Month: October 2014

Lesotho media reflects on SADC Gender Protocol ahead of 2015 deadline

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A year ahead of the deadline to attain equal representation of women in the ownership and decision making structures of the media, in accordance with Article 12.1 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, media practitioners met in Maseru this morning to reflect on the progress made.

A breakfast meeting organised by Gender Links for Equality and Justice, brought together editors and reporters of various radio stations and newspapers in Lesotho to look at opportunities and challenges on gender equality coverage in the media in the country.

Participants at a breakfast meeting on media and gender equality in Maseru today.
Participants at a breakfast meeting on media and gender equality in Maseru today.

In his welcome remarks, the National Director of Media Institute of Southern Africa Lesotho chapter, Tsebo Mats’asa said in Lesotho to on the gender’s agenda is upleaftment of women to decision making positions. He told participants that Lesotho is doing well in terms of women ownership and decision making in the media sector.

He said that media houses such as Harvest FM and Bam Media that owns Informative Newspaper and Finite Magazine are owned by women.

With regard to women in decision making positions in the media, he cited media houses like People’s Choice FM, Radio Spes Nostra (formally Catholic Radio), KEL Radio, Lesotho Times Newspaper, Mosotho Newspaper and Lesotho News Agency where women are either editors, sub-editors or managers.

He also argued that in Lesotho information departments of some civil society organisations and private companies are led by women.

Mats’asa challenged the participants to take advantage of the ICT developments in Lesotho and world at large by creating social networks aimed at facilitating peer interaction to achieve the aspirations of the SADC Protocol of Gender and Development in Lesotho. He cited twitter, facebook and WordPress as networks that the participants would use to have a continued dialogue on gender equality in media.

He also brought to the attention of participants that Lesotho would be going for election very soon and political parties would be making pronouncements of various policies. As a result it would be important to push for inclusion of media and gender policies in the manifestos of various political parties.

The Lesotho Media Facilitator Gender Links Mpho Mankimane reported just after the meeting that the next step would be to assist individual media houses to develop gender policies.

According to Mankimane some of the challenges identified were;

  • Media practitioners’ lack of knowledge about the protocol and genders issues
  • Gender issues do not sell.
  • Unwillingness of women to provide information to journalists especially on gender violence stories.
  • Location of media houses in Maseru makes it difficult to cover districts because of lack of resources.

Lesotho signed the SADC Gender and Development Protocol on the 17th August, 2008.

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Union bigwigs not so amused by wage increase

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Maseru, October 30 –Some labour union leaders are not so amused by wage increase commencing end of October in the private sector.

The dissatisfaction has come to the surface particularly within the textile union with Unite General Secretary Bahlakoana Lebakae openly expressing it to the newsline365.wordpress.com just a day before end of the month.

Lebakae said Thursday that the published 2014 Gazette on new wage increases has not been presented to parliament by the labour ministry for scrutiny following negotiations over pay increase by the Wages Advisory Board.

He is a member of the advisory board.

“The labour department bypassed parliament over this new gazette for wages increase. We expected the document to be tabled before the legislature so that the House could analyse whether it complies with the benchmarks set on November 30 2012 in the National Assembly,” observed Lebakae.

Bahlakoana Lebakae
Bahlakoana Lebakae

“It was agreed that there should be a restructuring of wages, an establishment of a bargaining council and an increase of a three-month paid maternity leave for textile employees from 2013. That has not happened,” added Lebakae. The union’s plan to seek court interdict to nullify and declare as void both the 2013 and 2014 wage gazettes was fruitless.

According to the new wage arrangements, workers in the textile industry are to earn a six percent rise on pay beginning end of October and a further four percent starting April 2015.Those in the other sectors are to earn an increase of seven percent and a three percent rise during the same period.

Another union boss, Mosesanyane Masoebe of the Lesotho Congress of Democratic Unions (LeCODU) also expressed dissatisfaction that the new pay increase will still leave the textile sector as the lowest paying industry.

“We’re not fully satisfied. There should have been a restructuring of the textile employees’ pay in order that their monthly pay is closer to that of those in other private sectors,” he argued.

The secretary general suggested a formation of a sectoral bargaining council which would negotiate specific pay hikes for each industry.

“But in this current instance, unions do negotiate under one roof although the sectors are wide and different. We negotiate for workers who are also not our members,” remarked Masoebe whose labour movement enjoys membership in health, banking, construction, teaching service as well as textile

Why a member of Lesotho Parliament took away the Mace?

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Maseru, October 29 – The ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) Member of Parliament for the Qoaling Constituency, Chalane Phori, argued that he took the mace from the parliament of Lesotho because the House was not discussing business assigned by His Majesty King Letsie III and Maseru Facilitation Declaration.

Phori who picked up the mace and walked out with it to the office of the Speaker yesterday, causing 15 minutes (3:05pm to 3:20pm) suspension of the House featured in the Lesotho Television news saying the parliament was reopened to allocate the budget and prepare for elections, but some members of the House seem to be interested in other issues.

Lesotho Parliament snapped from the north wing
Lesotho Parliament snapped from the north wing

In the latest development, today the parliament of Lesotho began its session at 14hrs30min with its agenda being an order paper proposing a leave to introduce a private member’s bill;

“That this Honourable House resolves to grant leave for the Hon. Members to introduce the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution Bill; A Bill for an Act to provide for the abolition of prorogation and for the King to consult the Council of State where he has been advised by the Prime Minister to dissolve Parliament”so read the motion by Hon. K. Mathaba and Hon. V.M. Malebo.

According to the Parliament of Lesotho Hansard dated 28th October, 2014, Phori took away the mace while the house was discussing a proposed leave to introduce a private member’s Bill by Malebo. While other members were arguing that the motion was addressing the King’s call to amend the Constitution of Lesotho if it has loop wholes, others were opposing the motion on private members’ Bill saying it was not in conformity to the Maseru Facilitation Declaration and the 17th October, 2104 speech from the throne.

While the bone of contention is on conformity to the His Majesty’s speech and Declaration signed by political parties’ leaders before the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission led by the South African Deputy President Cyrial Ramaphosa, a member of the Lesotho Parliament Thabang Kholumo of the Popular Front for Democracy was on a local radio station arguing that there was no declaration that supersedes the laws of Lesotho.

Phori is to be investigated for alleged misconduct by the parliamentary committee responsible for the conduct of legislators while in the House.

The Deputy Speaker Rakuoane told a local radio station on today Phori might find himself hauled before the committee for a gross misconduct. The committee, he added, would probe the incident and thereafter make recommendations.

IEC cash strapped, seeks millions of funding

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Maseru, October 29 – Lesotho’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) faces a challenge of a funding requirement of more than M286 million for next year’s parliamentary election.

This amount exceeds that of the 2012 electoral process by M86 million.

The IEC Public Relations Officer Tuoe Hant’si told newsline365.wordpress.com that the electoral process commenced without any cash due to lack of budget allocation. He said a request to the government for a M286 million funding has been tabled, saying a relaxation of the procurement regulations has also been sought.

According to Hant’si the commission also faces a challenge of a time frame within which electoral process should be carried on. He said tendering processes for election materials have to be carried out at the time that many companies close business for the festive season.

Currently, the commission that arranges and runs the election is training three groups of voter educators, mobile registration unit operators and display clerks.

“Such training started this week and we need to intensify voter registration that is meant to run for November. Then the 17 year-olds who will turn 18 on election day will be registered for seven days before the election period ends,” Hant’si said.

A holding of general election has been criticised by some opposition political parties arguing the exercise will be costly to the country.

The election has been brought forward from the 2017 due to political unrest resolved by a signing of a Maseru Facilitation Declaration by political party leaders under the SADC mission. The last national poll was held in 2012 resulting in a formation of a coalition government of three parties.

Lesotho’s main opposition rejects early general poll

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Maseru, October 28 – Lesotho’s plans to hold an early election in 2015 are being rejected by the country’s parliamentary main opposition the Democratic Congress (DC).

The rejection is still reverberating within the legislature following the DC leader’s statements made in the Lower House subsequent to a signing of a Maseru Facilitation Declaration by various political parties, including the DC, in September 2014.

After an emergence of a political crisis brought by a fall-out within the three government partners, Lesotho decided to go for an early poll next year. The decision was penned down and signed by almost all the political parties at the facilitation of SADC Envoy led by South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

But a plan to hold an early poll is not going down well with the main opposition.

“This is one general election this country does not need. I repeat, this is one general election this country does not need,” DC leader and former Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili told the legislature last week to an applause of the opposition members.

The leader of Democratic Congress, Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili
The leader of Democratic Congress, Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili

Although expressing no fear for an early vote, he said the incumbent government is shaky as it is running public affairs under a “majority of one” possibly in reference to his arch rival Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

Thabane has come under consolidated criticism from the opposition since he took over as head of government after the May 2012 general poll that resulted in a rise of a coalition government of the three parties of All Basotho Convention, Lesotho Congress for Democracy and the Basotho National Party.

“My political party is not fearful of any holding of election in any way. But the issue is indeed whether Lesotho is in a state where it requires an election as a remedy to the problem facing us. I don’t think so. But we’re being forced in this election perhaps as an indication that we place our own interests ahead of those of the public,” Mosisili said.

This was in reference to Lesotho’s monarch’s speech from the throne during an opening of the second session of Lesotho’s eighth parliament on the 17th October, 2014 after it was prorogued in June this year.

However, Thabane is already ringing bells for support from the electorate whom he has called upon to stand ready for the upcoming general election.

Lesotho's Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane
Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane

Lesotho was set to go to the parliamentary poll in 2017 but that has since been reversed to remedy the political crisis.

In the 2012 national assembly election DC got 45 seats. However, it could attract any political party to form a combined government. As a result Thabanes’ All Basotho Convention came together with the Deputy Prime Minister’s Mothejoa Metsing Lesotho Congress for Democracy and the Basotho National Party led by Gender Minister, Chief Thesele Maseribane.

Lesotho in follow suit to combat malaria

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Maseru, October 27 – Lesotho’s is making is taking a leaf from the SADC member countries to implement minimum standards to prevent rampant malaria.

The kingdom’s ministry of health is implementing the regional organisation’s health framework on elimination, prevention and control of the deadly disease.

The framework’s implementation became a reality today when the health ministry started training health medical personnel from 18 government hospitals and three private hospitals on orientation, refreshing and detection of malaria.

 

Health Medical Personnel attending Malaria Conference in Maseru
Health Medical Personnel attending Malaria Conference in Maseru

“When the SADC realised the health situation in the region was deteriorating due to the deadly malaria, it formulated a framework on malaria that binds each member state to reduce malaria incidence,” the International Health Regulations manager Khotso Mahomo told newsline65— today at the start of the five-day meeting.

Malaria which is number one killer disease is caused by the anopheles mosquito. It kills one child in every minute while globally there are 207 million cases reported and 627 million deaths. About 3.4 billion people are living at the risk of the disease globally.

The health personnel is also being trained on malaria rapid diagnostic testing.

The SADC framework on minimum standards also aims at conducting the survey and testing of cases from imported areas in order to enable treatment “so as to avert unnecessary loss of life.”

“For Lesotho the cases are not reported because they are not in our system. We have had only imported cases of travellers from countries in which malaria is endemic. However, we have suspicion that there might be some cases but which are not reported. Our doctors seem to delay to link malaria with the patient’s illness,” Mahomo said.

In addition, participants are to gain knowledge on both severe and uncomplicated malaria type as “they are expected to practice early diagnosis known as proper cemoprophylaxis.

Lesotho’s health ministry has advised Basotho nationals travelling abroad to conduct the department of International Health Regulations to be advised on diseases prevalent in the countries they visit.

So far, only two cases of malaria have been treated recently.

The training is supported by the SADC secretariat’s health cluster.

Unionists fight ministry over political ban

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MASERU – OCTOEBR 26- A fresh war has erupted between the ministry of education and the teachers’ union over a ban prohibiting educators from participating in part politics.

The ministry of education and training’s ban is still reverberating in the minds of teachers union Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) with its secretary general Vuyani Tyhali bitterly criticising the ban as a direct violation of the rights of the teachers to associate.

The ministry of education led by Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) minister ‘Makabelo Mosothoane, issued an order on August 5 2014 to desist from actively participating in political parties’ activities.

The instruction advises the teachers and schools principals to stay away from active participation in politics.

“This circular serves to inform all principals and teachers that the ministry is aware of active involvement of some principals and teachers in party politics. Therefore all principals and teachers are advised not to participate in such politics,” the ministry of education Principal Secretary Keratile Thabana wrote to teachers and schools principals.

However, the teachers’ union has protested the ban labelling it as a violation of teachers’ right to association.

“It is common knowledge that the ministry of education and training in its history in Lesotho has been intent on violating teachers’ rights. This was reflected in the Teaching Service Regulations of 1986 where it was stated that no teachers shall be a branch chairman, branch secretary and branch treasurer of a political party. This clause was carried forward with the enactment of the Education Act as amended.

“As a union we have applied pressure against this clause both locally and internationally until it was removed from the Education Act 2010. It was not the Ministry of Education change of heat but pressure. This circular is flying in the face of the Constituion of Lesotho that guarantees freedom of association and International conventions particularly Convention 87 that guarantees freedom of association,’ the LTTU secretary general Tyhali wrote to the Ministry’s principal secretary Thabana.

Tyhali has strongly warned the ministry not to blame teachers when they pressurise the ministry to withdraw its order prohibiting educators from actively taking part in party politics.

In a brief interview Vuyani minced no words to say that the teachers wee highly determined to fight the ban at all costs as “it is our constitutional right to associate with any organisation of their choice.”