SUMMARY OF EVENTS IN LESOTHO
Volume 8, Number 2, (second quarter 2001)

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

BNP Conference Confirms Lekhanya as Leader
$32 Million PRGF Loan Approved
Leaderhip Project Under Way
Basotho amongst Hillbrow Sex Workers Studied by Wits University
Memorial to Chief Matete Unveiled at Morija
Police Clamp Car Wheels
NUL Vice-Chancellor Installed
Article Published on Corruption in Lesotho
LNDC Workers Lose Case
Sentences Finally Announced in Police Murder Case
12 Soldiers Charged with Murder of Former Deputy Prime Minister
Katse Dam Overflows
Thabo Mbeki Pays Fine of One Cow
Four Car Ministerial Pile-Up Leads to Questions about Speeding Government Vehicles
New Defence Force and Post Office Periodicals; Nutthouse Publishes Maseru Edition
Families of Soldiers Killed at Katse to be Compensated
Judgment Given in Irish Murder Case
Budget Speech
Civil Service Salaries Decrease in Real Terms
Deaths of Four Members of Parliament and of Kopanang Basotho Party Leader
Maluti Hospital Celebrates 50 Years
MP Hijacked
Butterfly Stamps Issued
Media Violations Less in Lesotho than in any other Southern African Country
Leon Commission Report Due in October 2001
Death of Gwen Malahleha
Sale of House of the Late E. R. Sekhonyana
Youth Dies after Electrocution on Pylon
Sentences Announced for Murder of Ministry of Education Officials
Buses Hit by Gunfire
Justice Maqutu Serves on International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda
Wool Wagon Destroyed by Fire
'Woman gives Birth to a Snake' Story Takes up Much Column Space
Soldiers Deny Blame for Destruction of Moshoeshoe I Airport Security Fence
Indian Army to Train Lesotho Defence Force
Lesotho Stall at 2001 Tourism Indaba Criticized
Suspected Police Car Thief Arrested
Medicine Murders at Qoqolosing in Leribe District
Deputy Speaker Finally Elected
American Ambassador Leaves
Splits in Ruling LCD Revealed by Press Conference and Dispute over Mokhehle's Tomb
Lesotho and South African Environment Ministers sign Agreement at Sehlabathebe
Vision 2020 Report Launched in Maseru
Agreement Signed to Mine Diamonds at Liqhobong
New Senators Appointed
Maseru Private Hospital Reduces Fees
Masupha Sole has Assets Frozen and Faces Bribery and Fraud Charges
IPA Sues Government
21 Lesotho Athletes Compete in Comrades' Marathon
Little Feet Orphanage opening on 25 June 2001
Hijackings and Attack on a Store Result in Four Deaths in Three Separate Incidents
Zambia knocks Lesotho out of COSAFA Cup
British High Commissioner Decorated in Honours List
Lesotho Bank Announces Withdrawal Charges for Savings Accounts

 

BNP Conference Confirms Lekhanya as Leader

At the Basotho National Party Conference held in Maseru on 31 March and 1 April, Major-General Justin Metsing Lekhanya was re-elected BNP leader and Bereng Sekhonyana was re-elected Deputy Leader of the party. A former captain in the Lesotho Mountain Police, Pius Leseteli Malefane was elected Secretary-General, displacing Molapo Majara who has long been at odds with Lekhanya, and who claimed he had been excluded from the conference. Mamello Morrison who had long been acting as a BNP dissident was found to be not even a member of the party, her party card being a forgery.

The National Executive Committee includes another former military officer, Colonel Thaabe Letsie who is Deputy Chairman of the party. It initially contained no women at all, but four women were added ('as an afterthought' according to Public Eye of 6 April 2001) as 'members without portfolio'.
back to top

$32 Million PRGF Loan Approved

The Central Bank of Lesotho in its CBL Economic Review no. 6 (March 2001), which became available in April, gave details of approval of a $32 million International Monetary Fund (IMF) Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Loan for Lesotho.

Since the 1980s after something of a spending spree by the then Minister of Finance, E. R. Sekhonyana, Lesotho has required IMF loans to finance its budgetary shortfalls. A succession of loans at concessional rates was made available in return for Lesotho agreeing to IMF setting targets and requirements. In effect, the IMF attempted to structure Lesotho's financial planning in accordance with its then principal doctrines which included the achievement of an improved balance of payments, low inflation, relatively small budget deficits and low unemployment. The IMF Structural Adjustment Programme (and the later Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility) monitored Lesotho's performance and was intended to be instrumental in achieving the various goals. In the event only one of the IMF's targets, the reduction of the inflation rate, was clearly achieved. However, this lower inflation was achieved largely because of Lesotho's economy being intertwined with that of South Africa, which managed to reduce inflation during the same period.
The balance of payments situation has deteriorated (loss of earnings of retrenched migrant workers is a big factor here) and during the final quarter of 2000 (Central Bank figures) the seasonally adjusted balance had declined to M3177 million, equivalent to 8.3 months of imports.

Unemployment, Lesotho's single most important problem, whose consequences include internal instability, a high crime rate and widespread poverty, was not significantly changed during the period, and indeed became worse as a result of mine retrenchments and privatisation schemes. The ESAP had included a 'Safety Net Fund' intended to minimize any additional poverty created by the other changes, but such funds (like the Lesotho Highlands Revenue Fund and its successor the Lesotho Fund for Community Development) have major difficulties in tackling grassroots poverty, in part because Lesotho's government is over-centralized and the long-awaited establishment of local government structures in rural areas (as provided for in the Local Government Act 1997) has yet to be implemented.

IMF has more recently woken up to the fact that its economic correctness has had undesirable effects and that its policies have had little impact on poverty in the countries accepting its loans. Indeed poverty has often become worse. The new strategy is 'Poverty Reduction and Growth', and its loans are now directed towards this strategy. Countries, such as Lesotho, can apply for loans which are highly concessional, carrying an interest rate of 0.5% (although in a situation where the dollar/loti exchange rate is declining, the effective rate can be much higher). A further concession is that repayments begin only five and a half years after the disbursement of the loan.

To obtain the loan, which has just been approved, Lesotho is required to submit a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) which had to be compiled in conjunction with Lesotho's development partners and representatives of the poor, the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy paper, which became available in January 2001, outlines the procedures for preparation of a full PRSP. It was forwarded to IMF in February together with a Lesotho: Medium-Term Economic Programme, a document which sets targets until the year 2004 for selected economic and financial indicators, for the balance of payments, and for external financing and sources. The document makes reference to a Seventh National Development Plan, but if such a plan exists, it has not been published, even though the Sixth National Development Plan 1996/97-1998/99 has long since finished its timespan. (The Sixth Plan was conceived as a three-year 'rolling' plan, intended to overlap with the next. Somewhere along the line, this intention has clearly been lost.)

The PRSP has daunting challenges ahead of it. The poor, who are the obvious stakeholders for poverty reduction, were apparently not consulted (despite this being an IMF requirement) in the compilation of the interim PRSP, but 'comprehensive consultations with the rural poor' (the urban poor are not mentioned) are promised for the final PRSP to be completed by June 2002. However, it is likely that provision of mosebetsi, work, will probably be what most poor people will want most, and for most of them the prospect still remains bleak. A Central Bank estimate is that to reach near full employment by 2008, growth in the numbers employed must average 14.4% annually. In fact, the figures since 1990 show that it averaged just 0.9% annually, less than the growth in the labour force.

The interim paper was the work of a Technical Working Group with representatives from government, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, the National University of Lesotho and the United Nations Development Programme. It contains proposals to establish a Poverty Council (with no members of rank less than Principal Secretary) and a much more widely representative Poverty Forum. 'The establishment of Local Government structures, as provided for in the Local Government Act (1997), is central to the achievement of good governance at all levels.' The structures as provided for by the Act 'will provide the framework for the consultative process of the PRSP'. Unfortunately, however, by 2001, the Local Government Act 1996 (enacted in 1997), as has been seen, had still not been brought into force, and all indications are that the Government is waiting for national elections before setting the machinery in progress for local elections using the new legislation. It is unrealistic, therefore, to expect that the new local government structures will be in place in time for their consultation in the formulation of the PRSP.
back to top

Leaderhip Project Under Way

A partnership between the Christian Council of Lesotho and the Institute of Extra-Mural Studies of the National University of Lesotho has resulted in a Lesotho Leadership Programme which according to the Christian Council newspaper Likereke Ntlafatsong (no. 4 of 2001) will be formally launched in 2001, even though operations started in September 2000.

The project is sponsored by Leadership Regional Network for Southern Africa (LeaRN) and the W. F. Kellogg Foundation of the USA and has as goal according to Likereke Ntlafatsong 'to assist in creating economic and employment opportunities, greater civic participation and better education and skills that will enable people to get jobs and earn livelihood, particularly for young people and women in rural communities'. Whereas these are laudable and important aims, they are very similar to aims which have been also set out in national development plans over the past 30 years and also more recently in the Vision 2020 Report. More elusive is the developing of mechanisms which ensure that stated goals are achieved.

The expected life of the project is 10 years and annual funding is M2.5 million. The Chief Executive is Dr Anthony Setšabi, who retired in 2000 from the post of Director of the Institute of Extra-Mural Studies.
back to top

Basotho amongst Hillbrow Sex Workers Studied by Wits University

A report, Women at Risk, was released by the University of the Witwatersrand early in April, as reported in the Mail & Guardian of 12 April 2001. The report was based on a study of Hillbrow prostitutes, for whom the politically correct job title is now 'sex workers'. Hillbrow is a northern suburb of Johannesburg, close to the centre, and a centre for 'sex work' which takes place in hotels, bars and high rise flats. Over 500 sex workers were interviewed during a two year study and while 88% came from South Africa, 4% were from Lesotho, 45 from Mozambique and 4% from a variety of other countries.

53% of sex workers were found to be HIV positive, despite 99% saying that they regularly use condoms. Charges for services ranged from R20 to R500 for vaginal penetration, with an average of R52; anal sex cost R20 to R800 with an average of R130; while oral sex cost R30 to R400 with an average of R78. Weekday takings averaged R300 while weekend takings averaged R600. Clients were found to be 62% black, 30% white and 8% other races. The average age of clients was found to be 35 and 62% were married (quite how these statistics were calculated is unclear, since the interviews were with the sex workers not their clients).

To undertake sex work, there is no c.v. requirement, no educational requirement, hours are flexible, there is no risk of retrenchment, you are your own boss and you can even drink on the job. Despite this, 99.5% of sex workers were tired of their work and wanted to leave it. However, similarly paying activities were just not available.

The study found that almost all sex workers work for themselves and that pimps are almost unknown in Hillbrow. However, police harassment is common and 16% of sex workers reported being forced to have sex with police to avoid arrest.
back to top

Memorial to Chief Matete Unveiled at Morija

A memorial to one of the co-founders of Morija, Chief Paulus Matete Seepheephe, was unveiled at Morija on Saturday 14 April 2001. It is a stone monument with a bust of Matete in formal European dress, such as he would have acquired when he was one of five Basotho chiefs who spent a year in Cape Town with the missionary Thomas Arbousset in 1845-6.

Matete, together with his older brother Mahao, was one of two malome, maternal uncles of Letsie and Molapo, whom they accompanied to Makhoarane on 9 July 1833. They were sent to be with the first three French Protestant missionaries in Lesotho, and at Makhoarane, the missionaries with their Basotho companions founded the settlement which soon afterwards became known as Morija.

To mark the unveiling of the memorial, details of the history of the Matete family, who are Bafokeng by clan, were printed in Leselinyana of 13 April and 15 May 2001. The published account also explains the origin of the name Ranthomeng. In 1833, King Moshoeshoe, hearing from a Griqua hunter, Adam Krotz, of the advantage of having missionaries, had sent 200 cattle in order to procure missionaries for his Kingdom. The cattle were however stolen by Kora en route, and Moshoeshoe at first believed he had been unsuccessful in his procurement exercise. He asked his councillors who could fetch missionaries for him and Matete said, 'Nthomeng ke ba late' (send me, I will bring them). Luckily, Matete did not have far to go, because the missionaries were already en route and he found them at Khalong-la-bo-Tau, the modern Modderpoort. Matete's principal wife 'Mantlibi, gave birth at the time (on 26 June 1833) to a daughter, and Matete's words to Moshoeshoe were preserved by calling the daughter Nthomeng. As a result Matete came also to bear the teknonym, Ranthomeng ('father of Nthomeng'), a name subsequently preserved in the family. Today a direct descendant of Paulus Matete, Ranthomeng Matete, is the Chief of Morija and is also the Secretary of the Interim Political Authority.

Chief Seepheephe Matete had three wives, and best known were the children of the first wife 'Mamahao, who included Mahao, Matete and Mabela, later to be known as 'Mamohato, the senior wife of King Moshoeshoe. Matete himself had five wives and a large number of descendants who became chiefs of villages in their own right, including Ntlibi (aka Ramabilikoe, of Mathebe), Abele (of Setleketseng), Tšoene (of Phatlalla and Fika-la-Tšoene, Mohale's Hoek), and Setha (who eventually founded a village at a remote spot on the Senqunyane, which still falls administratively under Morija).

Chief Matete died on 13 October 1870. The monument to him is very sparing in detail and even dates. It simply says: Re u hopola ka hlompho, Morena Matete (We remember you with respect, Chief Matete).
back to top

Police Clamp Car Wheels

A procedure used by police forces elsewhere was first seen in Lesotho in early April when police began to use wheel clamps on cars which had been illegally parked in Maseru. The government newspaper, Lentsoe la Basotho of 5 April 2001 carried pictures of clamped cars, these being a novelty to many of its local readers.
back to top

NUL Vice-Chancellor Installed

The Sixth Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho, Dr Tefetso Henry Mothibe, was installed in a ceremony at the Roma Campus on Friday 6 April 2001. Dr Mothibe, born on 14 March 1950, is a Senior Lecturer in History and most recently had been working in the Institute of Southern African Studies on a biography of King Moshoeshoe II.

In his speech accepting his new responsibilities, Dr Mothibe referred to the recent Ernst & Young Management Audit of the University and the resulting 'transformation exercise' now under way. He also mentioned the forensic audit currently being undertaken at the university. He referred to recent past turmoil in the university and pledged himself to create a stable and peaceful NUL. He recognised the need to establish healthy 'industrial relations' and would create a two-way forum to enable communication betwen unions and management. He referred to the high vacancy rate due to local staff leaving Lesotho or joining the civil service. Although he did not refer to it, those invited guests who might have walked around the campus would have noticed a phenomenon unique in the university's history. More than 20 staff houses now stand empty, a consequence of the combination of unfilled vacancies and local staff leaving the campus to live in their own houses. Local staff have benefited from generous housing loans, and the introduction of 'economic' rents for campus housing in January 1999 has been a further incentive for staff to reside in their own houses.

His Majesty, King Letsie III, who is Chancellor of the University, also spoke at the occasion. He mentioned that the new Vice-Chancellor had graduated at NUL with a BA degree and Concurrent Certificate of Education in 1976, had also acquired a BA degree from the University of Oxford in 1981, and had subsequently received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin. He was confident that he would be able to fulfill his new responsibilities 'although not of towering stature' [the Chancellor is taller!]. The Chancellor mentioned two particular concerns. One of these was the truly alarming performance of pupils in the Cambridge Overseas School Certificate, where in fact only 4% of candidates in the past year had obtained a credit in English Language. He urged the university to review the teaching and learning methods for English Language to remedy the situation. The King also referred to the fact that the budget allocated to the university had been increasing in recent years but despite that the student intake had remained largely unchanged.

The Chancellor's list of the new Vice-Chancellor's qualifications was supplemented by a number of others provided in a letter to Mopheme of 10 April 2001 by Vuyani Tyhali, Assistant Secretary-General of the Congress of Lesotho Trade Unions (COLETU). Henry Mothibe was arrested in South Africa in 1976 at the time of the Soweto uprising and sentenced to 2½ years on Robben Island under the Terrorism Act. His cell mates included Mosiuoa Lekota from the Free State, now the South African Minister of Defence; and the late Harry Gwala, who later became a formidable ANC leader in the Natal Midlands. At NUL, Mothibe was in 1987 the president of the National University of Lesotho Academic Staff Association (NULASA) and was again elected president in 1993 when NULASA was transformed into the Lesotho University Teachers and Researchers Union (LUTARU). Tyhali concluded his letter with an allegation that the Minister of Education had 'unleashed its refined fascism' barring LUTARU members from promotion and empowering the Vice-Chancellor to expel any suspected LUTARU members from duty. Nevertheless Tyhali congratulated Mothibe on his new post in which his challenges were 'to revive research and shift NUL from the consultancy tendency, to support the NUL transformation forum, and promote efficiency and dialogue'.
back to top

Article Published on Corruption in Lesotho

An article has appeared in the most recent issue (vol. 11, no. 2) of the Lesotho Law Journal about corruption in Lesotho. The LLJ is dated 1998, but it only appeared in April 2000, reflecting how far the periodical is behind its publication schedule. Despite the 1998 date, the articles have been much more recently written, and indeed the corruption article, in referring to the High Court case in which Masupha Sole was ordered to repay M7.7 million to the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority, states that it occurred 'last year'. Judgment was in fact given in 2000 (not 1997, as a reader misled by a date on the cover might expect), and (except for one minor amount) was later confirmed by the Court of Appeal.
The author of the article, T. H. Mothibe, is now Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho, and he comments that corruption is experienced in tender awards, especially in the construction industry; and in public service delivery sectors, for example, hospitals and clinics, granting of business licences, allocation of land, and at police road blocks.

Amongst the identified causes of corruption are low wages combined with lax controls. Old reports [there were no recent ones, since none has been published relating to a financial year later than 1992-3] of the Auditor General are quoted in relation to serious accounting deficiencies. In relation to the magnitude of corruption a series of court cases is quoted where public officials from the Accountant General downwards were convicted of fraud or theft.

The author states that 'In a fragile and young democracy (like that of Lesotho) corruption ... threatens democracy because it breeds cynicism and alienation of the ordinary people. It debases human rights and destroys confidence in democracy and undermines government in the eyes of the people. This leads to a pervasive cynicism about politics and politicians which is disastrous for democracy. If a society reaches the point where people believe that they are losing out if they do not indulge in corrupt practices, then the rule of law gives way to the law of the jungle. It does not improve the economic prospects of ordinary people [but] rather destroys them. For a few who become millionaires, millions become impoverished.'

As far as controls on corruption, a number of relevant bodies and reforms are mentioned, as well as a recent statute, the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act 1999. This makes provision for a Director of Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences as well as two Deputy Directors and other staff. There are 53 sections to the Act and provision for making regulations under the Act. However, it appears that the Directorate provided by the Act had not yet been set up. Moreover, as the writer comments, experience has shown that legislation on its own is not enough.

LNDC Workers Lose Case

The 53 Lesotho National Development Corporation workers who had been retrenched, but later took LNDC to court, had won in the High Court which ordered their reinstatement. However, in April 2001, when LNDC appealed against the decision, judgment was given in its favour by the Lesotho Court of Appeal. It seems that the workers only had one crumb of comfort. No order was made that they should pay back the salaries which they had been paid since their reinstatement.
back to top

Sentences Finally Announced in Police Murder Case

The long delayed sentencing on members of the police who had been found guilty of murder and attempted murder was finally reported (although the date of sentencing was not given) in the government newspaper, Lentsoe la Basotho, of 19 April 2001. Second Lieutenant Phakiso Molise of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service, who is already serving a prison sentence of three years (one suspended) for high treason, sedition and contravention of the Internal Security Act, was sentenced to a total of 38 years imprisonment. His colleague Motlalepula Mafeto also received a sentence of 38 years, while three other policemen, Tšokolo Mosae, Lefata Ramakhula and Sehloho Mokapela received 28 years. The sixth policeman, Moeketsi Lekoekoe had been found not guilty and released.

The sentencing followed a lengthy trial, at the end of which Molise and four other policemen had been found guilty of murdering Lieutenant-Colonel Marabe Penane and Major Karabo Chabeli. They were also found guilty of shooting with intent to kill three other police officers who were wounded in the shoot-out at the Maseru Central Police Station Charge office on 31 October 1995. Following the incident and a Commission of Inquiry, Molise had evaded arrest, led a rebellion against the Commissioner of Police, and taken over the Police Headquarters. The rebellion had been crushed on 16 February 1997, when the Headquarters Building had been stormed by the Lesotho Defence Force, resulting in much damage. Molise had then disappeared into South Africa with one of the other accused Sergeant Thabang Makateng. Although Molise had been captured in South Africa and deported back to Lesotho, Makateng was still on the run.
back to top

12 Soldiers Charged with Murder of Former Deputy Prime Minister

There had long been rumours about the army contingent which murdered in broad daylight the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Selometsi Baholo, on the morning of 14 April 1994. A newspaper report in Public Eye of 13 April 2001 provided the names of 12 soldiers who had been charged with the murder and were currently on M1000 bail each, with a number of other conditions including daily reporting to the Ratjomose barracks. The 12 soldiers are 11 privates and one corporal, who is already serving seven years in gaol following the recent mutiny trial.
back to top

Katse Dam Overflows

Persons living downstream of the Katse Reservoir were warned early in April that the Katse Reservoir was expected to overflow shortly. Unlike the five previous summers when rainfall was well above average, rainfall during the 2000 1 summer had been close to normal. However, heavy rain from mid-March continued until early May. Water overtopped the spillway of the dam on 18 April 2001.
back to top

Thabo Mbeki Pays Fine of One Cow

A fine of one cow which had been levied on President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, was paid in person by the President to King Letsie III at the King's country residence at Matsieng on 19 April 2001. The Friesland cow was first handed over to President Mbeki by Winkie Direko, Prime Minister of the Free State, on behalf of the Manyatseng Farmers' Association of Ladybrand, whose members had provided it. However, the cow did not appreciate her importance and made a break for freedom when press photographers alarmed her with their flash pictures. Fortunately the Chairman of the Farmers' Association showed he has a way with distressed cows. He stroked her and whistled softly and calm was restored.
Thabo Mbeki had been fined the cow for failing to attend the wedding of King Letsie III. Although he had sent his wife to represent him, it was considered that he should have attended himself, and for that reason, it had been made known that he must make restitution by paying a traditional fine. The fine was of course already more than a year late, causing some to say that an additional calf must be paid as interest. However, King Letsie III was happy that what was due to him had been paid, and indeed interest was imminent because the cow was pregnant. King Letsie did say, however, that he had to be harsh on the South African president because Mbeki has 'strong Basotho blood running in his veins'. (Thabo Mbeki's mother, Epainette Mbeki née Moerane, is a Mosotho, and Thabo is of course a common Sesotho first name).

In a busy one day schedule, President Mbeki managed to fit in meetings with the Interim Political Authority and with the Independent Electoral Commission. A joint communiqué was issued and a joint press conference was held with Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Amongst issues discussed were border control mechanisms and study permits, and it was agreed that in future the many Basotho studying in South Africa would get permits for the whole period, and would not need to renew them annually.

Three important agreements were signed during the visit, one of them establishing a Joint Bilateral Commission of Cooperation. A new Extradition Treaty was also signed and also a Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance. The latter treaty was designed so that South African authorities would assist Lesotho in criminal investigations aimed at suspected criminals who had absconded to South Africa and might subsequently be deported.

Unfortunately the texts of Lesotho's treaties are not published in any easily accessible form such as the Lesotho Government Gazette or the Laws of Lesotho. Since South Africa does not have the death penalty, while it still exists in Lesotho, although seldom applied, it seems likely that the extradition treaty would not allow a person captured in South Africa to be extradited for an offence such as murder, for which capital punishment could theoretically be applied. Thus persons wanted on murder charges in Lesotho could flee to South Africa without fear of their being sent back to the country where the crime had been committed.
back to top

Four Car Ministerial Pile-Up Leads to Questions about Speeding Government Vehicles

As President Mbeki left for the airport on 19 April, he was accompanied by a convoy of cars each carrying a different cabinet minister. As usual under such circumstances, these cars travel at high speed with flashing lights and sirens. It seems that at Lithabaneng some 5 km outside Maseru, another government vehicle, which had temporarily stalled, was flashing its hazard warning lights, and failed to pull off the roadway in time. The first car in the convoy, bearing the Minister of Communications, 'Nyane Mphafi, was forced to brake. It was immediately hit from behind by a car bearing the Minister of Agriculture, Vova Bulane, which in turn was hit by another car bearing the Minister of Health, Tefo Mabote. The four car pile-up was completed by Tefo Mabote's car being hit by a car bearing the Government Secretary, Kenneth Mohlabi Tsekoa. Although no one was hurt, and all completed the journey to the airport in other cars, only one of the four vehicles could leave the scene of the accident unaided, and the privatised Imperial Fleet Services had to work overtime to remove the cars for repairs.

This incident prompted an anonymous letter to Public Eye of 4 May 2001. This letter was severely critical of the way that the chauffeurs of cabinet ministers and accompanying police escorts break speed limits, pass through red lights, and through the accompanying motor-cycle escort require other road users to pull off the roadway, thus flouting the law and indeed the Constitution which guarantees equality before the law. It calls for public figures to be driven with dignity, and for their drivers to observe the law. The letter is also extremely critical of a relatively new phenomenon, less than two years old, by which funeral companies equip hearses with sirens and flashing lights and similarly believe they have the right to drive through red lights. It calls for flashing lights and sirens to be reserved for genuine emergency services such as ambulances.
back to top

New Defence Force and Post Office Periodicals; Nutthouse Publishes Maseru Edition

A new periodical, Mara, appeared in April describing itself at the 'official Lesotho Defence Force newspaper'. It is in fact in magazine rather than newspaper format and the 24 pages of the first issue are in full colour with one or more illustrations on each page. The first issue covers the period January to March 2001, although the editorial states the intention of publishing once every two months. The editor is Captain Tanki Josias Mothae, Public Relations Officer of the LDF.

Amongst articles in the first issue are profiles of the Commander of the LDF, Lt-Gen Augustinus Makhula Mosakeng and of the Deputy Commander, Maj-Gen Anthony Rachobokoane Thibeli. There is also an article about troop deployment along Lesotho's southern border, where members of the LDF have been active since 1996 to combat cross-border crime and stock theft. Another article describes the establishment of a Training Wing in the army, something which had previously not existed. It originated with 'Operation Maluti' established with the help of the SADC forces in May 1999. Further training was expected soon with the arrival of instructors from India, and the likelihood that some LDF personnel would be trained in India. The 12 army reporters who have contributed towards the first issue, also wrote about their own training in a Basic Journalism course which ended at Ratjomose Barracks on 2 March 2001.
A more modest publication is Lesotho Post News published by the postal department and edited by M. T. Mlanga. The 6 pages of its first edition in April 2001 include pictures of postal staff, details of a stamp design contest and news of workshops attended by postal staff.

Another publication which first appeared in Maseru in May 2001 is Nutthouse, an A4 format free newspaper which originated in Ladybrand in 1997 as Madhouse Weekly. It later became a fortnightly serving the eastern Free State as far as Clarens. The Maseru edition consists of eight extra pages of mainly Lesotho advertisements wrapped around the Free State paper. The newspaper contains very little local news, but its 'Regular Events' section does provide a cross-section of special interest groups in Maseru ranging from the Maseru Hash Harriers (social jogging), to the Rotary Club of Maseru, the Rainbow Toastmasters' Club and the Maseru Bridge Club. Details are also given of church services, including a service in Chinese held at the Maseru United Church at 2.30 p.m. each Sunday. It is not known why Nutthouse has a double t. Its owner is Italian, and coming from the land of tutti frutti, he might have felt that doubling the internal consonant added an extra zany touch to his nutty masthead.
back to top

Families of Soldiers Killed at Katse to be Compensated

A report in Moeletsi oa Basotho of 16 April 2001 quoted reliable sources as saying that government was at last going to compensate the families of the 16 soldiers killed at Katse on 22 September 1998, and that each family would receive M200000. The soldiers were killed, most of them incinerated in their bunks, when they refused to surrender to the SADC intervention force, and their barracks was fire-bombed by South African Defence Force helicopters.
back to top

Judgment Given in Irish Murder Case

Judgment was given in April, by Mr Justice Maqutu in the case of the four remaining accused who were being tried for the murder of an Irish aid worker, 75-year old Irish national, Ken Hickey, who had been stabbed to death and his vehicle stolen when he returned to his home close to Hoohlo Primary School in Maseru West on the evening of 21 January 1999.

Sechaba Ramaema, a son of the former head of the Military Council, Major-General Phisoana Ramaema (at whose residence the stolen vehicle had been found), was sentenced to 20 years for armed robbery. Two of the other three accused were sentenced for murder and armed robbery and were given effective sentences of 12 years. The third accused was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for murder.
back to top

Budget Speech

The Honourable Kelebone Maope, who is both Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Development Planning, presented the Budget Speech for the Year 2001/2002 to Parliament on 27 April 2001. By this time, the new financial year was already nearly a month old.

In reviewing the performance during the previous financial year, the Minister of Finance stated that the gross domestic product had (mainly as a result of a growth of 9% in manufacturing industry) risen by 2.5% in 2000, but further decline in migrant labour income had offset this, and it was projected that the Gross National Product would not recover to its 1998 level until 2003.

Amongst challenges facing the economy, poverty remained Lesotho's number one enemy, with 50% of households estimated at living below the poverty line, and 40% of the labour force in search of gainful employment. A Poverty Reduction Strategy was being implemented which included direct measures such as the progressive introduction of free primary education; and indirect measures which include expanding the capacity of the private sector to create more jobs. In this respect it was important to ensure that advantage was taken of the United States Africa Growth and Opportunities Act before investors turned to other countries in the region. Lesotho was now (after South Africa and Mauritius) the third largest sub-Saharan exporter of textiles to the USA.

Reference was made to South Africa's signing the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union, granting South Africa's exports the same duty free access to the EU as Lesotho's exports. The EU agreement requires South Africa in return to reduce tariffs on EU goods entering the Common Customs Area, and this was expected to affect Lesotho adversely through reduction in the amount paid to Lesotho through the Customs Union Agreement. However, the ratification by Lesotho of the SADC Trade Protocol would open up a SADC market of 170 million potential consumers for Lesotho goods.

A semi-autonomous Lesotho Revenue Authority was to be established by Act of Parliament to 'introduce corporate culture in revenue collection'. Value Added Tax (VAT) would be introduced on or around 1 April 2002 under the auspices of the Lesotho Revenue Authority.

Overall the Minister presented a budget total appropriation of M3 300 million together with loan repayments of M400 million. This was made up of M2 900 000 from government resources, M300 million in grants, and M300 million in loans. The overall deficit was estimated at 0.6% of Gross National Product. Amongst revenue, tax was estimated to bring in M2 300 million, of which M1 400 million was from Customs Union receipts, M530 million from income tax, M365 million from sales tax, M167 million from water royalties and M384 million from a variety of other sources. Of the M3 300 million total appropriation, M2 500 million was for recurrent expenditure (slightly over M1 000 million of this for salaries) and M800 million for capital expenditure.

By sector, Education was receiving the largest allocation at M691 million, a rise of 15%, this being particularly provided for extending free primary education which now covers the first two years of schooling. Health at M236 million receives a 13.4% increase, and is the second largest share. Defence at M195 million receives the third largest share, it being noted that M25 million of the allocation was for the purchase of helicopters.

Overall it was noted that the GNP had contracted by 11.5% since 1998, and the projected growth for 2001/2 is only 1.7%. On the basis of this, and consistent with the wage bill ceiling being 14.9% of Gross Domestic Product, the increase in salaries of civil servants over the coming year would be only 2%.

Conspicuously absent from the Budget Speech was mention of pensions for the elderly, which had figured prominently in the budget speeches for 1997/8, 1998/9 and 1999/2000, but had disappeared from budget speeches from 2000/1 onwards. In the budget speech of 1998/9 it had for example been stated that a feasibility study had costed at M100 million per annum a scheme to pay all persons over the age of 65 a pension of M100 per month. (This cost is considerably less than water royalties received as a result of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.) Although there is much in the 2000/1 Budget about poverty reduction measures, pensions for the elderly do not seem to be among them. The only social welfare pensions at present are paid to disabled persons and 'war veterans of the two world wars and their widows' who receive M100.00 per month. Those in the 'war veterans and widows' category apparently number about 1000 persons (and a lump sum for their future payments, which do not seem to have kept pace with inflation, had in any case been given to the Lesotho Government many years back by the British Government). The 1998 study had estimated the number of persons over 65 at 85413. It thus seems that less than 1.5% of the elderly receive any form of social welfare pension.
back to top

Civil Service Salaries Decrease in Real Terms

The Budget announcement of a 2% salary rise for civil servants was the first rise for three years, and follows two successive years when civil servants received no rise in salaries at all, other than normal increments. Following the disastrous disruption to the economy in 1998, no salary increases were announced in the 1999 and 2000 budgets, although university staff, who are on separate pay scales, managed to negotiate a 4% rise during 2000.
Annual inflation in Lesotho over the last three years, as measured in October 1998, October 1999 and October 2000, has been respectively 9.1%, 6.8% and 6.4%, which accumulates to a total of 24.0% (1.091 x 1.068 x 1.064 1.024). Most civil servants are on salary scales where the annual increments are between 3% and 3.5% of salary. Even allowing for these increments, and the 2% rise announced in the Budget, civil servants are now receiving 10% less in real terms than they were three years ago. Those civil servants who in 1998 happened to be already on the top notch of any of the 20 different grades in the civil service salary structure, and were not promoted to a higher grade in the following three years, are worst off. Not having received any annual increments, they are more than 20% worse off in real terms, even allowing for the 2% rise.
back to top

Deaths of Four Members of Parliament and of Kopanang Basotho Party Leader

Four members of the 80-seat National assembly died within a few days of each other in late April and early May.

Amongst them was a former minister, Lira Joseph Motete, aged 69, who had declined ministerial responsibility in the present Parliament, because he was suffering from diabetes, from which he eventually died. Lira Motete had joined the BCP since 1959, and had been imprisoned in 1970-2 after the coup which suspended democracy. After working for many years in an administrative position in the South African mines, he had returned to Lesotho in 1985. He was elected MP for the Tsikoane constituency when democracy was restored in 1993. In 1998 he was elected to the Likhetlane constituency, which includes the town of Maputsoe. He had held several different cabinet portfolios, having been successively Deputy Minister of Finance, Minister of Information, Minister of Public Works and Minister of Trade and Industry. At his funeral on 12 May, speeches were given by representatives of both the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy and of the Basutoland Congress Party. Speaking on behalf of the BCP, Tšeliso Makhakhe said that Lira Motete's death had united the parties and his own party's National Executive Committee was working on a reunion with the LCD.

Three other MPs also died from natural causes. They were Motlalentoa Joseph Mohlakola of Pulane constituency, Abednego Seisa Nqojane of Mohale's Hoek constituency and Teboho Mohapeloa of Ketane constituency.

Although normally by-elections would be held to replace them in Parliament, it is understood that with a General Election expected within a year, their seats would remain vacant until that time.
Meanwhile the death was reported of a member of the Interim Political Authority of Limakatso Ntakatsane. She had been representing the Kopanang Basotho Party, the only Lesotho political party headed by a woman. Limakatso Ntakatsane died of cancer in Bloemfontein on 27 April.
back to top

Maluti Hospital Celebrates 50 Years

Maluti Adventist Hospital in Mapoteng celebrated its 50th anniversary on Friday 27 April 2001. The hospital was founded by the Seventh Day Adventist Church and opened on March 1951 with 30 beds and one doctor and six nurses. It now has 170 beds.

The Nurses' Training School graduated its first trainees in 1962, since when a total of 450 nurses have graduated, 197 of them qualifying also as midwives.

A maternity ward was built in 1970, and new students' hostel in 1974.Guest of honour at the celebrations was Queen Karabo, who had herself been born at the hospital.
back to top

MP Hijacked

The Member of Parliament for Hlotse Constituency, Sello Maphalla, was hijacked on the evening of 29 April after he had given a lift to four men near Mahobong. They assaulted him and his travelling companion, seized Maphalla's pistol and left the MP and his companion beside the road. The vehicle was later found overturned near the Phuthiatsana River in Berea District. One of the hijackers died in the accident and the others, who are reported to be from Mahobong, were arrested. The surviving hijackers were due to appear before the Leribe Magistrate's Court charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
back to top

Butterfly Stamps Issued

Lesotho first depicted butterflies on stamps in 1973 with seven stamps depicting butterflies all of which can be found in Lesotho.

Now that most Lesotho stamps are designed in New York without the advice of a local committee, almost any designs and themes appear on Lesotho's stamps whether relevant to Lesotho or not. The latest stamps, issued on 30 April 2001, consist of 31 different butterflies and one bird, which is not even an African bird.

Lesotho has over 80 different recorded species of butterfly, but only two of them make it onto the stamps, these being the African Migrant, Catopsila flavella, and the Broad-bordered Grass Yellow, Eurema brigitta. Both of these butterflies have also appeared previously on Lesotho stamps.

Three other butterflies depicted on the stamps are found in southern Africa, the Wanderer, Bematistes aganice; the Crimson or Scarlet Tip, Colotis danae; and the Mocker Swallowtail, Papilio dardanus. However there are as yet no Lesotho records for any of these.
back to top

Media Violations Less in Lesotho than in any other Southern African Country

World Press Freedom Day (Thursday 3 May) was marked in 2001 by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) by the release of its report, So this is democracy. This chronicles 182 violations against the media in southern African countries, and it will come as no surprise to many that Zimbabwe heads the list with 46 of the listed incidents, followed by Zambia with 31 incidents, Angola 24, Swaziland and Namibia 18 each and Malawi with 16 incidents. Lesotho came bottom of the list with just two incidents.

Although journalists had a tough time under the regime of Leabua Jonathan and the following military regime, it is noteworthy that since the restoration of democracy, the press has suffered relatively little harassment. Its worst moments were in the troubles of 1998, when the burning of Maseru's Central Business District led to several newspaper offices being destroyed. However, there is no evidence that they were targeted because they were newspaper offices. They were simply destroyed as parts of conflagrations which engulfed whole buildings. Most newspapers managed to survive the setback and were back on the streets within a week or two.
back to top

Leon Commission Report Due in October 2001

The Commission of Inquiry into the 1998 political disturbances which was appointed on 3 April 2000 and began work on 25 April 2000, finally completed its hearings on 8 May 2001. The Chairman of the Commission, Judge R. N. Leon, as quoted in Likereke Ntlafatsong (no. 4 of 2001) indicated that he hoped that the Commission would be able to release its report in October 2001.
back to top

Death of Gwen Malahleha

The death occurred on 10 May 2001 of Gwendoline Mpokho Malahleha. She died at her brother's home in Maseru after a long illness, but was still teaching at the National University of Lesotho until a month before her death.

Gwen Malahleha, known affectionately as 'Ausi Gwen' to her friends, was born about 1943 at Mafube, the mission station founded by the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society near Matatiele for Basotho who, like her father, had emigrated from Lesotho into East Griqualand. Her parents Ephraim and Motšelisi Malahleha had ten children of whom Gwen was the seventh child and second daughter. Ephraim Malahleha was a teacher at Mafube, and Gwen's early education was at Mafube and at Polela Institution in Natal. She completed High School at Moeng College in Botswana where her older brother 'GG' Malahleha held a teaching post. Thereafter she proceeded to Lusaka to the Oppenheimer College for Social Work, which became in time a part of the University of Zambia. As Lesotho's then sole local qualified psychiatric social worker, she was based at Mohlomi Hospital, proceeding from there to the University of New South Wales in Australia where in 1974 she was awarded the degree of Master of Social Work.

In 1975, Gwen Malahleha worked as a part-time lecturer in the Department of Sociology/Social Anthropology of the newly created National University of Lesotho. She became a full-time lecturer in 1976 and was head of department from 1978 to 1981. She followed her older sister, who was a social worker in South Africa, to the University of Surrey in England, where she completed her PhD in 1984, her dissertation having the title, An ethnographic study of shebeens in Lesotho. Part of the participant research for this study was undertaken as a barmaid in Thibella, a suburb of Maseru where drinking establishments and friendly women were skilled at inducing newly returned migrant workers to part with their money.

Gwen was later appointed Director of the Institute of Southern African Studies and also Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Roma. In 1990 she became the first Mosotho woman Associate Professor (there are now two others). In 1994, Gwen was a Fulbright Research Fellow at the University of California Los Angeles, and from 1995 to 1997 she was Lesotho's High Commissioner to Canada. She was the last person to hold this post, the High Commission being closed down as an economy measure in 1997.

Gwen Malahleha, already stricken with cancer, returned to Roma in 1997 to teach. She was able, despite spells in hospital, to continue until April 2001, when the disease finally incapacitated her.

Her friends remember Gwen as a person of cultured taste, urbane manners and wide international experience. Although she never married, she had two adopted daughters, Pontšo and Tšepiso, who had travelled widely with her and are now students respectively at Wits University and Machabeng.

A memorial service for Gwen Malahleha was held at the Roma Campus of the National University of Lesotho on 17 May 2001. Her funeral, which was attended by a large number of her friends and relatives, was held at Machabeng College in Maseru on Saturday 19 May, followed by interment at Maseru West Cemetery.
back to top

Sale of House of the Late E. R. Sekhonyana

The house in Maseru West of the late Evaristus Retšelisitsoe Sekhonyana, former leader of the Basotho National Party, and a former Minister of Finance and Foreign Minister in the Military Government and its predecessor BNP government, was advertised for sale by public auction in the Lesotho Government Gazette of 6 April 2001. The sale was in execution of a judgment in favour of Standard Chartered Bank against two wives of E. R. Sekhonyana and Sekhonyana's estate.

The large house, situated in the same road and adjoining the British Council Representative's house, includes six bedrooms, three bathrooms, two lounges, two kitchens, sauna, swimming pool, roof garden, guest accommodation with two bedrooms, accommodation for four servants and a number of offices. In its heyday, the house always flew the BNP flag, and it also housed the offices of the BNP newspaper, Mohlanka.

The auction was on 12 May 2001, and there was an undisclosed reserve price. It was not immediately apparent who might have bought the house, if anyone. In the present economic situation in Lesotho, very few Basotho would have the required capital for such a purchase. Lesotho law does not permit non-citizens to purchase property, except through a company, at least 51% of the shareholders of which are Lesotho citizens.

The late E. R. Sekhonyana is known to have been indebted to commercial banks in Lesotho to the extent of many millions of maloti. At least partly offsetting these debts, he had considerable assets in the form of property. Apart from the house in Maseru West, he owned a modern hotel in Moyeni, and a luxurious modern house at Fort Hartley in Quthing District.
back to top

Youth Dies after Electrocution on Pylon

A report in Moeletsi oa Basotho of 20 May 2001, told the sad story of a 17-year old youth from Mauteng Ha Sanaha, who was faced with the problem of a flat PP10 radio battery. In his naïvety, he climbed a metal pylon of the new 33 kW line from Mazenod to Mafeteng, hoping to recharge the battery. Unfortunately his lack of knowledge of physics cost him his life. He literally burned his fingers, fell from the pole and although he managed to crawl home, he died soon afterwards.
back to top

Sentences Announced for Murder of Ministry of Education Officials

Sentencing took place on 15 May 2001 in the case in which three persons had been charged with the murder of two Ministry of Education officials, 'Mamolulela Mofolo and Sekoli Moeketsi in 1995. The two officials had been abducted and their car stolen, and their bodies had later been found at Ha Lumisi on the northern outskirts of Mafeteng.

Under the Motor Vehicle Theft Act 2000, the penalties for armed theft of motor vehicles are now very severe and mandatory, and when accompanied by murder, they can be very long indeed. Mr Justice Mahapela Lehohla sentenced Refiloe Mokalanyane to 56 years imprisonment, of which he will serve an effective 31 years, while Mokherane Tsatsanyane and Andreas van der Merwe who were on lesser charges of car theft were each given 6 years imprisonment, an effective 3 years for Tsatsanyane and just 18 months for Van der Merwe, who had already been detained for 18 months.

Originally, there had been five persons charged in the case, but Moeketsi Mofihli is still at large, while a second of those charged, with the name Mosoeu, turned crown witness. Mokalanyane apparently escaped the death sentence only because he was aged 19 at the time of the crime, which was held to be a mitigating circumstance.
back to top

Buses Hit by Gunfire

As reported in Southern Star of 15 June, a statement from the Ministry of Public Works and Transport deplored incidents on the evening of Wednesday 16 May 2001, when buses belonging to the Lesotho Freight and Bus Corporation and Mr George Kou were shot at several times. No-one was hurt and no-one was arrested, but the buses were damaged.

The incident occurred at Thetsane, the terminus of one of the most lucrative minibus taxi routes in Lesotho, because at peak periods thousands of factory workers need transport to get home. The taxi owners are known to be resentful that larger buses have been licensed to meet transport demands at peak hours. There is also the problem for the taxi owners that the prescribed fares for buses are less than those for taxis so that on the same route, commuters may prefer to pay less, even if the journey takes rather longer.
back to top

Justice Maqutu Serves on International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda

A judge of the Lesotho High Court, Mr Justice Churchill Maqutu, left Lesotho in May to serve on the International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. The Tribunal was set up by the United Nations to try those alleged to be perpetrators of the 1994 massacres in Rwanda.

The appointment of Justice Maqutu and of a Malagasy judge to serve on the Tribunal were both approved by the United Nations Security Council. It is not clear how long he will be serving in Arusha, nor whether a replacement judge will be appointed during his absence from Lesotho.
back to top

Wool Wagon Destroyed by Fire

One of Lesotho's best known and most useful shops, Wool Wagon, was destroyed by fire on the evening of Wednesday 16 May. The cause of the fire is not known, and the fire fortunately did not spread to other shops in the same complex, which is owned by Phomolo Investments on a site owned by the Lesotho Evangelical Church, and is located not far from the LEC Church in Maseru.
It is estimated that M6 million of stock including dressmaking material, sewing machines, knitting machines and made-up clothes was destroyed in the blaze.
back to top

'Woman gives Birth to a Snake' Story Takes up Much Column Space

Newspapers in late May and early June gave much space to a story that an unmarried 19-year-old girl had given birth to a snake at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital on 18 May. The story was carried by both Sesotho and English newspapers, and the Catholic newspaper, Moeletsi oa Basotho in its issue of 10 June 2001 even made it the lead story. However, Dr N. Rathabaneng, of the 'Maliako Maternity Ward, when confronted with the story, dismissed it as likely to have originated from hallucinations during delivery: the young mother had given birth only to a baby boy. However, this did not stop the story being embroidered further by journalists, and the young mother being now described as having given birth to twins, one of which was a snake.
back to top

Soldiers Deny Blame for Destruction of Moshoeshoe I Airport Security Fence

Security fences in Lesotho are seldom very effective, but one of their undoubted uses is to provide local inhabitants with sources of wire for their own fencing and for other purposes. However, in the case of Lesotho's Moshoeshoe I International Airport it is obviously important that the security fence is maintained and that grazing animals are not allowed to stray near the runway.

According to reports in the various weekly newspapers (for example Mopheme of 22 May 2001 and Moeletsi oa Basotho of 27 May 2001), the Director of Civil Aviation, Mr Ketso Moeketsi had spoken at the airport with reporters on 18 May, and had taken them on a tour to see damage which included broken doors on the equipment store, cutting of electric cables, parts taken from the equipment used for unloading aircraft and from equipment used to service aircraft. Moreover some 6 km of the 14 km perimeter fence had been damaged and even the poles taken on a 5 km stretch. Animals were freely grazing inside the perimeter fence and cow dung had been found on the runway. The cost of replacing the fencing with more effective razor wire would be around M300 000. Mr Moeketsi put the blame on soldiers whose guard house immediately adjoined the equipment store and said that the airport authorities had been forced to install their own private security guards.

The Public Relations Officer of the Lesotho Defence Force, Captain Tanki Mothae, when approached by Moeletsi oa Basotho, denied that soldiers were responsible for the damage and blamed the airport security guards.

Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent 'Mamotlatsi Mapetlane reported that various items of airport equipment had been recovered from surrounding villages and that when it had been gathered together, appropriate steps would be taken.
back to top

Indian Army to Train Lesotho Defence Force

Lentsoe la Basotho of 31 May reported that an agreement had been signed between Lesotho and the Government of India under which 16 members of the Indian Army would come to Lesotho to train the Lesotho Defence Force. Their salaries for one year would be met by the Indian Government, but if Lesotho wished to extend their contracts beyond one year, then it would have to meet the salary for the additional period. India has had earlier experience in providing military training in southern Africa. The Botswana Defence Force in Gaborone at one time benefited from its expertise.

Speaking at a press conference on 12 June, the Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, Lieutenant-General Makhula Mosakeng said that the Indian team would assume duty on 1 July 2001 and would be assisting in further restructuring and retraining of the LDF. This was a second stage in retraining following the SADC training after the 1998 insurrection.
back to top

Lesotho Stall at 2001 Tourism Indaba Criticized

Writing in the Mountain Echo, a Himeville newspaper which circulates along Lesotho's eastern border and also in Mokhotlong, Arthur Champkins gave an account of his visit to the 2001 Tourism Indaba in Durban. His account was very critical of the Lesotho stall, because it was staffed by people who could not provide answers to questions people were always asking him. Did they have information on Sehlabathebe National Park and how could you book accommodation there? Again how could you book at Katse Lodge? No one on the stall had relevant brochures or answers. His own view was that Lesotho had many attractions particularly to the 4 x 4 driver, its attractions being the sense of adventure and remoteness, whereas he felt that the tourism people thought that development was tarring all the roads and 'putting up Holiday Inns at every bend or viewsite'.
back to top

Suspected Police Car Thief Arrested

As reported in the police newspaper Leseli ka Sepolesa of 7 June 2001, a policeman, Lesala Makopoi, who had disappeared at the same time as a vehicle was stolen from police headquarters in Maseru, was arrested when he turned up to collect his monthly paycheck. The vehicle meanwhile had been found dismantled in a garage in Butha-Buthe, with some of its parts already sold. The garage owner, Nthebere Pholosa, was also arrested on a charge of car theft. Those charged face many years in gaol under the very severe penalties now provided for under the Motor Vehicle Theft Act 2000 (Act no. 13 of 2000). Even for a first offence, a person convicted receives a sentence of not less than eight years without the option of a fine.
back to top

Medicine Murders at Qoqolosing in Leribe District

A report in Leseli ka Sepolesa of 7 June 2001, described the finding of two corpses at Qoqolosing on the Leribe Plateau on Sunday 27 May 2001. The corpses were of two men aged about 44 and 54. Parts found to be missing included ears, windpipes, eyes and one corpse had had the brain removed. Although the report did not name the victims, it quoted one of their work mates as saying that he had last seen the two men at Lithabaneng, Maseru when they were present for a ceremonial removal of mourning cloth. Such ceremonies take place on Saturdays, and presumably the report means that they had been seen the day before their bodies were found over 100 km away.
back to top

Deputy Speaker Finally Elected

The new Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly is Peter 'Nau Khali. On this occasion, there was no objection to the Deputy Clerk standing for election, and also, since he was a member of Parliament, there was no objection to Litšitso Tjaoane MP, the other candidate, being allowed to vote, giving him an obvious one vote advantage over Khali. The final vote was 38 to 36, and the Speaker, Ms Ntlhoi Motsamai, will now have some relief from non-stop occupation of the Speaker's Chair.

Khadi (his surname spelled thus) was profiled by Southern Star of 1 June 2001. He is aged 63, and hails from Mokhotlong, but completed his education in Matatiele, Morija and at Basutoland High School in Maseru. He has worked in a number of civil service positions and also served with Lesotho overseas missions in Rome and London.
back to top

American Ambassador Leaves

The Ambassador of the United States to Lesotho, Katherine Peterson, left Lesotho at the end of May, after two years and nine months service. She had arrived in 1998 amidst political turmoil, but was leaving in more peaceful times. A farewell party for Kathy Peterson was given at the Lesotho Sun hotel.
back to top

Splits in Ruling LCD Revealed by Press Conference and Dispute over Mokhehle's Tomb

Much media speculation about splits within the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) was given some substance when a group calling itself LCD-National Executive Committee 2000 (LCD-NEC 2000) held a press conference on 16 May 2001 at the Hotel Victoria in Maseru. A statement was released by Pashu Mochesane MP, assisted by Dr L. V. Ketso MP and Liau Nooe MP citing irregularities in the 26-28 January Annual General Meeting and asking for a repeat conference. The press conference had been called because Radio Lesotho had refused to broadcast the statement. A number of the office bearers elected at the January meeting had been elected by very small margins so that various irregularities could have influenced the outcome.

Just over a week later, there was an unusual announcement on Radio Lesotho that a planned vigil at the late Prime Minister Ntsu Mokhehle's tomb in Teyateyaneng would not be permitted because the tomb was government property.

As reported in The Mirror of 30 May 2001, the vigil had been planned by the Lesiba faction to be held on Sunday 27 May 2001, following an all-night party at Teyateyaneng's Olympic Hotel. However, the vigil was in the end cancelled at the request of the Mokhehle family.
back to top

Lesotho and South African Environment Ministers sign Agreement at Sehlabathebe

Lesotho's Minister for Environment, Gender and Youth Affairs, Mrs 'Mathabiso Lepono, met her South African counterpart, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mr Valli Moosa, in Lesotho's Sehlabathebe National Park, Qacha's Nek District, on Monday 11 June 2001. A signing ceremony was held for a memorandum of understanding which is the first stage in a M120 million Maloti/Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Project. The project is funded by the Global Environmental Facility, a mechanism for international cooperation providing grant (as in this case) or concessional funding to achieve global environment benefits. GEF operates as a collaborative partnership with three implementing agencies, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.

The total area for project activities is extensive, being defined on the Lesotho side as including Sehlabathebe National Park and a 'study area' within 20 km of the international boundary from Qacha's Nek to the point where the south-western extremity of the Golden Gate National Park meets the Mohokare (Caledon) River, and also including the Upper Bokong and Tšehlanyane Nature Reserves and adjacent areas. On the South African side, the area includes the Royal Natal National Park and the very much larger and more recently created uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park which stretches along the Lesotho border from the source of the Senqu to Sehlabathebe. Outside these is included a Special Conservation Area including land in KwaZulu-Natal up to approximately 40 km from the border and also including as 'study areas' areas adjoining Lesotho towards the headwaters of the Mohokare in the Free State and to the south-east of Qacha's Nek in the Eastern Cape.

The signing ceremony was high profile with a number of cabinet ministers from both sides present. Also present was Dr Anton Rupert of the Rembrandt Foundation, who was also the founder of the Peace Park Foundation in South Africa. The Maloti/Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Project envisages the creation of southern Africa's third 'Peace Park', a park which crosses an international boundary. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Conservation Area between Botswana and South Africa was formally agreed in 2000, and the 'Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou Tranfrontier Park between South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe is expected to be opened in 2002. In the case of the project area, it seems likely that the transfrontier park would consist of the Sehlabathebe and uKhahlamba Drakensberg Parks which already share a common boundary, although access between them is only by bridle path.

The Ukhahlamba Drakensberg conservation area was declared by UNESCO in December 2000 to be a World Heritage Site, and the signed agreement might make it possible for this site to be extended into Lesotho. At present Lesotho has no World Heritage Sites.
back to top

Vision 2020 Report Launched in Maseru

Possibly because several senior members of Government were in Sehlabathebe, there was a relatively small turnout on Monday 11 June at the National Convention Centre for the launching of the Vision 2020 report. The report derives from a three-day gathering at the same venue in January, which had been held to draft the Vision 2020 statement. Present at the January meeting had been over 500 participants, representative of government, the civil service, political parties, professional associations, educational institutions, youth groups, non-governmental organizations and others. Its stated objectives were to identify successes and failures of Lesotho's past development strategies and to initiate processes towards developing a National Vision. Five particular resource persons from within and outside Lesotho had made presentations.

As stated in the report, the vision statement adopted by the Dialogue was as follows:

By 2020, Lesotho shall be a stable democratic, united, prosperous nation at peace with itself and its neighbours. It shall have a healthy and well developed human resource base. Its economy will be strong, its environment well managed and its technology well established.

Amongst recommendations in the report are that whereas other reports normally gather dust on the shelves of government offices, this report should be widely disseminated in English and Sesotho. One of the major recommendations, was that a committee should be established after the conference to facilitate development of the National Vision. The Government Secretary, Mr Kenneth Mohlabi Tsekoa announced at the launching that cabinet had indeed approved a steering committee with wide representation to implement the Vision 2020 report.

The report on the National Dialogue is the work of a 'Vision 2020 Facilitation Partnership Committee' which consisted of the Government Secretary as Chairman, the Government Task Force (mainly Principal Secretaries), and a 'NIL Consortium Forum Facilitating Team', whose membership was drawn from the National University of Lesotho, the Institute of Development Management and the Lesotho Institute of Public Administration and Management.

The report is printed at Morija Printing Works and consists of two separate volumes, the second of which contains eleven annexes which range from the papers of resource persons to a summary of group work discussions and the names of the participants.
back to top

Agreement Signed to Mine Diamonds at Liqhobong

A mining agreement was signed on Tuesday 12 June between the Lesotho Government and Liqhobong Mining Development Company (LMDC). This permits the Company to mine diamonds at Liqhobong, a remote point in the Malibamatšo valley in Butha-Buthe District. The Liqhobong Project will initially investigate a satellite pipe of the main kimberlite pipe at a cost of US$7 million, providing employment for some 90 people, including expatriates. Earlier investigations in the area had cost some US$60 million.
Liqhobong pipe has been known for some three decades, but for most of that time it has been worked only by individual diggers, unable to dig more than a few metres below the surface.
back to top

New Senators Appointed

Kenneth Mohlabi Tsekoa, who until the day before had been Government Secretary, was on 14 June 2001 sworn in as a Member of the Senate. Also appointed to the Senate was Dr Pontšo Sekatle, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at the National University of Lesotho. Newspapers speculated that their appointment to the Senate might be in preparation for their appointment to the Cabinet, much in the way that the present Deputy Prime Minister, Kelebone Maope, had entered Parliament originally through the Senate.

In place of Kenneth Tsekoa, Semano Sekatle (husband of Pontšo Sekatle), the Principal Secretary to the Ministry of the Public Service, was appointed Acting Government Secretary.

The appointments to Senate had been made possible by the vacancies created by the deaths of two of the 11 appointed Senators, the veteran politician, B. M. Khaketla, and Chieftainess 'Maqajela Lebona of Thaba-Tšoeu, one of the two independent chiefs from Mohale's Hoek, who although not entitled like principal chiefs to ex officio membership, had since the restoration of democracy in 1993 in practice both been appointed to the Senate. Only one of these independent chiefs is now a senator. 'Maqajela Lebona had died in August 1999 and Khaketla in January 2000.

Senators are appointed by the King on the advice of the Council of State, a body whose membership consists of the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the National Assembly, two Judges, the Attorney-General, the Commander of the Defence Force, the Commissioner of Police, a Principal Chief, two MPs, three nominees of the Prime Minister and a nominee of the Law Society.
back to top

Maseru Private Hospital Reduces Fees

Southern Star of 15 June 2001 carried a report on the Maseru Private Hospital, which despite rumours that it was about to close, wished to make the point that it was indeed very much still open. The Administrator, Mrs E. M. Maieane, admitted that the hospital had been forced to go into liquidation because of debts of M17 million, but it was nevertheless appealing to the public to use its services. To encourage more extensive use, it had reduced the consultation fee from M120 to M50, and had reduced inpatient charges from M500 to M250 per day. The inpatient charges compared favourably with the Ladybrand Hospital where the charges were M800 per day.

Situated at Ha Thetsane 5 km from the centre of Maseru, the hospital began operating in December 1996 with advanced modern equipment, 32 beds, an outpatients department, two delivery rooms, two operating theatres, a pharmacy, and a staff of 40. There are two full-time doctors and one part-time doctor. The Lesotho National Development Corporation holds 60% of the shares in the hospital, while 25% are held by Med Investment Group, a group of doctors and local people. A South African group, Time Controlling Investment, holds the remaining 15% of the shares.
back to top

Masupha Sole has Assets Frozen and Faces Bribery and Fraud Charges

The former Chief Executive of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority, Masupha Sole, lost his appeal in the Lesotho Court of Appeal early in April 2001 against a judgment in which the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority had successfully been awarded M7.7 million as a result of a civil action heard in the High Court the previous year. A single claim for M21 000 was set aside by the Court of Appeal, leaving almost the whole of the M7.7 million to be paid. One consequence, as reported in Public Eye of 15 June 2001, was that the Sheriff of the Lesotho High Court froze Sole's entire assets leaving him destitute. The assets seized included his luxury home at Lower Thetsane and his bank accounts.

Meanwhile, Sole (who now needed legal aid to pay his defence counsel) pleaded 'not guilty' when charged with sixteen charges of bribery and fraud in a High Court case which opened on Monday 11 June. The case is before Mr Justice Brendan Cullinan, a former Chief Justice of Lesotho. The bribes came allegedly from a list which reads like a Who's Who of high profile construction and engineering firms. If in cases which will follow the Sole case, they are also found guilty of bribery, they are likely to be blacklisted by the World Bank and European Union, and unable to be granted any future contracts where World Bank or European Union finance is a part.

Business Week of 17 June 2001, reporting on the first week of the trial, described evidence led by the prosecution that Sole had amassed M10.4 million over 10 years, the equivalent of 2600 years of wages for the average Lesotho citizen. Money had been paid into an account in Union Bank of Switzerland from which Sole transferred some of it to bank accounts in Ladybrand and Maseru. 18 deposits and transfers could be traced to companies that were involved with the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, and these included Sogreah, a French engineering firm (Ff808 270); Spie Batignolles, a French construction firm (Ff941 882); a consortium including Impregilo of Italy, Bouyges of France, Stirling and Kier International of UK, and Concor and Group 5 of South Africa (US$375 000 over the period 1991 to 1993); and a further consortium consisting of Spie Batignolles, Balfour Beatty of the UK, Campenon Bernard of France, ED Zublin of Germany and LTA of South Africa (varying amounts from Ff4.6 million to £140 000). A consortium with similar composition to the last had been involved in irregular tendering which had resulted in the African Development Bank pulling out of the 'Muela Hydropower Contract, with the result that Lesotho lost concessional finance, and the hydroelectricity ultimately cost more to generate than it would have cost to buy power from South Africa. Mention was also made of allegedly corrupt payments made by Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) of Germany, Lahmeyer International of Germany, Acres International of Canada, Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners of UK, and Cegelec, Coyne et Bellier and Dumez of France, who had deposited into Sole's account amounts ranging from $7 978 to Ff6 539 840 over a seven year period. Some payments were one-offs, others were paid in monthly instalments or retainers.

Amongst the fraud charges are an allegation that Sole was paid by the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority to go to a conference in Vienna in June and July 1991 but he visited Paris instead, where the contractor Dumez paid expenses directly into Sole's Swiss account. In Paris, Dumez renegotiated an earlier memorandum of understanding and ultimately LHDA ended paying some M40 million over and above the original tender. Party to the Paris meeting was Martin Schutte, an engineer employed by Van Wyk and Louw, who was later dismissed by them for admitting receiving $20 000 from Dumez.

Evidence was also led of the mechanisms by which the payments were made, described as a money laundering technique using middlemen, who in turn for making the transfers deducted an amount that 'varied from 40 to 60%'. Those implicated as alleged middlemen were a Maseru-based engineer, the late Zalisiawonga (Wonga) Bam; his wife, Margaret; Mikael du Plooy of Bloemfontein; and a Mr Cohen.

The case continues and is expected to take several months. Separate cases against the engineering firms may subsequently take many more months.
back to top

IPA Sues Government

The Interim Political Authority in June took the Government to court following an 80% cut in its salaries and allowances. The cut, apparently authorised by the Minister of Finance, Kelebone Maope, in effect pays for the IPA to meet for the equivalent of one day a week instead of five until its term of office finally runs out two days after the next General Election. Presumably the reasoning is that since the legislation and procedures for the election are now all in place, and the matter is in the hands of the Independent Electoral Commission, there is little further work for the IPA to do. However, the cutting of its salaries and allowances has in fact given the IPA something to talk about. It bases its legal case in part on the fact that under the Interim Political Authority Act it is an offence to prevent or interfere with the functions of the Authority, and cutting the Authority's finances might be regarded as transgressing this section of the Act.
back to top

21 Lesotho Athletes Compete in Comrades' Marathon

The Comrades' Marathon, an 'ultramarathon' of 89.9 km, is run annually in June between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal. On 16 June 2001, altogether 21 Lesotho nationals competed, 14 of them sponsored by Vodacom Lesotho, 3 by the Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association and others by South African companies. Moses Lebakeng, sponsored by Harmony Gold Mines, placed eighth, was the best Lesotho athlete with a time of 5 hours 50 minutes and 40 seconds. 14 Lesotho athletes, including the two female athletes, were awarded medals for their performance in the race. They included Dr Mohlalefi Moteane, a well-known Maseru veterinary surgeon, who was competing for the third time, and finished in 8 hours 54 minutes, thereby beating 9 hours, the time taken by the very first winner of the Comrades' Marathon in 1921. Such athletes received a medal named after this first winner.

The race was won by a South African, Andrew Kelehe, of Mafikeng in a time of 5 hours 25 minutes and 51 seconds. His prizes included R120 000, together with an ounce of gold. He won a further half ounce of gold for being the first South African to finish the race.
back to top

Little Feet Orphanage opening on 25 June 2001

According to a report in Mopheme of 19 June 2001, an orphanage for babies and children under 5 years living with HIV/AIDS is to open in Maseru on 25 June 2001, close to the Lesotho Save the Children site in Maseru West. Known as Little Feet Orphanage it will initially accommodate 12 children. The orphanage will operate under the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Organization which is a branch of the US-based Interdenominational and International Christian Mission Movement.
back to top

Hijackings and Attack on a Store Result in Four Deaths in Three Separate Incidents

As reported in Moeletsi oa Basotho of 1 July 2001, Roan Kruger, an employee of WBHO, which is the company constructing new tarred roads in the Lowlands, was killed on 21 June at the crossroads on the main south road at 'Mantšebo between Mazenod and Morija. The dead man and another construction worker were turning onto the main road, when three attackers opened fire on the vehicle, killing the driver and causing the vehicle to hit a roadside electricity pole and soft drinks stall. The police later caught a suspect from Ha Khitione village, and were seeking two others to help with their enquiries.

The same newspaper also reported a second hijacking on 17 June in which a driver, Moleleki Letšoala of Tšenola, Maseru was killed and his body dumped near the Maqalika Dam. The stolen vehicle was recovered the next day abandoned and with many bloodstains near the Fika-le-Mohala Primary School south of Mazenod. The vehicle in question was what is called a 4+1, meaning a vehicle used as a taxi with a driver and four passengers. On the day it had been hijacked the vehicle had been plying the route along the main north road out of Maseru when shots were heard near the National Abattoir. No suspects had been arrested for this crime at the time of going to press.

A third report in Moeletsi oa Basotho related to a well-known Mazenod trader and bus owner, Vincent Masoabi, whose store at Setibing on the Mountain Road was attacked on the night of 11 June resulting in the death of a security guard, while a woman employee was assaulted with an axe and later died in hospital. It seems that in this case, Masoabi, dissatisfied with the slowness of the police in dealing with the matter, himself undertook investigations and was able himself to capture five out of eight suspects, one of whom confessed to the axe attack, while another confessed that this was not the first time he had committed a murder and that two guns which he possessed had been acquired from SADC troops in 1998 in return for 12 bags of marijuana. The five captured suspects are named in the newspaper and are men aged between 22 and 27. At the time of going to press, the newspaper reported that police comment on the matter was not yet available.
back to top

Zambia knocks Lesotho out of COSAFA Cup

The Lesotho national football team, Likoena, or as they are affectionately called, 'The Crocs' were defeated 2-1 by the Zambia side, Chipolopolo, in the Cosafa Castle Cup quarter final match at Setsoto Stadium, Maseru, on Sunday 24 June. In 2000, Lesotho had managed to beat Zambia in the quarter finals and Angola in the semi-finals, and had finally capitulated to Zimbabwe in the finals. Their best ever performance in 2000 had entitled them to enter the 2001 competition at quarter final stage, but unfortunately there was no repeat of 2000. The 2000 match had been played in a freezing wind which probably favoured the home side more used to such conditions. The 2001 match, by way of contrast, was played in weather unusually mild for the time of year.
back to top

British High Commissioner Decorated in Honours List

The British High Commissioner to Lesotho, Miss Kaye Wight Oliver, was awarded a CMG (Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George) in the Queen's Birthday Honours announced in June. Kaye Oliver has been British High Commissioner to Lesotho since March 1999, and amongst earlier appointments had served as British Ambassador in Kinshasa and Rwanda.
back to top

Lesotho Bank Announces Withdrawal Charges for Savings Accounts

Effective 1 July, Lesotho Bank (1999), as the privatised Lesotho Bank is now called, announced that customers with savings accounts containing less than M1000 would in future have to pay M10 per withdrawal at all branches in Maseru, Roma, Teyateyaneng, Maputsoe, Leribe and Butha-Buthe. Customers were urged to convert their accounts so that they could be operated on an Automatic Teller Machine card, for which the withdrawal charge would be far less at M1.50 per withdrawal. The announcement stated that ATMs were now available at three points in Maseru and in Teyateyaneng, Leribe and Butha-Buthe. Quite why Maputsoe customers were going to be surcharged when there was no ATM available there was not made clear. Many Maputsoe residents already bank in Ficksburg which is within walking distance and gives considerably better interest than the 1% (more than 5% below inflation) which is paid on balances in Lesotho Bank savings accounts.

The increasing use of ATM cards has led to long queues at peak times at ATM machines, comparable to those at bank counters. Although it follows a global trend, it has led to the employment of less staff in Lesotho banks.

back to top

[updated to 30 June 2001]

 

 

 

Copyright ã Transformation Resource Centre 2005.

 

Designed by TRC. For comments and questions click here.