SUMMARY OF EVENTS IN LESOTHO
Volume 9, Number 2, (Second Quarter 2002)

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


Privatisation of Agricultural Enterprises Envisaged
Lesotho Sport and Recreation Act 2002 Gazetted and in Operation
Ombudsman Retires
New Bus Station Opened in Maseru
New Community Councils Gazetted
Japanese Fund New Building at the National Teacher Training College
Chinese Provide Aid to Bochabela Primary School in Mafeteng
FIFA President Visits Lesotho
Speedy Court Trials Act 2002 Gazetted
New IPA Members sworn in
British High Commissioner leaves Lesotho
Masechele Khaketla Honoured by her Alma Mater
Tour de Lesotho held on 23 April 2002
Inflation Rises to 12.9 %
Public Eye Newspaper and National University of Lesotho at Loggerheads
Members of Defence Force Charged with Deputy Prime Minister's Murder and Kidnapping
Father Monyau Charged with Treason
State of Famine Proclaimed
Expatriate Teachers Unable to Obtain Work Permits
Econet Ezi Cel Lesotho Begins Operations
Lesotho and South Africa Sign Joint Cooperation Agreement
Unclaimed Corpses Buried by Convicts
Nineteen Political Parties to Contest the General Election
James Motlatsi now Deputy Chairman of AngloGold
Members of Defence Force Gaoled for Burning Ministers Houses
Prime Minister Inaugurates Three Nature Reserves
Parties Hold Final Election Rallies
Masupha Sole Guilty in Bribery Case
Record Number of Parties Produce Manifestos
IEC Explains New Voting System to Electors
TCL Reduces Telephone Tariffs
Industrial Park to be Constructed in Butha Buthe
Exploitation in Lesotho Textile Factories
Election Day Relatively Uneventful
Individual Constituency Results Range from Clear Victories to Minority Votes
Unexpected Election Outcome as Doves Mistaken for Eagles
Proportional Representation Provides 10 Parties with Parliamentary Seats
Voter Turnout 68.1%
International Observers Find Elections Free and Fair
Compensatory Seats Spring a Few Surprises
Prime Minister Unseated within Seconds of Being Sworn In
WFP and FAO Estimate Cereal Supply for 2001/2 at 74 000 Tons
Southern Star Ceases Publication
Parliamentarians and Members of New Cabinet Sworn In
Post Office Savings Bank to be Re-established

 

Privatisation of Agricultural Enterprises Envisaged

According to an issue of the Lesotho Government Gazette of 8 February 2002, which became available in April, the Privatisation Unit is considering the possibility of restructuring and involving private sector participation in a range of agricultural enterprises which at present fall under the Ministry of Agriculture.

16 different enterprises are listed including the Feedlot adjoining the abattoir; the poultry plant at the Universityís Faculty of Agriculture formerly the Lesotho Agricultural College; the Mejametalana Vegetable Farm originally established with Taiwanese help; the National Pig Breeding Herd at Botíshabelo; the Basotho Pony Stud Farm at Thaba Tseka and the Molimo Nthuse Pony Trekking Project both established with Irish assistance; the Litlama Vegetable Farm at Mafeteng; the Kholo Fish Farm; the Merino Sheep Stud Farms at Mokhotlong and Moyeni both established with South African assistance; the Technical Operations Unit which includes operations in each district; the seven Farmer Training Centres in six different districts (Quthing has two centres at Moyeni and Mphaki while Butha Buthe, Leribe and Mafeteng do not have centres); the tree nurseries, woodlots and sales yards throughout Lesotho; the Veterinary Services in each of the districts; and the 95 Wool and Mohair Marketing Sheds distributed throughout Lesotho.

The enterprises advertised span many of the Ministry of Agricultureís current operations. If privatised, they would lead to an enormous cutback in the Ministryís staff, but at the same time, since most of the operations are not financially viable, they could lead to major cost savings. It is not clear at this point what entrepreneurs might be interested in the enterprises. Many would seem suitable for local ownership, but the privatisation unit in practice has found few persons with sufficient capital to participate in the privatisation process, so that the ownership of already privatised industries is mainly in foreign hands, which of course means that profits mainly benefit non-nationals.
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Lesotho Sport and Recreation Act 2002 Gazetted and in Operation

Act no. 3 of 2002, the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Act 2002 came into force on publication in the Lesotho Government Gazette on 21 February 2002, although it was over a month later that printed copies of this gazette were generally available. It sets out inter alia the responsibilities of the Department of Sport under the Ministry of Tourism, Sports Culture, which include in conjunction with the Ministry of Education making arrangements for the establishment of departments of physical education and sport at universities and other institutions of higher learning.

Most of the Act is concerned with the establishment of a Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC), a body corporate, with a President and General Secretary and 15 members elected by a General Assembly of all registered sports associations in Lesotho, these 15 members being required to represent different constituencies including women in sport, the disabled, registered sports associations, the National Olympic Committee, educational institutions, and traditional games. The Act sets out 19 different functions for the Commission, ranging from providing leadership in the development of sport and recreation in Lesotho to promoting traditional games as part of sport and recreation. The maintaining and approving of sports records is not specifically mentioned anywhere in the Act although is not excluded by it, so that it is not clear whether at some point in the future official Lesotho athletics records, for example, will be established.

At present, it seems no one knows to give a couple of examples what the Lesotho 100 metres or high jump records are, unless they appear as published performances and even these do not seem to have been collated of Lesotho athletes in international competitions. The new LSRC replaces the Lesotho Sports Council LSC which had many of the same powers and functions of the LSRC, and had been established by Order no. 41 of 1970. The LSC in turn had replaced a non statutory Lesotho Sports Association, which had been a registered society with its own Constitution.

The new Act requires the LSRC to adopt its own Constitution as soon as is practicable . G Commissions and similar bodies corporate under the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture s have had a chequered career. The Tourist Board was recently dissolved, although later revived pending Z implementation of the new Tourism Act 2002 Act no. 4 of 2002 and not yet in operation which makes A

… provision for a Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation with its own Board of Directors. Three other bodies are in limbo, because although they exist as statutory bodies, they have no members. This is because the Ministry has neglected to appoint new members when the five year terms of service of previously serving members had elapsed. These bodies are the Archives Commission, the Board of Trustees of the Lesotho National Museum and the Protection Preservation Commission which is responsible for national monuments and protected flora and fauna.

Neither the Lesotho National Archives nor the Lesotho National Museum are currently in an operational state.
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Ombudsman Retires

The first Ombudsman of the Kingdom of Lesotho, whose post was created in the 1993 Constitution,  retired on 28 February 2002. The retiring ombudsman was Henry Mohale Ntsaba , who retired at the age of 77. Born in Mokhotlong District in 1925, H. M. Ntsaba achieved a BA degree from Fort Hare in 1945. He joined the then Basutoland service in 1962 as an assistant secretary in the office of the Resident Commissioner, and became the first Mosotho Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works. He resigned from this post in the 1970s when he felt he could not continue to serve the non-democratic government.

During his period of office, the Ombudsman Act 1996 and the Ombudsman Rules 2000 were gazetted. His office also, unlike many government departments, produced annual reports with details of work accomplished. The Acting Ombudsman who has replaced H. M. Ntsaba is Semenekane Moorosi .
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New Bus Station Opened in Maseru

A new bus station at Thibella adjoining the new Sefika Mall Shopping Centre was officially opened on Wednesday 27 March. It is designed to reduce congestion in the crowded Pitso Ground Area where  buses share their terminus with crowded streets. Taxis were at first reluctant to move so far from the  traditional shopping area but by mid May some of the best known taxi routes, such as the Roma taxis had moved there. Passengers, however, in some cases preferred to use alternative long distance buses serving the same routes rather than to walk to the new bus station which is about 500 metres distant.
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New Community Councils Gazetted

Community Councils had for some time been envisaged as the appropriate structure for rural local government, and had been embodied in the Local Government Act 1997. However, there had been long  delays in bringing the Act into operation, and as a result late in 2001, the Ministry of Local Government , went ahead and organized local elections through transitional arrangements, giving as reason that the Independent Electoral Commission, which was mandated to run local elections, was too busy to do so because it was running the General Election.

The Lesotho Government Gazette Extraordinary (nowadays and unnecessarily there are more Extraordinary issues of LGG than regular issues) of 8 April 2002 listed the persons appointed to Community Councils with effect from 1 April 2002. Each Council is required by the Local Government Act 1997 to have between 9 and 15 elected members, and not more than two chiefs who are also elected. There are also supposed to be not less than 17 and not more than 21 Community Councils per district. The actual numbers gazetted are Maseru (18), Leribe (21), Butha Buthe (17), Mokhotlong (20), Thaba Tseka (20), Qacha's Nek (19), Quthing (20), Mohale's Hoek (17) and Mafeteng (20). Berea District has been left out of the list for reasons unstated. The requirement that the number of community councils be in the narrow range 17 to 21 seems to have been an oversight on the part of the consultant who drafted the Act, and by Parliament itself in passing it. The largest districts in Lesotho have rural populations more  than three times the population of the smallest. They also have areas more than twice as large. Thus it hardly seems appropriate, to take one example, that Qacha's Nek has 19 community councils, whereas neighbouring Thaba Tseka with twice the population and twice the area has at 20 almost the same number.
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Japanese Fund New Building at the National Teacher Training College

The Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, on 11 April 2002, inaugurated at the National Teacher Training College in Maseru a M50 million two storey multi purpose building comprising laboratories and workshop facilities for mathematics, science and home economics. The building was funded by the Government of Japan under its Grant Aid Scheme, and the Japanese Ambassador to Lesotho, Yasukuni Enoki , also spoke at the occasion. He indicated that his country had been supporting a number of initiatives in Lesotho in the field of education including the introduction of free primary education.
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Chinese Provide Aid to Bochabela Primary School in Mafeteng

Five new classrooms were opened at Bochabela Primary School near Mafeteng on 22 March 2002. According to a report in Southern Star of 12 April 2002, the classrooms were constructed by the China State Construction Company at a cost of M350 000, and the school was now renamed as the Lesotho China Friendship Primary School . According to the newspaper report, the ceremony was slightly marred by a disagreement between the church which owned the school and government representatives, the school being used as a place of worship on Sundays. The church believed it was in charge of proceedings, and should be regarded as hosts, while the government representatives were its guests. As a result of the disagreement the programme was changed at the last moment and the proceedings began late.

Speaking on the occasion of the opening were the local chief; the Minister of Environment, Gender and Youth Affairs, Mrs Mathabiso Lepono , in whose constituency, Likhoele, the school is situated; and the Minister of Education, Mr Lesao Lehohla, from the nearby constituency of Mafeteng.
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FIFA President Visits Lesotho

The President of the world football body, FIFA, Sepp Blatter, visited Lesotho briefly on Sunday 7 April 2002 to open the new FIFA sponsored sports arena at the former Polo Ground in Maseru. The new sports arena has cost M8.8 million of FIFA and Lesotho money, and was formally named by Sepp Blatter the Bambatha T'sita Sports Arena, after the first President of the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) . Bambatha T'sita died in 1996, and his funeral is well remembered by those who attended, because both his widows provided food, lijo tsa lefu, at their houses in Maseru, and those expressing condolences to his family were able to go from one meal to the other.

Sepp Blatter visited Lesotho at a time when his name was attracting considerable attention in international media because of alleged financial irregularities in FIFA. These had come to the fore as competition was hotting up for the presidential election on the eve of the World Cup Competition in Seoul on 29 May. Blatter was standing for re-election for a further four year term against Camerounian candidate Issa Hayatou. In the event Blatter won the election by the large majority of 139 votes to 56.
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Speedy Court Trials Act 2002 Gazetted

The Speedy Court Trials Act 2002 was gazetted and came into force on 11 April 2002. The Act is a response to the problem that the legal system in Lesotho has become so bureaucratic and inefficient that prisoners can be awaiting trial for years, during which time they may be held in custody, or in some cases may be out on bail, even when the crimes are serious ones such as murder. Many local communities have been destabilized by having a murder committed and then the murderer released on bail, with consequent insecurity for persons who may be called as witnesses.

The remedy might have been thought to have been the imposition of more efficiency and possibly provision of more staff within the courts system, something which is essentially a management problem for the Ministries of Justice and of Law. However, after such reforms had not been achieved over a long time, Parliament passed legislation to try to achieve the same result. Under the new law, a person must be charged within 48 hours of arrest or service of a summons, although this is weakened by a proviso that the charge can be filed in the case of a complex case within 90 days of the person first appearing before a judicial officer, a period which can on good cause be extended to 120 days. A person cannot be remanded in custody for more than 60 days unless there are compelling reasons. In criminal trials, the trial must begin within 30 days if a plea of guilty is entered, and 60 days if a plea of non guilty is entered.

However, the Act provides for a large number of periods of delay, which do not themselves have time limits, which are to be excluded from the computation of the times for filing charges or for trials to begin. The Act provides for penalties where the legal practitioners concerned cause delay without good reasons. The penalties are fines not exceeding M5000 or the denying counsel or a prosecutor the right to practice or appear before a court for up to 90 days, something which presumably might delay other trials. The Ministers of Justice, Human Rights and Rehabilitation; of Law and Constitutional Affairs; and of Home Affairs are required not later than 31 December of each year to prepare and submit to Parliament reports on the impact of the implementation of the Act upon the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the Police Service respectively. No penalty is mentioned if they fail to do this. It is a number of years since any of the three Ministries mentioned in the Act published even an ordinary annual report on its activities for the preceding year.
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New IPA Members sworn in

The Interim Political Authority IPA, was in April suffering considerable loss of its membership, as members who wished to contest the forthcoming election had to forfeit their seats. Representatives of minor parties were torn between continuing to receive lucrative remuneration as IPA members, and standing for Parliament where they hardly expected to win a seat. On Tuesday 16 April, seven new members were sworn in as IPA members to replace election candidates. There were two new members each for the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, Marematlou Freedom Party and Kopanang Basotho Party, and one for the Lesotho Education Party, which in 1998 had been the party with least support in the elections, garnering just 91 votes.

The IPA also had to find a new secretary. This was Malefetsane Nkhahle who replaced Chief Ranthomeng Matete, who was standing as the BNP candidate for Matsieng in the forthcoming election. The IPA will be automatically dissolved at the end of its legal mandate which continues until one day after the general election results are announced.
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British High Commissioner leaves Lesotho

Her Excellency Kaye Oliver, British High Commissioner to Lesotho, left Lesotho on 16 April 2002, after a three year tour of duty. In a farewell reception at the High Commissioner's Residence, Kent House, on 12 April she announced that she was also retiring from the diplomatic service, which had included eighteen years in Africa, including postings in Burundi, Cameroun, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo). Her successor, Mr Frank Martin, a Scot who has previously served in Angola, Sierra Leone and Denmark, arrived in Lesotho on Thursday 18 April.
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Masechele Khaketla Honoured by her Alma Mater

The Mosotho author and educationist, Masechele Khaketla, was honoured by her alma mater, Fort Hare University, with the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature and Philosophy D.Litt et Phil. on 19 April 2002. The former Caroline Ramolahloane, was born on New Year's Day 1918, and was the first Mosotho woman graduate, having been awarded a BA by Fort Hare in 1939. Dr Khaketla is the author of eleven books, including novels, poetry and drama, and is also well known for having found Iketsetseng Private School in Maseru in 1962, a school which was attended by King Letsie III. Together with her husband, the late Bennett Makalo Khaketla, she has been a stalwart member of the Anglican Church in Lesotho. The National University of Lesotho had earlier recognized her achievements by awarding her the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature in 1983.
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Tour de Lesotho held on 23 April 2002

The Tour de Lesotho, a recently instituted annual cycle race between Maseru and Mohale, was held for the third time on 13 April 2002. Although it is a misnomer, being neither a race around Lesotho nor like the Tour de France, a multistage race, the name seems to have stuck. In reality the race is 86 km along the newly reconstructed tarred road to Mohale Village, site of Lesotho's Mohale Dam, now nearing completion.

Starting at the Maseru suburb of Thetsane at about 1540 metres above sea level, the race route is at first fairly level, but later climbs over three mountain passes, the highest being Blue Mountain Pass at 2633 metres, possibly the highest point in any competitive cycle race in the world. For those lacking the stamina needed to complete the whole race, there is a shorter finishing point along the route at Setibing, shortly after the first pass, Bushmen's Pass, 58 km from the starting point. The 86 km race was won for the third time by Malcolm Lange in 2 hours 40 minutes. The first Lesotho citizen to cross the finishing line was Khotso Ntsema in 3 hours 19 minutes; and the first woman cyclist to cross the finishing line was Annette Loubser in 3 hours 32 minutes.
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Inflation Rises to 12.9 %

As reported in Statistical Report no. 4 of 2002, annual inflation in Lesotho reached 12.9 % in February  2002, a significant further rise from January 2002, when it was recorded at 11.0 %. The main component which had contributed to the rise was a rise of 39.8 % in bread and cereal prices, which in turn seem to have particularly suffered from the rise in the price of maize meal, in which, following the collapse of  agricultural exports from Zimbabwe, the region is no longer self-sufficient and therefore has to buy on the World market.

Meanwhile inflation or the ignoring of it was playing a part in the election campaign. The BNP newspaper Mohlanka, under a front page heading Matona le Maparamente a nyafutsa (Ministers and parliamentarians have enriched themselves several times) printed a table showing the comparative salaries of the Heads of Government, Ministers, and Members of Parliament under previous regimes, including the BNP government and the Military Government. For example, Dr Jonathan in 1965 as Prime Minister was said to receive M520.83 per month; Major General Lekhanya in 1986, M3333.30 per month; Dr Mokhele in 1993, M8893.00 per month; and Mr Mosisili in 1998, M12 649.16 per month. It might seem that successive governments had paid themselves excessively compared with their predecessors. However, allowing for inflation, Lekhanya's 1986 salary was in fact worth only 76 % of Leabua Jonathan's salary; Mokhehle's salary only 80 %; and Mosisili's salary only 75 %. Similar comparisons apply to cabinet ministers and members of parliament. Of course, there are other factors such as taxation, allowances etc, but the BNP's apparent claim that recent governments have greatly enriched themselves compared to that of the old BNP government of Leabua Jonathan is obviously false.

According to Legal Notice no. 73 of 2002, the Prime Minister and other parliamentarians will receive an approximately 10 % increase with effect from 1 April 2002. However, given that the last rise was in 1998, it will be seen that, in common with the rest of the civil service which had received 2% followed by 8% in the same period, their salaries will not have kept pace with recent inflation.
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Public Eye Newspaper and National University of Lesotho at Loggerheads

The newspaper, Public Eye , in its issue of 15 March 2002 had come out with a front page headline "Sex scandal hits NUL". Under the headline, was a story by the journalist Moeti Thelejane alleging that the Pro Vice Chancellor, Dr Nqosa Mahao, had thrown the country's only university into a steaming sex scandal that has culminated into an investigation by a Commission of Inquiry into allegations that he sexually assaulted his secretary .

The article resulted in the Vice Chancellor, Dr T. H. Mothibe, making a statement to a news conference, a statement which was printed in the university's weekly newsletter, Information Flash of 22 March 2002, and which said inter alia that no secretary had reported she had been sexually assaulted and that a two person Commission had been set up to conduct investigations into these malicious allegations at the request of the Pro Vice Chancellor. The Vice Chancellor also referred to two particular developments at the university, the forensic investigation into alleged gross financial malpractices at the Bursary department and the transformation process aimed at redirecting the University's focus to its core business, making programmes relevant to Lesotho's needs and ensuring the University carries out its mandate in a cost effective manner.

The persons responsible for these "malicious allegations ... are disreputable elements who are opposed to these processes". Although the article brought forth a number of other articles in the press, including collective defence by secretaries of their reputations and an extension of the debate to some rather ill tempered exchanges about the transformation process, the matter would probably have died a natural death within a week or two. However early in May, newspapers carried news that the Pro Vice Chancellor, Dr Nqosa Mahao, who is himself a lawyer, had instituted a civil summons to Professor Umesh Kumar, Mr Moeti Thelejane, Mr Bethuel Thai, editor of Public Eye, Epic Printers and Voice Multimedia, the owners of Public Eye, for defamation of character in the issue of 15 March.

As plaintiff, Dr Mahao claimed against the five defendants: payment of M800 000 damages; interest thereon at the rate of 18.5 per cent annum a tempore morae i.e. from the time of the Public Eye publication; costs of suit; and further, and/or alternative relief. The declaration made to the High Court stated inter alia that the thousands of people who read Public Eye would have understood the publication to mean inter alia that the Plaintiff is a corrupt, debased, dishonest and immoral criminal with perverse and degenerated understanding of moral values and that the publication has greatly and irretrievably impaired and damaged Plaintiff's dignitas and fame in the eyes of right thinking members of society both in Lesotho, Republic of South Africa, other countries of Africa and Overseas .

The impending court case made certain that the matter did not immediately die, and indeed the matter even attracted the attention of church newspapers which had ignored the original story. In relation to one of those mentioned in the summons, Professor Umesh Kumar, Public Eye issued a statement that he was in no way responsible for the story published and had merely confirmed to the reporter what was in any case public knowledge, namely that a Commission of Inquiry had been set up. Meanwhile, Public Eye's articles on the University continued. The 10 May issue came out with a severely critical unsigned article "Higher education review: is the NUL collapsing?". The following week, a similar article, this time concentrating on the Faculty of Agriculture, was titled "Baksheesh at the Agric College?"

Also Moeti Thelejane was seemingly not silenced by the impending court action, and continued to attack Dr Mahao in the context of writing about the Patriotic Front for Democracy (PFD) and the closely linked Congress for Lesotho Trade Unions (COLETU). In the 24 May issue he wrote: "At NUL a cold war is currently sweeping through campus allegedly perpetuated by former PFD general secretary Dr Nqosa Mahao. This cabal, operating within the COLETU affiliated Lesotho University Teachers and Researchers Union (LUTARU), ousted former Vice Chancellor Maboee Moletsane, installed Mahao as the Acting Vice Chancellor, and influenced the appointment of Dr Tefetso Mothibe, ahead of more experienced luminaries... Mahao and his close clique of high-powered communists are the brains behind the transformation process, which has been criticized by some quarters of the political fraternity as a bid to perpetuate the PFD agenda. Any opposition is ruthlessly crushed, with scapegoats speedily identified, as LUTARU claims it is cleansing the university of corruption."
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Members of Defence Force Charged with Deputy Prime Minister's Murder and Kidnapping

The then Deputy Prime Minister, the late Selometsi Baholo, was murdered at Ha Matala near Maseru on 14 April 1994. On the same day four other Cabinet Ministers were kidnapped by soldiers, but later released unharmed. Despite there having been eye witnesses and despite a commission of inquiry into instability in the Defence Force having indicated which army unit was responsible, it was only in April 2002 that charges of murder and kidnapping were finally brought against 8 soldiers.

A further 17 soldiers were charged with kidnapping. The soldiers charged with murder were remanded in custody. Those charged with kidnapping were allowed bail of M250 each.
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Father Monyau Charged with Treason

As reported in Public Eye of 26 April 2002, Father Anthony Monyau was on Tuesday 23 April charged at the Maseru Magistrate's Court with High Treason, in that during 1998, he unlawfully and with a hostile intent, committed certain hostile acts to overthrow or coerce the Government of Lesotho. It was alleged that he conspired with members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and other persons unknown, to arrest, detain or kill senior officers of the LDF and members of the executive of the Government of Lesotho with the aim of overthrowing the Government of Lesotho .

Alternative charges were laid of sedition and contravention of Lesotho's internal security laws. Father Monyau was remanded in custody for one night and released on bail of M3 000 the following day. Father Monyau was one of three individuals against whom detailed allegations were listed by the Leon Commission, which reported late in 2001 on the events leading to the political disturbances, of 1998. He is no stranger to the magistrate's court having appeared there on fraud charges in the previous year. This fraud case is apparently still pending.
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State of Famine Proclaimed

The Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili , on Monday 22 April 2002, declared Lesotho to be in a state of famine. Unlike Malawi and Zambia, where drought has contributed to food shortages, and Zimbabwe where low rainfall and political instability have combined to create a disaster, in Lesotho the shortage of food was attributed to heavy rains and hailstorms resulting in low production. As reported in Mopheme of 23 April 2002, the Prime Minister said that there was a deficit of 220000 tons of cereals, over 50% of what was required. The maize deficit was estimated at 135 000 tons and the wheat deficit at 92 000 tons. There was, however, a surplus production of 9 000 tons of sorghum. Overall Lesotho's annual food grain requirements were 400 000 tons, and the estimated supply was 180 000 tons, which resulted in the 220 000 tons deficit.

The Prime Minister announced that the World Food programme and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations were undertaking detailed surveys to assess the situation countrywide. While awaiting results, government has set aside M23.0 million for immediate intervention through provision of assistance, supplementary feeding for the under fives and subsidy to the vulnerable households for a period of one year starting May 2002. The government would provide a subsidy of 20% of the market price for unsifted maize meal, estimated to cost M4 million. Direct food assistance of maize meal and beans to the old, the sick, orphans, disabled and unemployed was estimated at M10million, while M5 million was budgeted for vulnerable households and M5 million for transportation.

In practice, it proved very difficult to implement the government's plans for assistance fairly and some people at village level were wondering what had happened to the assistance promised. What was very much apparent to most of them was the rise in the cash price of the staple food, maize meal, which had risen from M44 per 25 kg bag at the end of December 2001 to M77 per 25 kg bag by April 2002. The combined economic conditions which have resulted in the rise in the maize mealie price were, according to Vernon Wessels writing in Business Report of 19 June 2002, shortfalls in production caused by land invasions in Zimbabwe, poor crops in Mozambique and droughts in Malawi and Zambia.

The weaker rand had also contributed to higher maize prices, because over the past year self sufficiency in maize had been lost in the region, and maize was being imported. Looking at the maize futures market he noted that white maize for delivery in July this year could have been fixed at a price of R835 a ton a year ago. It reached a record high of R1893 a ton on 18 April 2002, and was still R1831 on the SA Futures Exchange on 19 June 2002. However the higher maize price had prompted many South African farmers to plant more maize. Whether the price went up further or dropped was dependent on whether there were good crops in South Africa next year and in the meantime whether there was good weather in the United States corn maize belt and whether the rand recovered further against the dollar.

In many ways the price of a 25 kg bag of mealie meal is one of the best indices of the impact of inflation in the country. Many families, when the monthly pay packet arrives, or money is received from a migrant worker, go out and buy one or more such bags from the nearby store. It is commonly transported home by wheelbarrow, or by a donkey, which if carefully loaded can carry up to three such bags of mealie meal. There was some relief for such families with effect from 21 May, when the Government gazetted maximum prices for unsifted maize meal. The maximum price for a 25 kg bag was set at M60, down from the general price of about M77, but still much higher than the M44 it had been six months earlier.

As is well known, Lesotho has not been overall self sufficient in cereal crops since the 1920s, and has since then had to rely on imported food. The situation has deteriorated since Independence, and indeed the production of cereal crops declined from 210 000 tons in 1973 to only 140 000 tons in 1992, a drop in kg per person to less than half over 20 years. Subsequent production has fluctuated according to weather conditions and the abilities of families to find the capital to cultivate their fields. In the 1997/8 summer, there was dry weather at the start to the growing season and only 69 000 tons were produced, but in the subsequent three years with wet summers there were better harvests with, according to the Lesotho's Food Security Bulletin, an estimated 168 000 tons in 1998/9, 150 000 tons in 1999/2000 and 159 000 for 2000/1. There is some inconsistency between these figures and the Prime Minister's announcement, because if the food grain production is indeed 180 000 tons for 2001/2, it appears to have been one of the best agricultural seasons in recent years. The grim reality remains, however, that even in a good year Lesotho is unable to grow even half of its food grain requirements.
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Expatriate Teachers Unable to Obtain Work Permits

A letter in Public Eye of 3 May 2002 by Mzamane Nhlapho highlighted the problems suffered by 2 expatriate teachers in Lesotho who were unable to get work permits, not so much because they had been refused, but because the machinery for issuing them had apparently broken down. No work permits had in fact been issued since the second half of 2000, and as a consequence they could not obtain residence permits, and this affected their ability to obtain visas to visit South Africa. The letter made the point that this insecurity was wasting many hours of teachers' time as they tried to legalise their position, and was having in turn an impact on the children that they were employed to teach.
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Econet Ezi Cel Lesotho Begins Operations

The second cell phone service in Lesotho, operated by the privatized Tele Com Lesotho began operation in May under the name Econet Ezi Cel Lesotho. During March and April, the new service was advertised not only in the media, but by a number of new telecommunications masts appearing on the scene in the Lowlands of Lesotho. A formal launch took place on 4 May, when the new service opened its super store in the former Lesotho Agricultural Development Bank building on Kingsway in Maseru. The new service is in competition with Vodacom Lesotho, commonly known as VCL, which introduced the first cellphone service in 1995. A couple of days before the launch of Ezi Cel, Vodacom announced its cheap Short Message Service (SMS) which was widely advertised by the letters SMS appearing on posters on lamp posts, often sharing the same pole as posters bearing pictures of the BNP leader, Justin Metsing Lekhanya. While Lekhanya and the BNP were well known to most people, there was puzzlement over what appeared to many to be a new political party, SMS.
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Lesotho and South Africa Sign Joint Cooperation Agreement

An agreement was signed on Wednesday 8 May 2002 in Maseru by the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the Lesotho Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Tom Thabane. The agreement facilitates implementation of projects which fall under the Joint Bilateral Commission of Cooperation (JBCC). Amongst these projects are the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Development Area, an agreement on which had been signed earlier by the Ministers of Tourism; Phase I of a Geochemical Mapping Project; a road construction project aimed at upgrading the Mokhotlong to Sani Pass Road; technical assistance in Commercial Production of Livestock; and the establishment of the Tikoe Industrial estate, a project located on the Maseru by pass road, and intended to make provision for industrial expansion now that the Thetsane Industrial Estate is full.
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Unclaimed Corpses Buried by Convicts

A growing problem in Lesotho is the number of unclaimed corpses in mortuaries, resulting in part from a combination of the high cost of funerals and the large number of people dying from AIDS. Lentsoe la Basotho of 9 May 2002 had a report and photograph of the burial by convicts of coffins holding 24 deceased persons whose bodies had been unclaimed after periods of four to five months in local mortuaries. Another 22 were due to be buried shortly afterwards when another mass grave could be dug at the Thibella cemetery in Maseru.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Local Government, Buti Metlae, stated that in the past unclaimed corpses were buried twice a year, but with increasing numbers it was really necessary to undertake the operation four times a year. The Ministry was allocating M430 per deceased person for coffins for those from the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital mortuary, and M600 for those from the private Lesotho Funeral Services and Amangwane mortuaries. The bodies of six children were placed in a single coffin to save costs. Food and cool drinks were provided by the Ministry to the convicts who undertook the work of burying the dead.
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Nineteen Political Parties to Contest the General Election

Following Nomination Day on 25 April, one month before Election Day, it became apparent that no less than 19 different political parties were going to contest the 25 May election, although only 16 were in the race for proportional representation seats. The Social Democratic Party only contested the election for these seats, and did not nominate candidates for any of the constituencies. Apart from party candidates, there were a large number of independent candidates, and indeed several constituencies had more than one independent candidate, the M200 deposit required by candidates being relatively easy to find. The deposit is forfeited by any candidate who does not receive 10 of the constituency votes.

In several cases the independent candidates were former members of political parties who, having found themselves not nominated as candidates by their parties, decided to contest the seat in their own right, thus splitting the party vote, and risking that an opposition party might then win. Amongst those singled out by the Leon Commission as persons against whom legal action should be taken for their role in the 1998 troubles were Mamello Morrison and Majara Molapo. Mamello Morrison attempted to stand for the Pulane constituency for the BNP but the local party rejected her candidacy, and she was not nominated. Majara Molapo, a leading BNP dissident who had been launching attacks on the BNP leader, Metsing Lekhanya, was clearly not likely to be nominated by the BNP in any constituency, and he elected to stand in the Hlotse constituency as an Independent.

As it happened, observers were not able to see from the voting what support he might have, because Hlotse together with Mount Moorosi were two constituencies where party candidates died between the nomination day and the election, so that only an election for parties could be held, and renominations for a vote for party candidates had to wait until after the main election. Those who had died were Sylvia Phakisi of the National Progressive Party at Hlotse, and Mpolai Likotsi of the Christian Democratic Party at Mount Moorosi.

In the 78 constituencies to be contested on 25 May, there were to be a total of 730 candidates, with the LCD and BNP contesting all constituencies, LPC contesting 77, BAC 73, MFP 71, PFD 67, BCP 60, NPP 49, LWP 37, CDP 21. Apart from the SDP, which had no constituency candidates, the party with the least constituency candidates was the Kopanang Basotho Party with just 4 candidates. Overall a record number of candidates were contesting the elections, and in individual constituencies the number ranged from 4 in some Maloti constituencies to as high as 16 in the Stadium constituency in Maseru, which had 15 competing parties and an independent candidate. In relation to women candidates, Lentsoe la Basotho of 16 May 2002 reported that there were 108 altogether, with the largest number being fielded by the MFP which had 16 candidates, followed by NPP and PFD 10 each, LWP 9, BAC 8, LCD8, LLP/UDP alliance 8, BNP 7, CDP 7 and NLFP 7. Other parties had five or less.
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James Motlatsi now Deputy Chairman of AngloGold

A migrant worker from Mohale's Hoek, James Motlatsi, once worked as a miner in the harsh conditions of Western Deep Levels, the deepest mine in the world. Later he rose to lead his fellow workers as President of the National Union of Mineworkers. In 2002, he was appointed Deputy Chairman of AngloGold, the company he once served as a humble miner underground. Motlatsi took over from Russell Edey at the AngloGold annual meeting in Cape Town in April.
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Members of Defence Force Gaoled for Burning Ministers Houses

In the High Court on 13 May 2002, three members of the Lesotho Defence Force were sentenced after  being found guilty of arson, attempted murder and malicious injury to property in September 1998.

According to a report in Lesotho Today of 23 May, the specific charges included under counts 1 and 2, damage done to the Prime Minister's house in Roma; under counts 3 to 7, damage done to Mr Kelebone Maope's house, cars and furniture in Maseru and the attempted murder of Mr Maope's wife, and daughter; under counts 8 and 9, burning and destruction of Mr Tom Thabane's house at Makhoakhoeng, Maseru; under counts 10 and 11, burning and destruction of Mr Lesao Lehohla's house in Maseru; under counts 12 to 14 burning and destruction of Mr Thabiso Melato's house in Roma together with theft of a video machine and some clothing; under counts 15 and 16, burning of Dr Ketso's house in Roma; and under count 17, theft of a Toyota Hilux vehicle from the National University of Lesotho.

At the time, Kelebone Maope, Tom Thabane, Lesao Lehohla and Leketekete Ketso were cabinet ministers and Thabiso Melato was the Member of Parliament for Maama constituency which includes Roma. Pte Majoro Thesele (45) was found guilty on 9 counts and Cpl Paulosi Mpalinyane (49) on 12 counts and each was sentenced by Justice Harry Weitz to an effective 12 years imprisonment, while Pte Mochema Mochema (31), was found guilty on 6 counts and received an effective sentence of 10 years. Two of the soldiers, Majoro and Mochema, are already in gaol serving sentences for mutiny. None of the three were found guilty of the NUL vehicle theft. However, a further accused, Lerata Lekhesa jumped bail on 29 April, and a warrant for his arrest has been issued.
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Prime Minister Inaugurates Three Nature Reserves

The Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, on Thursday 16 May 2002, inaugurated three nature reserves in northern Lesotho. Although formal legal gazetting of the reserves has not yet been achieved, each of the three areas is being referred to by what is presumably intended to be its eventual legal status. The reserves have been developed by the South African firm EarthPlan under contract to the Environment and Social Services Group of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority. Over 200 temporary jobs were created by the construction of the reserves, and almost 75 permanent jobs have been created.

Bokong Nature Reserve is situated at around 3000 metres altitude on the road from Pitseng to Lejone. The visitor centre is approached by a short spur road and vehicles park at the level of the roof of the centre, which overlooks the Lepaqoa Gorge and waterfall. A bearded vulture nesting site is nearby, and there is a network of hiking trails which extend to the T'sehlanyane National Park, whose vehicular access is by the road to the Hlotse Adit of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. At T'sehlanyane is one of the best preserved forests of Ouhout or cheche Leucosidea sericea and there are also opportunities for small game viewing and bird watching. The first Lesotho record of the Chorister Robin was reported from T'sehlanyane in November 2001.

The third reserve, Liphofung Cultural Heritage Site, is the smallest of the three, and is reached by a 1.5 km concrete side road from the main road from Butha Buthe to the foot of Moteng Pass. Liphofung means place of elands in Sesotho, and Liphofung is a sandstone rock shelter with rock paintings. It also has historical associations with King Moshoeshoe who lived in the cave as a herdboy, and later visited it with the missionary Thomas Arbousset in February 1840. King Moshoeshoe did not, as indicated in LHDA information handed out to the press, visit it en route from Botha Bothe to Thaba Bosiu in 1824. From a visitor centre with cultural exhibits, a staircase has been constructed down into the rock shelter, crossing the stream through the shelter by three bridges to reach the rock paintings. On 16 May, the Prime Minister visited Bokong, Liphofung and T'sehlanyane successively by helicopter. The formal opening ceremony for all three reserves was at T'sehlanyane.
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Parties Hold Final Election Rallies

On Sunday 19 May, the major political parties held rallies in Maseru, and observers who attended them  tried to count the numbers of people present as a clue to the way people, at least in the Maseru area,  might vote in the election the following Saturday. The estimated numbers in fact varied considerably, and whether the BNP or LCD had more at their respective rallies became a matter of hot debate in the media. The following numbers are based on the estimates of one foreign independent observer.

The Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) held its rally just outside the Thetsane factory area near the by pass road. Some 2 500 to 3 000 persons, presumably mainly factory workers gathered to hear the leader, Billy Macaefa, and others speak. At the Papal Podium on the former Maseru Race Course, the Lesotho People's Congress held its rally, conveniently situated only a short distance from the mansion of the party leader, Kelebone J Maope. The crowd gathered there was of the order of 5 000 people. On the opposite side of the Qoat'saneng Hill, at the area known as Manthabiseng, the Basotho National Party held its meeting on the slopes of the hill. Because of the sloping terrain, estimates of those present were more difficult, but some 12 000 people seem to have been present to hear the leader Justin Metsing Lekhanya speak. This has become the BNP's traditional pitso ground area, and had been extensively used by the previous leader, E. R. Sekhonyana, although with the coming of the National Convention Centre and the new Mpilo Boulevard relief road, part of the site has disappeared and meetings increasingly have had to move higher up the hill.

As in the culmination of the 1998 election campaign, the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy held its rally at Bot'sabelo , also commonly known as Lepereng , Bot'sabelo having originally been established as a Leper Asylum. The party faithful en route to and from the rally waved their arms like a bird's wings to show their allegiance to a party whose symbol is an eagle. They listened to a final pre-election speech by the Prime Minister and party leader, Pakalitha Mosisili, who promised tough action against the perpetrators of the 1998 destruction after the elections. The estimated size of the crowd at Lepereng was 15 000. However, others considered that the crowd at the BNP rally was larger than that at Lepereng, particularly in the later part of the day.
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Masupha Sole Guilty in Bribery Case

In his judgment on Monday 20 May 2002, Mr Justice Peter Cullinan found the former Chief Executive of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority, Masupha Sole, guilty on 11 counts of bribery and 2 of fraud. He was acquitted on 5 other charges of bribery. The unfortunate Sole was wheeled into court on a hospital bed, having been injured in a car accident in his home district of Qacha's Nek not long before. He was ordered to be detained at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Maseru for sentencing on the following Thursday. However, he apparently needed further treatment in Bloemfontein, and the sentencing was postponed until Tuesday 4 June when he was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, a sentence whose severity surprised and shocked many who had been monitoring the case and had thought that Sole had already been severely punished as a result of the earlier civil case.

As a result of the civil case he had had to pay back over M7 million to the LHDA. When he had been unable to do this, he had had his property sequestrated by the High Court. Indeed it had been only three days earlier on 1 June that most of his property including Mercedes Benz, two BMW cars and three luxury houses had been auctioned by court order. The repercussions of the Sole case are considerable for the international contracting industry. Trials have already begun, the first to be heard concerns the Canadian firm, Acres, of firms alleged to have paid the bribes to Sole, and since a bribe must have a giver as well as a taker, it seems likely that several prominent engineering firms will be seriously affected and disqualified from World Bank and European Union funded contracts. They will also not be allowed to bid for one of the largest South African engineering projects at present at feasibility study level, the Gautrain project for a high speed rail link between Johannesburg and Pretoria, parts of which will be underground at each end.

Unlike Sole, it seems improbable that personnel of any firms found guilty will be gaoled, because it is the firms as bodies corporate, rather than their staff, which are being prosecuted. More likely, fines and costs could be levied so that the overall cost to Lesotho might be recovered of the extremely expensive cases involving both Sole and the engineering firms. A probable outcome of the whole sorry affair is that a large number of well known engineering firms may well have to re-register themselves under new names to escape sanctions.
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Record Number of Parties Produce Manifestos

12 parties had been supported financially by the salaries awarded to their members two each on the Interim Political Authority over the period 9 December 1998 until immediately after the election. In addition, each party was awarded M20 000 to help it fight the 2002 General Election. These facts help to explain why the number of parties fighting the 2002 elections had grown so large. They also helped the parties to finance party manifestos. It appears that at least 10 of the parties did in fact produce manifestos with the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leading the field by publishing its manifesto as early as May 2001, and the SDP and MFP managing to have manifestos also out before the end of 2001. The ruling party, the LCD, produced the most lavishly illustrated manifesto, with its emblem a red, black and green eagle appearing on the front cover, and an American Bald Eagle a species which does not occur in Africa decorating the pages elsewhere. Amongst the themes of the manifesto were fighting poverty, creating employment, expansion of free education, meeting the needs of AIDS victims, the expansion of local government, fighting crime and corruption, encouragement of investment, privatisation and support to farmers.

Almost every other manifesto promised voters a similar list of desirable aims, although not all were as enthusiastic about privatisation which has led to job losses. Variations include the MFP emphasis of more power for the King and better remuneration for chiefs, while the NIP manifesto repeated the party's long standing aim to fight communism. A maverick among parties is the Sefate Democratic Union, which came into existence when its founder Bofihla Nkuebe won a by-election against a ruling party candidate, although he lost his seat in the subsequent 1998 General Election. The SDU manifesto had more pages than any other, 106 in all, and differed in that much of the text was in English (all other manifestos seem only to have been produced in a single Sesotho edition). However, the English material was mainly rather disorganised supporting material (most of it unacknowledged material from other publications) for the party's policy of restoring to Lesotho the Conquered Territory, lost by Lesotho in the 19th century and now part of South Africa. The actual manifesto embedded within this material turned out to be the 1998 manifesto, in Sesotho with the wording unchanged, although on the succeeding pages there were some  afterthoughts, which were not included in the main manifesto. Amongst the afterthoughts was for the Lesotho Constitution to be done away with completely. Ho raloe bocha molao oa motheo o tla felisa  liqhoebeshano le lintoa (Constructing a new constitution will end disputes and wars).
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IEC Explains New Voting System to Electors

The complexities of the new electoral system presented a challenge to anyone to provide simple a explanations which could be understood by the average voter. The Independent Electoral Commission nevertheless rose to the challenge, and could hardly be faulted for the attempting to provide detailed explanations in Sesotho. The first challenge was to describe the new electoral system in English and Sesotho. In English, it was rendered as a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system, a convenient contraction for a system where 80 members are elected first past the post in constituencies, and the remaining 40 elected by parties by proportional representation, which as far as possible redresses any imbalances in the constituency results. In Sesotho, the equivalent to MMP was Motsoako oa Masia siane le Khekhethane ho ipapisitsoe le teka tekano MMK, which translates as Mixture of first past the post running competitively and dividing into parts to achieve equivalence.

The press in general preferred to describe proportional representation as ka semotinyane, motinyane being the general name for cisticolas and other small warblers. In the book Pitso ea linonyana by Azariele Sekese, familiar to almost everyone because it is a primary school set book, the birds speak as if in a parliament, and even the smallest bird motinyane is allowed to have his say. Thus in MMP/MMK, small parties who would otherwise be unrepresented get a seat in Parliament.

A booklet, Tseba ka mokhoa oa ho khetha oa Masia siane le Khekhethane MMK, published by the Independent Electoral Commission, explained the details of MMK. It also explained in Sesotho, with examples, the computations required to determine how many of the proportional representation seats each party would acquire. To understand the rationale behind the calculation of the quota of votes sekepele sa lifoutu, and the subsequent adjustments require at least a knowledge of ratios and decimals. Some of the older generation would have acquired the necessary skills to undertake such calculations if they had completed primary school. In practice today, however, even a pupil who has completed Junior Certificate finds it hard to understand and carry out such computations. Fortunately, the overall principle is not difficult and most people were prepared to accept that the IEC would do the calculations correctly.
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TCL Reduces Telephone Tariffs

The announcement in March 2002 by Tele Com Lesotho that it had already on 1 March 2002 increased its charges per minute to 45s on local calls did not go unchallenged. There were local protests - to both TCL and to the Regulator, the Lesotho Telecommunications Authority. There appears to have been some hard bargaining between LTA and TCL, but TCL ultimately agreed to reduce the 45s per minute to 35s with effect from 20 May. The local telephone users will benefit, although the shareholders, such as those in Mauritius, the home of one of the larger companies making up TCL, will probably be less than happy that their dividends have been thereby reduced.
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Industrial Park to be Constructed in Butha Buthe

A sod turning ceremony took place on 22 May to mark the beginning of construction at the new Butha  Buthe Industrial Park. The industrial development, the first in Butha Buthe District, is situated on the east of the road from Butha Buthe to the Caledonspoort Border Post. Construction of the park is being undertaken with assistance from the People's Republic of China, and an eleven strong Chinese team, has already arrived in Lesotho to undertake the construction work. It is expected that factories built at the site will add to those already taking advantage of the US Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), under which Lesotho gains zero tariff access to the American market for a range of export items.
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Exploitation in Lesotho Textile Factories

An unsigned article Exploitation in Lesotho Textile Factories from the United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network IRIN appeared in Public Eye of 24 May 2002. Obviously intended for the US press, and with currency units in US dollars throughout, the article referred to a study of three Lesotho factories published in March by the Canada based Ethical Trading Action Group, which concluded that violations of freedom of association and workers' rights to organise and bargain collectively appear to be continuing in the factories. However, the article also referred to the US Africa Growth and Oppurtunity Act (AGOA), which provides 35 eligible African countries with zero tariff access to the American market for a range of  export items. Under AGOA, Lesotho's export of apparel to the USA had risen from $140.3 million in 2000 to $215.3 million in 2001, this being achieved despite 2001 being a recession year in the United States.

Quoting Daniel Bellegarde, US deputy head of mission in Maseru, the article states that for the first time in Lesotho's history, the number of people employed in the private sector has exceeded the number of people employed by government. Set against this is an interview with Billy Macaefa of the Lesotho Clothing and Allied Workers Union (LECAWU) who complained that working conditions include unpaid overtime. "The record of exports looks good but it's through the sweat of people forced to work Monday to Sunday .... It is achieved through a form of slavery.... People are forced to work, they are not allowed to attend funerals, and our culture is not respected. Maternity leave ... is not paid." The article also states that the pay for a skilled textile worker is just over US 50 per month.
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Election Day Relatively Uneventful

Although there was heavy rain, unusual for May, in both the week before and after the General Election, the actual Election Day on 25 May was well chosen because it was cloudless, like a typical winter day. Despite each voter having to cast two ballots, a pink one for the constituency candidate and a white one for the party, voting went smoothly and the queues were not long in most places because of the large number of polling stations. Hitches inevitably did arise. For example some Makhaleng constituency polling supervisors opened the packets of ballot papers, only to find that those for party candidates were for the Moyeni constituency and had been wrongly packed and labelled. Such incidents delayed the opening of a few polling stations, and in a few cases voting had to be continued on the following day.
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National Convention Centre Venue for Results: Announcement of Results Extremely Slow

The National Convention Centre, is referred to generally, even on Radio Lesotho, as the Manthabiseng Conference Centre, thus immortalising the unfortunate lady who died in 1991 when she was beaten by security personnel and her body was left outside a Maseru shop. Enraged passers by at the time sparked off riots, which caused widespread damage and led to the bus station being moved from the shopping area to the old Agricultural Showgrounds, which then acquired the name Manthabiseng Bus Stop, Bus Stop being also Bus Terminus or Bus Station in local English usage. When the Bus Station was moved back to a more central point, and the site used for the National Convention Centre even though on town plans it had been earmarked for the National Museum and National Archives, the name Manthabiseng nevertheless stuck to the area.

The National Convention Centre, although architecturally ambitious, at least in its interior design lacks many of the features which make it an attractive venue for meetings. For example it has no catering facilities, and whereas it might once have been equipped with standard conference equipment such as overhead projectors, it seems that with inadequate security such items along with movable chairs have been lost. As a result, the NCC is relatively rarely used, the conference facilities at Lesotho Sun and Maseru Sun being generally preferred.

However, for the Election Results, the NCC did for once have a role to play, as it was the venue chosen by the IEC for issuing results. There had been a general expectation that some results might have been available on Saturday night, but it was well into Sunday before the first results trickled in. Even Maseru constituencies within walking distance of the NCC were not available until Monday, and the Qoaling constituency, in which the NCC is situated, did not have its result available until 11.10 p.m. on Monday evening. By Tuesday evening, all results were in, except for Sebapala constituency in Quthing District. The returning officer, who should have come back with the result by this time was being called on Radio Lesotho lekhoaba l la mohla moroallo oa metsi, the raven of the great flood, Noah's raven having been sent out from the ark never to return. Unlike Noah's raven, the returning officer did eventually live up to her title, and the last result came in at 11.40 a.m. on Wednesday. At this point the constituency results were all known, and these closely reflected the results of the 1998 elections, with the ruling LCD having secured 77 seats, the LPC 1 seat, and two seats remaining vacant awaiting renominations in constituencies, where a candidate had died.
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Individual Constituency Results Range from Clear Victories to Minority Votes

In most constituencies the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy LCD achieved clear wins with more than 50% of the votes, even when there were many candidates. For example, in the most contested constituency of all with 16 candidates, the Stadium constituency in Maseru which includes suburbs such as Thibella and Moshoeshoe II, the LCD candidate Lehlohonolo Mafaesa achieved 52.0% of the vote, even though he was running against the previous MP for the constituency, Lit'sitso Sekhamane, who had defected to the Lesotho People's Congress (LPC). Sekhamane obtained only 3.4% of the votes and came fifth behind the candidates of the Basotho National Party (BNP) who had 25.5%, Basutoland African Congress (BAC)  8.7% and Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) 3.7%.

The Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, achieved one of the highest percentages of votes in the Tsoelike constituency in his home district of Qacha's Nek. He won 79.2% of the vote, which was only exceeded by the LCD candidate for Thaba Phechela who swept the board in an eight cornered fight with 85.1% of the vote. In the previous election the Prime Minister had stood in the adjacent Qacha's Nek constituency, but he surrendered this to his colleague, the Senator and Minister of Health, Pont'so Sekatle, who in fighting her first election achieved a very creditable 72.4% of the vote. No doubt in Qacha's Nek the LCD was assisted not only by its nation wide popularity in having introduced free primary education and having managed to bring some order to the police and army, but also by Qacha's Nek acquiring its first stretch of tarred road.

Another Senator, the Minister of Finance and former Government Secretary, Mohlabi Kenneth  Tsekoa who has also been a mathematics and science teacher and later the Lesotho High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, stood for the LCD in the Senqu constituency in Mokhotlong District, where he won his first election comfortably with 55.8% of the vote. Amongst eagerly awaited results was Seqonoka, where the LPC leader, Kelebone Maope was defending his seat. He won comfortably with 50.2% of the votes, the LCD candidate achieving the lowest percentage of votes in any constituency with just 16.0%. No doubt, Maope's high standing in his own home area, and his nurturing of the constituency paid off.

In the adjoining constituency to the north, Teyateyaneng , the result was the closest of all, but the LPC lost as it did in all other constituencies. In this constituency, Ranthimo Ranthimo of the LCD managed to win the seat by just  9 votes, 1946 votes compared with the 1937 votes for the veteran politician, Shakhane Mokhehle, now standing for the LPC. LCD e hlola Robong ka robong, LCD beats Nine by nine was how the LCD paper described the result: Shakane s middle name is Robong or Nine, because he was the ninth child of Cicerone Mokhehle. In the party vote in TY, the LPC actually did better, with 1965 votes against 1884 for LCD, which seems to show that in this constituency, the voters liked the LPC more than they did its candidate.

The Basutoland African Congress (BAC) had hoped that its candidate, the former Minister of Health, Deborah Khauhelo Ralitapole would do well in TY, but she came fourth after the BNP with just 14.1% of the votes. Even this was better than the performance of the BAC party leader, Molapo Qhobela, who received just 4.0% of the votes in the Butha Buthe constituency and lost his deposit. BAC's best performances were in fact in the four constituencies of Mokhotlong District, where in each case it came third in the poll and managed to keep its deposit. The best performance was in the Mokhotlong constituency where its candidate Motolo Molahli won 16.8% of the vote.

Also of general interest, was the Mant'sonyane constituency, because one of the candidates was the BNP party leader Justin Metsing Lekhanya, who was fighting on his home turf. He had no doubt expected to win it, but in the event, it was taken by one of the LCD's women candidates, Masuthang Taole, with 49.1% of the vote, while Lekhanya received only 28.5. This was also the constituency contested by the lawyer, Lekhetho Rakuoane, who is leader of the Patriotic Front for Democracy (PFD). He received 11.4% of the total, these 974 votes contrasting with voting in most other constituencies where the PFD candidate received less than 100 votes. However there were exceptions, such as Tsikoane where the candidate was Mamahlapane Rakuoane , who secured 575 votes which at 8.8% was not enough to keep her deposit, but whose candidature helped to swell the numbers needed in the party vote to ensure that the PFD did get one proportional representation seat.

There was considerable interest in how one of the newest parties on the scene, the Lesotho Workers Party would do. Although the PFD had claimed to represent workers interests, the LWP as a grassroots party with its own base in the Lesotho Clothing and Allied Workers Union (LECAWU) was also seeking the workers' vote. As expected, LWP's strength was in the areas where there were many factory workers. In the Maputsoe constituency, its candidate Mat'sepo Lehlokoane, one of the workers herself, came third and managed to get 1023 votes, 13.4% of the total. The party also did quite well in several Maseru constituencies. However, its leader Billy Macaefa stood in his own rural constituency of Matelile and only managed 283 votes, 5.4% of the total. Nationwide, the LWP's performance was the most varied of any party, ranging from over 1000 votes in industrial areas to less than 10 votes in remote mountain areas. The total vote did however ensure the party one seat in Parliament under the proportional representation system.

A particularly interesting constituency was Maama , where in 1998, there had been an unresolved dispute between T'solo Lelala and Leseteli Malefane for the BNP nomination, and this had led in the end to there being no BNP candidate in a constituency which many people thought the BNP had a good chance of winning. The dispute continued into 2002, but on this occasion Malefane, who was by now BNP Secretary General, won the BNP nomination. Lelala, a survivor of both the Khalong la Baroa assassination of former BNP ministers, and also a survivor when his own house in Roma was bombed on 10 August 2001, decided to contest Maama as an Independent. In the election Malefane acquired 2400 votes, not enough to beat the LCD candidate, Malebaka Bulane, who won 2785 votes, 40.9% of the poll. However, Lelala acquired 413 votes, and if these or those of the NIP leader, Anthony Manyeli, who acquired 395 votes, had gone to Malefane, the BNP would have won the seat. In fact both Lelala's and Manyeli's votes were higher than those of the outgoing MP, Thabiso Melato, who stood for the LPC and received only 285 votes or 4.2% of the valid votes.

The election of Malebaka Bulane to Parliament, means that the National Assembly will have its first husband and wife pair of MPs, her husband Vova Bulane, the philoprogenitive Minister of Agriculture he has some 14 children by two wives, being returned for Qhoali constituency. Independent candidates played a role in several constituencies. In Bobatsi , the incumbent MP, the only BNP MP in the 1998 Parliament, Mothepu Mothae, was not renominated by his party, and stood as an Independent, but came fifth with a mere 2.5% of the votes. Quite different was the remote Hloahloeng constituency in the mountains of Mohale's Hoek District, where an Independent candidate came a comfortable second and acquired 21.5% of the vote.

The father son contest in Taung constituency was a replay of the 1993 and 1998 elections. In a constituency with 10 candidates, only two retained their deposits. The son, Mpho Malie, currently Minister of Trade and Industry, with 70.1% of the vote, increased his lead over his father Meli Malie, a former BNP Minister of Education, who came a poor second with 18.3%. The Maseru constituency, which consists of much of the old colonial capital but none of its recent suburbs, was contested by several well known persons. The LCD candidate, Popane Lebesa who had earlier been involved in a bitter struggle with a fellow LCD member to get the party nomination won with on a minority vote of 44.0%. Second came the BNP Deputy Leader, Bereng Sekhonyana, with 30.6% of the votes. Mallane Mahloane of the LWP came third with 11.4%, while the former Minister of Finance, now a LPC candidate, Leketekete Ketso came fourth with a mere 6.0% of the votes.

The patients of the well known dentist, Ishmael Molefi Thelejane of the BAC, who came fifth with 4.7% of the votes, must have been glad that he would not disappear from his practice into Parliament. The Marematlou Freedom Party (MFP) fielded a former Managing Director of the Lesotho National Development Corporation as its candidate, but he received a mere 79 votes, 1.0% of the total. In fact the MFP nowhere did well in the election. Its leader, Vincent Malebo, standing in the Machache constituency, managed a mere 3.8% of the votes, although nation wide the total votes did provide one proportional representation seat.

Overall, despite there having been no redelimitation of constituency boundaries since 1998, there were no enormous disparities between constituencies in valid votes. The Maseru constituency of Mabote had the highest number of valid party votes with 10 372, while the lowest number was in another Maseru constituency, Abia , with just 4 373 valid party votes. It is possible that some of the Abia voters registered in another Maseru constituency, the one in which they worked rather than the one in which they resided.

A feature of the election was the large number of rejected votes in most constituencies. In many constituencies there were over 200 such votes and in a few the number was more than 300 and more than 5% of the total. In a few marginal constituencies, particularly Teyateyaneng, where the victory margin was 9 votes, they could have affected the outcome. There was no immediate explanation for such a large number of spoilt ballot papers, but it was suggested by some that the instruction to voters that they had to vote twice might have been misinterpreted, and two crosses had been placed on a single ballot paper instead of one on each of two papers. This interpretation is supported by the fact that in most constituencies, there were more spoilt ballot papers in the constituency candidate vote which came first than in the party vote which came second.

Overall, women improved their position in Parliament on the constituency vote. In the previous Parliament, owing to the death of two women MPs, their number had dwindled to two. These two had been reelected, and were being joined by eight other elected women MPs, one of whom was the former Senator, Matumelo Pont'so Sekatle, Minister of Health, now the elected member for Qacha's Nek.
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Unexpected Election Outcome as Doves Mistaken for Eagles

In relation to the party vote, the most surprising was the comparatively high vote given to the National Independent Party (NIP). The party had owed its origin a quarter of a century earlier to a breakaway from the Basotho National Party (BNP) by A. C. Manyeli, who disapproved of the BNP softening its anti-communist stance. By 1998, the party had all but faded away, receiving only a derisory number of votes in the elections. However, like some other minor parties, it survived because it was entitled to two paid seats on the Interim Political Authority, and like other parties it received M20 000 as a grant to enable it to participate in the 2002 elections. The grant enabled it to pay the deposits (M200 each), of 10 candidates, and to reprint the party manifesto, but to the vast majority of the electorate the party and its policies were hardly known.

All of the ten seats which NIP contested were in the Lowlands, but as the election results came in, it became apparent that on the party vote, the NIP was actually doing better in many of the constituencies that it had not even contested. Indeed there was the extraordinary phenomenon that whereas its 10 candidates only averaged just over 400 votes each, and the party votes in their constituencies were mostly rather less than that, in well over 20 constituencies where NIP did not even have a candidate, its party votes were much higher than 400. Moreover, it seemed that the farther one went from the NIP heartland where its candidates were standing, the better was the party's performance in the party vote, with it sometimes coming third in the poll as in the remote constituencies of Hloahloeng where it received 950 votes and Semena where it received 902 votes. Surely an incident unique in the annals of psephology. What could be the explanation of such a phenomenon?

It was tempting to suggest that some BNP fundamentalists unhappy that the party was now run by Lekhanya, the man who had overthrown Leabua Jonathan, might have deliberately voted for the party with policies closest to the original BNP. However, comparing votes for BNP constituency candidates with those for the BNP as a party in the same constituency showed figures which closely corresponded, making this theory unsupportable except perhaps for a very few votes. The answer in fact was to be found by examining the printed ballot papers themselves. At the polling booths electors had first to vote using a pink ballot paper for a party candidate, and the LCD and NIP candidates, even if one was unable to read their names or the party names, were clearly distinguished by their symbols, those of an eagle and a dove. There was not much chance of an error there, particularly if the candidates names were known, and of course in 70 out of the 80 constituencies there was only a single bird, that of the LCD.

However voters then proceeded to a second vote on a white ballot paper, where the party symbols were respectively a black eagle and a black dove, a white dove being obviously difficult to represent on white paper. The LCD had been exhorting its voters khetha nonyana, choose the bird, apparently forgetting that there was another party whose symbol was a bird. In any case it could hardly have urged its voters to khetha ntsu, choose the eagle, because a portrait of Ntsu Ntsu Mokhehle, the man had been allowed, despite LCD opposition in the courts, as the party symbol for its rival breakaway party, the LPC. So it seems that when LCD supporters came to vote for a bird, a significant number simply chose the wrong bird.

Analysis of voting patterns in particular constituencies appears to confirm this theory. For example at Machache Constituency no. 38, the LCD candidate received 5257 votes, but in the party ballot, LCD received 4622 votes and NIP 669. 4622 + 669 = 5291, very close to and slightly above 5257, which allows for NIP getting a few votes from its own supporters. Again in the next constituency, Thaba Putsoa Constituency no. 39, the LCD candidate received 4832 votes, while the party votes were 4311 and 567 for LCD and NIP respectively. 4311 + 567 = 4878, again slightly above the 4832 for the candidate. The pattern is repeated in many constituencies, although it is somewhat obscured in the several constituencies where there were independent candidates who achieved high totals, and whose supporters obviously could not vote for them in the party ballot.

The NIP party leader, the octagenarian A. C. Manyeli , was interviewed on the radio on Tuesday 28 May. Unlike the leaders of the other opposition parties who were trying to find fault with the election to explain why they had not done as well as expected, Manyeli was clearly totally surprised by what had happened and that his party, which had never won any seats in Parliament before, was suddenly going to receive five proportional representation seats. He himself could only account for what had happened by people having chosen the wrong bird. Little did he know, when the party had chosen the dove of peace, leeba la khotso, as the party emblem that it would bring such a windfall a quarter of a century later from voters who mistook doves for eagles.
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Proportional Representation Provides 10 Parties with Parliamentary Seats

The proportional representation rules require a great deal of arithmetic to be undertaken to calculate the entitlement of each of the 16 parties competing in the proportional representation component of the election to compensatory parliamentary seats.

Overall, including elected seats, the result is LCD 77, BNP 21, LPC 5, NIP 5, BAC 3, BCP 3, PFD 1, LWP 1, MFP 1 and NPP 1, so that there are ten parties represented in the new Parliament.
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Voter Turnout 68.1%

68.1% of the total of 831 315 registered voters turned out to vote in the election on 25 May 2001. Of  these 554 386 or 66.7% voted for one of the 16 parties in the proportional representation vote. The difference is accounted for by persons who voted only in the constituency vote, and by spoiled papers, of which there were quite large numbers in both votes. These possibly were largely accounted for because voters had been advised to vote twice, and a number of them interpreted this to mean that they could put two crosses on their ballot papers. Such ballot papers were regarded as spoilt.
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International Observers Find Elections Free and Fair

The General Election was observed by several hundred different observers from different groups, and without exception they found the election to have been free and fair, even though some minor hitches were noted and the slowness with which results were announced meant that some observers left Lesotho before the overall result was known. One person who did not share the view of the observers, was the leader of the Basotho National Party, Major General J. M. Lekhanya. His press statement was printed in the party newspaper, Mohlanka, of 7 June 2002, and contains the following: "It is with great sadness that we have seen the results of the 2002 elections bearing the 1998 syndrome in the form of the uniform pattern of victory margins for the LCD throughout the country. Although foreign and local election observers have given the elections a clean bill of health, they have not endeavoured to explain this curious phenomenon."

Lekhanya called for an audit of the results, but in the meantime his party would accept the 21 proportional representation seats allocated under these questionable election results.
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Compensatory Seats Spring a Few Surprises

Each party contesting the election could nominate both candidates for constituencies and candidates for election by proportional representation, this second list to contain at least 40 and not more than 120 candidates. That three parties failed to submit such a list suggests that they may have had difficulty in finding 40 names, particularly given that the election regulations forbid civil servants to stand as candidates.

Most parties placed the party leaders in the top places, a necessary precaution in most cases, and most of those standing for Parliament occupied the following places, making it necessary, perhaps invidiously in some cases, to provide a ranking of the senior party supporters thought worthy of Parliamentary office. As has been seen the Basotho National Party won the largest number of compensatory seats, and the 21 top names on the party's list were therefore due to become Members of Parliament. At the top of the list were Justin Metsing Lekhanya, the party leader, and Bereng Sekhonyana, his deputy. Other expected names were there, such as the General Secretary, Leseteli Malefane, the veteran politicians, Lekhooana Jonathan and Mooki Molapo, and also one or two names from Lekhanya's military past, such as the former Colonel Thaabe Letsie, who had stood as a candidate in the Qeme constituency.

Amongst other familiar names was the former radio announcer, Morapeli Motaung , and also Ranthomeng Matete, Chief of Morija, a member of the Council of Ministers during military rule, and more recently the Secretary of the Interim Political Authority. However, the list rather surprisingly also contained eight names of persons not generally known as politicians, of whom the highest on the list at sixth place was Masupha Sole. At about the same time that the list was published, he was due to begin 18 years in gaol. It was apparent that these eight persons must have been placed on the list as a reward for supporting the party's expensive election campaign in financial or perhaps other ways. The fact that Sole came highest presumably indicated that his had been the greatest contribution, and if so, it provided at least one clue as to what had happened to some of the money which had been misappropriated from the LHDA or had been received in bribes. Apart from Sole, one other on the list of 21 BNP compensatory seats was also unlikely to take a seat in Parliament. This was Joseph Kaibe Mollo, a former diplomat, but now a businessman resident in Johannesburg.

The National Independence Party of Anthony Clovis Manyeli, as has been seen, received five seats, the second largest number of compensatory seats, and as a result the party leader took his seat as the oldest Member of Parliament he was born in 1913 together with four party supporters, only two of whom had fought the election as constituency candidates.

The Lesotho People's Congress also won five Parliamentary seats, that of the party leader, Kelebone Maope, being won in the Seqonoka constituency, while the other four were compensatory seats. It appears that the party leaders, Maope and Shakhane Mokhehle, were so confident that they would win that they did not bother to put themselves at the head of the party list for compensatory seats. In Maope's case this was justified, but Shakhane Mokhehle, who lost by just nine votes, no longer has a seat in Parliament. At the head of the LPC list was a former Minister of Finance, Victor Leketekete Ketso, treasurer of the party, and he together with three other senior party members took their seats in Parliament.

The party which had fought the 1998 election as the Basutoland Congress Party had by 2002 split into two parts, one having taken the original name of the party, the Basutoland African Congress, founded in 1952, of which the leader, Molapo Qhobela, had long ago been a member. Both the BCP and BAC won three compensatory seats, and both Qhobela and the BCP leader, T'seliso Makhakhe, are in Parliament. Qhobela's deputy, Khauhelo Ralitapole, a former Minister of Health, is also in Parliament.

There remain four parties which each won one compensatory seat, and in each case the party leader will be in Parliament: Lekhetho Rakuoane of the Popular Front for Democracy, with close links to the Congress of Lesotho Trade Unions (COLETU); Billy Macaefa of the Lesotho Workers Party, which is a party based on grass roots support mainly from factory workers and members of LECAWU, the Lesotho Clothing and Allied Workers Union; Vincent Malebo of the Marematlou Freedom Party, one of the oldest political parties, which has long advocated more powers for the King and chieftainship; and Peete Peete of the National Progressive Party, a splinter group from the Basotho National Party, and led by a veteran former BNP cabinet minister.

Four of ther 2002 elected MPs have experience going back to the first Lesotho National Assembly, elected in April 1965. They are Mopshatla Mabitle, MP for Qalo; in 1965 he was MP for nearby Hololo; Sephiri Motanyane now, as in 1965, MP for Malibamat'so; A. C. Manyeli who in 1965 won the Maama constituency for the BNP, but now holds a NIP compensatory seat; and Peete Peete with a NPP compensatory seat. In 1965, Peete Peete achieved a close victory in the Koeneng constituency, with 2845 votes, over his BCP rival Ntsukunyane Mphanya, with 2670. Remarkably, Mphanya was also contesting the 2002 election, still as a BCP candidate in essentially the same constituency, now called Bela Bela. In 2002, Peete Peete with 675 votes still beat Mphanya with 471 votes.

However, times had changed, because they were now in third and fourth places, Bela Bela being won by the LCD candidate with 3002 votes, trailed by the BNP candidate with 1024 votes. Overall, the 40 compensatory seats added only 2 further women to Parliament, making a total y of 12 women members LCD 10, BAC 1, BNP 1. The women who gained compensatory seats were Dr Khauhelo Ralitapole of the BAC, and Mrs Makhopotso Lebona , who was on the BNP list, although not a constituency candidate. The Interim Political Authority had missed an opportunity, and women had neglected to lobby it appropriately. If the lists for compensatory seats had been required, as elsewhere, to list men and women alternately, far more women could have been in Parliament.
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Prime Minister Unseated within Seconds of Being Sworn In

As leader of the LCD which had a comfortable Parliamentary majority, Pakalitha Mosisili, was again invited after the election to form a government of which he would be Prime Minister. The formal swearing in ceremony was arranged for Tuesday 4 June at the National Stadium, where the King, Queen, new Prime Minister and also the Presidents of Botswana and Malawi, Festus Mogae and Bakili Muluzi and a number of other dignitaries were seated on a decorated platform under an ornate tent. After the Chief Justice had administered to the new Prime Minister the oaths of office and allegiance to the King, the Prime Minister went to take his seat on the platform. At this point, an unprogrammed event occurred. A hole opened in the platform, and the back legs of the Prime Minister's chair disappeared into it, nearly taking him as well. The hole enlarged quickly with little warning, and it also nearly swallowed the Queen, the Vice President of Zimbabwe and the President of Malawi, all of whom were thrown off balance. Fortunately, the King gallantly rescued the Queen, and security personnel quickly helped the other dignitaries to recover their dignities.

The newspapers had much to say about the incident, and the contractor received quite a bit of flak, with some papers even investigating his political background and which party he supported (it was not the LCD). The Mirror blamed the police for not testing the platform before the dignitaries arrived. It seems that the cause of the accident was the haste with which the platform had been erected, so that adequate care had not been taken to ensure that it was strong enough for its load of dignitaries.
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WFP and FAO Estimate Cereal Supply for 2001/2 at 74 000 Tons

A joint report by the World Food Programme and the Food Agricultural Organization of the United Nations was summarized in Mopheme of 4 June 2002. It provided a much lower estimate of total cereal programme for the summer than had appeared earlier, just 74 000 tons against a need for 412 000 tons. The report, noting the problem of soil erosion, states that agriculture in Lesotho faces a catastrophic future and could cease altogether over large tracts of the country. The report found that the hardest hit districts in the past summer were Qacha's Nek, Quthing and Mohale's Hoek, and that 147 000 tons of food aid would be needed, funded by government or external assistance. Another 191 000 tons would be met by commercial food imports.

The 2001/2 summer was in fact one of the wettest on record, and it is excessive rain rather than drought which is being blamed for poor crop yields. In the spring, when farmers should have been planting, many apparently found it too wet to work the fields.
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Southern Star Ceases Publication

The newspaper, Southern Star, owned by Ghanaian born Frank Baffoe, ceased publication with the issue of Friday 31 May 2002. The newspaper, since its debut on 27 October 1997 at the time of the Coronation of King Letsie III, had established a reputation in Lesotho as a quality English language weekly, being particularly noted for its impartial and normally non-sensational reporting. A particular feature had been a weekly series of profiles of prominent local personalities. In a farewell editorial, the newspaper thanked its supporters, but did not explain its demise. However, the newspaper had been up for sale for some time, and had not found a buyer. The proprietor apparently found continuing to produce a weekly newspaper too great a burden and wished to retire to devote time to other activities.
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Parliamentarians and Members of New Cabinet Sworn In

New Members of the National Assembly were sworn in on Monday 10 June, and on the same occasion, Ms Ntlhoi Motsamai was chosen to serve again as Speaker. 12 new Cabinet members were sworn in on 12 June. Amongst those who kept their previous portfolios were Lesao Lehohla Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister, Monyane Moleleki Minister of Natural Resources, Mpho Malie Minister of Trade Industry, Vova Bulane Minister of Agriculture, Clement Machakela Minister of Employment Labour, Mofelehetsi Moerane Minister of Public Works and Transport and Mrs Mathabiso Lepono Minister of Environment, Gender, Sport, Youth Affairs. Dr Pont'so Sekatle was transferred from Health to Local Government, an area for which her past academic experience was well suited, while in addition her husband had formerly been Principal Secretary for Local Government.

The new Minister of Health and Social Welfare is Dr Motloheloa Phooko, appropriately a medical practitioner. He is now the MP for Lithabaneng in the suburbs of Maseru and is also Chairman of the National University of Lesotho Council. Sephiri Motanyane, a member of the previous cabinet is Minister to the Prime Minister, and Tom Thabane was transferred from Foreign to Home Affairs. Replacing him is Kenneth Mohlabi Tsekoa, who has been moved from Finance to Foreign Affairs, an appropriate posting, because he has had long experience as a diplomat. This leaves open the key portfolio of Finance and Development Planning, which it was strongly rumoured would go to Timothy Thahane, who would have to be appointed a Senator, if he were to be given a cabinet position.

61 year old Thahane had recently returned to Lesotho after 16 years at the World Bank (1980-96) followed by 5 years (1996 2001) as Deputy Governor of the South African Reserve Bank. Earlier he had served as Director of Planning in Lesotho, and as Lesotho's Ambassador to the United States and the EEC. Educated in Canada, he was awarded an Honorary LLD degree by his alma mater, the Memorial University of Newfoundland, in 1999.

A second vacant portfolio is that of Minister of Justice and Law. In the last Parliament, this post was occupied by Senator Moshe Masemene, and there is the expectation that when the new Senators are appointed he will resume this position. Also sworn in on 12 June were two new Assistant Ministers. They were Ms Mpeo Mahase, MP for Qalabane, Assistant Minister of Justice and Human Rights, and Mr Popane Lebesa, MP for Maseru, Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning.
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Post Office Savings Bank to be Re-established

The Post Office Savings Bank, which had been abolished after Lesotho Bank had been founded in 1971, is to be re established. Although Lesotho Bank Savings Accounts initially provided many of the services of the old POSB, they no longer serve the needs of poorer savers, since they now require M500 minimum savings. Moreover, Lesotho Bank, now privatized, has closed a number of its unprofitable rural branches, so that few rural dwellers are now within walking distance of a bank. Nethposts Consultancy, is assisting the Lesotho Post Office and two Dutch advisers are currently preparing a plan for the revival of the POSB.

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