SUMMARY OF EVENTS IN LESOTHO

Volume 3, Number 1 (First Quarter 1996)

Summary of events in Lesotho is a quarterly publication compiled and published by  David Ambrose since 1993 at the National University of

SUMMARY OF EVENTS IN LESOTHO

Volume 7, Number 3 (Third Quarter 2000)

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.


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 Announced 
Closure of the Tourist Board
New Political Parties Registered
Lesotho Beats Angola in Cosafa Cup Semifinal, but Fails Against Zimbabwe in Final
Radio Lesotho Unavailable in Southern Lesotho after Transformer Catches Fire
Bribery Case against Multinationals Continues
Commission of Inquiry into the 1998 Political Disturbances Continues Hearings
UNICEF and WHO Appoint New Lesotho Resident Representatives
Second World War Veterans Suffer from Pension Maladministration
Judgment Finally Delivered in Case against Police
Verdict Given in One Court Martial; Other Court Martial Continues
New Lesotho High Commissioner to Britain
Formal Installation 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 Student Strike
Minister Condemns Widespread Theft of Telephone Lines
Python of Traditional Healer Causes Stir in Village 
Second Session of Fifth Parliament Opened
Lesotho’s First Pedestrian Overbridges Opened
Death of Mrs Matšeliso Moshabesha
Semonkong Becomes a Town
EU Finances New Lesotho Roads
Centre for Accounting Studies Taken Over by Lesotho Government
Lesotho Sends 15-Strong Team to Olympic Games
Joy FM Radio Station Celebrates First Anniversary
Community Service Initiated as Option for Minor Offences
Unclaimed Corpses Buried
Death of Rev. Ben Mokoteli
University Embarks on Business Enterprise
Lesotho Withdraws from Hosting the Africa Zone VI Under-20 Games
Unusual Wedding in Maseru Central Gaol
Prime Minister’s Son Married
Mohlanka Newspaper Reappears
Land Commission Releases Report
25th Graduation Ceremony of National University of Lesotho

Sombre future for Southern Africa Highlighted at AIDS Conference

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 region.

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 AIDS.
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New Principal Secretaries Take Up Positions

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 was substituted.

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.
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Funeral of Father Ignatius Malebo

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 illness.

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.
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Airmail Postal Rates Reduced

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 August.

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.
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Death of Dr T. K. Maphathe

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.

Thulo 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.
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Schedule for General Election Announced

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 2001.

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.
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Closure of the Tourist Board

The dissolution of the Lesotho Tourist Board had been common knowledge in June, although details had been hard to obtain.

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.
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New Political Parties Registered

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.
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Lesotho Beats Angola in Cosafa Cup Semifinal, but Fails Against Zimbabwe in Final

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.
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Radio Lesotho Unavailable in Southern Lesotho after Transformer Catches Fire

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.
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Bribery Case against Multinationals Continues

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.
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Commission of Inquiry into the 1998 Political Disturbances Continues Hearings

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 2001.

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.

Mopheme 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.
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UNICEF and WHO Appoint New Lesotho Resident Representatives

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 Nairobi, Kenya.

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.
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Second World War Veterans Suffer from Pension Maladministration

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 veterans.

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.
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Judgment Finally Delivered in Case against Police

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 year suspended.

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.
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Verdict Given in One Court Martial; Other Court Martial Continues

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.
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New Lesotho High Commissioner to Britain

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.
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Formal Installation of Chieftainess of Ha Maama

Chieftainess 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.
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German Consulate Opened in Maseru

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 rover.
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Bus Accident at Teyateyaneng Wipes Out Whole Family

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.

Tsietsi 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.
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New Central Bank Act changes “s” to “L”

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))
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Media Stories of Satanism Provoke Opposition to Universal Church

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.

Israele 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 dead relative.

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.
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Major New Study on Poverty in Lesotho Published

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.
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University Year Opens with Student Strike

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 September.
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Minister Condemns Widespread Theft of Telephone Lines

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.
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Python of Traditional Healer Causes Stir in Village

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 South Africa.

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.
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Second Session of Fifth Parliament Opened

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.
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Lesotho’s First Pedestrian Overbridges Opened

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.
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Death of Mrs Matšeliso Moshabesha

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.
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Semonkong Becomes a Town

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 July 2000.

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.
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EU Finances New Lesotho Roads

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 Kolo mountain.

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.
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Centre for Accounting Studies Taken Over by Lesotho Government

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.
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Lesotho Sends 15-Strong Team to Olympic Games

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.
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Joy FM Radio Station Celebrates First Anniversary

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 Maseru.

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.
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Community Service Initiated as Option for Minor Offences

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 each district.
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Unclaimed Corpses Buried

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.
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Death of Rev. Ben Mokoteli

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 Commission.
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University Embarks on Business Enterprise

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 revenue.

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.
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Lesotho Withdraws from Hosting the Africa Zone VI Under-20 Games

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 event.

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.
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Unusual Wedding in Maseru Central Gaol

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.
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Prime Minister’s Son Married

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.

Rethabile 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.
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Mohlanka Newspaper Reappears

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.
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Land Commission Releases Report

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 shareholders.
 
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25th Graduation Ceremony of National University of Lesotho

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 at Morija.

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 audience response.

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]
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