Public Eye Publishes Rogue Issue
New South African High Commissioner to Lesotho Presents Credentials
Villagers Kill Alleged
Imperial Fleet Services Criticized in Government Commissioned Probe
Hotel Victoria taken over by
Force Colonel Murdered
Hungarian Geologist Identifies Lesotho Rock Structures as Fossil Termitaria
Lesotho Red Cross
Elects First Woman President
Commissioner Mafole Sematlane Removed from Office
Death of Former
Academic and Minister, Michael Sefali
Death of Rock Art
Specialist Patricia Vinnicombe
Basotho Cannon Stolen
Masupha Sole Loses
Appeal but has Sentence Reduced
Sexual Offences Act 2003 becomes Law
Minister of Agriculture, Vova Bulane, Dies in Car Crash
Chairman’s Remarks Result in US Funding Being Withheld
Metolong Gorge Feasibility Study Progresses despite Major Heritage Implications
Featured in New Zealand Magazine
Well-known Veterinary Surgeon, Norman Raditapole
Former NUL Lecturer
Becomes Wits Vice-Chancellor
Lesotho Garment Sector Continues to Expand Despite Water and Container Problems
Square One Computers
Lesotho Acts on
Close Church after Dispute with Priest
Closed until August; LCE also Closed for Over Two Weeks
State Visit to Botswana; Minister Studies and Applauds Botswana Local Government
Work Begins on New
Factory Estate in Mohale’s Hoek
Ministry of Education Closes Schools
Follow Lesotho Helicopter Crash into Katse Reservoir
Kimberley Process Regulations
Chartered Accountant Conducts Public Feud with Minister of Finance
Attorney Escapes after
Shots Fired at Car
Inflation Rate Drops
Factory Workers Union Formed
Law Society Protests
Removal of Magistrate
Society President Arrested
Free Public Standpipes to
National University of Lesotho to be Restructured from 1 July 2003
VAT to be Introduced on 1 July 2003
The newspaper Public Eye, is now Lesotho’s largest weekly
newspaper (there are no dailies) and commonly has 40 pages, much of it in colour.
The issue of 2 April (possibly prompted by April Fools’ Day disease) came out as
a completely rogue issue, with stories and pictures printed on top of each other
so that very little of the newspaper was legible. The perpetrator, as advertised
by himself on the front page, was one Tšepo Sehlabi, who also advertised that
the newspaper was free. It was believed that after the issue came out, he was
being sought by the editor and was nowhere to be found!
The new South African High Commissioner to Lesotho, Mr William
Leslie, presented his credentials to His Majesty King Letsie III on Thursday 27
March 2003. He replaces the late Japhet Ndlovu, who died in office in Maseru
after a short illness on 12 October 2002.
As reported in Lentsoe la Basotho of 3 April 2003, in his
address when presenting his credentials, the new High Commissioner said that it
was not the first time he had been in Lesotho. He had visited the country
between 1976 and 1990 as a representative of the African National Congress.
Moreover as a businessman, he had employed not only South African refugees but
also many people from Lesotho.
Keleng Tabola, a criminal who was on the run after alleged
multiple killings, was finally killed by villagers at Ha Kholoko, near Roma on
Sunday 30 March 2003.
Tabola of Tloutle Ha Shale in the Roma Valley had embarked on
a killing spree not long after being released from gaol, where he had been
serving a seven year sentence for the murder and mutilation of two local men.
The number of his recent victims seems not to be known with certainty, but
locally was thought to be more than ten persons. One particularly brutal murder
was of ’Mamahlape Makoanyane of Tloutle Ha Mpiti, whom he saw using a cellphone.
He thought she was calling the police when in fact she was simply calling a
friend. She was shot dead outside her house.
In his own village of Ha Shale, Tabola had been responsible
for several deaths, and several other villagers were injured when the police
arrived searching for him and shot into houses in the mistaken belief that he
was hiding there. Ultimately he fought with an erstwhile associate, one Tšoarelo
Monyatsi, whom he wounded so badly with an axe that he died in hospital.
Tabola’s mistake following this, was to attend Tšoarelo’s funeral up on the
plateau above the Maphotong Gorge at Ha Kholoko. On the Sunday following the
funeral, he went to the local shop and quaffed two ‘quarts’ of beer without
paying. The owner of the shop,’Malekhooa, complained and Tabola reacted angrily
and fired three shots. This brought villagers who found Tabola wrestling with
the shopowner. The villagers then set on the inebriated Tabola with sticks until
he died. Immediately thereafter, according to the report in Moeletsi oa Basotho
of 6 April 2003, the villagers ululated as if they were celebrating a wedding.
Instances of mob justice have become increasingly common as
people have become dissatisfied with the inefficiency of the police and the slow
pace of the legal system. Less than a month after the Tabola incident, on the
night of Tuesday 29 April 2003 one Adam Lenonyane, of the Maseru suburb of
Tsoapo-le-Bolila, was abducted from his home, and taken to Borokhoaneng where he
was necklaced. His burned remains were visible to all as they passed the Battery
Centre the next morning on their way to work along the main South Road into
Maseru. According to the newspaper Public Eye of 2 May 2003, Lenonyane had been
out on bail on a murder charge when he had committed another murder, and he had
been deliberately necklaced at the spot where he had allegedly committed his
latest murder a week earlier. According to the newspaper report, the 20-year old
Lenonyane had been killed a day after a group of men had gone to the Thamae
Police Station demanding to know if the police had arrested him following the
latest murder and they found that he had not been arrested. The people of
Borokhoaneng told the newspaper reporter that they were relieved that they had
been rid of someone who had been a multiple rapist and murderer and had thanked
the victims he mugged by stabbing them to death.
In a third incident, reported by Leseli ka Sepolesa of 20 June
2003, a suspected thief at the village of Mankoaneng Ha Teko, 12 km south of
Maseru, was apprehended by the village vigilante group (komiti ea thibelo ea
litlolo tsa molao) and when beaten to extract a confession, received injuries
from which he died. The uncle of the deceased reported his death to the police
at Thetsane Police Station.
By the late 1990, the former Lesotho Government Plant and
Vehicle Pool Services (PVPS), falling under the Ministry of Works, had become a
serious embarrassment to Government with at any given time over 500 government
vehicles in need of repair, and the capacity to make these repairs so low that
the number of vehicles off the road was growing steadily ever larger.
After recommendations from a firm of consultants, PVPS was
taken over in 1998 by Imperial Fleet Services Lesotho (IFSL), many former
government employees being laid off in the process. IFSL is a company, 80% of
whose shares are held by the South African parent company Imperial Fleet
Services, while 20% are held by the Lesotho Government, these shares being held
for eventual local Basotho ownership in terms of the government’s privatization
policy. IFSL owns, maintains and leases out its vehicle fleet to government
which no longer owns vehicles.
However, it seems that the Lesotho Government suspected that
not all was above board at IFSL, and recently commissioned a company, MMR
Advisory Services to report on what was happening. Although MMR’s report has not
been published locally, the Mail & Guardian of 4 April 2003 summarised the
80-page report, a copy of which it had somehow acquired.
The report is damning about IFSL practices and amongst points
it makes is that Imperial Fleet Services South Africa charges IFSL a large and
unjustifiable management fee, even though IFSL senior executives are paid full
salaries to manage IFSL; IFSL charges exorbitant fees for training Basotho
panelbeaters (M800000 in two years, yet only one Mosotho had qualified in that
time from the apprenticeship programme); and that IFSL charges the Lesotho
Government daily rates and rates per kilometre which are 10% to 13% higher rates
on short-term rentals than is normal for private hire in Lesotho - discounts
would be more appropriate because of the size of the operation.
Imperial also runs the South African government’s outsourced
car fleet, and the Lesotho report follows a South African Department of
Transport investigation into Imperial’s operations there.
The Hotel Victoria in the centre of Maseru, already closed for
over a year, is to be reopened under the auspices of the Don Group, a South
African hotel chain, whose Chief Executive is Lesotho-born Thabiso Tlelai. This
was announced to journalists by the Minister of Finance, Mr Tim Thahane, on 27
March 2003. The Don Group has nine hotels in South Africa, including hotels in
Cape Town, Sandton and Pretoria, and has recently expanded its operations into
Ghana and Uganda. It specializes in ‘suite hotels’ where each bedroom or group
of bedrooms has an adjoining room which can be used for business meetings or
similar purposes. To convert the Hotel Victoria to this new style of hotel will
take time, and it is estimated that it will not reopen until 2005. No
announcement was made about the future of the Molimo-Nthuse Hotel on the
Mountain Road. This had formerly been run by the Hotel Victoria, and has also
been closed for over a year.
Openings and closings of visitor facilities in Maseru are very
much the order of the day. The Hut was a restaurant constructed in place of the
Boccaccio Restaurant, which like the Basotho Hat, was burned in the 1998
disturbances. The Hut was designed in the shape of a thatched frustum of a cone,
matching the adjoining conical Basotho Hat. However, it has recently closed,
leaving just a Hair Salon in its basement. The Basotho Shield is another
thatched building facing the Hut and Basotho Hat across Orpen Road, a road whose
section turning off Kingsway is now a cul-de-sac because of the new Mpilo
Boulevard relief road. The Basotho Shield was built as a tourist display centre,
but has long been leased out to commercial enterprises. The new Lesotho Tourist
Development Board has, however, adopted it for refurbishment, and it has
recently become the site of much rebuilding activity.
According to a report in The Mirror of 9 April 2003, Colonel
Clifford Tjotjela Polisa of the Lesotho Defence Force was shot dead and his
woman companion raped when the car in which they were parked near Masianokeng
was attacked on Friday 4 April. Mobile phones, watches and M60 in cash were
Police investigations following Colonel Polisa’s death led to
further tragedies. Police went to the house of a 77-year old man named Mosola at
Masianokeng, apparently in connection with Polisa’s death. The man initially
refused to open the door, but when he did finally do so, he apparently had a gun
and a policeman, Talimo Molapo, was fatally wounded. Mosola was taken into
custody at Mabote Police Station, where it was reported, according to The Mirror
of 14 May 2003, he died soon afterwards of undetermined causes. Lentsoe la
Basotho of 15 May 2003 reported the same story but with variations. The elderly
man had been arrested on 4 May at Ha Tšosane, not Masianokeng, and he had,
according to a police spokesman, died of high blood pressure in police custody
before he could get medical help. The Mirror of 14 May reported that meanwhile
another suspect had been arrested, a catechist at Nazareth mission. He had been
found with the stolen property in his possession.
Colonel Polisa, who headed LDF Military Intelligence, held a
BA in Public Administration from the National University of Lesotho and an MA in
Public Administration from the University of Liverpool. He had also undertaken a
number of military training course in Lesotho and abroad.
The rocks exposed in western Lesotho are sedimentary rocks
laid down some 241 to 183 million years ago. At about 183 million years ago, and
for a period of some 500 000 years thereafter the sedimentary rocks were rent by
vast tectonic activity when narrow slit volcanoes opened up across country
spilling out lava which formed layers covering the sedimentary rocks, these
layers being the basalts which are now the Maloti.
In much of Lesotho, following a number of uplifts, the
boundary between the top of the sedimentary rocks and the basalts is at about
1800 metres above sea level, and this boundary can be seen almost anywhere in
western Lesotho as a horizontal line between the cream coloured cliffs below and
the darker basaltic rocks above. The cream (sometimes orange and sometimes even
pink) cliffs are known to geologists as the Clarens Formation, although for the
layman the older name Cave Sandstone is more descriptive, because the cliffs
become often hollowed out into vast rock shelters, shelters where in some cases
man has lived for tens of thousands of years and thus important for
archaeologists. Many of the rock shelters are also important rock painting
There is a large rock shelter at Roma which gave the Roma area
its older name of Tloutle, and immediately above this rock shelter there is a
series of strange rock structures rather resembling trees and their branches,
but lacking the silicified wood which is found in petrified trees elsewhere in
Lesotho. These structures, although known to people locally, had no obvious
On 5 April 2003, at the suggestion of a staff member at the
National University of Lesotho, the site was visited by a Hungarian geologist,
Dr Emese Bordy, who is an expert on the Clarens Formation, and the closely
related formations beneath it. She came back from her visit wildly excited. The
structures were clearly, she maintained, fossil termite nests. The columns and
the subterranean passages and chambers of termites living 183 million years ago,
immediately before the igneous intrusions, could all be clearly recognised.
Termites belong to the insect order Isoptera, and are today
extremely widespread in tropical and subtropical areas of the Earth, with
several species being commonly found in Lesotho. These include the hemispherical
mound builders, Trinervitermes trinervoides, and the underground harvester
termites, Hodotermes mossambicus, whose existence is revealed when once a year
on a cloudy damp afternoon, the alates emerge in thousands on their nuptial
Termites are often misleadingly called white ants, but in fact
are not in any way related to ants which belong to the order Hymenoptera.
Nevertheless they have developed complex societies which rival those of ants,
and indeed have skills in cultivating underground fungus gardens, and keeping
other insect species (the so called ‘termitophiles’), rather like humans keep
cows, for the secretions they can live off.
How did such societies develop and how old are they? The early
history of the Isoptera is clouded in mystery and according to a recent book,
Gondwana alive, is only imperfectly known back to the early Cretaceous at 144
million years. Insect fossils in fact are very difficult to discover, unless
they happen to be trapped in amber.
The Roma discovery, together with a small number of other
recent finds in the USA and in the upper Clarens Formation in the Limpopo
Province of South Africa, have helped to push termite/Isoptera history back at
least a further 40 million years. More work needs to be done to describe the
recent finds, including fossil termitaria which have also subsequently been
recognised as occurring extensively in the upper Clarens Formation on the Roma
Plateau. A systematic search also needs to be made to see if they occur
elsewhere in Lesotho, and preliminary reports suggest that similar structures
have already been found near Morija.
At its Annual general Meeting held in Maseru from 5 to 6 April
2003, the Lesotho Red Cross elected its first woman president. She is Mrs
’Makabelo Priscilla Mosothoane of Hlotse, better known there as the Principal of
the very successful Leribe English Medium High School. (All high schools in
Lesotho are English medium, but no doubt the name was chosen to avoid confusion
with Leribe High School.)
A story which had occupied many column centimetres of media
space for several months was finally ended by a Legal Notice in a Lesotho
Government Gazette Extraordinary of 7 April 2003. It simply stated that the
King, on the advice of a tribunal set up to investigate the matter, had removed
Mafole Sematlane, a member of the Independent Electoral Commission, from office
for misbehaviour with effect from the date of the notice.
The death occurred on Monday 14 April 2003 at the age of 63 of
Dr Michael Malefetsane Sefali, a former Senior Lecturer in Economics at the
National University of Lesotho and the second Director of the University’s
Institute of Southern African Studies. He died from pneumonia at the Maseru
Private Hospital after a short illness.
Michael Sefali was born on 20 May 1939 in the remote Matebeng
area of what was then Qacha’s Nek District. He completed high school in 1960 at
Roma College, the predecessor of Christ the King High School. In 1962, he took
advantage of opportunities the Soviet Union was offering to African students and
after a preliminary year enrolled in 1963 at the Moscow State (Lomonosov)
University, which in 1967 awarded him the Degree of Master of Sciences in
Economics. The many courses for the degree included Russian Language,
Dialectical Materialism, Fundamentals of Scientific Atheism, Agricultural
Economics and Industrial Economics, in all of which he was marked Excellent. He
was also marked Excellent for the course Economic History of Socialist
Countries, but only Good for his performance in Economic History of Capitalist
Countries. His MA thesis was on the economic problems of modern Africa.
After his return to Lesotho, Sefali worked in Maseru from 1968
to 1975 as managing clerk and accountant at a firm of attorneys in Maseru.
He was appointed initially as a Research Fellow in Economics
to the Roma Campus of the then University of Botswana, Lesotho & Swaziland in
1975. He became Lecturer in Economics in 1976 and was also the Dean of the
Faculty of Social Sciences from 1976 to 1978.
In 1978, Michael Sefali was awarded through the United Nations
Economic Commission for Africa a fellowship to return to Russia. His PhD awarded
was awarded in December 1980 for a dissertation with the title (The struggle of
the developing countries of Africa for economic independence and the
restructuring (‘perestroika’) of international economic relations: the case of
Lesotho). Unfortunately there exists no English translation of the text of the
Shortly after his return to NUL, Sefali was appointed as the
second Director of the Institute of Southern African Studies. ISAS had been set
up by the independent National University of Lesotho to ensure that the
university’s research work was not too parochial and encompassed the whole
southern African region. The first Director of ISAS, Dr Stan Mudenge, had used
the post to travel widely (ultimately this served him well because he became
Foreign Minister of Zimbabwe), but he had in fact achieved little on the ground
at NUL. It was only during Dr Sefali’s directorship that ISAS did grow into a
viable research institution, helped by a period of general University expansion
through donor support, which recognised ISAS as having a role as an independent
body within the then apartheid-dominated region. It was Sefali who ensured that
ISAS recruited staff; established two functional divisions, one for Research and
the other for Documentation & Publications; and became host to a number of
international research projects of which the Human Rights Project was one of the
earliest. This was done at a time when human rights in Lesotho were at a low
ebb, because of its own government’s use of imprisonment without trial, while
police practised torture with impunity. The Human Rights project, in which King
Moshoeshoe II took a personal interest, was able to publish objective
assessments of the situation in a number of the then SADCC countries including
Lesotho. ISAS also became the focal point of the Southern African Development
Research Association, following its hosting in November 1981 of a major
international Workshop on ‘Research Priorities in Southern Africa’ which
culminated in the adoption of what became known as the ‘Roma Declaration on
Research for Development in Southern Africa’.
Dr Sefali remained Director of ISAS until January 1986, when
at no notice at all, following the Military Coup of 20 January 1986, he was made
a Member of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Economic Planning and
Manpower Development. As Minister he was particularly active in international
economic groupings and became a member of the Joint ACP-EEC Council of
Ministers. He was elected President of this Council in August 1989, and as such
was one of the co-signatories of the new ACP-EEC Lomé IV Convention in December
1989. Sefali signed for the 68 African, Caribbean and Pacific states, while the
Prime Minister of France, Michel Rocher, signed for the European Economic
However Lesotho’s distinguished role in the Joint ACP EEC
Council of Ministers was short-lived. The new Council of Ministers, although
appearing to be appointed directly by the King and acting as a Cabinet, in fact
was subordinate to the Military Council. When the Military Council clashed with
the King on 19 February 1990, the King was dethroned and went into exile, and Dr
Sefali, who was seen as one of the King’s appointees, was summarily dismissed
from the Council of Ministers. Although he resumed his position as Senior
Lecturer in Economics on 1 March 1990, he was arrested at the University gate on
14 March 1990. While subsequently detained without charge or trial, he was
himself subjected to torture and his case was taken up by Amnesty International.
After his release he returned to the University for a
relatively short period leaving in mid-1991 to take up a position as Principal
Economist in the Southern African Development Community Secretariat in Gaborone.
He subsequently returned to Lesotho and established an economics consultancy.
For a period he was Vice-President of the Senate, the Upper House of the Lesotho
Parliament, but was dismissed early in 2002 after a dispute with the Senate’s
President. In October 2002 he was appointed Economic Adviser to the Prime
Amongst his publications, Sefali was author of a textbook,
Introduction to political economy (1977), ‘designed to give African students an
elementary grounding in Marxist political economy’. He also published Maoism and
the liberation movement (1978), which was originally a paper given to NUL’s
Lumumba Society. He was concerned about the ‘treacherous role of Maoism in
undermining the community of socialist states’, but upbeat about what he saw as
the then ‘further upsurge of the working class movement against the rule of
monopoly capital in the capitalist countries’. Subsequent publications included
contributions to volumes on decolonization, apartheid, and Lesotho’s economic
development. He also contributed an article on structural adjustment programmes
in the Lesotho Law Journal.
A Marxist who remained true to his overseas ideological
training, his funeral at Kokobela Cemetery, Maseru, on 20 April 2003 was not
conducted by priests but by a personal friend who had been one of his
Michael Sefali leaves a wife, Eunice, and five children, four
of whom are now adults while the youngest is still at school.
The Mountain Echo of April 2003 reported the sudden death,
while attending a conference in Port Samson, Australia, of the eminent rock art
specialist, Patricia Vinnicombe.
Pat Vinnicombe was born on 17 March 1932 on the farm West
Ilsley in the Underberg District of KwaZulu-Natal, a farm where there were rock
paintings which attracted her interest from an early age. As a child she
pestered her father for an answer to the question as to what had happened to the
people who had made the paintings.
She eventually trained in occupational therapy at the
University of the Witwatersrand, a subject which was fortuitously in the Faculty
of Medicine where her lecturers included Raymond Dart and Phillip Tobias. From
Jean Humphreys of the South African Archaeological Society she learned the
importance of making accurate tracings of rock paintings and in the 1950s she
travelled to England where some of her tracings were exhibited at the then
Imperial Institute. In France she met and gained inspiration from the Abbé
Breuil, the aged and eccentric doyen of the French rock art community.
Although she worked briefly as an occupational therapist, by
1957, she had secured funds which enabled her to work full time on rock art, her
activities until 1961 falling under B. D. Malan of the South African Historical
Monuments Commission. During this time she met the archaeologist, Patrick
(‘Pat’) Carter of Cambridge University who was undertaking fieldwork in
south-eastern Lesotho. They married in 1961.
Thereafter the two Pat Carters undertook a number of joint
undertakings, and Pat Vinnicombe (who retained her unmarried name in
publications) provided an interim report on her work in the South African
Journal of Science in 1967. In this article, she mentioned that she had by then
a total of 308 recorded sites, of which 67 were in southeastern Lesotho in the
Leqooa, Tsoelike, ’Melikane, Qutu, Sehonghong, Mokhotlong and Khubelu valleys.
One of these sites in the Tsoelike valley depicted a fishing-scene using
coracles. She had published a detailed article on this earlier, and it has
become a familiar item much used in later rock art and historical literature.
The husband and wife team went on to carry out formal
archaeological excavations in Lesotho at Moshebi’s Shelter near Sehlabathebe in
1969; the nearby Soloja’s Shelter and Sehonghong Shelter in 1971; and ’Melikane
in 1974, spending altogether 29 months in the field. Both Pat Carter and Pat
Vinnicombe received doctorates from Cambridge University for their meticulous
work, much of which was subsequently published (together with that of a
successor Oxford archaeologist, Peter Mitchell) in the British Archaeological
Reports International Series.
Rock art has a special public appeal, and much of the content
of Pat Vinnicombe’s doctoral thesis found its way into a large and sumptuously
illustrated book People of the eland: rock paintings of the Drakensberg Bushmen
as a reflection of their life and thought. In this book, published in 1976 by
the University of Natal Press, about a quarter of the rock painting sites
illustrated or otherwise discussed are in the Qacha’s Nek, Thaba-Tseka and
Mokhotlong Districts of Lesotho. The plates include both coloured photographs
and meticulously executed coloured tracings made on site. There is also a wealth
of historical detail about the last of the Bushmen (or Baroa or San) in Lesotho.
However, Pat Vinnicombe, when she gave public lectures, used to say that only
some 20% of the material she had collected by the time the book was published
had actually been used in the 410 page book.
Pat Vinnicombe’s marriage to Pat Carter did not survive, but
she continued rock art exploration in Lesotho, notably an expedition to the
Senqunyane valley with Britt Bousman, where 54 archaeological sites, 29 of them
painted sites, were located in 1976. However, this additional material was never
published because Pat Vinnicombe took up an appointment with the Department of
Aboriginal Affairs in Australia.
On retirement, she returned to South Africa, and occupied an
honorary position with the Rock Art Research Institute at the University of the
Witwatersrand, where she was able to deposit and work on her unpublished
material, including Lesotho rock art photographs.
Her sudden and unexpected death came as a shock to friends and
relatives in both South Africa and Australia.
As reported in The Star of 16 April 2003, a Swedish
manufactured muzzle-loading cannon, 200 years old, was stolen during the
Witblits Festival in Philippolis in the southwestern Free State. The cannon was
apparently one which had been captured from the forces of King Moshoeshoe by
Free State commandos during what was known to them as the ‘Second Basotho War’
In fact, to the Basotho this war was known as the ‘Seqiti
War’, seqiti being an onomatopoeic word derived from the sound of a cannon, a
weapon which the Basotho had first acquired in quantity from traders in the
1860s, and whose characteristic boom distinguished the conflict from earlier
wars in which the sound of the musket had been more typical. In the Seqiti War
of 1865, the Basotho were known to have had at least six cannons, one with King
Moshoeshoe at Thaba-Bosiu, while his sons Letsie and Molapo had respectively two
and three cannon. It is likely to have been one of these latter cannons which
was captured and 138 years later stolen in Philippolis.
The appeal by the former Chief Executive of the Lesotho
Highlands Development Authority, Masupha Sole, against his High Court conviction
for having accepted bribes was heard by the Court of Appeal in April. The Court
allowed the conviction to stand but reduced the sentence from 18 years to 15
Meanwhile the long process of prosecuting individual firms
which had paid the bribes continued. The case against Lahmeyer International was
completed by May, with judgment expected to be given in June; and at the end of
May the case was heard against Highland Water Venture, the consortium made up of
Kier International of UK and Impregilo of Italy which had actually built the
Katse Dam. This case was relatively short in that one Jacobus Michiel du Plooy
of Ficksburg pleaded guilty to transferring at least US$375000 from his own
Swiss bank account to the Swiss bank account of Masupha Sole to influence him to
award a contract to either Highlands Water Venture or Impregilo. Rather oddly
for someone possessing a Swiss bank account, Du Plooy said he knew no European
languages and gave all of his evidence in Sesotho. The case was postponed to 22
July for evidence in mitigation and sentence.
Meanwhile the Canadian firm, Acres, was appealing against its
$2 million fine, a case to be heard in the Court of Appeal on 6 August.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 was published as a Lesotho
Government Gazette Extraordinary (no. 29 of 2003) on 22 April 2003 and came into
operation on that date.
The new Act is notable for its harsh sentences and also its
clumsy drafting which takes liberty with the English language. For example in
the Interpretation Section of the Act, ‘coercive circumstances’ are defined to
include any circumstance where there is application of force or threats, but is
extended also to mean any circumstance where ‘a perpetrator knowing or having
reasonable grounds to believe that he/she is infected with a sexually
transmissible disease, the human immuno-deficiency virus or other life
threatening disease does not, before committing the sexual act, disclose to the
complainant that he/she is so infected’. Under Section 3, sexual acts are
unlawful if they take place in coercive circumstances, and a person who commits
an unlawful sexual act with another person commits a sexual offence.
Under penalties in Section 32, even if it is a first
conviction, ‘a person who is convicted of an offence of a sexual nature shall
... be liable, where a person is infected with the human immunodeficiency virus,
and at the time of the commission of the offence the person had knowledge or
reasonable suspicion of the infection, to the death penalty’. One can conclude
from this that a HIV-positive person, knowing his or her HIV status, could face
the gallows, if he or she does not reveal this status to their partner before
The Act is however confusing in that it also states under
Section 32(a)(iii) that the penalty in the same circumstances is imprisonment
for not less than 10 years.
The penalty for a first conviction for rape, including marital
rape, is imprisonment for a period of not less than 10 years. The same period of
not less than 10 years is applied for sexual offences against children (but
imprisonment of not less than 15 years for anyone who has sexually abused a
child on more than one occasion). Anyone who is HIV-positive, but does not know
it, automatically gets a sentence of not less than 10 years for a sexual
Second offences attract even harsher penalties ranging from
not less than five years for indecent exposure to 20 years and life imprisonment
for more serious offences.
In relation to HIV status, a person charged with a sexual act
involving penetrative sex has to have a blood sample taken within a week of
being charged. The results of the test are only revealed for purposes of
sentencing if a conviction is secured. This requirement might in practice be
difficult to implement in some cases. For example, The Mirror of 4 June 2003
revealed that some government hospitals, such as the hospital at Qacha’s Nek, do
not have any HIV testing kits.
The Act obviously raises many very difficult issues of human
rights and the humane treatment of offenders, because its prescribed minimum
sentences provide little scope for pity or mercy. There is also no obvious
provision for mitigation. For example, condoms are nowhere mentioned in the Act,
despite the fact that nationally condom use is widely promoted as a means of
‘safe’ sex, and arguably may have induced more people to indulge in penetrative
sex (whether legal or illegal) at younger ages.
An obvious problem with the Act is that it was not preceded by
a White Paper, although there was apparently some discussion with a number of
organizations, including women’s organizations who felt the need for harsh
penalties to deter offenders, particularly those who were HIV positive and
infecting others. Secondly, when presented to Parliament as a Bill, few people
outside Parliament were aware of it. There was at the time no discussion in any
newspapers, although the magazine Lesotho Monitor (whose Editor-in-Chief was a
parliamentarian - the Senator, Dr Rakoro Phororo) did give it some space, and
one contributor spoke of it as an ‘angry’ piece of legislation. Thirdly, its
contribution to preventing the spread of HIV is very much debatable. It might
well inhibit people from discovering their HIV status. For those who do know
they are HIV-positive (or learn that they are HIV-positive after a court case),
given that anti-retrovirals are almost unavailable in Lesotho, they are
essentially already terminally ill. Thus sentencing them to death or to long
periods of imprisonment seems rather pointless. Possibly some special kind of
humane detention might be more appropriate.
The Act should obviously, in all fairness to the large number
of people affected by it, be made as widely known as possible. Yet the
Government’s Department of Information initially failed to mention it in any of
its publications. Moreover, the Act is in English of a kind that few people can
understand (indeed the Act seems to contradict itself at times) and there is no
Sesotho version. It is understood however that there are plans to publish a
Sesotho version, although the translator will obviously be somewhat challenged
to find correct Sesotho terms for some items on the list of sexual practices
considered by the Act to be ‘sexual acts’.
By June, the first reports of the implementation of the Act in
the Government newspaper, Lesotho Today, were appearing. In the issue of 12 June
2003, the case was reported of a factory worker who accepted what she thought
was a lift home from two men, who then took her to their home and allegedly
raped her. Two arrested suspects were taken for HIV/AIDS testing at Motebang
Hospital, Hlotse before being charged. The paper notes that a minimum 10 year
gaol sentence will be applied if they are convicted and found to be
HIV-positive, whether or not they were aware of their HIV status.
Meanwhile in the High Court, as reported in Public Eye of 27
June 2003, a 24-year old man, Sakoane Mphasa, of Marutlhoaneng near Boleka in
Mafeteng District, was sentenced to death for raping and then killing a 10-year
old girl, and at the same time strangling her 4-year old brother. The accused
also stole family property. Justice Kelello Guni said that since the offences
had taken place in 1992, they were not covered by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
The newspaper report did not comment on why the case had taken so long to be
brought to the court.
A two-day sensitization workshop on the Sexual Offences Act
2003 was held on 17-18 June at UN House in Maseru for legal professionals and
law enforcement officials. The workshop was organized by the Lesotho Law Reform
Commission and supported by UNICEF.
The former Minister of Agriculture, who since March 2003 had
been Minister to the Prime Minister, Vova Bota Benjamin Bulane, died in a car
accident near Mafeteng on the morning of Saturday 26 April 2003. Bulane had been
travelling towards his constituency of Qhoali in a Toyota Land Cruiser when his
driver apparently collided with another vehicle while overtaking. The Minister’s
vehicle overturned and he was killed instantly while his bodyguard, Bongani
Peter Cekwane of Waterfall, Qacha’s Nek, died later in hospital.
Vova Bulane, who was 63, was born at Tšitsong near Mphaki in
Quthing District, and first went to school in the Matatiele District of East
Griqualand. He eventually qualified as a teacher in Lesotho, and having returned
to his place of birth, he worked there both as a farmer and in 1971 as the
founder principal of the Anglican Mopeli Secondary School.
Politics intervened and he was no longer allowed to work as a
teacher. For a short time after 1982 he was employed as Financial Manager by the
Lesotho Planned Parenthood Association, but the government of the time ensured
that he was unable also to keep that job.
From 1985 onwards, having left Lesotho, he was Head of the
English Department at the Bonamelo College of Education in Qwaqwa, at a time
when the exiled Basutoland Congress Party had its headquarters nearby. In 1993,
he became the Chairman of the Phuthaditjhaba branch of the BCP in Qwaqwa. In
1998, he returned to Lesotho and was elected Lesotho Congress for Democracy MP
for Qhoali Constituency. From 1998-9 he was Minister of Health & Social Welfare
and from 1999 until the cabinet reshuffle in March 2003 he was Minister of
Agriculture and Cooperatives.
Well bearded and soft spoken, Vova Bulane was noted for his
humility and also for being (despite his LPPA experience) a family man par
excellence. By his first wife, Selina ’Mabulane Seitlheko, he had three sons and
six daughters, and by his second wife ’Malebaka Flory Nyangentsimbi he had five
sons and three daughters. Both wives as well as his many children and
grandchildren were at the funeral at Roma. This is where Vova Bulane had made
his home with his second wife, who is also now the Member of Parliament for the
local Maama constituency. Vova Bulane’s funeral on Friday 2 May was an Anglican
ceremony held at the large chapel of Christ the King High School, Roma. He was
buried at the nearby Mabitlaneng Cemetery near Mahlanyeng, Roma.
Although Lesotho’s water resources are relatively abundant
compared with other southern African countries, most available water is in the
Maloti where relatively few people live, and the heavily populated Lowlands of
Lesotho are relatively poorly served by perennial rivers. The Mohokare or
Caledon, the border river with South Africa, has come increasingly under
pressure, and in drought years can completely dry up. The situation has been
exacerbated by a number of factors, including increased abstraction for both
domestic and agricultural use on the South African side of the river. South
Africa is believed to take three-quarters of water abstracted, while the river
actually receives some three-quarters of its flow from tributaries on the
Lesotho side. Among South African cities which use Caledon water is
Bloemfontein, with water being pumped to the Free State capital via the
Knellpoort Dam from an abstraction point downstream from Wepener. In Lesotho,
the river is the main source of water for Maseru, via pumped storage from the
main stream to the Maqalika Dam.
It has long been known that Maseru’s water resources are
precarious and could easily fail in a drought year. Indeed, in the spring of
1994, the Caledon river ceased flowing, and the Maqalika Dam level dropped so
far that even with severe water restrictions in place there was less than three
weeks’ supply left for the capital city.
The 1994 crisis resulted in studies being made to augment the
Maseru water supply, including proposals to raise the dam wall at Maqalika to
increase the reservoir capacity, and construction of the so-called ‘Crushers
Dam’ (the site was close to a former stone crushing plant) on the southern
Phuthiatsana river near to its confluence with the Mohokare.
Neither proposal was in fact implemented, and a certain amount
of complacency was no doubt generated by the fact that after the very dry water
year of 1994-5 (‘water years’ run from October to September), there were seven
consecutive water years in which rainfall was above average. Meanwhile, Maseru’s
water supply needs had been growing rapidly as new factories with ‘wet’
industries, such as manufacturing stone-washed jeans were springing up in
response to the opportunities provided by the United States African Growth and
Opportunity Act. This Act provides preferential access to US markets for
countries fulfilling certain conditions, which the new democratic Lesotho was
able to meet. The largest of the new Maseru factories, the Nien Hsing Denim
Mill, currently nearing completion, is estimated to require additional water
equivalent to one-third of the present Maseru water supply.
Two initiatives are currently under way in relation to water
supply needs. One is a 18-month study, the so-called Lesotho Lowlands Water
Supply Scheme, looking at how to meet the water needs of all of Lesotho’s
Lowlands urban and quasi-urban communities which currently have more than 2500
people (now over 50 in all) for the next 30 years.
In parallel with this study, is a specific study relating to a
dam which could meet Maseru’s short-term needs. The Crushers Dam site favoured
earlier has been abandoned, because it has a fatal flaw: the reservoir would
have silted up within a short period. A new site, the Metolong Dam site, has
recently been chosen much farther upstream on the Phuthiatsana for a feasibility
The Metolong Dam site is 10 km in a straight line east of
Thaba-Bosiu, in a deeply incised and picturesque sandstone gorge, the most
attractive gorge of its kind near Maseru, closely overlooked on the upstream
side by the village of Ha Seeiso on the north bank and Metolong Ha Makhale on
the south bank. The dam is planned to be some 70 metres high with a full surface
level of 1676 metres, and preliminary drillings have already been undertaken at
the site for the dam wall, which could be either concrete or rockfill, although
the latter would take longer to build. The cliffs of the gorge are typical of
the Clarens Formation and form natural rock shelters, and when surveyed in the
early 1980s by the Analysis of Rock Art in Lesotho (ARAL) project, 34 different
rock art sites were discovered immediately upstream from the dam site. Of these,
25 are below the planned inundation level, while the others are only some 5 to
10 metres above it. Although many of the sites when surveyed by ARAL contained
only small patches of residual paint on friable rock surfaces, there were also
several significant sites with large numbers of paintings, particularly in the
area some distance upstream from the dam wall.
There are even more serious heritage implications of the
Metolong Dam in relation to archaeology. Two major excavated sites at Ha
Makotoko and Ntloana-Tšoana will be drowned by the waters of the reservoir to a
depth of some 40 metres. Both sites have Later Stone Age deposits which have
contributed enormously to knowledge of man in western Lesotho during the past
10000 years, as well as providing evidence of past climates and vegetation and
fauna including two mammal species now globally extinct, the Blue Antelope and
Quagga. However, the Ntloana-Tšoana site has something more. It includes a
Middle Stone Age deposit going back perhaps some 70000 to 80000 years linked
possibly to the Howiesonspoort Culture. Precise dating at this period is more
difficult because the radiocarbon scale only works with reasonable precision for
the past 50000 years.
Clearly when an Environmental Impact Assessment Statement is
prepared for the Metolong Gorge site, there will be major heritage implications,
which will have to include a detailed archaeological survey, and if the heritage
implications are not considered a fatal flaw, then urgent archaeological rescue
work will be needed before impoundment begins.
Archaeology, once a Cinderella amongst academic subjects, has
recently received something of a boost in the new South Africa. Obviously the
apartheid regime school history books have had to be replaced. They effectively
considered that history in southern Africa began with the arrival of Jan van
Riebeeck in 1652 to establish what some later revisionist historians have called
‘a cabbage patch on the way to India’. However, hominids have been living in
southern Africa for some millions of years, and the immediate ancestors of most
present day South Africans for some 2000 years, while the ancestors of the
Khoisan peoples have lived for at least a few tens of thousands of years and
perhaps very much longer. For the earlier history of the people of southern
Africa, beyond the period of written history and oral tradition, the sources are
to be found via the discipline of archaeology. Archaeology now has a place in
South African school history syllabuses, and historians as a result are being
required to widen their horizons to beyond the period of the written record.
Excavations at Ha Makotoko and Ntloana-Tšoana in the
Phuthiatsana gorge were undertaken by Peter Mitchell of Oxford University and
the findings published in several academic periodicals, although the two main
articles are in the South African Archaeological Bulletin (1992) and the
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (1993). Other archaeological work in
Lesotho has been undertaken under contract by a number of individuals, but
particularly by teams from the University of Cape Town. Until now, the National
University of Lesotho has not been directly involved with archaeology except in
relation to rock art through the ARAL project. However, the History Department
of NUL has recently decided to expand its interests and a recent graduate has
proceeded for further studies in archaeology at the University of the
Witwatersrand. Archaeology will no doubt in the future form a significant
component of the NUL history syllabus, and perhaps eventually, as at the
University of Botswana, become available for study as a separate discipline.
The Chairman of the Media Institute of Lesotho (MILES),
Nthakeng Selinyane, created a furore when at a 9 April ‘war forum’ and in a
subsequent article in Public Eye he compared President George Bush to Adolph
Hitler and his government to that of Nazi Germany. As reported in Public Eye of
2 May 2003, this outburst in the context of the Iraq War resulted in the US
Ambassador, Mr George Loftis, refusing to fund further MILES activities
including a Human Rights and Media Training Workshop.
Selinyane, who is also a Lecturer in Development Studies at
the National University of Lesotho, was unrepentant, and refused to withdraw his
A letter was later published in Public Eye of 23 May from the
Public Affairs Officer, Sharon Gordon, at the United States Embassy. It stated
that the US Embassy had not withdrawn support for MILES. It had simply declined
a request for new money after Mr Selinyane had grievously insulted the
Ambassador, the US President and his nation.
The Lesotho National Library, which is situated on Maseru’s
main street, Kingsway, was demolished in May 2003 to make way for a new
three-storey building. The old building, which consisted of a modern frontage
added to a sandstone house (the former residence of the Manager of the adjacent
Standard Bank) had in recent years suffered from structural design problems, and
in particular a leaking roof which had been very difficult to rectify.
The new library is apparently planned to accommodate the
National Archives on its upper floors and is being built with Chinese
assistance. The wisdom of siting the National Archives on Maseru’s main street
in the middle of the Central Business District seems not to have been a matter
of public debate. Also it is not clear whether the building will be able to be
expanded to accommodate additional materials as inevitably is necessary with a
The National Archives are at present in temporary storage in a
former residential house in Maseru West to which they were moved from the
National University of Lesotho Library with no prior discussion with or notice
to users in October 1997. Although there is legal provision for an Archives
Commission, at present it does not exist because no Minister of Culture since
the restoration of democracy in 1993 has nominated members to the Commission,
and the terms of office of former members have long since expired.
The Thuathe Meteorite has created more of a stir
internationally than in Lesotho itself. Meteorite: the International Quarterly
of Meteorites and Meteorite Science is a periodical published by the Pallasite
Press in Auckland, New Zealand. In its May 2003 issue it gave considerable
coverage to the Thuathe Meteorite, including a colour photograph on the cover of
a meteorite collector, Mamhlongo Maphisa, who is shown holding two of the larger
stones. Of the two articles inside, one by David Ambrose & Sumitra Talukdar
describes the reactions of persons in six different villages to the stones that
fell around them almost simultaneously at about 11 minutes to 4 o’clock on the
afternoon of Sunday 21 July 2002. The second article, by R. S. McKenzie gathers
together a variety of information both from Lesotho sources and from observers
in the eastern Free State and the University of the Free State, some members of
which also collected some stones from the meteorite fall in Lesotho. Both
articles have maps and a number of photographs of meteorites and of the strewn
The Thuathe Meteorite was also featured in the BBC Focus on
Africa magazine in its April to June 2003 issue. This was a rather more popular
article, ‘Bombed by rocks’, which included several colour photographs of
meteoritic stones and their collectors.
Two scientific articles about the meteorite appeared in the
South African Journal of Science for March/April 2003, which also provided a
collage of coloured pictures on its front cover. One article was the result of
collaboration between David Ambrose of the National University of Lesotho, Paul
Buchanan of the Centre for the Study of Antarctic Meteorites in Japan, and Uwe
Reimold of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The second article was by a team from the University of the Free State. There is
also a forthcoming technical article on the Thuathe Meteorite to appear shortly
in the United States published periodical, Meteoritics and Planetary Science.
Meanwhile a number of meteorite collectors and dealers have
descended on Lesotho, mostly from Tucson, Arizona, which seems to be the centre
of the World meteorite trade. They surprised people with the high prices that
they were prepared to pay for stones. A Meteorite Fund set up by David Ambrose
from stones that were purchased has been able to support a number of projects,
including repairing of the Chief’s Office at Ha Sofonia, and helping St Joseph’s
Hospital at Roma. It has particularly helped the Boqate Lesotho Evangelical
Church Primary School, the only school actually situated in the strewn field.
The fund has paid school fees for needy pupils, sponsored visits by a
mathematical games demonstrator (and prizes for pupils who excelled), bought a
number of items of equipment, and most notably provided funds for a new school
block consisting of a classroom, library, principal’s office and storeroom.
Local builders are undertaking the building work, providing much needed
employment in an area which is without resources other than beautiful scenery.
The school is nestled close to the foot of the cliffs of the Thuathe Plateau,
and from the school grounds is visible the remarkable rock pinnacle,
’Mamolalana, which had proved to be a rich hunting ground for the pupils in
their search for meteoritic stones.
Norman Napo Raditapole, who held the distinction of being the
first Mosotho Veterinary Surgeon and also the first African Veterinary Surgeon
in English-speaking Africa, died early in May 2003 at the age of 74.
Norman Raditapole was born at Pitseng in the Leribe District
in July 1928, the eldest of nine children. After obtaining his Matriculation
from Basutoland High School in 1948, he studied at Fort Hare University College,
where he showed an interest in training in veterinary science.
At his funeral, it was said by a member of the family that the
colonial authorities were interested in testing out Norman’s devotion to
animals, and sent him to work as a farm labourer for a Mrs Thatcher who had a
farm at Westminster in the eastern Orange Free State. He was treated in the
manner of South African farm labourers at the time, having to stand in a queue
at the kitchen window to get his ration of milk, and never being allowed to
enter the kitchen itself. Many years later, Mrs Thatcher had sick cattle and
requested the services of a veterinary surgeon from Lesotho. Dr Raditapole
returned to the very same farm, provided the necessary services to the cattle,
and was afterwards invited to tea in the living room. As he left, he told Mrs
Thatcher that he was the same farm labourer that she had once employed!
In fact, Dr Raditapole had graduated at the Royal College of
Veterinary Medicine in Scotland in 1955, and had gained useful experience with a
firm of London veterinary surgeons, McDonald & Evans, before returning to
Lesotho in 1956. Appointed Veterinary Officer by the Colonial Administration,
from 1958 to 1962 he was seconded to Ghana. On his return he became Veterinary
Research Officer, and as Independence loomed became the first Mosotho Permanent
Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Cooperatives & Marketing.
His relations with the non-democratic government of the 1970s
deteriorated and he resigned from the civil service in 1975. He worked
successively for a international organization and then the Botswana Government
until 1981 when he returned to Lesotho to work as Director of Livestock
Services. However, he left Lesotho again not long afterwards, and in the period
1985 to 1995 worked first as State Veterinary Surgeon and then Director of
Veterinary Services for the Government of Bophuthatswana.
Norman Raditapole married Alina Mahali Naledi, the daughter of
a well known businessman of Sebaboleng on the outskirts of Maseru. They had five
children, two daughters and three sons, including two sets of twins. Tragically,
however, two of the sons were killed in separate road accidents. One of these
accidents, earlier in 2003, claimed the life of Dr Nthethe Raditapole who, like
his father, had qualified as a veterinary surgeon.
Professor Loyiso Nongxa, who in the mid-1980s had been a
mathematics lecturer at the National University of Lesotho was in May 2003
formally chosen as Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, a
post which he had filled in an acting capacity for some time, following the
premature departure of the previous Vice-Chancellor, Professor Norma Reid Birley.
Nongxa was the first black South African to be chosen as a
Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and while many Rhodes Scholars use the opportunity to
read for an undergraduate honours degree, Nongxa used his opportunity to
undertake a DPhil in group theory, a branch of abstract algebra. The degree was
awarded in 1982, and while Loyiso Nongxa was on the staff of the National
University of Lesotho, portions of his doctoral thesis were published in the
Transactions of the American Mathematical Society.
Professor Nongxa left Lesotho for the University of the
Western Cape after a comparatively short stay. He later moved to Wits, where he
eventually became Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research. His links with Lesotho
have been maintained in recent years by his appointment to the Council of the
National University of Lesotho.
Nongxa’s appointment to Wits means that the two oldest South
African Universities now both have Vice-Chancellors with NUL connections. The
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town is Professor Njabulo Ndebele, who
at different times was a student, lecturer, Professor of English and
Pro-Vice-Chancellor at what is now the Roma Campus of the National University of
The Maseru Southern By-pass skirts the former Maseru Race
Course, still with the Papal Podium of 1988 in place, and then passes through
the gap between the Qoaling and Mpilonyane hills. As it descends to the Thetsane
Industrial Site, the blue roofs of the vast new Nien Hsing Denim Mill are a
prominent landmark on the left of the road, a development which in order to
provide better access has necessitated the removal of the Vehicle Testing
Station. The Nien Hsing Mill at $100 million represents the largest single
foreign direct investment in Lesotho. When it is fully operational in 2004, the
new factory will produce 2 million metres of fabric per month, although even
this will not meet local demand, because Lesotho garment factories already are
consuming nearly 3 million metres of cloth per month.
Information about the phenomenal growth of the garment
industry has been documented in a recent report, Lesotho garment industry
subsector study commissioned by the British Department for International
Development for the Lesotho Government Ministry of Industry, Trade and
Although a variety of mostly minor industrial enterprises had
been attracted to Lesotho by the Lesotho National Development Corporation in the
first 20 years after Independence, it was in the late 1980s that a combination
of circumstances caused a number of South East Asian (mainly Taiwanese) garment
making firms to relocate to Lesotho. They had previously had factories in South
Africa, mainly in the ‘homelands’, but exports had become difficult because of
sanctions against the apartheid regime, while in Lesotho under the Lomé
Agreement they could get duty free access for manufactured garments to European
markets. The Lomé regulations, however, changed with time. At first sewn
garments were acceptable, but later at least two manufacturing stages had to be
accomplished in the exporting country. In effect this meant setting up mills to
weave the cloth or make the knitted fabric as well as making up the finished
articles. In the late 1980s Lesotho managed to get a 4-year postponement of
these stricter regulations, and this provided a boost to the garment industry,
whose local investments were reduced because they could use LNDC provided
factory shells. However, by the early 1990s, there was no further postponement
and the mainly Taiwanese firms in a few cases closed although others managed
successfully to penetrate the United States market, despite there being at the
time an effective 17% tariff barrier.
Experience with the North American market stood these firms in
good stead when the United States passed the African Growth and Opportunity Act
2000. This offered duty-free and quota-free access to United States markets for
poorer African countries which met certain criteria relating to democracy and
human rights. Lesotho was one of a small number of countries which qualified and
foreign garment manufacturers seized the opportunity to open new factories.
Since then jobs in the garment industry have risen by at least a thousand a
month, reaching 32000 workers in 2001, and probably now well over 50000,
although precise statistics are difficult to come by. By 2002, Lesotho had
already become one of the five top African countries exporting to the USA under
AGOA and Africa’s largest exporter of clothing to the USA. The jobs, mainly in
four factory estates, two in Maseru and two in Maputsoe, might be thought to
have compensated for the declining opportunities for migrant mineworkers.
However, the factory workers employed are, with few exceptions, women. Salaries
moreover are only in a few cases more than the minimum legal wage.
The Lesotho garment industry is an extraordinary exercise in
international economic logistics, in which Lesotho plays host to a mere stage in
a global enterprise, where the business agreements are negotiated far beyond its
boundaries. The deals are typically between Taiwanese firms and United States
suppliers to chain stores, and they involve massive orders, such as 30 000 dozen
units per month of one style of jeans or tee-shirt. Containers are packed in the
Far East with fabric from China, South Korea or Taiwan, and they arrive by ship
at East London and then travel by rail to Maseru. Virtually nothing is left to
the vagaries of suppliers in southern Africa, because the containers literally
supply all that it is needed: fabric, fabric markers, trims, thread, swing
tickets, hangers and even plastic bags. When the container arrives at the
factory, all is ready for the garment manufacturing process, and at the end
garments are packed (local cardboard containers from South Africa are the only
local input) into a different container and shipped by road to Durban or East
London and then by sea to the USA.
It is fair to say that this phenomenal expansion in industry
was largely unforeseen in Lesotho, and has consequently resulted in new
problems. One of these is the lack of facilities to deal with containers. A 1980
study had noted that Maseru Railway Station was then receiving just three
railway type containers (the kind which open at the sides) per day, while
‘overseas’ containers (which open at the ends or from the top) were a very rare
event. This is no longer the case. A 2001 survey found that the ‘Maseru
Container Terminal’ was a ‘completely inadequate facility operating under
dangerous and unsecured conditions’. Moreover because of the backlog in
operations there were already at that time 130 overseas containers destined for
Maseru having to be stored in Bloemfontein and being charged demurrage at R293
per day. Spoornet, the successor to South African Railways, which runs the
Maseru Railway Station, has not enjoyed a very happy relationship with the
Lesotho Government. It will not invest in a new container terminal in Maseru
unless it can get title to the land. Moreover, it has been irritated by its
employees having to have Lesotho work permits (a difficult bureaucratic process)
even when they are simply crews of trains whose journeys are almost entirely in
South Africa. However, the need for a proper container terminal, or even a
second rail link to the southern Maseru industrial estates, has now become
extremely urgent, if the industrial expansion is to be serviced.
The actual container traffic is rather extraordinary. One set
of full containers from the Far East makes the rail trip to Maseru and then
returns empty by rail and sea to the Far East. A second set of quite different
containers from North America arrives empty by road (this set if it came by rail
would create impossible problems at Maseru Railway Station), is packed with the
completed garments, and then makes the journey back by road to South African
ports to return to North America to deliver the goods. Possibly, if the
bottleneck at Maseru Station cannot be overcome, both sets of containers will in
future travel by road, adding in this case, because of problems of customs
clearance, to problems at the already extremely congested Maseru Bridge Border
While the container problem can presumably be relatively
easily overcome, and indeed a modern container terminal at the Maseru Station
ought to be a profitable enterprise, a more ominous problem is water supply. The
jeans factories are a ‘wet’ industry using large amounts of water, as also will
be the denim mill. The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) is already under
criticism from the factory owners for providing an unreliable supply, but the
new denim mill alone is estimated to need about a third of the present total
Maseru water supply. The proposed Metolong Dam or an alternative scheme is being
hurriedly put together, although there is no hope of water from such a scheme
being available within less than about four years.
There is a further water problem and that is one of effluent.
Factory processes such as the production of stone-washed jeans, result in
streams of bright blue water flowing out of the factories untreated into the
Mohokare (Caledon) River. Downstream from this point is the intake to the
Bloemfontein water supply via the Knellpoort Dam. This environmental problem has
yet to be seriously tackled. The principle elsewhere in relation to pollution is
that the ‘polluter pays’, so that there should be an appropriate effluent
treatment works paid for by the factories responsible. There is however little
sign so far of appropriate action to ensure that this happens.
On Wednesday 22nd December 1920, the Rev. Édouard Jacottet,
the Director of the Theological School at Morija, sat down to lunch with five
other people, one of his three daughters, Madeleine, and four guests. Not long
after they had taken the soup — Jacottet’s favourite soup, and he alone took two
helpings — all of those who had been at the table became violently ill. Although
the others survived, Jacottet died that night. There had been arsenic in the
soup and he had been poisoned.
Who had done this terrible deed? The police eventually
arrested three people, and charged them with the murder. Two were daughters of
Jacottet who had not been present at the meal, the oldest daughter, Marcelle,
and the youngest, Marguerite. Thethirdwas the Rev. Sam Duby, a fellow missionary
of Jacottet’s, who was Director of the Bible School and also Manager of the
Morija Printing Works and of the Sesuto Book Depot.
As evidence came out in Maseru at the preliminary hearing in
February 1921, it was clear that all three had motives. Marguerite had been a 17
year old at Eunice High School in Bloemfontein, when a search of the girls’
lockers for stolen money had led to the discovery in her locker of not money but
love letters from Duby, a married man with his own family. Jacottet had been
summoned by the Headmistress, Miss King, and he had promised her that he would
have his colleague dismissed by the missionary society for unbecoming conduct.
Marguerite had been expelled from the school, and it had been put about falsely
that the reason for the abrupt termination of her schooling was that she had
stolen money. Duby’s career as a missionary was at a premature end, as was that
of Marguerite as a schoolgirl.
However Marcelle also had major grudges against her father. At
35, she was more than twice the age of Marguerite. As a young woman, she had had
an affair with a Morija student, but such were missionary attitudes in those
days that marriage between a missionary’s daughter and a Mosotho was virtually
impossible. She apparently became pregnant and had an abortion with help from a
local ngaka. This ordeal must have engendered a terrible bitterness at
missionary attitudes. She subsequently went overseas, but recently, after her
mother’s death in 1919, Jacottet had required her to return to Morija to look
after the family. The night before his murder, Marcelle had had a row with her
father. Marguerite was not to be allowed to go on a picnic planned for the next
day, because of the problems she had caused. Marcelle took the side of
Marguerite. If Marguerite could not go, she would not go, and both would have
lunch with the Dubys! In the end the weather ruled out the picnic, and there
were two parallel lunches: one in which three persons shared a common hatred of
Jacottet who, as they perceived it, had destroyed their lives; the other where
Jacottet sat down to poisoned soup.
So who did murder Jacottet? It is a pity to spoil the book
Murder at Morija by giving the answer to this real life murder mystery.
Convicted poisoners were hanged in those days. What finally happened?
The book, by Tim Couzens, is far more than just a murder
mystery. It has 496 pages of text and 64 pages of illustrations. It provides an
insightful history of Lesotho up until the 1920s, including an account of the
work of writers such as Thomas Mofolo (who also lapsed from the moral rectitude
expected by the missionaries). It also covers the origins of the strands of
Protestantism which found their way to Lesotho; and, contrastingly, describes
famous poisoners of history and their fates.
The origins of the book go back to 1991, when Professor Tim
Couzens was External Examiner in English at the National University of Lesotho.
He had with him a novel, Love at the mission, published obscurely overseas. It
was set in a country called Bantusiland, which Couzens felt could possibly be
Lesotho. It was at NUL that he learned that what he had was not just a novel,
but actually a true story of a poisoning. The writer (who had been the wife of
the public analyst who had detected arsenic in Jacottet’s stomach) had been so
intrigued by the eventsthatshehadwoven theminto a novel and published it
With this lead, Couzens set out to unravel the murder mystery,
something he does sympathetically, for what occurred was a disaster to the
church. It lost its two finest scholars. His book is not only compelling
reading, but likely to be an important text on Lesotho and its history for many
years to come.
The book was launched in South Africa in May 2003, and the
publishers, Random House, printed 7000 copies. By June 2003 when there was a
separate launch of the book in Lesotho, copies were already relatively scarce,
the publisher having already distributed most of his stock.
Lesotho readers of the book were of course the most critical.
Although Jacottet had been murdered over 80 years ago, there were those who had
talked to people who had still vividly remembered what had happened. Thus it was
soon spotted that Jacques Zürcher, the missionary printer, could not have been
present at Jacottet’s funeral on Christmas Eve in 1920. He had only arrived in
Lesotho for the first time in 1921! And then there was the long remembered
belief that Duby had many years earlier also had an affair with Marcelle
Jacottet, who had worked closely with him in the Morija Sesuto Book Depot. Dark
secrets of the missionary past became openly discussed.
Overall, however, the book has been well received, and has
received rave reviews in the South African press. The idea has been floated that
a very much abridged version would make a script for a film, which could be
filmed on location in Morija.
Square One Computers was established by the present Minister
of Trade, Industry, Cooperatives & Marketing, Mpho ’Meli Malie, as a commercial
enterprise some 20 years back. It was at the time one of the pioneer computing
firms in Maseru, but in recent years its founder had obviously had less time for
the firm because of his political commitments. Newspapers in April carried a
photograph of the Square One Computers building as part of advertisement that
the whole building or a part of it was available for rental as office or shop
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, commonly known as SARS, a
disease which often proves fatal, has so far been confined mainly to countries
of the Far East and Canada. These countries include Taiwan, a country from which
there are over a thousand nationals working in Lesotho, so that travel between
the two countries is relatively common. According to The Mirror of 7 and 14 May
2003, the Lesotho Government had set up a task force mandated to screen visitors
from the Far East at Moshoeshoe I International Airport and at other border
posts. Moreover, the Lesotho Government had instructed the Lesotho Embassy in
Beijing to no longer issue visas to persons from Mainland China, who would not
be allowed to enter Lesotho. However, visitors from Mainland China are
relatively few compared with those from Taiwan. Lesotho has no diplomatic
mission in Taiwan.
SARS was made a notifiable disease in Lesotho under the Public
Health Order 1970 by notice in the Lesotho Government Gazette of 10 June 2003.
As reported in Moeletsi oa Basotho of 1 June 2003,
parishioners of St Cecilia (Buasono) Mission at Ha Mabekenyane in Berea District
became involved in a heated dispute with their priest Father Augustinus Mahlaku,
over the matter of the mission graveyard. Father Mahlaku declared on 22 May that
the present graveyard could not be further used because it was full, and that
the remaining mission land should be reserved for fruit trees so that bottled
and dried fruits might be made for the needy. He advised his parishioners to go
to the chief to seek a new graveyard. The priest’s refusal to make available
further land for burials resulted in a confrontation which led to the church
members closing his church and office.
As reported by Moeletsi oa Basotho of 22 June 2003, the church
was only reopened nearly a month later on 15 June, following a ruling from the
Archbishop that those who had closed the church should reopen it and the priest
on his part should reopen the graveyard and find somewhere else to plant trees.
The National Health Training Centre, according to an
announcement by the Minister of Health & Social Welfare, Dr Motloheloa Phooko,
in May will remain closed until the start of the new academic year in August.
This follows repeated unrest at the school, which is the government facility
training nurses and laboratory technicians.
The NHTC is situated at Botšabelo, and was established with
Irish Aid some 15 years ago when it was expected that a new National Referral
Hospital might also be built at the Botšabelo site. In the event, there were no
funds for the new hospital, nor adequate funds for the recurrent costs of the
training centre. The staff establishment was minimal, it being expected that
doctors and nurses at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital would undertake most of the
teaching. However, not only were the hospital staff already overstretched, but
the NHTC’s location some 5 km away proved a severe problem.
The announcement about the Centre indicated that although it
would remain closed (and thus first and second year students would miss 6 months
of teaching), special arrangements were being made so that the third year
students could complete on time. Meanwhile before the reopening in August,
attempts were being made with renovations to buildings in the hope that this
would solve the lack of accommodation at the school.
Meanwhile there was also unrest at another Maseru tertiary
establishment, the Lesotho College of Education (formerly known as the National
Teachers’ Training College). The LCE students had boycotted the College’s
refectory, whose food they deemed inadequate, and were demanding that they be
given the food allowance in cash so that they could choose where they ate. When
they threatened violence, the College’s administration, headed by the Director,
Professor John Musaazi, called in police on 30 April 2003 to clear students from
the campus. Most students returned to the LCE campus on 16 May, having signed a
declaration that they would abide by seven specified regulations.
His Majesty King Letsie III and Queen ’Masenate made a State
Visit to Botswana from 19 to 23 May 2003, travelling not only to Gaborone, a
traditional Kgotla at Molepolole and the Jwaneng Diamond Mine, but also to well
known tourist destinations such as Chobe and Maun. Normally the Queen acts as
Regent for the King, but since both were away at the same time, the King’s
younger brother, Chief Seeiso Bereng Seeiso was sworn in to act as Regent in the
absence of the Royal Couple.
The party visiting Botswana was large including four Principal
Chiefs, the President of Senate and three Cabinet Ministers and two other
Members of Parliament. During the visit an Economic and Technical Cooperation
Agreement was signed by the Foreign Ministers of Lesotho and Botswana.
At the Kgotla at Molepolole, the Lesotho’s Minister of Local
Government, Dr Pontšo Sekatle was able to see Botswana local government in
action. In an interview reported in Lesotho Today of 29 May 2003, she told
Letuka Mahe that ‘The visit [to Molepolole] was the core of the whole state
visit, since this was not only where effective local government was being
implemented from, but also where the culture of chieftainship still prevails’.
In a statement quoted in Public Eye of 23 May 2003, the
Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Mpho Malie, announced that construction work
was to begin in June on a new factory estate at Mohale’s Hoek. The first factory
is for garment production, but it is expected that materials production and
fabric dyeing will be added later. The new factory, Fancy Garments, has an
Italian Chief Executive, Luigi Malvestio. It will employ 1500 Basotho initially
and 3000 when in full production.
Mohale’s Hoek becomes the fourth town in Lesotho after Maseru,
Maputsoe and Mafeteng to have clothing factories. A similar development had been
expected at Butha-Buthe, and land had recently been identified for a factory
estate. However, it was outside the urban area, and whereas in the past land
could simply be reallocated, it was now the practice that compensation similar
to that paid by the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority was expected. The
Lesotho National Development Corporation had not budgeted for such expenditure.
The Butha-Buthe factory development is therefore at present on hold, even though
Butha-Buthe residents are eager to find work to replace jobs lost at the end of
the construction of the north end works of the Lesotho Highlands Water project.
Although it is an offence to run an unlicensed school, the
Ministry of Education has for many years turned a blind eye to the large number
of private schools which have mushroomed in urban areas.
Early in May, however, the situation changed and a large
number of schools operating without licences were shut down including more than
30 such schools in Leribe District ranging from pre-schools to primary,
secondary and high schools. A similar operation took place in Maseru District.
One result of this was that some 500 children and teachers from a number of
unlicensed Maseru schools marched on the Ministry of Education on Tuesday 27 May
2003. These included children from the Maseru Academy High School in Maseru
East, Khubetsoana Academy High School at Khubetsoana, Ants High School at Ha
Foso, and Mpilo High School situated precariously just above the Maseru inner
relief road. A petition was presented to the Minister by the teachers from the
A helicopter on charter from the Air Wing of the Lesotho
Defence Force crashed into the Katse Reservoir on Tuesday 20 May 2003. The
helicopter was flying low above the water with a film crew, two South Africans
and a German, all three of whom survived the crash. They were extremely
fortunate that the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority had a water sampling
team in a small boat nearby which was able to rescue them while swimming in the
water only some three minutes after the crash. The pilot, Lieutenant Lererileng
Maloi, and one other passenger, Sethunya Nthako, were not so lucky. They both
died in the crash. Nthako, a Chartered Engineer and graduate of the National
University of Lesotho and the University of Leeds, was the General Manager of
the Engineering Group of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority.
Interviewed in Bloemfontein Medi-Clinic by a reporter for The
Star, one of the survivors, Jan du Toit said that the film crew had been working
for the German television company Deutsche Welle for which they were making a
documentary on the world’s largest dam projects. The pilot had been asked to fly
about 30 metres above the water so that they could capture on film the
narrowness of the gorge. Du Toit believed that the pilot flew too low.
There was a further tragedy at the crash site. A team of 23
divers from the South African Police Service arrived to recover the plane which
had sunk in some 100 metres of water. One of them, Inspector Michael Bradley,
got into difficulties and could not be revived after being brought back to the
The police diving team, which was not able to work at great
depths was then supplemented by the South African firm Sub Tech Diving and
Marine of Durban, which has equipment allowing divers to work down to a depth of
120 metres, and a device called a Fish Finder which can locate underwater
objects. The wreckage of the helicopter was eventually located, and on 1 June
2003, 12 days after the crash, the bodies of the two victims were recovered.
Lieutenant Maloi’s body was found close to the helicopter, whereas Sethunya
Nthako’s body was found still strapped to its seat in the helicopter. The
wreckage of the helicopter was removed from the dam and flown by a large
transport helicopter to Maseru. The lost helicopter, known as Mashai, was one of
two identical helicopters, known as Sani Top and Mashai, which were operated by
the Air Wing as part of its overall fleet of six helicopters.
The Kimberley Process is the name given to a set of
regulations which were devised as a result of a series of intergovernmental
meetings held successively in Kimberley, Belgium, Moscow, London, Luanda and
finally Gaborone in the period May 2000 to November 2001. The meetings resulted
from the campaign against ‘conflict diamonds’ defined by the United Nations as
‘rough diamonds which are used by rebel movements to finance their military
activities, including attempts to overthrow legitimate governments’. The
recognition that wars in countries such as Angola, Congo and Sierra Leone were
being financed by such diamond sales had led to campaigns such as that of World
Vision, the largest privately funded international relief organization in the
United States. It ran its campaign with the message ‘Dying for a diamond? So are
thousands of innocent children’.
Some countries, and in particular Botswana (where diamonds are
more than 80% of its exports), became alarmed that there might be a global
boycott of African diamonds, and the Kimberley Process Regulations were devised
to ensure that ‘clean’ diamonds from particular countries could be identified
and certified. Subsequently, the United States Clean Diamond Trade Act 2001
prohibited import of rough diamonds into the United States from countries which
had not implemented a system of controls as required by United Security Council
resolutions or the Kimberley Process, and in Interlaken, Switzerland, on 5
November 2002, 52 governments resolved to implement the Kimberley Process on 1
Although Lesotho has not met this deadline, as a diamond
exporting country it had no choice but to follow suit, which it did by gazetting
the Precious Stones (Kimberley Process) Regulations 2003 (Legal Notice No. 66 of
2003), which came into force on publication as a supplement to the Lesotho
Government Gazette of 23 May 2003. The regulations require a certificate to be
issued for the export of rough diamonds by the Commissioner of Mines and
Geology, the diamonds themselves having to be sealed in a tamper resistant
container and registered in an international database. The regulations for
diamond imports are similar, and diamonds can only be imported from a country
which is a participant in the Kimberley Process.
Lesotho’s diamond exports have been relative minor in recent
years, but with the imminent reopening of the Letšeng Mine in Mokhotlong
District, they can be expected to rise significantly.
Mr E. M. Khali, a local Chartered Accountant, went on record
in the local press immediately after the March 2003 Budget Speech as one of the
main critics of the Minister of Finance, Dr Timothy Thahane. By May, Khali was
alleging fraud in the 2001/2 Public Accounts and saying that Thahane should be
called before the Public Accounts Committee. A major issue, according to The
Mirror of 28 May 2003, is apparently the auditing of the 2001/2 Public Accounts.
Khali had been contracted to do this work together with colleagues Noto and
Ntšala. Ntšala’s contract with Khali expired, and when Khali’s work was found to
be incomplete, Thahane then gave the work to Ntšala.
The feud received further ventilation in Mopheme of 10 June
2003 when it reported Khali giving a press conference on 9 June at which he
indicated he had evidence that Thahane had imposed directives on the Director of
the National Manpower Development Secretariat to renew scholarships of Basotho
students who had failed at South African universities. Khali alleged that these
students were Thahane’s relatives or members of ‘his BNP party’ and viewed these
instructions to the Director of the NMDS as ‘irregular and fraudulent use of
public funds as well as misuse of his official position’.
Seymour Clyde Harley of the firm Harley & Morris escaped
unhurt when three shots were fired into his car as he went to work on 28 May
2003. The person responsible has not been apprehended. Harley & Morris is
currently selling 19 properties in Maseru and various Lowlands towns in order to
recover debts owed to Lesotho Bank.
Inflation, which had remained in double figures for the whole
of the year 2002, dropped significantly in the first months of 2003. As can be
seen from the chart, by April 2003, it was down to 7.2% from the figure of 11.0%
in January 2003, and very much down from the peak figure of 13.7% a year
earlier. The drop in inflation had been helped by the strengthening of the rand
(and therefore the loti) against the United States dollar by some 40% in the
previous twelve months. By early May, perhaps influenced by sentiment against
the Iraq War, the loti had in fact strengthened to M7.05 to the dollar, a 32
However, a month later it slid back to over M8.20 to the
dollar. Although the improved rand/dollar exchange rate had obvious advantages
in reducing the prices of imported goods, particularly fuel, it also seriously
affected the competitiveness of Lesotho’s textile exports, almost all of which
are destined for North American markets.
Fuel prices fluctuated considerably in the period March to
May. On 1 April 2003, the pump price for petrol in the Lowlands was increased
from M3.90 to M4.10 per litre. However on 15 May it was reduced to M3.80.
A new union, the Factory Workers Union (FAWU), was formed in
May 2003. Its Secretary-General is the Member of Parliament for the Lesotho
Workers Party, Billy Macaefa, and within a week of its formation, according to
Macaefa as quoted in The Mirror of 4 June 2003, it already had 5000 members. The
formation of the new party followed a power struggle in the Lesotho Clothing and
Allied Workers Union (LECAWU) between Macaefa and the Secretary-General, Daniel
The Judicial Service Commission for reasons that were not
disclosed informed by letter the Chief Magistrate of Maseru, Mr Molefi Makara,
that with effect from 1 July 2003 he was to be transferred to an executive post
in the Ministry of Justice. He was given 6 weeks to wind up his business as
In a strongly worded statement reported in the press, the
President of the Law Society, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda, expressed the anger of the
Law Society at the move, stating that the Judicial Service Commission’s power
was to appoint persons to judicial offices, and to dismiss them from them. It
did not have the power to transfer them to a different post outside the
The President of the Law Society, Advocate Zwelakhe Mda, made
news two weeks running, when police searched his offices on 12 June 2003 and
arrested him and charged him with obstruction of justice. Mda was released on
free bail the following day. According to Public Eye of 20 June 2003, the search
warrant stated that property of the crown had been stolen and was concealed at
the office of Mda in Mafeteng.
Four other persons, two men and two women were also arrested
and allowed free bail in the same matter. It is understood that the allegations
against Mda and the other four persons relate to the case in which Mda is
representing Lieutenant Mole Kumalo, an army officer. Kumalo together with
Lesoli Maphathe, is charged with murdering Maile Mosisili, the son of the Prime
Minister on 11 February 2001. According to The Mirror of 18 June 2003, it was
alleged that Mda had enticed crown witnesses to sign false statements or
affidavits to give false testimony at the trial, conduct aimed at weakening the
Crown’s case and detrimentally affecting its prospects for conviction. The
murder case in the High Court is proceeding, but has at present been adjourned
With effect from 1 July 2003, ‘free’ public standpipes, which
are the main source of water in many peri-urban areas, will no longer be free.
The practice by which the Ministry of Local Government was paying the Water and
Sewerage Authority (WASA) to provide free water to residents will end.
Under the new arrangements, WASA, which is not subsidized by
government, will provide water only on a commercial basis. Three options are
amongst those being implemented or considered for implementation. The water
kiosk option where water is sold at 20s per 20 litres is already in operation in
Butha-Buthe, Thaba-Tseka and the Maseru suburbs of Ha Leqele and Ha Abia. 40% of
the takings go to WASA and 60% to the local community authority, who use this
money to pay the operator. A second option is the shared water point, where an
elected committee controls the public standpipes and collects the payment for
the water bill on a monthly basis. A third option is prepaid meters or water
cards, which operate like telephone cards. This option has not yet been
implemented in Lesotho, even experimentally.
Public reaction to the new system will be carefully monitored.
In South Africa, residents now have a basic entitlement to free water, but pay
steep charges if they exceed their allocation. In Lesotho, no urban water in
future will be free, and this may result in serious problems for the poorest of
the poor, and in particular the large numbers of unemployed. Some kind of
provision for this poorest group may be necessary, both for humanitarian reasons
and also because if this group becomes desperate, it might resort to vandalizing
the supply to meet what is after all a basic human need.
Unlike traditional villages which were sited close to springs
most often at the base of cliffs, the peri-urban areas of towns are often placed
on flat areas without springs, and could not have come into being without the
provision of boreholes or some other piped water supply.
The newspaper, Mopheme, in its issue of 13 May 2003, carried
an interview with the outgoing Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the National University of
Lesotho, Dr Nqosa Mahao whose term of office ends at the end of June 2003.
Under the restructuring there will be five Executive Deans,
who will be in charge of three Faculties and two Institutes. The new Faculties
are being created by amalgamation of existing Faculties and will be the Faculty
of Law & Social Sciences; Education & Humanities; and Sciences, this last
Faculty embracing the three former Faculties of Science & Technology,
Agriculture, and Health Science. The two Institutes will be the Institute of
Research replacing the Institute of Southern African Studies (ISAS) and the
Institute of Distance & Continuing Education replacing the Institute of
Extra-Mural Studies (IEMS).
In the new structure, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor’s position also
disappears. He is to be replaced by two Deputy Vice-Chancellors, one in charge
of academic affairs and the other responsible for finance and administration.
Advance announcements for some months have indicated that
Value Added Tax (VAT) is being introduced into Lesotho on 1 July 2003. VAT will
be levied at 14% as in South Africa and replaces the present 10% General Sales
Tax. The exceptions are telephones and electricity which will be charged at 5%,
while 12 basic items are zero-rated including agricultural inputs (seeds,
fertilizers, pesticides), beans, bread, brown flour, lentils, livestock and
poultry feeds, maize grain and maize meal, milk, domestic paraffin, peas, water
and wheat grain.