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Biking for change in Lesotho; “We ride, They like”

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In Lesotho, a roar of cruise or super bike, no matter how high or low, is a soothing sound enjoyed not only by young people, but even eldersIMG-20170329-WA0015 regardless of age or societal status. This is a feeling one gets as bikes move on Kingsway street in Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho, or any of rural district towns throughout the Kingdom in the Sky.  People’s excitement is expressed through whistling or vigorous shouts as bikes pass and this is one of issues that may have informed a motto of one of newly formed Motor Cycling Club (MCC), Friends MCC;

“We ride, They like”

The club may have been formed for leisure, but Friends MCC has more than just fun to offer.  The club is a non-profit making charity organization striving to make a difference by reaching out to disadvantaged communities in Lesotho.

According to the club’s President Biker Mash (Biking name) Friends MCC hopes to make lasting impact in various communities by engaging in fundraising in support of the needy with an objective to;

“…Really just to show them that we care”, says Mash adding that it is also a matter of instilling positive qualities such as friendship and integrity among club members. Friends MCC fundraising events include carwashes and birthday parties of the club members.

Up coming  Friends MCC’s fundraising event in Maseru on the 1st April, 2017 will be a birthday celebration of Biker Vibe.photoXBSI271O

“When I first bought my bike it did not click that I could use my riding to benefit the less fortunate.” so said Vibe. He disclosed that he bought his bike as a hobby and that even when Friends MCC was formed it was mainly for fun.

“It was only when we realised that bikes attract crowd the idea of using it for fundraising with a purpose to help those in need came about.

“At the party we will sell merchandise ranging from biker T-shirts, caps, badges as well as food and other small items”, added Mash.

The club is currently fundraising to buy warm clothes for Semonkong Orphanage as winter is fast approaching.

 

Mass action to save AGOA begins in Lesotho – Government fails to; Protect Rule of law, Fight corruption, Reduce poverty and Protect human rights

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Alliance of Non-State-Actors and Political Party Youth Leagues will embark into a mass action campaign aiming to put pressure on Lesotho government to work towards meeting term as conditions to qualify for African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) which provided about 40 000 jobs in the country.

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Representatives of Alliance of Non-State-Actors and Political Party Youth Lesotho at a Press Conference today

Mass action to save AGOA begins in Lesotho – Government fails to; Protect Rule of law, Fight corruption, Reduce poverty and Protect human rightsTriggering the mass action are some of the points on a letter written to the Minister of Trade and Industry Joshua Setipa by Mr. Micheal Froman who is the Executive president in the Office of the United States of America (USA) Trade Representative.

The Alliance in a statement issued this morning at a press conference in Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho, made the following quote;

“That during the [AGOA] eligibility review… the United States Government identified serious concerns about the Government of Lesotho’s adherence to certain AGOA criteria…”

“… the             United States review committee noted that there have been a number of cases of extrajudicial killings and violence reportedly linked to Lesotho’s military forces for which there have been no apparent prosecutions, raising questions about Lesotho’s adherence to AGOA criteria relating to respect for human rights and rule of law. There also appears to be credible reports of torture by Lesotho’s military forces for which no one has apparently been held accountable, raising further such questions”.

According to the Alliance the US government has on numerous occasions met with the government of Lesotho during 2016 to discuss AGOA’s prospects and the people of Lesotho have not been privy to the discussion. In this regard, therefore, Alliance invites the people of Lesotho to join a protest march on the 27th November, 2016 , to petition the country’s Prime Minister demanding a progress report on meeting the eligibility criteria.

A progress report demanded despite the Trade Minister social media reports that, “the people of Lesotho interest were protected”.

Setipa reports on AGOA were inaccurate and the Alliance finds the PM as the right authority to provide an accurate report.

 

Political Power Struggle With the Lesotho Prime Minister with his NEC continues.

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The battlefield is the Democratic Congress (DC), a political party whose leader is the Prime Minister (PM) of a seven-political-party coalition government of Lesotho. Wrestling is the PM, Dr. Pakalitha Mosisili and DC’s National Executive Committee (NEC). The main weapon used among the battling factions is the constitution of the party.10177239_729551810464676_6151709204491714200_n[1]

It started with a vote of confidence march to Mosisili, where his Deputy in the DC’s NEC, Monyane Moleleki didn’t attend, instead holding a simultaneous rally at his constituency, Machache condemning Mosisili led government of corruption.

A week ago, DC NEC announced withdrawal from the coalition government arguing, among others, that the government does not operate in line with their political party’s values. In response Mosisili called a special conference set for 2nd to 4th December, 2016, to discipline the NEC.

This week DC’s NEC invited Mosisili to an urgent meeting on 17th November, 2016, ordering him to make appearance for disciplinary hearing for not respecting the NEC’s decision to withdraw from the coalition government and for calling a special without following a due procedure.

The NEC yesterday’s meeting suspended the PM and today he issued a statement accusing ten (10) members of the NEC including his Deputy Moleleki, and Secretary Lincoln General Ralechate ‘Mokose of being unruly and rising against him.

At a press conference following that of some DC’s members of parliament where they denounced the NEC’s decision and dismissed allegations that some of them have joint the ten ‘unruly’ NEC members, Mosisili issued a statement dismissing his suspension from the party as, according to the constitution of DC, he is ‘Extricable from the committee’.

Mosisili argues that the NEC has no powers to suspend him and according to DC’s constitution, the party leader is not responsible to the NEC, arguing that the only body with supreme powers over the leader in their political party is the national conference .

“Section 5.3.1 (h) of the Constitution gives the leader powers to suspend any member of NEC from the committee”, he said adding that there is no section in the party’s constitution that gives similar powers to the committee and instead it is only the national conference that has such powers through a vote of confidence to the leader.

Mosisili has also dismissed withdrawal of DC from the coalition government, and according to him the NEC does not have powers to do so as the coalition agreement was signed by political party leaders and not their NECs’.

He announced his intention to recommend some new ministers to replace those who have resigned from the government.

In his attempt to address on-going insubordination within DC, Mosisili announced that he has issued some letters to the ten NEC members asking them to show cause why he cannot suspend them from the party.

He has reaffirmed the holding of a special conference of the party in accordance with its constitution to seek intervention and discipline the ten NEC members.

 

Lesotho Reviews Political Instability as it Celebrates 50 Years of Independence

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In an event not attended by a large majority of political parties and members of the parliament despite being invited, the National University of Lesotho on the 6th to 7th October, 2016 held a conference to review political instability in  Lesotho since 1966 to 2016. The following are the issues emerging out of the conference where presentations were made by local and non-local academics, as well as other Basotho patriots.

“The recommendations for reforms are made here in full recognition that, instability-producing evils—corruption, murder, bad governance, etc.—perpetrated in pursuit of personal material gain, take place, not because the constitution is weak; instead, they take place because there are men and women whose hearts and minds have become well-honed receptacles of the propensity to do evil.

As long as men and women with this propensity dominate politics in Lesotho, no amount of reforming will produce peace, stability, and prosperity-for-all because, in order to commit instability-producing evil, this calibre of human being will always look for, and inevitably find, loopholes in any political dispensation. Even materialists among us accept that, the propensity to commit instability-producing evil that resides in the hearts and minds men and women has to be replaced by a willingness act in the interests, and to the benefit, of many.

The natural dialectical relation is complete when our conditions make us and we, in turn, make our condition, including struggling against those of our conditions that make us evil. When the powerful in society lack empathy for the weak, and choose to accept  conditions that make them evil, they fall into a state in which a direct basis of their prosperity is poverty and death for the weak. That is the life of brutes, not humans.

Conclusions, Recommendations & Resolutions of various Sessions of the Conference were as follows:

Session I–Church and Education: While participants lauded the church was for using its influence to intervene in many episodes of political instability since 1966, the Conference recommended that, in order to be effective in its activity to establish and maintain peace, political stability and prosperity in Lesotho, the church should aim at developing its capacity to predict and preempt outbreaks of political instability.

Session II—Political Leadership and Political Parties: One evidence of the paucity of good political leadership in Lesotho that the Conference identified, and which is a major source of political instability, was ability of politicians to jump from one party to the next in pursuit of personal gain. Weak political leadership has become a concern of no less a person than His Majesty, Letsie III. Conference noted, and lauded, establishment of Moshoeshoe I Leadership Academy at the University, which the king has instigated and supports, and in which he maintains particular interest.

Session III—Coalition Politics, Constitution and Democratisation: As in Session II, the fact that Lesotho’s current political dispensation permits politicians to jump from one party to another was also discussed. The discussion led to a recommendation that, because this practice causes political instability, floor-crossing should be regulated in the constitution and other laws; and te threshhold used in allocating proportional representation seats should be revisited.

 Session IV—Democratic Citizenship and Multiple Citizenship: Papers presented in this Session made two recommendations. First, that there is a need to cultivate, among Lesotho’s citizenry, a consciousness of holding politicians to account; and, secondly, that politicians have to stop blocking debates on multiple citizenship, and parliament must pass laws allowing Basotho to hold citizenship of Lesotho and citizenships of other countries of their choice.

Session V—Fragility, Viability, State and Statehood: A clear, and strong, recommendation that came out of discussions in this Session was that, all—politicians, civil society and other groups and individuals—must initiate, and lead, efforts aimed at enabling Basotho to discuss and debate how a stable, peaceful and prosperous future can be achieved.

Session VI—Security, Insecurity, Militarisation and Demilitarisation: At the heart of political instability in Lesotho since independence has been the establishment, maintenance and party-politicisation of the army. Conference raised regarding the need for an army in Lesotho. Based on evidence and arguments that revealed the absence of wisdom in keeping an army in Lesotho, Conference agreed on the need for the Lesotho government to de-militarise.

Session VII—Professionalisation and Politicisation of the Public Service: On the basis of evidence and arguments that researchers presented, Conference identified the need for genuine reforms of sections of the constitution that apply to powers to recruit, discipline, and fire public servants.

Closing Session: The Closing Session identified key issues of the various Sessions of the  Conference, and looked at connexions between bad governance, political leadership crisis, on the one hand, and political instability, on the other. On basis of that discussion, two important questions that participants sought to answer were:

  •  Can Lesotho Survive, and What would need to be done for Lesotho to Survive the Next fifty Years?
  • What kind of Lesotho do Basotho Want? In other words: What kind of political dispensation can bring Basotho peace, stability, and prosperity? What kind of political dispensation would turn Basotho’s country into a valued member of the Southern Africa we Want; and into a valued member of the Africa we Want?

A key Recommendation/Conclusion of this Session was that, University staff must find ways to join, and participate, in any genuine search for a lasting solution to persistent political instability in Lesotho. This must start with participation in current attempts at reforms aimed at producing a framework that will prevent further political instability in Lesotho and, instead, establish, and entrench, political stability and other conditions in which the people of Lesotho can live in peace, enjoy security and prosperity, and exercise their human rights without fear.

Organisers and Researchers who participated at the Conference wish to thank Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) for funding research for many of the papers presented at the Conference, for funding the Conference, and for funding a publication that will result from the research and Conference.

Motlatsi Thabane

On behalf of Conference Organisers and Participants

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A political power fight amongst the poor, but not for the poor in Lesotho

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“A minister is not here at the march to show confidence to a prime minister?” So wondered Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili addressing a crowed at a march which his political party, Democratic Congress (DC) Executive Committee had denounced and urged supporters not to attend.

“These people who did not vote for my leader [Mosisili], are inviting me to a march to show confidence to my leader.” So said DC Deputy leader, Monyane Moleleki at a rally in his constituency, taking place simultaneously with the march.

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A rally by DC Deputy Leader, Monyane Moleleki

These statements are reflective of the latest political development in the DC, a political party  whose leader is a prime minister leading a hardly two year-old coalition government comprising of seven political parties in Lesotho.

The march and the rally come a few days after DC suspended rallies following a chaotic rally in the Butha Buthe district north of Lesotho.

The Butha Buthe rally was stormed by disorder allegedly caused by DC youth members who want Moleleki to succeed Mosisili as opposed to Women’s League Chairperson, Dr. Ponts’o Sekatle.

A video clip of Butha Buthe rally captured youth making noise disturbing Sekatle who was  delivering a speech. Prime minister’s speech at the rally was played on local radio stations and has some background voices of people who disagreed with Mosisili on almost all the points he was making.

The march, owing to its attendance was acknowledged by many people through phone-in facility on some local radio stations to have been successful. The march’s success may have reassured the prime minister confidence as it was its primary objective. However, the march and the rally by his deputy occurring in two different places at same day, is an indication that Mosisili is still faced with mammoth task to restore order in his political party for him to lead the coalition government until the next elections in 2020.

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LCD leader Mothejoa Metsing and DC Treasure Dr. Mapono Khaketla

On top of the agenda is his strategy to deal with the youth league and Finance Minister, Dr. Mapono Khaketla’s fight over a multi-million Bidvest Fleet tender. Khaketla has filed a court case against her political party’s youth league members who are alleging that she requested a M4million (Lesotho currency : 1 loti is equal to 1 RSA Rand) bribe to a company that claims to be in possession of the tender review document showing that the company had won, but the minister awarded job to Bidvest Fleet that did not tender. While the court case is yet to be heard, the fight is going on and the youth want the minister to resigning.

Another issue for Mosisili is that now that the march has proofed him to still have popular support,  he has to do away with allegations that he wants to leave DC and form a new political party allegedly called United Congress Movement (UCM) going viral on social media. It is alleged that UCM is to pave way for Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) leader Mothejoa Metsing who is now deputy prime minister to become a prime minister.

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DC deputy leader with ABC member

In 2012, Mosisili defected LCD to form DC, leaving Metsing who formed the first coalition government with All Basotho Convention (ABC) led by Thomas Motsoahae Thabane and Basotho National Party (BNP) led by Thesele Maseribana.  Metsing became the deputy prime minister to Thabane, as DC became opposition.

In the current coalition government which is a result of 2015 national assembly elections, DC’s leader is a prime minister deputized by Metsing. Moleleki who is a deputy leader of DC’s leader is a minister of police, a post that is regarded junior in comparison to deputy prime minister’s position that Metsing occupied.

In 2012 DC was an opposition with Moleleki being a leader of the house of parliament. Had DC won, Moleleki could have been a deputy prime minister. Now with succession debate in the DC brewing Moleleki stands a better chance to become a prime minister. If the UCM is formed and gunner enough MPs to lead the government with  Metsing becoming a prime minister, chances of Moleleki becoming either a prime minister or deputy will be aborted. And Metsing will once again winning a political fight against Moleleki with technical knock-out.

Mosisili announced during the march that the parliament will resume its business on the 7th October, 2016. He has warned members of the parliament to be careful. While the warning may be a threat to some MPs, the successful vote of confidence march may not mean that Mosisili calls the shorts.

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Alleged UCM logo

If Mosisili forms UCM, DC will be left to join hands with ABC, BNP, Reformed Congress Movement (RCM) led by keletso Rants’o and some of the smaller political parties in the current coalition government which may have enough seats to out- weight DC and its alliance. This may mean Moleleki will be deputy prime minister under a third coalition government probably led by Thabane.

From now until re-opening of parliament, much will depend on how hard each of the political leaders work to win confidence of the MPs to take control of the government.  It is in times like this our politicians will be seen in village holding secrets meeting campaigning for political support from people they have not make any positive change their lives.

The politics of Lesotho are not developmental issue based, but a mere struggle for political might to have leaders immune from facing justice to respond to rampant allegations of corruption. A closer look to political history of leaders of  both ruling and opposition shows that each of them has a stain that may be covered by political power.  This is not people’s political development agenda.