over Western Lesotho
Reported to be Planning New Privatized Prison
Environment Changes Places with Sport; New Principal Secretaries Appointed
WLSA Praises Increased Numbers of Women in Parliament and Cabinet
Barcelona AIDS Conference Highlights Cataclysmic Impact of AIDS
Beautiful Gate Orphanage Expands
Pioneers Anti-Retroviral Treatment for Miners
Snowfall Disrupts Communications in Eastern Lesotho
Passengers Drown in Ferry Accident on Katse Reservoir
Parliament Officially Opened
Parliament without Leader of
Audit Reports Millions Missing from Bursary
New Textile Workers’ Union Founded
Celebrates 20 Years of Growth
Death of Principal Chief of Leribe
in the Commonwealth Games
PR MPs to be Addressed by their
sends Large Delegation to Smart Partnership Dialogue
Cuban Doctors Arrive in Lesotho
NTTC finally becomes LCE
Medicine Murder on Thuathe Plateau
Econet Ezi-Cell Sponsors
New Football League
Fixed Line Telephone Numbers ‘Desmondized’
Sietel Wins M211 million Contract for a Wireless Networking System
Man Killed by Hearse at Wife’s
Vice-Chancellor of NUL Declares a ‘State of Emergency’
Chief Toloane Laid to Rest
MKM Burial Society
Temporarily Loses 100 Cars
Genetically Modified Food
amongst Food Aid
Food Distribution Gets Underway
Car Thieves Mercilessly Beaten and Burned to Death
Produced by Members of NUL History Department
Wind Power to be Documented
LCD Wins Fresh Elections
Thabeng High School
Suffers Double Calamity
Vice-Chancellor of NUL
United Nations and Commonwealth Secretaries-General Visit Lesotho
Maseru Lodge No. 2835
Welsh and Basotho Cyclists
Sekara Mafisa Appointed Ombudsman
New Driving Licences Introduced
against Alleged Murderers of Deputy Prime Minister Proceeds
Lesotho Team Puts up Good Fight against Senegal in Africa Cup of Nations
Death of Father Manyeli
Africa’s Highest Mountain ‘Steals’ Name from Lesotho
Justice Mahapela Lehohla Appointed Lesotho’s New Chief Justice
Wole Soyinka’s King
Baabu Performed in Lesotho
Found Guilty of Paying Bribes
University Honours James Motlatsi and Cyril Ramaphosa at Graduation Ceremony
Wettest Water Year on Record in Parts of Lesotho
A loud explosion rocked western Lesotho at 15 49 (13 49 GMT) on the afternoon
of Sunday 21 July. It was heard over a wide area including Maseru, Ladybrand,
Butha-Buthe, Thaba-Tseka and Mohale’s Hoek, as was later ascertained by
interviewing students returning for the new academic year at the National
University of Lesotho. Initial reaction was that something serious had happened
such as an accident at an ammunition dump or explosives store. However, no such
calamity was reported.
In fact what occurred was no ordinary explosion. It was very loud and
continued at high intensity for about 20 seconds, but it did not begin with an
initial very much louder report as occurs with thunder and many other
explosions. The explosion created an air shock wave which rattled windows, but
the ground did not shake. A check with the LHDA seismic analyst revealed that no
ground shock had been recorded, so a ground-based blast or a major impact on the
earth’s surface was ruled out. The magnitude of the event ruled out an aircraft
sonic boom. The noise was heard over a circle of some 200 km diameter and for
this to have been possible, there must have been a major explosion in the
atmosphere some kilometres above Lesotho. Confirmation that something had indeed
happened up there came from several observers, who despite the 80% cloud cover,
reported that they had seen a smoky trail, wider than a normal aircraft vapour
trail, high up, above and visible between the clouds. From Roma, this crossed
the sky on the north side from east to west and had a highest angle of elevation
of about 70º. However, from Thaba-Tseka, the trail was seen only to the west.
From Roma, the noise seemed to come from the north-west, while from Maseru it
seemed to come from the east. There was also one very useful observation from a
couple driving towards Lesotho between Bethulie and Smithfield about 150 km
south-west of Maseru. They heard no noise but saw in a clear patch of sky low
down in the Maseru direction a moving object described as like a sparkler
firework or a distress flare. The head of the object was a sparkling white but
there were also some orange to red sparks in the tail behind. It moved from
right to left across the sky.
Putting the evidence from a number of observers together, the conclusion was
that an object had entered the earth’s atmosphere travelling in a generally east
to west direction before exploding over western Lesotho. It was unlikely to have
been a large piece of a space craft coming out of earth orbit, because, although
this would have become very hot, it would not have exploded, and would very
likely have fallen to earth. It would thus seem that the object which exploded
must have been a meteorite, and an article by your Summary of events compiler to
this effect appeared in the University’s Information Flash weekly news sheet,
together with the above illustration (except for ‘Ha Ralimo’) with the
speculation that the meteorite must have exploded over the western part of
Lesotho, probably over the Berea Plateau (known in Sesotho as Sehlaba-sa-Thuathe
or the Thuathe Plateau). Very likely the meteorite had fractured into
successively smaller parts and fallen as dust, although it was not ruled out
that something larger could have fallen to the earth.
When the article was written, it had not been known that a group of villagers
from a small village on the Berea Plateau, Ha Ralimo, had already gone to the
police and complained that rocks had rained down on them from the sky, and they
had brought samples with them as evidence. They obviously had an understandable
complaint, but also one for which the police would have had difficulty in
opening a charge sheet. The police took the villagers to the Commissioner of
Mines & Geology, and a geologist from the Department, Joachim Makhaola, then
went with a reporter from the police newspaper, Mosoaboli Mohlomi, to the
village. One consequence was most unusually, instead of the police newspaper
coming out with a headline reporting a serious crime, the issue of Leseli ka
Sepolesa of 15 August 2002 had the headline ‘Naleli e oela Thuathe’ (Star falls
Your compiler of Summary of events went with his assistant, Mamdlongo Maphisa
and Joachim Makhaola, to Ha Ralimo on 23 August 2002. The Headman, Mpho Moseme,
whom we met, gave a particularly graphic account of what happened. On the
afternoon of 21 July, he had been walking back from the village of Baruting
towards Ha Ralimo, passing between the Monyake Dam and Ha Ralimo’s outlying
settlement, Motsekuoa. There was quite unexpectedly a very loud noise in the sky
and he saw flames (malakabe) in the sky a few seconds later. Between 1 and 2
minutes later, according to his estimate, he heard the noise of a huge splash in
the Monyake Dam, with waves spreading out from where something had fallen in. He
started running, but did not know in which direction to run as more rocks hit
the ground, one of them less than ten metres away. It appears that four
different rocks gave him a near miss within a space of about a minute or so. He
was relieved to get home unscathed.
Two days later, having established that doomsday had in fact been postponed,
and indeed that providence might instead have favoured the village with diamonds
from heaven, he went back to the point where he had apparently been targeted
from space, and picked up some of the meteorites, the largest of which had
embedded itself in a ploughed field to a depth of ‘about half the height of a
man’. It was an irregular black rock with a maximum diameter of about 15 cm, and
with a mass estimated to be between that of 2.5kg and 5kg bags of mealie meal or
sugar, thus about 3 to 4 kg. Curious about its interior, he cracked it open with
a sledgehammer. Inside was a granular grey material with scattered fine shiny
inclusions, the grey contrasting with the black fusion crust, which was only
about 0.1 mm thick. One of the three main pieces into which it had been split
was retrieved by Dr Molisana Molisana of the National University of Lesotho
Physics Department and later weighed, and was found to have a mass of 1.020 kg.
Your compiler also interviewed ’Matukule Khoeletsane at her home in Motsekuoa Ha
Ralimo, some 700 metres from Monyake Dam. The house had received a direct hit
from a small meteorite, which had apparently struck a glancing on the sloping
metal roof, and was found lying beside the house. More meteorites, typically 30g
to 80g, were retrieved from fallow fields nearby, and it appears that the
meteorites had fallen over an elliptical area with an approximately east-west
major axis of length about 2 km and minor axis of length about 1.2 km.
A number of small meteorites and a larger one with a mass of about 2.4 kg
were purchased from villagers, and preserved for further study and a possible
exhibit at the Morija Museum. The stones all have conspicuous fusion crusts
showing that their outer surfaces melted during their passage through the
Although the incident had initially escaped media attention, Radio Moafrika,
devoted a programme of one and a half hours to the event on the evening of
Thursday 29 August in which Morena Mpho Moseme and Dr Molisana were interviewed.
How big was the original meteorite before exploding? The drawing exaggerates
its size. It may well have been considerably less than a metre in diameter.
Kinetic energy (as those who remember their school physics will recall) is ½mv2,
where m is the mass and v the velocity, and our meteorite could well have
entered the atmosphere at 100000 km/h, or a hundred times the speed of sound.
Squaring such a speed and putting it as v in ½mv2 gives an indication of the
enormous energy to be dissipated. The largest recorded event in historical times
similar to what seems to have happened in Lesotho on 21 July 2002 occurred,
according to The Guinness book of records, on 30 June 1908 over the basin of the
Podkamennaya Tunguska, a tributary of the Yenisei river in Siberia. An area of
about 4000 km2, equal to more than 10% of the area of Lesotho, was devastated,
all trees in the area being blown flat radially from the hypocentre (the point
on the Earth immediately below the explosion). Fortunately it was a remote and
uninhabited region. The culprit on that occasion is thought to have been a stone
meteorite of about 30 metres diameter, coming in at an angle of 45º and
disintegrating before reaching a height of 10 km. The shock wave from the
Tunguska meteorite was felt 1000 km away. In the Lesotho case, the shock wave
was only felt up to about 100 km away, and Lesotho must be grateful that the
meteorite was comparatively small, and did no significant damage.
Lesotho was in fact host to an extremely rare event, and to have eyewitness
accounts of meteorites actually impacting close by on the earth’s surface
endangering human life must be almost without precedent. Only about 2000
authenticated meteorites exist in museums and collections around the world, and
while it is estimated that about 500 meteorites might penetrate to the surface
of the Earth each year, the vast majority fall in the sea or in very remote
areas and at best only ten of those seen to fall annually are actually
recovered. Of course on average also half of all meteorites fall at night.
Lesotho’s surface area is about one seventeen-thousandth of that of the earth,
and villages cover less than a hundredth of the area of Lesotho, so it can be
calculated that what happened on 21 July is an occurrence so rare that it is
unlikely to be repeated in the present millennium.
A world expert on meteorites, Professor Uwe Reimold, arrived in Lesotho on 28
September. He was particularly interested in the type of meteorite which had
fallen, and took away samples from the some 100 separate stones ranging in size
from 30 g to a few kilograms, which had by now been retrieved from the ‘strewn
field’. It is now assured that the Lesotho Meteorite of 21 July 2002 will find a
place in scientific literature.
The newspaper, Public Eye, in its issue of 28 June 2002, included a report by
Nthakeng Selinyane that the Lesotho Government is considering a proposal to
establish a new Lesotho Central Prison at Ha Motloheloa on the road from Roma to
Masianokeng. The prison would apparently be managed by Group 4 International, a
firm with experience of managing prisons in Britain, and also, according to the
report, in Bloemfontein.
Apart from a small prison at the new district headquarters at Thaba-Tseka, no
new prison has been constructed in Lesotho since Independence. Despite the
population doubling since then, rather remarkably for most of the
post-Independence period, the prison population has not shown a similar
increase. For example, the daily average number of prisoners in 1966 was 1674,
while 30 years later as at 31 December 1996, the prison population was 2175 and
it actually fell to 1796 on 31 December 1997. However, recent legislation
relating to stock and vehicle theft includes long mandatory prison sentences for
those convicted, and although figures are not available, this is likely to have
resulted in a recent steep rise in the prison population.
The Maseru Central Prison was constructed one wing at a time from sandstone
blocks by convict labour over several years in the 1950s, the convicts thereby
acquiring useful building skills. It is not clear whether any of the present
generation of prison staff have the necessary building skills to supervise a
similar operation. If an outside firm obtains the contract for constructing and
managing a new prison it seems unlikely that it will use the construction
methods of the former prison service.
Ha Motloheloa is a large village on a plateau, which suffers from a perpetual
water problem. If a new prison is constructed there, it seems likely that the
village will benefit from a proper water scheme, and the new installation will
also provide employment. However, no environmental impact assessment seems to
have been carried out, and the views of the local community seem to have not yet
The Lesotho Senate or Upper House of Parliament has a hereditary component
consisting of Lesotho’s 22 Principal Chiefs who have seats in the Senate ex
officio. The other 11 members of the 33-person Senate are chosen by the King
acting on the advice of the Council of State, which meets for this purpose only
after the National Assembly has had its first meeting after a General Election,
by which time the new Prime Minister and Speaker are in office. The Council of
State, which has up to 14 members, includes the Prime Minister, the Speaker of
the National Assembly, two judges, the Attorney-General, a representative of the
Law Society, the Commander of the Defence Force, the Commissioner of Police, a
Principal Chief, the leaders of the two strongest parliamentary opposition
parties as chosen by the Speaker, and up to three persons nominated by the Prime
Minister. Although it is not a foregone conclusion, this composition of the
Council of State apparently provides sufficient support for the Prime Minister
whenever he proposes a person as Senator so that he can fill a vacant cabinet
In the case of the new Senate, the Prime Minister did indeed need to use the
Senate to fill four key cabinet positions. Mr Timothy Thahane, who has long
experience in the World Bank, and more recently as Deputy Governor of the South
African Reserve Bank, became a Senator, so that he could be appointed Minister
of Finance and Development Planning. Ms Lebohang Ntšinyi, most recently
Ambassador to Germany, also became a Senator, so that she could be appointed
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment (she is also a former Director of
Tourism). A former Regional Director of the Institute of Development Management,
Dr ’Mamphono Khaketla, also became a Senator and Minister of Communications. The
fourth cabinet Senator was Mr Refiloe Moses Masemene, reappointed to Senate and
as Minister of Justice, Human Rights, Law and Constitutional Affairs. Mr
Masemene, a lawyer by profession, is blind and was considered by some to have
originally been appointed to Senate to represent the interests of disabled
The other seven Senators are Chief ’Mualle Moshoeshoe and Chief Qajela Lebona,
Chiefs of the Independent Wards in Mohale’s Hoek District. These chiefs have
always aspired to have their status raised to principal chiefs, but in practice
occupy a rather equivocal status rather greater than area chiefs, but less than
that of full principal chiefs. Also appointed Senator is Major-General Phisoane
Ramaema, successor to Major-General Lekhanya as Head of the Military Government;
Mrs ’Malerotholi Ntsubise Sekhonyana, a widow of the former BNP leader Evaristus
Retšelisitsoe Sekhonyana; Chieftainess ’Manapo Majara, who always insists on
being addressed ‘ntate’, Leader of the New Lesotho Freedom Party; Dr Rakoro
Phororo, a veterinary surgeon who has played a major role in economic planning
initiatives; and Mrs Mookho Mathibeli of the LCD Women’s League. Five of the
eleven appointed Senators are women.
At its first meeting, the new Senate re-elected Chief Sempe Lejaha as
President and in a three candidate election chose Chief Letapata Makhaola to be
Vice-President of the Senate. It also had to consider the fact that the Senate
chamber was not designed to accommodate disabled Senators confined to
wheelchairs. Principal Chief Moletsane of Taung Ward was confined to a
wheelchair and because there were no suitable ramps, could only participate in
Senate debates if his wheelchair was lifted into place by ushers. Even then he
could not reach the normal seats in the chamber used by Senators.
In the new cabinet, the Environment portfolio, which was formerly linked with
Gender and Youth Affairs, has now been exchanged with Sports, so that it forms
part of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment. Sport is now part of
the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Sports.
The practice of shuffling the civil service heads in ministries continues
with the new government. The new Principal Secretary for Tourism, Culture and
Environment is Mr Tebello Metsing, formerly PS for Home Affairs; the new PS for
Agriculture, Cooperatives and Land Reclamation is Mrs ’Mamoruti Malie, who was
formerly PS for Gender, Environment & Youth Affairs; the new PS for Health &
Social Welfare is Mrs Mahali Lebesa, who was formerly PS for Economic Affairs;
while the new PS for Gender, Youth & Sports is Mr Teboho Kitleli, formerly PS
for Health & Social Welfare.
Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), as reported in Mopheme of 16 July
2002, has through its National Coordinator, Keiso Matashane-Marite, expressed
its pleasure about the increased numbers of women in Parliament. There are now
12 women MPs (although Mopheme for some reason seems to think the number is 13),
making the number 10% for the first time. This is however still far short of the
target set by SADC that women should comprise 30% of parliamentarians by the
year 2005. The proportion of women in the Lesotho Senate does, however, come
close to the 30% target.
As far as Cabinet is concerned, the proportion is also higher than 10%. There
are four women cabinet ministers (two of them Senators, two of them MPs), and
two assistant ministers. Women cabinet members occupy the portfolios of Local
Government (Dr Pontšo Sekatle); Gender, Youth and Sports (Mrs ’Mathabiso Lepono);
Communications (Dr ’Mamphono Khaketla); Tourism, Culture and Environment (Ms
Lebohang Ntšinyi); and there are also women Assistant Ministers of Education (Mrs
’Malijane Norah Maqelepo) and Justice & Human Rights (Ms Mpeo Mahase).
At the 14th International AIDS Conference which began in Barcelona, Spain on
7 July 2002, a new UNAids report was released, which, as quoted in The Star of 3
July 2002, gave information about the latest infection rates in southern Africa.
According to the report, the number of pregnant women testing HIV-positive at
government health facilities was 44.9% in Botswana, 42.2% in Lesotho, 35.0% in
Zimbabwe, 32.3% in Swaziland, 29.3% in Namibia and 24.8% in South Africa.
While there are obvious difficulties in extrapolating these figures to the
population as a whole, they are indicative of the cataclysmic impact of AIDS
throughout southern Africa, and although infection rates were higher in
neighbouring countries, South Africa had the dubious distinction of having 5
million of its citizens infected, more than any other country in the world.
The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on HIV/AIDS in Africa, Stephen
Lewis, made a statement which was in part reproduced in the National University
of Lesotho’s Information Flash of 23 August 2002. The stark facts were that by
2020 HIV/AIDS was likely to cause 68 million deaths worldwide, and 55 million of
them would be in Africa, where the prevalence was highest in southern Africa.
The UNAids report contained figures with estimates of current rates of infection
between two confidence limits, but Lewis chose to take the higher figure in each
case because that seemed to be the likely rate of infection shortly even if it
were not already. The figures for HIV/AIDS prevalence he gave for young people
(aged 15 to 24) were 45% for young women in Botswana, while for young men it was
19%. For Lesotho the same figures were 51% for young women and 23% for young
men, and in South Africa the same figures were 31% for young women and 13% for
Quoting from a second report prepared by UNICEF, Lewis came up with rather
different figures. For example, the report stated an infection rate of 17% to
22% amongst girls aged 15 to 19 in major urban areas of eastern and southern
Africa. One of the features of AIDS in Africa was its assault on women. 67% of
AIDS cases amongst young people were women. Women sufferers thus outnumbered men
by 2: 1. The UNICEF report documented some of the causes and consequences
including the predatory sexual behaviour of older men, girls pulled out of
school to care for sick and dying parents, ‘the complicating malevolence of the
sex trade’ and the growth of the orphan population.
As reported in The Star of 10 July 2002, also speaking at the conference was
Professor Alan Whiteside, the Director of the University of Natal’s HIV/AIDS
Research Division. Confining himself to South Africa, the predictions were that
65% of deaths in South Africa would be AIDS related by 2008, and by 2010 there
would be 2 million orphans, one in every 20 South Africans. Much was still
unknown about the impact of the disease. For example, in KwaZulu-Natal, the
enrolment in the first year of primary school had dropped by 100000. He asked
about the missing enrolments, ‘Have they died, are they heading households, or
do they simply not care? The point is, we don’t know.’
Beautiful Gate is a care centre near the Industrial Area in Maseru which was
first opened in June 2001 to care primarily for HIV-positive and dying children.
The centre (originally known as Little Feet) is sponsored by a missionary
organization, Youth With A Mission, and the centre was founded by Ray and Sue
By 2002, Beautiful Gate had 22 children and employed no less than 16 care
workers and a nurse. Many of the children in the centre had been found
abandoned, and initially their HIV-status was unknown, because it cannot be
definitely ascertained until the child is 9 months old.
As reported in the MS (Danish Aid) periodical Lumela of July 2002, as many as
possible of the 22 children were recently tested. To the delight of the staff,
18 children tested HIV-negative. There was one HIV-positive child and three have
still to be tested.
A report in the Mail & Guardian of 26 July 2002 announced that agreement had
been reached between the gold-mining giant, Anglogold and the five unions it
recognizes to supply anti-retroviral drugs free to infected miners. Unofficial
estimates put levels of HIV infection in the mining industry between 25% and
30%. A large proportion of the miners who will benefit are from Lesotho,
although it is far from clear whether they will continue to receive the
treatment after leaving mining employment.
Although AIDS is frequently stated to be incurable, it is, when resources are
sufficient, a manageable disease akin to diabetes. The problem is that the
anti-retroviral drugs, testing and counselling programme cost about M1000 per
person per month, far beyond the means of most people. However, gold and diamond
miners have now become a privileged group who will get this treatment.
In coming to its decision, Anglogold was no doubt influenced by the
experience of Debswana at the Orapa Diamond Mine in Botswana. As quoted in the
Weekly Telegraph of 28 August 2002, the mine’s medical officer, Dr Dudley Wang,
stated that if the HIV infection is caught early enough, 98% of people who would
be dead within a year can expect not just to be alive but still working. ‘All
the evidence points at between 50 and 100 of our employees who would otherwise
be dead, being alive today because of the treatment’.
Heavy snowfall throughout the eastern Maloti on 19 and 20 July, resulted in
Mokhotlong and Qacha’s Nek being cut off from the rest of Lesotho for a number
of days. Sani Pass was closed for over a week, and a number of visitors stranded
at Sani Top had to be rescued by helicopter.
The snow was confined to eastern Lesotho and adjoining areas of South Africa,
where communications were also severely affected for several days. In western
Lesotho, most places recorded no rain at all in July. For many rainfall
stations, it was the first below average rainfall month, after nine consecutive
months each with above average rainfall.
According to the police newspaper, Leseli ka Sepolesa of 1 August 2002, three
persons drowned when the ferry transporting them across the Katse Reservoir from
Ha Kosetabole to Bokong capsized in the middle of the lake on 7 July 2002. Two
of the bodies had not been recovered. Those who were rescued had been wearing
life jackets, but it appears that the boat was not carrying enough for all the
A local policeman, Sergeant Tota Khobotlo, appealed to the boat owners (‘bo-ralikenchana’)
to obtain licences for their work and to be trained to understand the weather
conditions on the lake. It appears, however, that at present, there is no
statutory requirement for those operating boats to have licences.
The official opening of Lesotho’s Sixth Parliament took place on Friday 12
July 2002 with the Speech from the Throne in which the King traditionally
outlines the policy of the new government.
In his speech, the King indicated that high on the agenda of the new
Parliament was the establishment of democratically elected local authorities in
both urban and rural areas that would be effective, accountable and sustainable.
‘Local government shall be the key instrument for the decentralization of
government functions and services, as well as the devolution of political
authority. The fourth and fifth Parliaments enacted the Local Government Act
1997 and the Local Government Elections Act 1998 respectively. My Government
intends to utilize these pieces of legislation to deliver on its promises of
genuine and democratic local government.’
The King also made reference to fundamental changes in the development
planning system and the development of Vision 2020; poverty reduction strategy;
public sector reform; plans to launch the new revenue authority; strengthening
of the Treasury; the coming into force of a new Southern African Customs Union;
further privatization; expanding the country’s industrial base; integrating
small enterprises into the main economy through the Basotho Enterprises
Development Corporation (BEDCO); a trade policy review to make Lesotho’s
products accessible to foreign markets; a feasibility study for a Lesotho
Lowlands Water Project as well as another for the Metolong Dam on the Southern
Phuthiatsana to serve Maseru; the expansion of free primary education to cover
the whole primary cycle; expansion of technical and vocational education and
review of the curriculum to ensure relevance; legislation to regulate the
development of higher education and the conduct and supervision of examinations;
and the coordination of a national response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic through
LAPCA, the Lesotho AIDS Prevention Coordinating Authority.
Capital projects which would be embarked upon during the life of the Sixth
Parliament would include a new Parliament Complex, a National Referral Hospital,
a Phase IV Government Complex, and a High Altitude Sports Training Centre at Ha
Lesotho’s Sixth Parliament convened without an official Leader of the
Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition, a post with a higher salary than that
of other opposition MPs, is required to lead a party or coalition of at least
one-quarter of the total seats in Parliament. Although the Basotho National
Party had been allocated 21 seats under the proportional representation system,
it needed to form a coalition with at least two other parties to achieve the
necessary coalition of at least 30 seats. It was clear from the anti-BNP stories
being printed in Nonyana, the newspaper of the Lesotho People’s Congress, that
the LPC, which has 5 seats, was unlikely to agree to forming a coalition. This
left the BNP with the task of persuading the National Independence Party, also
with 5 seats, and parties such as the Basutoland African Congress and Basutoland
Congress Party, both with 3 seats, to form the necessary coalition. Given the
antipathy amongst members of some of these parties towards the BNP, the
prospects of a coalition at this stage seemed slight.
As reported in the University’s weekly news sheet, Information Flash, of 12
July 2002, and as also reported widely in all national newspapers, the forensic
audit undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the National University
of Lesotho management had revealed serious cases of financial impropriety and/or
fraud. It was reported that the auditors had submitted 21 different reports on
university financial transactions between 1997 and 2001, and had inter alia
found that cheques for large sums had been signed without supporting documents;
certain individuals in the Bursary had colluded with companies to defraud the
University of large sums under false pretences; investment projects had been
carried out without due authorization from the University Council; and numerous
vital files and other critical financial documents had disappeared from the
Bursary in the period before and during the investigation. The auditors also
reported gross negligence and general chaos in the Bursary manifesting itself in
a total absence of proper financial management and acceptable accounting
controls. It also reported cases of dereliction of duty on the part of
individuals entrusted with the supervision of others for the purposes of
ensuring adherence to good financial practice in the Bursary.
On receiving the reports from the forensic auditors, the University Council
instructed the University Management to institute disciplinary action against
staff; to institute criminal proceedings for fraud, forgery, theft and
corruptions as applicable; and to institute civil proceedings against companies
implicated to recover the University’s losses.
It was reported by some newspapers that the forensic audit, which had taken
over a year to complete, had cost the university well over half a million maloti.
The University Bursar, Matsobane Putsoa, a former Auditor-General, had been
suspended by the University during the investigation. He declined to report to
the press on the forensic audit, saying that the report had not been made
available to him.
According to the LCD party newspaper, Mololi of 25 July 2002, a new union,
the National Union of Textileworkers (NUTEX) has been founded with General
Secretary, ’Mathakane Nyabela. The new party, affiliated to the Lesotho
Federation of Democratic Unions (LFDU) competes to represent factory workers
with the existing Lesotho Clothing & Allied Workers Union (LECAWU).
One of the best known of Lesotho’s computer companies, Quadrant Computers, is
in 2002 celebrating its twentieth anniversary. As reported in Public Eye of 26
July 2002, Quadrant was founded by Graham Jennings in 1982, three years after he
had first come to Lesotho as General Manager of Maluti Skin Products.
Subsequently it has trained more than 50000 Basotho in management and
information technology skills, and more than twenty former Quadrant employees
have started their own successful businesses. The Technical Director for several
years was Lebeko Sello, whom Quadrant recruited from the National University of
Lesotho staff, where he had been Lecturer in Mathematics and Computing Science.
Sello now works in a senior position with the Southern African Development
Community in Pretoria.
The Principal Chief of Leribe, Chief Bolokoe Motšoene, died of bone cancer on
30 July 2002. He had been ill for many years. His wife, Chieftainess ’Mamolapo,
had been Acting Principal Chief since 1986.
Chief Bolokoe Motšoene, was the great-grandson of Chief Motšoene, a man of
prodigious girth, who as the offspring of Chief Letsie’s daughter, Senate, and
Molapo’s eldest son, Josefa, had once been favoured by King Moshoeshoe to be his
eventual successor. Bolokoe Letsie Koabeng Motšoene was born on 25 March 1937,
and had married Exinia Setori Lejaha (who is now Chieftainess ’Mamolapo) at what
was then billed the Lesotho ‘wedding of the year’ in December 1965.
The Leribe Ward is one of two wards in Leribe District (the other is Tsikoane)
and extends into the Maloti to include part of the area of the Katse Reservoir.
In the Commonwealth Games, held in Manchester, England, from 25 July to 10
August 2002, Lesotho was represented by a delegation consisting of 29 athletes,
13 officials and 4 government representatives. Lesotho had participants in
athletics, boxing, squash, table tennis and athletics for the disabled. There
were hopes that Lesotho might repeat the success in Malaysia in 1998, when
Thabiso Moqhali won the gold medal for the marathon. In the event Lesotho had to
be content with a single bronze medal, won by one of its boxers, Letuka Sephula.
Parliamentary etiquette, enshrined in Standing Order 37(6), requires that
Members of Parliament are addressed in the National Assembly, not by their
names, but as the Member of Parliament for X Constituency, or in the case of
members who are of ministerial rank, by their ministerial position. However, the
new Parliament has 40 members, those who are elected under proportional
representation, who are neither constituency MPs nor ministers.
On 25 July 2002, Standing Order 37(6) was amended to read ‘a member shall
refer to another member by his constituency or ministerial office, but not by
name except for proportional representation members who shall be referred to by
According to the ruling party newspaper, Mololi of 25 July 2002, the Prime
Minister was to head a delegation of 17, including his wife and several cabinet
ministers, to a ‘Global 2002 International Dialogue on Smart Partnership’, being
held in Langkawi, Malaysia from 1 to 4 August 2002.
Over the previous few years, the Prime Minister has attended numerous ‘Smart
partnership’ conferences in Malaysia, Victoria Falls and Namibia. However, the
tangible benefits to Lesotho from the original Malaysian pioneered idea have so
far not been very evident.
A first group of 17 Cuban medical professionals arrived in Lesotho in July
and according to a report from the Lesotho News Agency (LENA) were welcomed at a
reception on Monday 29 July by the Minister of Health & Social Welfare, Dr
Motloheloa Phooko. Their arrival follows an agreement signed in Havana between
Lesotho and Cuba, and a further 10 doctors were due to join the first 17 in less
than a month. The Cuban doctors are apparently earmarked to serve in the remoter
areas of Lesotho where local doctors are reluctant to serve.
Cuba has 11 million people and 67000 medical professionals, one of the
highest ratios in the world, which makes it possible to make medical
professionals available to other countries. The LENA report did not indicate
whether a language problem was anticipated given that these were Spanish
speaking doctors who would be mainly working with patients who only speak
The Lesotho College of Education Act 1997 under which the National Teacher
Training College was to be renamed the Lesotho College of Education and given
greater autonomy had long been expected to be brought into force. It was finally
brought into force on 31 July 2002 (by Lesotho Government Gazette Extraordinary
no. 83 of 2002 (22 July 2002), and from 31 July NTTC officially became LCE.
LCE held its 25th Graduation Ceremony (the 1st under the new name) on
Saturday 31 August 2002. There were altogether 269 graduands and speeches were
made by the Minister of Education, Hon. Lesao Lehohla and the new Director of
LCE, Professor J. C. S. Musaazi.
At the small village of Khotong, some 9 km east of Maseru on the Thuathe
(Berea) Plateau, a herdboy disappeared on 4 August 2002. His body was found on
27 August in a ploughed field by other herdboys. It was severely mutilated and
eyes, nose, mouth and armpits were missing. It became general knowledge that the
body parts had been used to make medicine to ‘strengthen’ the small store of one
of the village women who was also one of the perpetrators of the crime.
According to a report in Nonyana of 11 September, the police have arrested five
men and two women. The deceased, Lebohang Makoanyane, aged 16, was from the
nearby village of Litšukulung Ha Sepinare, at the foot of the plateau. He had
been engaged by the Lethuba family of Khotong to look after their animals, and
had been staying with them.
The new cellphone division which is part of Tele-Com Lesotho, Econet Ezi-Cell
(EEC) Lesotho has announced that it is sponsoring a Buddie Challenge Cup League
for 44 Lesotho football teams from a Premier League through Divisions A to C.
The tournament, with total sponsorship money is M800 000, will end with the
finals being played in the usual round-robin system between the four best clubs.
The first fixtures were set for 10 August 2002, but it would require a tight
fixture schedule, even though some teams were seeded, for the competition to
reach the round-robin finals stage by the Independence holiday early in October
when football finals are held. The knockout competition will apparently proceed
in parallel with the normal football league fixtures.
The ‘Buddie’ in the Buddie Challenge Cup name is the name that EEC has chosen
for its prepaid card system for its cellphones.
Tele-Com Lesotho the privatised company which manages fixed lines in Lesotho
announced at the end of July 2002 that all Lesotho telephone numbers would be
changed from the present six digit system to an eight digit system with effect
from 1 August 2002, but with the new and old numbers running in parallel until
31 October 2002. For most subscribers the new number is the same as the old
number but with the additional digits 22 added on the front. Telephone numbers
were popularly being described as ‘Desmondized’ (22 = Tutu).
Business Report of 14 August 2002 gave details of a M211 million contract
which had been won by Siemens Telecommunications (Sietel) to supply a wireless
networking system for Tele-Com Lesotho. Tele-Com Lesotho is 70% owned by
Mountain Kingdom Communications, a consortium consisting of Econet, Eskom
Enterprises and Mauritius Telecoms and 30% by the Lesotho Government. Tele-Com
Lesotho has a five year exclusivity licence for fixed lines, and under the
agreement has to install 150 000 new telephone lines in underserviced areas by
2005. The Chief Executive of Tele-Com Lesotho, Adri van der Veer, said that
expansion of the network using wireless technology would bring telephones to the
remote areas of Lesotho, and the company hoped to connect 29000 new customers
before the end of the year. Lesotho currently has some 24000 fixed line
telephones and 30000 cellphone connections.
Lentsoe la Basotho of 22 August 2002 reported the sad story of a funeral at
Matomaneng near Mantšonyane on 3 August 2002. After a funeral service, the
hearse was transporting the corpse and the husband of the deceased to the
graveyard in an area where roads are almost non-existent. The hill proved too
steep and the vehicle could proceed no further. The driver got out but the
brakes did not hold, and the vehicle ran backwards and overturned throwing out
both the coffin and the husband, who fell underneath the overturning vehicle and
was killed instantly.
At a meeting on Thursday 8 August 2002 at Netherlands Hall on the Roma
Campus, the Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho, Dr Tefetso
Mothibe, addressed the student body on matters of concern. His speech was
reported in the campus newsletter Information Flash of 9 August 2002, and also
widely reported in the national press. He used strong words about student
behaviour saying that the student community was ‘becoming a community of
bankrupt men and women with animal instincts ... including rapists, drug pushers
and addicts, criminals of all sorts, and highly informed but poorly formed
Having taken a tour of student hostels, he and his staff had found widespread
vandalism, including fire hoses used by unknown male students in an attempt to
force women students out of their rooms. At one hostel, damage caused in the
past seven days had amounted to M24 675. Moreover, ‘scores’ of fraudulent
certificates had been discovered by which students had obtained admission to the
In view of the extraordinary times and extraordinary circumstances, the
Vice-Chancellor said that he was declaring a state of emergency introducing a
code of conduct whose provisions included: NUL hostel residents to sign a
contractual agreement of conditions for occupancy; new security procedures for
all halls of residence; smoking and use of foul language to be banned in halls
of residence and public places on campus; and no liquor to be sold on NUL
campuses except at authorized outlets.
The same issue of Information Flash gave more details about the forged
Cambridge Overseas School Certificate examination certificates which had been
detected by the admissions staff. Some 30 to 40 dubious certificates had been
discovered which had apparently originated from ‘a highly sophisticated
syndicate’ in Maseru, which had charged between M500 and M1500 per certificate
for its services.
A correspondent in the following issue of Information Flash, while not
alluding to the state of emergency, provided indication that apart from the
student body, not all was well with the administration of the university. He
gave instances which included chairs having been removed from classrooms before
the last day of lectures, examinations being delayed because rooms and papers
were not ready, supplementary examination results not published in time for
student registration, and lectures not beginning on the day scheduled because
there was no timetable.
In fact the whole of the first week of lectures was lost because there was no
timetable, providing ample time for idle students to resort to mischief of the
kind which the Vice-Chancellor had deplored.
Chief Motjoka Ramosa Toloane, Chief of Ha Toloane, the village which sits
astride the main tarred road just south of Morija, was buried together with his
grandmother, ’Masoko Toloane, at Ha Toloane on 10 August 2002. Chief Toloane who
was 25, had been shot by unknown gunmen in the evening as he returned home from
Maseru, after making arrangements for the funeral of his grandmother who had
died naturally shortly before. According to a report in The Mirror of 21 August
2002, Chief Toloane had been a compaigner against stock theft and the illegal
possession of arms in areas under his jurisdiction.
According to The Mirror of 14 August 2002, the Car Theft Section of the
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) had the previous week seized
approximately 100 cars from the MKM Burial Society in the Industrial Area,
Maseru, on suspicion that they were stolen. However, the Chief Executive officer
of MKM stated that they were shortly afterwards returned and he blamed the
incident on disgruntled employees which the firm had dismissed. In his interview
with The Mirror, he said that MKM owned a number of unique or rare vehicles,
including three Toyota Mark Two 800s, the only ones in Africa,and also the
latest model of Pajero, the only one of its kind in Lesotho. He wondered how a
company as large as his, with which even the King has opened a burial policy
could have been targeted by the police.
Funeral companies have been one of the growth areas in Lesotho in recent
years and if nothing else, the newspaper article documents how rapidly a single
company can grow on the funeral business in just 12 years since its foundation.
Such companies are amongst the very few which benefit from the HIV/AIDS epidemic
which seems to have more than doubled the death rate in the past five years.
Funeral companies compete with each other, and to many people one of their less
welcome innovations has been the introduction of sirens which are used to
indicate the arrivals of corpses on Friday afternoons. Funerals almost
invariably take place on Saturdays following a wake on the previous night.
The food crisis in southern Africa has resulted in a major humanitarian
problem to meet the needs of several million people threatened with starvation
in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique and Lesotho. Whereas the countries to
the north have suffered from harvest failures as a result of drought, in Lesotho
the poor crop has been the result of excessive rainfall. The crisis in Lesotho,
which on average grows less than half of its maize requirements, has been
exacerbated by the price of maize more than doubling, meaning that families who
normally buy their maize (‘mealie meal’) requirements have often been able to
buy only half as much as they really need.
As reported in the South African Sunday Independent of 4 August 2002, the
United States has so far been the major contributor to the World Food Programme
appeal. However, much of the 292 000 tons available from the USA are genetically
modified (GM) crops, posing a dilemma for food aid recipient countries. (In the
USA today, two-thirds of soya and one-third of all maize grown are now GM, and
90% of all GM crops emanate from one company, Monsanto.) The Zambian president
is reported as saying that he would rather let his people die than feed them
hazardous food. Zimbabwe after initial hesitation, agreed to accept GM maize
provided it was milled. On the other hand Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland
apparently have had no reservations about accepting GM food, although in Lesotho
there seems to have been no public debate on the matter. In Lesotho’s case a
certain amount of realism was in any case appropriate, because of what was
already happening on its borders. An article by Rachel Wynberg in the South
African Journal of Science for May/June 2002 showed that genetically engineered
(i.e. GM) maize was being already grown commercially in the three South African
provinces which immediately adjoin Lesotho, while genetically engineered soya
beans were being grown commercially in the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, and
genetically engineered wheat in the Free State.
As reported in Mopheme in its issue of 6 August, only 88704 people had so far
registered as recipients of food assistance, which was still awaited from
various different international relief organizations.
Meanwhile the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that 444 800 people were
in need of food assistance in the worst hit districts of Qacha’s Nek, Quthing
and Mohale’s Hoek, where excessive rains in the summer of 2001-2 had led to
widespread crop failure.
Baroness Valerie Amos, British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister
responsible for Africa, paid a one day official visit to Lesotho on 30 July 2002
and indicated that the British Government had pledged £45 million for the
countries of southern Africa most hit by crop failure, of which the share
allocated to Lesotho was £2.5 million (about M40 million).
WFP food arrived in Durban in early August together with over 200 vehicles
donated by the Norwegian Government to be used in the five countries of Lesotho,
Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe during the distribution process.
Actual distribution of the food began in Qacha’s Nek, Quthing and Mohale’s
Hoek Districts in August and was extended to five other districts in September.
Meanwhile there were reports from different parts of Lesotho of people
actually dying of hunger. According to Leselinyana la Lesotho of 16 August 2002,
five people, including three young children, had recently died of starvation in
the village of Ha Sekoala, which is in fact only 2 km from the Scott Hospital in
Morija. Those who were taken to hospital were taken there too late.
WFP in 2001 fed more than 77 million impoverished people in 82 countries
In a lead story, gruesomely illustrated with photographs of burned corpses,
the Catholic newspaper, Moeletsi oa Basotho of 18 August 2002, described the
fate of four alleged car hijackers.
On 9 August 2002, a ‘4 plus 1’ taxi (driver with four passengers) picked up
four young men near Carewell Clinic in Maseru. At Borokhoaneng on the outskirts
of Maseru, they overpowered the driver with a gun and knife, bundled him into
the boot, and drove via Ha Makhoathi to Ha Makhalanyane on the Roma road to get
petrol. As they tried to fill the vehicle, the driver emerged from the boot and
called for help. The thieves went off in the vehicle, but the alarm had been
raised, and at Mahlabatheng they abandoned the vehicle and took to their heels.
Unfortunately for them they went in the direction of Ha Ramaqhanyane, a village
notorious for killing and burning thieves, there having been at least two
previous incidents, one the previous October when thieves had been dealt with
By the time the thieves were near Ha Ramaqhanyane, they had split into two
pairs, but in each case villagers seized them, beat them with sticks and stones
and threw them onto hastily created fires, where according to the newspaper,
quoting the testimony of a villager, the victims cried out ‘God help us! Don’t
burn us because we are going to burn in hell’. It was to no avail because they
were indeed burned to death, if not already dead when thrown onto the fires.
According to the newspaper, the four men have not been identified. There is
also no report of any villagers being arrested for taking the law into their own
hands. It also appears that no action had been taken when inhabitants of the
same village had killed and burned three alleged cattle thieves in the same way
on 19 October 2001, nor when similar events had taken place at the nearby
villages of Ha Liile, Khokhotsaneng Ha Majara and Ha Ntsane over a period of
some months prior to that.
The National University of Lesotho History Department in August 2002
published a new book, Essays on aspects of the political economy of Lesotho
1500-2000. The book is the work of five authors, Tefetso Mothibe, Maria Ntabeni,
Motlatsi Thabane, Balam Nyeko and Neville Pule, all present or past members of
the staff of the History Department or of the Political and Administrative
Studies Department at the university. It is edited by Motlatsi Thabane and
The book contains an introductory chapter dealing with the period 1500-1800
for which oral tradition and archaeology are the main sources. Following that,
the nineteenth and twentieth centuries get four and a half chapters each, and
the story is brought up to the elections of 1998 and their unfortunate
Most of the chapters lean heavily on other existing summaries of Lesotho
history, but one chapter by Motlatsi Thabane analyses features in Sir Philip
Wodehouse’s character which played a part in enabling him to persuade Britain to
annex (‘colonise’) Lesotho in 1868. In doing so, he draws on material in
Basutoland records, volumes 4 to 6, which he had recently edited for publication
by the Institute of Southern African Studies of the university.
Basutoland records, a documentary history of Lesotho from 1833 to 1868, had
been compiled by G. M. Theal and published in three large volumes in 1883. He
had also prepared three other volumes for publication covering the years 1868 to
1872 immediately following Lesotho’s annexation by Britain. It had long been
known to scholars that these volumes 4 to 6 existed in Cape Town, with a
photographically reproduced copy (it was made before the time of photocopiers)
also available in the Lesotho National Archives. With the publication of
Basutoland records, volumes 4 to 6, the whole 6 volumes are now much more
generally available. Their appearance is timely because the Lesotho National
Archives is currently closed indefinitely to users and does not even have a
suitable building to store its precious records.
The three new volumes as published do not have any explanation as to why
their publication was delayed 119 years. However, one can sense that certain of
their contents might have been less than welcome if they had been published in
1883. There are for example sworn testimonies from seven Basotho women as to
their each having been gang-raped by members of the Orange Free State army, and
this would have embarrassed the many Dutch-speaking Cape residents. Sadly, these
are the only women’s voices in the three volumes. All other documents and
correspondence are apparently from the pens of men only.
The editor, Motlatsi Thabane had to struggle with text in French and High
Dutch (translations of these passages are provided) and also with difficult
handwriting. Where he did not succeed in deciphering names, he has left them as
they actually appear to be spelled. For example, in volume 6, a specimen divorce
agreement is provided, using as example an 1843 divorce granted to a wife of
Moshoeshoe so that she could become Christian. In the document, the wife is
named ‘Nsserio’ and amongst the witnesses are ‘Yorefa Isiu’ and ‘Yathua Nan’.
Such garbled names are the consequence of poor handwriting being mistranscribed
by persons not knowing Sesotho and would defeat most people trying to make sense
of them. However, Nsserio is almost certainly Ntšebo, who was baptized at about
this time, Yosefa Isiu is Josefa Tšiu, while Yathua Nan is none other than
Joshua ’Nau Makoanyane, King Moshoeshoe’s most famous warrior. The earliest
French missionaries used a style of handwriting in which they wrote the letters
n and u so that they looked alike. (This style can still be found amongst
Basotho today many generations down the line.) It is therefore not difficult to
see how ’Nau or Nau came to be written Nan.
According to a report in Lesotho Today of 22 August 2002, Lesotho is to
compile a wind atlas with assistance from the People’s Republic of China. This
was announced when the Minister of Natural Resources accepted meteorological
equipment worth M158000 from China.
At present, according to the article, there are wind measuring stations at
Letšeng-la-Terae, Moyeni and Sani Top operated by Lesotho Meteorological
Services. Another anemometer (not mentioned in the report) is operated by the
Department of Civil Aviation at Moshoeshoe I International Airport.
The ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy won both the ‘Fresh Elections’ held
on Saturday 24 August. These elections had been necessary in two constituencies
because at the time of the General Election in May, in each case one of the
candidates had died between the nomination day and the election day. As a result
on the General Election day voters in these constituencies had only been able to
vote in the party ballot and not the candidate ballot.
In the Hlotse Fresh Election, Sello Maphalla, of the ruling Lesotho Congress
for Democracy won with 1937 votes, 62% of the votes cast. His nearest rival was
the Basotho National Party dissident, Molapo Majara, standing as an Independent
candidate, received only 397 votes, 12% of the votes cast. The official BNP
candidate received 245 votes. Altogether there were ten candidates. There was a
low turn-out with only 27% of registered voters turning out to vote.
In the Mount Moorosi Fresh Election in a similarly low turn-out, Kose Makoa
of the LCD won with 2413 votes, followed by Ntšoeu Sechaba of the BNP with 1128
votes. Altogether there were nine candidates.
Meanwhile, with the death of Mpe Koabola, Member of Parliament for the Motete
Constituency, at the age of 71, there will be need for a by-election in that
constituency, although it is understood that it will not be held until the new
The oldest high school in Lesotho, Thabeng High School in Morija, was
seriously damaged when boarding pupils rioted on Monday 26 August 2002. The
headline in the church newspaper, Leselinyana la Lesotho of 30 August 2002 was
‘Ba siea sekolo e le lithako’ (They have left the school in ruins). However, it
appears that most of the damage was in the form of broken windows. The students’
main grievance appeared to be the bad food, a particular grievance being beans
served in pork fat. Other grievances were denial of sporting facilities, very
long study periods in the evenings, and not being allowed to watch television.
The following issue of Leselinyana, on 13 September 2002, reported the death
of the Headmaster of Thabeng High School, C. T. Leoli, who died after a short
illness on 7 September 2002. He was 67.
On Wednesday 28 August 2002, twenty days after his address to students, the
Vice-Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho, Dr Tefetso Mothibe,
addressed the University Congregation, a body consisting of academic and senior
administrative staff. In a similarly uncompromising speech, in which he spoke
‘as your Commander-in-Chief’ he stated ‘I hereby declare war on the current
administrative and academic malaise and a bankrupt institutional culture’. He
then stated the steps he was taking which included Heads of Departments and
units immediately to assume managerial roles and responsibilities. The Director
of Human Resources was to conduct with immediate effect a skills audit of all
staff, and to develop a human resources strategy and policy. Senate was to
review all academic routines and procedures with a view to improving efficiency,
and to review admissions requirements so that there would be a new admissions
policy. His whole statement consisted of 20 separate points designed to correct
a situation which he regarded as encapsulated in a disturbing but truthful
message he had received from a staff member: ‘the culture of this institution
encourages and rewards impunity, disregard, disrespect and breaking of rules
[and] encourages and rewards wild individualism instead of creative initiative’.
After the Vice-Chancellor’s address, staff members were able to ask questions
and make points. Several described the situation which had arisen as a result of
an unexpectedly high intake of first year students, so that in many classes,
there were many more students than seats. A large proportion of these students
had not met the normal entrance requirements, but had been admitted after a
‘bridging course’ held during the long vacation. Because, hostel accommodation
had not been increased, another crisis had arisen because large numbers of
students could not be found rooms on the campus, and had been forced to lodge in
nearby villages or to commute from Maseru.
Amongst other matters that were touched on in the Congregation were the
position of the Bursar and Deputy Bursar, both of whom had been suspended
pending the outcome of a forensic audit of the Bursary. It was mentioned that
summons to appear before the Staff Disciplinary Committee were being issued that
same day to both the Bursar, Matsobane Putsoa and the Deputy Bursar, John
Sekoere. This matter was subsequently covered in some detail in a lead story by
the newspaper, Public Eye, of 6 September 2002. Public Eye quoted a number of
charges against the Bursar, particularly those in which he had not followed
correct procedures. Matsobane Putsoa, when interviewed by the newspaper, said
that he found it ludicrous that NUL management had issued him with a summons,
without providing him with the forensic audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers
on which the charges were apparently based. The audit is believed to have cost
between M500 000 and M1 million. It consists of 21 separate reports, and
according to Public Eye of 13 September 2002, a sub-committee appointed by the
Vice-Chancellor is preparing a summarised edition ‘for public consumption’.
Matsobane Putsoa is a former Lesotho Auditor-General and is currently the
President of the Lesotho Institute of Accountants and President of Maseru
Rotary. No criminal charges have yet been laid as a result of the forensic
The wild olive of Lesotho, locally known as mohloare, was once known
scientifically as Olea africana. It is now known as Olea europaea, subspecies
africana, reflecting the fact that it is essentially the same tree as the wild
olive of the Mediterranean littoral, even though separated by the Sahara and
tropical Africa where no olives are found. In Lesotho, olive trees are mostly
found in the Lowlands and Foothills and are not hardy enough to withstand the
coldest parts of Lesotho, so the trees at Mohale may need some protection from
frosts. When found growing in large groves, as for example near Mokhokhong,
olives are commonly parasitized by the red-berried mistletoe Viscum
rotundifolium, known in Sesotho as mphahamele, for its supposed properties of
bringing success in such matters as court cases and job interviews. (You carry a
piece in your pocket as a talisman.)
The Earth Summit or World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Sandton,
Johannesburg at the end of August brought together what was probably the largest
number of Heads of State and Heads of International Organizations to visit
southern Africa at the same time. Some of them took the opportunity also to
The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan and his wife Nane Annan,
arrived in Lesotho on Wednesday 28 August 2002, for a two day visit. This
followed a visit to Botswana, where the government there emphasized their most
pressing national problem by having him visit a hospital with AIDS patients. In
Lesotho, to commemorate the International Year of the Mountains, Kofi Annan and
the Lesotho Prime Minister, Pakalitha Mosisili, each planted an olive tree near
Kofi Annan is a 64-year old Ghanaian who first joined the United Nations in
1962 as an administrative and budget officer in the WHO in Geneva. He was
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, and Lesotho added to the long list of
honours he has received by making him a member of the Most Dignified Order of
Moshoeshoe (MDOM), at a State Banquet in Maseru. Earlier in the day, the Maseru
southern by-pass road had been officially named Kofi Annan Road in his presence.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General has also found time to address Parliament,
including in his speech references to the protection of women’s rights, and to
HIV/AIDS in relation to which he made reference to the estimate that 30% of the
population between 15 and 49 was estimated to be HIV positive. He also applauded
Lesotho’s efforts to introduce free primary education.
Ten days after Kofi Annan’s visit, on Friday 6 September, Lesotho was also
visited by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the New Zealander, Donald
McKinnon. He also addressed the Lesotho Parliament, concentrating in his speech
particularly on the role of parliament in a democracy. During his visit, he was
taken to Malealea Lodge in Mafeteng where he was able to enjoy some
Another visitor was the former Norwegian Prime Minister, now Director-General
of the World Health Organization, Gro Harlem Brundtland. She paid a two day
visit to Lesotho early in September. In a press conference she stressed WHO’s
role in coordinating contributions from richer countries to fight HIV/AIDS and
tuberculosis. From what she had learned in her visit to Lesotho, the general
health status in Lesotho was worse than it had been ten years earlier.
During Dr Brundtland’s visit, the Lesotho Minister of Health and Social
Welfare, Dr Motloheloa Phooko, spoke about genetically modified (GM) food, and
said that he was satisfied that it was fit for human consumption. Moreover,
since the food aid coming through the World Food Programme was milled maize and
not maize which could be cultivated, there was no risk to Lesotho. Dr Brundtland
said that WHO was preparing technical advice about GM food, information which
would be made available ideally before the end of September. This would enable
countries receiving such food to make informed decisions about its use.
Freemasonry in Lesotho traces its origins back to a Warrant to found a Lodge
which was issued but destroyed before reaching Lesotho when a British convoy was
burnt by Boers in the vicinity of Harrismith in 1899. A second Warrant was
issued and brought and delivered personally by Worshipful Brother Ivan
Haarburger, and the Lodge was consecrated in the Masonic Rooms, then also the
Resident Commissioner’s Office and Courtroom, on 8 March 1902. Funds were raised
to build a Masonic Temple which was built on a vacant site on what is now
Kingsway in Maseru. The Temple was dedicated on 31 July 1909, a small grey
plastered building with sandstone quoining and window surrounds and a wrought
iron ornamental gateway. It was for more than half a century a landmark on
Kingsway, in latter years closely abutting the British Council building. It was
demolished shortly after Independence to make way for what was then called
Development House (now known as Mafike House), a building which in its early
days housed the Lesotho Bank and the Lesotho National Development Corporation.
Today the Masonic Lodge is at King’s Grazing in Maseru West.
Amongst the 13 founding masons were many colonial officers, and also the
Government Medical Officer, Dr Edward Charles Long. Two months later, others who
joined were the Resident Commissioner, Sir Herbert Sloley and Rev. Nelson
Fogarty, the first Director of the Lerotholi Artisan Training Centre, today
known as the Lerotholi Polytechnic, but familiarly also as Fokothi, a corruption
of the name Fogarty.
Freemasons belong to a secret society (although today they prefer to say it
is a ‘society with secrets’) which emphasizes brotherly love and mutual
assistance between members.
The Maseru Lodge celebrated its centenary at a meeting at the Maseru Sun
Convention centre on 31 August 2002.
A cycle tour with 19 Basotho and 8 Welsh riders began on 1 September, aiming
to cover all districts of Lesotho by 12 September. The event was organized by
the Student Christian Movement and Welsh Link, and the aims included HIV/AIDS
awareness and support for local hospitals. The Welsh riders brought with them
£10000 for this particular purpose.
A Lesotho Government Gazette Extraordinary of 9 September 2002 announced that
with effect from 2 September 2002, the new Ombudsman is Sam Sekara Mafisa.
Mafisa, a lawyer by profession, is best known for having been the Chairman of
the Independent Electoral Commission at the time of the 1998 General Election.
He was also Secretary of the Commission which investigated the 1994 disturbances
which occurred in the Lesotho Defence Force. Mafisa becomes Ombudsman following
the retirement in February 2002 of Henry Mohale Ntšaba at the age of 77.
New credit-card style driving licences officially came into operation on 4
September 2002. The new licences which bear both a photograph and a thumbprint
of the holder and cost M100 each, are of a kind uniform throughout the 12 SADC
countries, and are valid for driving in any of those countries.
The long-delayed trial of 25 members of the Lesotho Defence Force who are
alleged on 14 April 1994 to have murdered the then Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of Finance, Selometsi Baholo, continued during the period August and
Baholo was shot shortly after he had rejected a demand for a 100% salary
rise, which had been sent to the Prime Minister. Other ministers had been
detained the same day, but had been released unharmed. Baholo’s death took place
in the Maseru suburb of Liraoheleng Ha Abia near Ha Matala. He had spent the
night there with a friend, Ms ’Makalle Makara, who was unharmed in the early
morning shooting, and was able to give evidence in the court case.
The counsels for the defence in the case, Advocates Tšupane Maieane and Hae
Phoofolo, according to a report in The Mirror of 4 September 2002, challenged
the neutrality of the court, given that the presiding judge, Mr Justice Semapo
Peete, had been a pupil of Baholo, when he was a teacher at Peka High School.
The assessors, moreover, Messrs Leboela and Mathiba, had been neighbours of
Baholo with ties to Baholo’s family.
As a result of these challenges, the assessors withdrew from the case, but
the presiding judge stated he would continue with the case. As was the practice
in such situations, no new assessors would be appointed, because this would
essentially require the whole trial to be restarted.
The Africa Cup of Nations, which will be held in Tunisia in 2004, divides
competing national football teams into groups of four nations each of which
plays against the other three at home and away, the two best in each group
proceeding to the next round. The luck of the draw pitted Lesotho against
Senegal, Gambia and São Tomé & Príncipe in Group G, and the first match was
against Senegal in Maseru on Sunday 8 September, when Lesotho did well to hold
Senegal to a 1-0 win, the single Senegal goal being scored by Henry Kamara.
Senegal is the African team which defeated France in the World Cup and proceeded
as far as the quarter finals. It was the first visiting team to make use of the
new facilities at the new Bambata Tšita Sports Arena, built on the former polo
Although there seems to be little doubt that Senegal will be one of the teams
qualifying for the next round, Lesotho’s chances seem quite good and depend on
how they perform against Gambia. São Tomé & Príncipe is no longer a threat,
because it has withdrawn from the competition, apparently because of the high
cost of air fares for its team which would have had to play in three different
Lesotho’s next match will be away against Gambia in October. It will
subsequently play away against Senegal in June 2003, and at home against Gambia
in July 2003.
The death occurred on Tuesday 10 September 2002 at Hydromed Hospital,
Bloemfontein, of Father Thomas Lesaoana Manyeli OMI. He had been ill for a long
time with kidney disease, but in 2001 had recovered quite well after a kidney
Father Manyeli was born in 1936 at Mokhokhong near Roma, the son of Gabriel
Clovis Manyeli, who later became Minister in the Government of Chief Leabua
Jonathan. Thomas Manyeli entered the novitiate of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate
in 1956, the order to which most Lesotho Catholic priests belong. He took the
full vows in 1959. Academic by inclination, he eventually joined the staff of
the National University of Lesotho, where he eventually became Head of the
Department of Theology and Religious Studies.
He was the author of several books including Religious symbols of the Basotho
(1992), which was a published version of his MA thesis at the University of
Ottawa. In this he discussed the stem -limo for God, favouring the linkage with
holimo (above) and showing that Father Laydevant’s attempts to link the word
with the Hebrew word for the deity, Elim, were etymologically unsound. A second
book was Phenomenological perspectives of Basotho religion (1995), which built
on the earlier book and added considerable comparative material from other
linguistic groups in southern and central Africa. A book on a different topic
was Drop-outs, migrant labourers and curriculum policy in Lesotho (1994). The
book contains considerable material on the history of education in Lesotho and
concludes that while in 1892, academic and industrial subjects each took up half
of the curriculum, the situation subsequently changed and ‘our current
educational system, inherited from the colonial powers, is élitist and
irrelevant to the peasant and rural populations’.
In a conference paper, ‘Values: African and Christian’ delivered at Lumko in
South Africa in February 1995, he argued that Africans have a large capacity for
feeling and knowing the sacred. Their subjective appreciation of symbols
(examples given include palms, Holy Water, medals (miraculous) and soil from the
tomb of the Blessed Joseph Gérard) is so strong as to be ‘sometimes very close
to the incorrect and [shows an] inadequate or exaggerated understanding of the
A memorial service was held at the National University of Lesotho on Thursday
19 September, attended by the King and Queen of Lesotho, members of the Manyeli
family, and approximately 2000 other people. Father Manyeli was buried in the
Oblate Cemetery at Mazenod on Saturday 21 September.
Whereas it is common knowledge that Lesotho’s highest mountain (and indeed
southern Africa’s highest mountain) is Thabana-Ntlenyana at 3482 metres, few
people can name South Africa’s highest mountain, and indeed its name is also
As reported in The Star of Johannesburg of 18 September 2002, to celebrate
the International Year of the Mountains, a team from the Mountaineering Club of
South Africa climbed South Africa’s highest mountain, and using modern
technology obtained for it a new height of 3451 metres, adding a metre to its
previously recorded height on maps of 3450 metres. The mountain in question is
on the watershed between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and is thus shared
equally by Lesotho and South Africa. The problem is that the name for the
mountain published in the newspaper and apparently being used by the MCSA is
The Lesotho 1: 50 000 topographic map of this area was published in 1961,
whereas the corresponding South African sheet showing the same border area only
appeared in 1971. Although the Lesotho map showed the highest point in South
Africa as Injasuti, when the South African map came out, as a result of some
whim of the cartographer, this name, wrongly spelled Nyesuthi, was transferred
to a smaller rise 1 km east, creating the need for a name for the highest point.
The South African cartographer filled the blank space on the map by ‘stealing’
the name Mafadi from a point in Lesotho 2.5 km to the west.
Mafadi is in fact a completely wrong name for the mountain shared by Lesotho
and South Africa. It originally appeared where it did on the Lesotho map because
it was the mountain at the source of the Bafadi or Mafadi river (spelt Bafali or
Mafali in Lesotho Sesotho orthography), and this river which descends to join
the Mokhotlong River in Lesotho in turn got its name from the Bafali waterfall.
This is a rather spectacular 6 metre high waterfall much further downstream,
whose name means ‘something audible at a distance’. There is no tributary of the
Bafali which runs off the highest point in South Africa, so Mafadi is quite
simply a wrong name for the mountain.
The Star in its article rather implausibly tried to defend the theft by
explaining the name ‘Mafadi’ as meaning ‘woman’, but if so, in whose language?
In Sesotho, woman is mosali, and in Zulu or Xhosa, umfazi. These are the only
African languages used in the immediate surroundings of the mountain.
In finding a solution to the problem, South Africa should probably simply
call the mountain Njesuthi, adjusting the name to the correct Zulu spelling. It
is the name used on the Lesotho 1: 250 000 map and is a more plausible name,
because it means ‘the well-satisfied dog’ presumably relating to the time when
hunting on the summit plateau was not without its rewards for man’s best friend.
The smaller rise to the east which at present has appropriated the name Njesuthi
hardly warrants a separate name, but Njesuthi Cave Mountain can be suggested.
The cave on its northern flank holds up to 20 persons, is well-known to
mountaineers, and was probably influential in causing the name Njesuthi to shift
eastwards in the first place. One hesitates to call the mountains Njesuthi Peak
or Njesuthi Cave Peak, because, like virtually all mountains on the summit
plateau, they have rounded summits for which ‘peak’ would seem a misnomer.
Mr Justice Mahapela Lehohla was sworn in as Lesotho’s new Chief Justice on
Tuesday 17 September 2002. He replaces Chief Justice Lebona Kheola, who had
recently retired because of ill health.
Justice Mahapela Lehohla, who comes from Mafeteng, graduated in 1969 with a
LLB from the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, having graduated at
the time when the University’s law programme was shared with the University of
Edinburgh, and students spent two years in Scotland. He served government from
1972 to 1986 as a Magistrate and Registrar of the High Court and Court of
Appeal. He became an Acting Judge of the Lesotho High Court in 1986 and was
confirmed as a Judge in 1988. Amongst his achievements, one is that he is the
only person to have given the annual Moshoeshoe Lecture twice, in 1991 and 1998.
A new play by the Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, was performed at the
National Convention Centre, Maseru from 17 to 20 September 2002. King Baabu, a
Nigerian-Swiss-British co-production by Nàwáo Productions of Zurich, is a play
about a ruthless yet pathetic character, who has come to power through a
military coup in an imaginary African country. He becomes King, because although
military dictatorships are frowned on, he is persuaded that monarchies are
considered internationally allowable. The model might be Emperor Bokassa or Idi
Amin, although doubtless Nigerian leaders and the situation in Sierra Leone
might well have inspired some of the action, especially when in silhouette the
hands of opponents are seen being systematically amputated, and the axeman is
seen picking up and pocketing the victims’ rings.
Obese, anally incontinent and ignorant, King Baabu (played with appropriate
gusto by the London-based actor, Yomi Michaels) is a megalomaniac schemingly
manipulated by his ruthlessly ambitious wife Maarija (played in a charged
performance by another London-based actress, Susan Aderin). His regime attracts
sycophants including an eclectic religious leader, a traditional ruler, and a
Maoist firebrand, who are nevertheless prepared to shift to the opposite camp
when the commander-in-chief of the army stages a rebellion which seems likely to
succeed. The caste, many of them playing double roles, provided an impressive
performance, maintaining audible dialogue throughout the play.
The matinée performance on Tuesday 17 September was designed for university
and high school students and was followed by a short address by Wole Soyinka
himself, in which he saw his play as a descendant of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, via
Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, also about an African dictator, and premièred in Paris
over 100 years ago. Soyinka referred to his play’s relevance to modern African
regimes, taking the opportunity to castigate Robert Mugabe’s corrupt
dictatorship where land redistribution, supposedly to benefit the masses, had
ensured that his own wife had benefited with the most luxurious farmhouse. He
also related the play to his own Nigeria where only a few years earlier his own
life was at risk, and the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa had been effectively murdered by
the regime of Sani Abacha to silence him. He also appealed to Miss Lesotho if
there was one, not to boycott the forthcoming Miss World Contest in Nigeria,
because to do so would play into the hands of the elements who supported the
stoning to death of a woman because she had had a child born out of wedlock. He
apparently felt that having the Miss World Contest in Nigeria would provide some
kind of antidote to religious extremism.
The recent change of regime in Nigeria made it possible for the play to have
its world première in Lagos, after which it had been seen in Zurich, Switzerland
and Düsseldorf, Germany, before its present tour of South Africa and Lesotho.
The Canadian civil engineering group, Acres International, was found guilty
on 17 September 2002 by Judge Mahapela Lehohla of paying a bribe of $680000 to
the former Chief Executive of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority,
Masupha Sole, who has himself already received a long prison sentence for
receiving bribes. Sentencing in the Acres case will be in October. It is the
first of a number of separate trials in which prominent international
engineering firms are being accused of paying bribes. If found guilty they are
likely to be blacklisted by the World Bank, and will be barred by World Bank
The annual National University Graduation Ceremony took place at the Roma
Campus on Saturday 28 September 2002. 103 Certificates, 165 Diplomas, 524
Bachelor’s Degrees and 12 Master’s Degrees were awarded by His Majesty King
Letsie III, Chancellor of the University. Honorary doctorates were conferred on
Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa and Thokoana James Motlatsi.
Cyril Ramaphosa was born in 1951 in Johannesburg and as General Secretary
became a skilled negotiator for the National Union of Mineworkers, thus helping
to enable many Basotho miners to obtain better working conditions. He was later
Secretary-General of the African National Congress and played a vital role in
the talks which led to peaceful transition in South Africa, becoming a
parliamentarian in the post-apartheid government. More recently he has become an
international figure, serving for example as Weapons Inspector in Northern
Ireland together with Finland’s Marti Ahtisaari.
James Motlatsi, himself a migrant worker, was co-founder and president of the
National Union of Mineworkers from 1982 until 2000. He played a major role in
fighting for the rights of miners, including both a living wage and security
from unfair dismissal. He has also fought for the rights of career miners to
settle with their families in South Africa, and is also noted for his view that
Lesotho and South Africa should form a single nation. The day after the award of
the degree, James Motlatsi and Bobby Godsell, Chairman of Anglogold, went to
Morifi in Mohale’s Hoek District, where Motlatsi was born in 1951. There they
opened a new high school, funded by Anglogold to the extent of R2.5 million.
The ‘Water Year’ which runs from October to September, consists of the six
generally wet summer months from October to March, followed by the six generally
dry months from April to September. Although figures are not yet available for
all rainfall stations, there is an indication that for much if not all of the
country, the water year rainfall has set new records. Roma figures are set out
in the table below, which shows from 69 years of records at Roma, the lowest
ever recorded in each month, the mean rainfall for that month, the actual
rainfall during the 2001-2 water year, and the maximum rainfall ever recorded
for the month:
The water year 2001-2 beat by more than 23% the wettest previous water year,
the 1288 mm which fell in 1949-50. A new record rainfall was set for the month
of May and in eleven out of the twelve months rainfall was above the mean, often
spectacularly so. The one dry month in western Lesotho was July, when no
precipitation was recorded, although eastern Lesotho had heavy snowfall.
The extremely wet growing season has been a disaster for crops in many areas,
contributing significantly to the present serious food crisis. The extremely wet
weather has also contributed to both soil and escarpment erosion. In the Roma
valley, a portion of cliff collapsed between the villages of Ha Mokhitli and Ha
Subilane around 8 a.m. on 14 September 2002. Several thousand tons of rock
tumbled down breaking up into boulders, many of them the size of houses, but
fortunately no-one was injured. This is the largest rock fall in human memory in
the Roma valley and has left a scar which is likely to be visible for decades to