district boundaries;
depoliticising and downsizing the armed forces; active planning for the AIDS
impact (the imminent death of one-quarter of the adult population); and
restoring banking facilities through the post office.
Students at the National
University of Lesotho began the academic year with a strike against the decision
of the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) that the M3000 student
book allowance would only be made available in the coming academic year through
the University Bookshop, and would not be paid directly to students. This was to
ensure that the money, which had been increased from M2000 in the previous
academic year, was used for its intended purpose, which was to buy books needed
for study purposes. There had been allegations that in the past it had been
variously used to buy clothes and stereos or to fund excessive drinking.
More than one week into term on
14 August, the NUL Student Representative Council (SRC) and other university
representatives met with the Minister of Finance, Mr Kelebone Maope, himself a
former NUL student and lecturer. However, he told them that government was
standing firm on the issue.
There was a meeting the following
day with the SRC and the University Senate, which was prepared to sponsor a
proposal to NMDS that the students get one third of the book allowance in cash
while the rest is paid through the bookshop. However this proposal was rejected
by the students and the strike continued unresolved for over a month, the
longest strike in the University’s history.
The student strike rather took
the wind out of the sails of a group of University staff, who had themselves
wished to stage a strike, something which had negligible impact on students who
were in any case not attending classes. The staff complaint concerned the
Vice-Chancellor, Professor R. I. M. Moletsane, whom they wanted to proceed on
terminal leave before the end of his present contract. One lecturer at the
university, Dr Nqosa Mahao, quoted in Mopheme of 29 August 2000, stated that
Professor Moletsane’s presence at the university was interfering with the
process of ‘electing’ a new vice-chancellor, and that he was lobbying cabinet
ministers so that he could be reappointed.
The student strike, which ended
on 6 September, was the longest in the University’s history. The students
returned to class, but threatened to resume the strike if negotiations for
students to have access to cash instead of book allowances did not resolve the
issue within two weeks.
With the resumption of lectures,
staff had the opportunity to strike. This was however of short duration on the
morning of Tuesday 19 September. A procession of toyi-toying staff wound its way
round the campus singing Tsamaea Maboee Moletsane (Go, Maboee Moletsane). It was
a mixed procession of academic and non-academic staff, the latter having joined
the procession because they were bitter that a 12% salary rise, which they
alleged they had been promised, had not been implemented.
Meanwhile, at another tertiary
institution, the National Teacher Training College, recently renamed the Lesotho
College of Education, students were also boycotting lectures. They were
demanding the dismissal of the College’s Acting Director, Sehlooho Mothae. The
College was closed and students were escorted from hostels by police on Friday 1
In a statement reported in
Lentsoe la Basotho of 10 August 2000, the Minister of Telecommunications, Mr
’Nyane Mphafi, condemned the widespread theft of telephone lines, stating that
damaged amounted to M600000, while loss of revenue was amounting to M500000 for
every three months they were out of service. A long list of telephone lines from
which the copper wire had been stolen was included in the statement, depriving
residents of telephone services in many suburbs of Maseru and nearby villages
including Masianokeng, Thaba-Bosiu and Ha ’Mantšebo. Further north, the
telephone line to Kolonyama has been stolen while in the case of the line to
Mapoteng, the poles as well as the lines had been stolen.
The Minister appealed to the
public to help protect telephone equipment, and announced that a reward of M2000
would be paid to anyone providing information which secured the conviction of a
person stealing telephone equipment.
Some telephone wires in Lesotho
became redundant some years back because of microwave installations. Quite a few
staff of the Lesotho Telecommunications Corporation also became redundant
because of downsizing of staff complements. Possibly the two redundancies became
linked in some way. However, whoever the thieves are, once they had profitably
removed wires from lines no longer needed, they went on to other lines so that a
high proportion of Lesotho’s telephone network is now out of action.
The current state of telephones
in Lesotho could hardly have been a good start for the Tele-Com Lesotho Company
(Proprietary) Ltd, which had become responsible for Lesotho’s fixed telephone
installations with effect from 9 June 2000. On that date the Lesotho
Tele-communications Authority Act 2000 had come into operation making provision
for privatisation of the Lesotho Telecommunications Corporation, and also
establishing the Lesotho Telecommunications Authority as the new regulatory
authority for licensing telephone providers, managing radio frequencies, and
reviewing tariffs and charges.
A traditional healer, ’Mathabang
Kotelo, of Ha Belo near the Caledonspoort Border Post in Butha-Buthe District
was reported by Public Eye of 18 August 2000 to have caused a stir in her
village by keeping a python. She explained that dreams had revealed to her that
she would have to live with such a snake before she could be initiated as a
traditional healer. She had qualified as a traditional healer in Pietersburg in
Although villagers were concerned
that the snake might resort to eating children if it became hungry, ’Mathabang
said that she fed the animal which keeps her company regularly with chicken.
Sesotho has a word tlhoare for a
python, and these large snakes are quite often depicted in rock paintings and
also occur in Sesotho folk tales. They apparently became extinct in Lesotho a
little over 100 years ago.
The Second Session of the Fifth
Parliament was opened by King Letsie III in his speech from the throne on Friday
18 August 2000. The King expressed concern about ‘the decline in the country’s
economic growth’ (presumably ‘economic decline’ was not an acceptable way to
express it), and mentioned the challenges posed by poverty, crime, HIV/AIDS,
unemployment and land degradation. Much of the content of the speech repeated
earlier praiseworthy but largely unachieved aims such as ‘containing government
expenditure and enhancing revenue collection’. There was a reference to a
Seventh National Development Plan, as yet unpublished although the Sixth Plan
period had expired in March 1999.
Three pedestrian overbridges were
recently completed and came into use during August-September 2000 as part of the
Maseru By-Pass, financed by the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority to
provide good road access to the Mohale dam site. The three bridges are all in
Maseru or its immediate suburbs, at Ha Hoohlo on the road to the Maseru Bridge
Border Post, at the highest point of the road at Ha Thetsane, and at Ha Tsolo.
The bridges are of course designed to promote road safety, but the bridge at Ha
Hoohlo, as reported in Southern Star of 22 September, was being used by boys
from the Ha Hoohlo primary school ‘to perform unacceptable acrobatic stunts on
the rails ... above zooming vehicles of shocked motorists’.
Although the by-pass has been
officially opened, the two sets of traffic lights on the main south road at the
Masianokeng end have yet to come into use. Constructed two years ago, those at
the Roma junction have already been partly demolished by vehicle collisions.
The former Member of Parliament
for the Matala Constituency, Mrs Matšeliso Moshabesha, died after a short
illness in Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. A staunch member of the Basutoland
Congress Party and later of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, she was on the
party’s central committee at the time of her death. In 1998, she had fought an
unsuccessful battle to deprive the Minister of Education, Lesao Lehohla, of
nomination for the Mafeteng Constituency. As a result she was unable to stand in
the 1998 elections. She was buried at her home at Mafeteng on 2 September 2000.
The mountain settlement of
Semonkong, derives its name (just like the name Mosi-oa-thunya, ‘the smoke that
thunders’, for the Victoria Falls) from the way the spray from a waterfall looks
like smoke. In fact, Semonkong is simply a Sesotho locative form of the English
word ‘smoke’, and the generator of that smoke is Lesotho’s highest waterfall,
’Maletsunyane or Lebihan Falls.
On Friday 25 August, Semonkong
was formally inaugurated as an urban area in a ceremony attended by the Prime
Minister, the Principal Chief of Matsieng (Seeiso Seeiso, brother to the King)
and the Minister of Local Government, Mopshatla Mabitle. In speeches it emerged
that Semonkong now had an Urban Board, which had been elected on 28 May 2000.
Twelve local village areas had been the constituencies, and had each chosen one
urban board member by secret ballot from five members they had nominated to
stand. Other members of the board included one representative of the farming
community and one member of the business community, while the Area Chiefs of
Semonkong and ’Maletsunyane were members ex officio. Formal declaration as an
Urban Board Area was in the Lesotho Government Gazette Extraordinary no. 52 of 6
The development at Semonkong
stands in contrast to local government development elsewhere. The Local
Government Act 1996 is still unimplemented, and Semonkong is in fact only the
second town in Lesotho (after Maseru) to have acquired an elected urban
government. Given that the Maseru City Council has ceased to operate, because
there has been no election since its term of office expired, Semonkong is ahead
of the ten district headquarters towns all of which at the present time are
without democratically elected councils and areadministeredbytown clerks
appointed by the central government.
A European-funded M106 million
contract to tar 114 km of roads was signed on 1 September 2000 at European
Commission House in Maseru. The contractors will be WBHO Construction of South
Africa, and the three roads to be tarred will improve communications throughout
a major part of the Lowlands south of Maseru.
The longest road is 42 km and
begins at the Maseru By-Pass near Likotsi. After crossing the Phuthiatsana
river, it passes through Matukeng and Ha Thaabe below the eastern cliffs of the
Qeme Plateau and crosses the tarred Maseru to Mafeteng road at ’Mantšebo. It
then continues through Ha Mofoka, Korokoro and Mokema to join the Masianokeng to
Roma tarred road at Mahlabatheng. The latter part of this road was originally
constructed as a gravel road by the Thaba-Bosiu Project in the period 1974-5,
when it was known as the Raboshabane Road.
The second road is a 40 km loop
passing through Tša-Kholo in Mafeteng District, beginning at Ha Ramohapi on the
road from Maseru to Mafeteng, and ending at Ha Ralintši on the road from
Mafeteng to Van Rooyen’s Gate.
The third road begins at Masite
Nek Ha ’Majane on the road from Mazenod to Morija. It is 33 km long and passes
through Rothe and Kolo to join the second road at Ha Makintane south-west of
The European Union is also
funding the upgrading of 62 km of earth tracks to gravel road standard using the
Labour Construction Unit, which uses labour-intensive construction techniques.
These roads are Ha Selomo to Tsime in Butha-Buthe District, Teyateyaneng to Ha
Senekale in Berea District, Van Rooyen’s Gate to Tšupane via Hermon in Mafeteng
District, and Mokhotlong to Phahameng in Mokhotlong District.
The Centre for Accounting
Studies, set up in Maseru in 1980 with Irish Government assistance, was handed
over to the Lesotho Government at the beginning of September 2000. The handover
by the Irish Consul General, Tom Wright to the Prime Minister preceded a
ceremony when certificates were awarded to 71 students.
Over the 20 year period, Irish
support to the CAS had totalled M40 million, and the CAS had trained 445
professionals including 67 Chartered Accountants, 97 Registered Accountants and
281 Licensed Accountants. 185 students are currently enrolled at the Centre,
which is situated on Bowker Road, on what was once a rather secluded site.
Bowker Road has now become two cul-de-sacs as a result of the Maseru Inner
Relief Road (still under construction), which cuts across the northern boundary
of the CAS, so that it can now only be reached by an indirect route.
The first of 15 competitors left
Lesotho on Wednesday 6 September to compete in the Olympic Games. Amongst those
considered to have the best chances were Thabiso Moqhali, who in 1998 had won
the gold medal in the Commonwealth Games marathon in Kuala Lumpur; and Likeleli
Alina ‘Tsekeleke’ Thamae, the 22-year old 1998 All-African Games Taekwondo
champion, who comes from Ha Leqele near Maseru and is a private in the Lesotho
Defence Force. She had had the advantage of being sponsored by Taekwondo
Solidarity for training in Korea in preparation of the Sydney Olympics.
Unfortunately the Lesotho
competitors brought home no medals, and indeed in the whole of southern Africa,
the only gold medallist was the Mozambican athlete Maria Mutola in the women’s
800 metres. African athletes excelled in the Marathon, taking all three of the
medals and ten of the top twenty places. The gold medal went to an Ethiopian,
and Lesotho’s Thabiso Moqhali finished in 16th place, 6 minutes and 32 seconds
behind the winner.
Joy Radio marked its first
anniversary on 7 September 2000 with a birthday party. The commercial station
which broadcasts from Maseru on 106.9 MHz FM has content said to be
‘edutainment’, a blend of music, talk shows featuring topics of social interest,
and ‘educational programmes targeting marginalised elements of society such as
women, children and the disabled’. The station broadcasts in Sesotho and
English, but its signal is such that it cannot be picked up much beyond Greater
There are now four private radio
stations and one private religious television station in Maseru in addition to
the government owned radio and television stations. The radio stations are Joy
FM, People’s Choice FM, Radio Moafrika, and Catholic Radio FM.
A report in Public Eye of 8
September 2000, quoted the Principal Secretary for Justice, Mr Ncholu Ncholu, as
saying that the Department of Justice is introducing community service as an
‘option punishment for minor offences’. Community service had already been
legally provided for and a pilot project had been started in Mafeteng. ‘If it
succeeds, overcrowding in prisons will be reduced with its related costs’. Mr
Ncholu was quoted as saying that at present there were only probation officers
in Maseru, Leribe and Mohale’s Hoek Districts, but it was planned to have them
stationed in all districts and also to have at least two Legal Aid Officers in
15 corpses which had lain
unclaimed in mortuaries were buried at the Seputana graveyard in Maseru in a
single grave dug by convicts on Friday 9 September 2000. The burial service was
conducted by Rev. Mavis Mochochoko of the ‘Ministry of Insured Salvation’ of
which she is the only (and self-ordained) minister. Another 12 unclaimed bodies
were due to be buried the following week. The rising cost of funerals and the
increased number of people dying because of the AIDS pandemic is resulting in
many families being unable to afford to bury their relatives.
A road accident on 14 September
near Lancers’ Gap resulted in Rev. B. M. Mokoteli receiving injuries from which
he died on 20 September 2000 in Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. ‘Ben’ Mokoteli was
at the time minister in charge of Thamae Parish in Maseru. He is survived by his
wife, 3 sons, 3 daughters and 9 grandchildren.
Born in the remote Matebeng area
of Qacha’s Nek District on 16 November 1926, Benjamin Mahlomola Mokoteli was
educated at Ipolela Institution, Natal and Fort Hare where he studied Theology
and became an ordained minister with his first parish in Bulwer, Natal. He later
became Secretary-General of the Student Christian Movement in South Africa, and
in 1956 married Aria Morojele. The couple returned to Lesotho in 1962 and over
the next few years Ben Mokoteli worked for the Lesotho Evangelical Church,
taught at Lesotho High School and in 1970 suffered the fate of many Basutoland
Congress Party supporters and spent a year in gaol without being charged with
any offence. Always a keen sportsman, he later worked for many years for the
Lesotho Sports Council, and from 1974-80 was on the staff of the National
University of Lesotho, where he was Lesotho Evangelical Church chaplain and
later worked in the office of the Dean of Student Affairs. After formal
retirement, he continued to serve as a minister of the Lesotho Evangelical
Church, and he was also from 1993 to 1998 a member of the Public Service
A large undeveloped site exists
below the main Sefika Lesotho Evangelical Church in Maseru and Moshoeshoe Road.
Both the LEC and the Catholic Church have used parts of their former large sites
in Maseru to build shopping complexes, but a large part of the LEC site has
remained undeveloped, and indeed it had been thought for many years that it
might have been acquired by the Maseru City Council to provide much needed space
for a minibus taxi and long distance bus terminal.
The University’s weekly
newsletter, Information Flash, of 22 September 2000, gave details of a M23
million shopping complex which was being constructed on the site, funded by the
National University of Lesotho through loans of M15 million from the First
National Bank of South Africa, and M8 million from Metropolitan Employee
benefits (formerly CUSADA), the University’s pension fund company. The site had
been secured from the LEC on a 40-year lease, and a firm of property developers,
Markop from Bloemfontein was managing the project. It was stated that over the
40-year period the University expected to realize a total of M200 million in
Although the number of shops in
Maseru has been reduced since 1998 because of the destruction caused by the 22
September 1998 riots, there has also been a significant downturn in the economy
and a major change in shopping habits as a result of which many new shops have
been opened in Ladybrand. High rates of car hijacking from shopping complex car
parks and general insecurity in Maseru have helped in promoting this trend.
Careful and skilful marketing both to prospective renters of shop premises and
to the public will obviously be important if the new venture is to be a success.
The Zone VI Africa games has
competitors from ten southern African countries and Lesotho had been asked and
accepted in November 1999 to host the games in January 2001. However, in an
interview reported in Public Eye of 22 September 2000, the Principal Secretary
in the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture, Mrs ’Mathabo Matlanyane said
that Lesotho had neither the facilities nor infrastructure to entertain the 3000
athletes who would come. Moreover the government budget of M1.3 million
allocated for the games was far less than the M20 million needed to host the
Sports Ministers from the ten
Southern African Development Community countries due to participate in the games
were due to hold a meeting in Maseru on Wednesday 27 September to discuss the
crisis which had developed as a result of Lesotho’s withdrawal.
Private Hosanna Sako, who was
recently sentenced by Court Martial to 13 years imprisonment as a result of the
1998 army mutiny, on Friday 22 September 2000 married Second Lieutenant Thandi
Mokotjo, who is a nurse at the Makoanyane Military Hospital. As reported by
Mohahlaula of 27 September 2000, the best man was also a convict, Second
Lieutenant Phakiso Molise, currently serving three years for his part in the
1996 police rebellion.
A more conventional wedding the
same weekend took place at the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Maseru. Rethabile
Mosisili, son of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, married Lisebo Kikine. A
reception at the Lesotho Sun hotel on the Saturday was followed by a second
reception on the following day at the Mosisili residence at Thoteng Ha Sekautu,
Roma. A further mokete in the Prime Minister’s home village in Qacha’s Nek was
apparently also planned, particularly since both the Mosisili and Kikine
families originally come from the same area of Qacha’s Nek District near the
village of Waterfall.
Mosisili is an advocate, and his wife, Lisebo, who is 25, has an economics
degree from the University of Cape Town. She currently works with the US Embassy
in Maseru. She is a daughter of Seymour and Teboho Kikine, her father being the
Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs and her mother a well-known lawyer.
Before marriage her mother was Teboho Taoana, daughter of B. K. Taoana, one of
the first Basotho to become a District Commissioner during the colonial period.
The Basotho National Party weekly
newspaper Mohlanka which had disappeared from the streets after the issue of 24
March 2000, reappeared six months later on 23 September. The reason for the
suspension of publication was not given, but it was apparently financial.
The Land Policy Review
Commission, under the chairmanship of Justice Michael Ramodibedi, had been set
up by the Prime Minister on 28 December 1999. The Commission had representatives
from all ten of Lesotho’s districts, and its report was released in a ceremony
held on Friday 29 September 2000 at the Maseru Sun Hotel.
Amongst the 93 recommendations of
the Commission are that present customary land tenure should be abolished and
land so held converted to leasehold tenure. Holding of title to land should be
restricted to Lesotho citizens, and all laws which discriminate against the
qualification and capacity of women to own land should be repealed. Companies
registered in Lesotho should have access to land title irrespective of their
A Convocation for the Conferment
of Degrees and the Award of Certificates and Diplomas was held at the National
University of Lesotho Roma Campus on Saturday 30 September 2000. It
unfortunately clashed with the 2nd Annual Morija Arts & Cultural Festival which
was held at Morija on the same day, although the King, who as Chancellor,
conferred the degrees and presented the awards, was able to leave Roma early
enough to attend the Ceremony of Commitment to Peace and Unity late in the day
Despite earlier rumours that the
graduation day might be disrupted because of the many disputes at Roma, in
practice the four and a half hour event went smoothly, following the normal
sequence in which there were speeches from the Chairman of Council, A. Moletsane
Monyake; from a representative of the graduands, Andrew Realeboha Mathaba; from
the President of the Alumni Association, Philemon K. S. Rasekoai (a Pius XII
College graduate); from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor R. I. M. Moletsane; and
from the Chancellor, His Majesty King Letsie III. There were the usual choirs,
one of which provided technological topicality with a Sesotho song about
cell-phones. A very competent seroki or praise-singer received the greatest
The Chancellor made reference in
his speech to the troubles at Roma: ‘Unfortunately our campus has been plagued
by incidents of instability which have sometimes rendered the university
dysfunctional’. The speech of the Vice-Chancellor had a valedictory tone, which
reviewed the developments of his period of tenure of office. That the
Vice-Chancellor would be leaving was confirmed in the Chancellor’s speech which
thanked Professor Moletsane for his four years of work and wished him well. It
had meanwhile become generally known on campus that the Vice-Chancellor might be
spending time in the near future in England, and indeed a press report in
Lentsoe la Basotho of 28 September, quoted Professor Moletsane as saying that he
had had invitations from both Bath and Sussex Universities.
Professor Moletsane went on
terminal leave immediately after the Graduation ceremony, and Dr Thikhoi
Jonathan, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, became Acting Vice-Chancellor.
[updated to 30 September 2000]