Khotsang Moshoeshoe: The unsung hero!

Khotsang Moshoeshoe: The unsung hero!

OF late we have seen government critics being subjected to censorship, intimidation, arrest, and detention. Those who are opposed to the new wool and mohair regulations are being threatened and intimidated by government authorities. Those occupying senior positions and possess greater and much higher credentials have been caught intimidating ordinary people.
Three weeks ago, Khotsang Moshoeshoe, a wool and mohair farmer from Mokhotlong, prevented Minister Tefo Mapesela from closing a privately owned shearing shed as part of the government’s initiative to force wool and mohair farmers to adhere to the Agricultural Marketing (Wool and Mohair Licensing) Regulations of 2018 which have been heavily criticised and resisted by the farmers.

As I write this column, Moshoeshoe is in police custody for allegedly contravening some sections of the Penal Code Act of 2010. According to Senior Inspector Motsoetla, Moshoeshoe is expected to appear in court once investigations are completed. I wish to pay tribute to Khotsang Moshoeshoe, one of the unsung heroes of our democracy. I wish to dedicate this column to celebrate his life. He is a loyal and humble servant of the people of Mokhotlong, a father, grandfather and a committed villager who selflessly led a crusade to protect the only industry that fully belongs to Basotho – the wool and mohair industry.

There are people who lift us up, inspire us, protect us and even save us. Moshoeshoe is one such person. Maybe your hero is a person like your parents, wife, husband, sister and brother. I have many heroes in my life but in terms of sheer courage, one stands out. I will never forget that day when two video clips went viral on social media. In the first video Moshoeshoe was filmed having a heated argument with Mapesela who wanted to close a shearing shed.

In the second video clip, Moshoeshoe is seen arguing with some police officers who wanted to close the shearing facility. I was surprised how much knowledge and skills Moshoeshoe actually possessed, which by far exceed that of Minister Mapesela and the police officers.

How can we allow a Minister to become a law unto himself? How could the police allow themselves to be used and manipulated to oppress Basotho?
In that instance, Moshoeshoe went from being an ordinary village old man to being a hero. He fought for the lives of wool and mohair growers by risking his own in the single greatest heroic action I have ever witnessed.

Moshoeshoe courageously led wool and mohair farmers when they prevented Trade Minister Mapesela from closing down shearing sheds. He was harassed and arrested after that bold leadership.
He has never appeared in court, but remains in police custody in Mokhotlong. Police claim they are investigating him on charges of sedition and breach of peace.
Moshoeshoe committed an act of bravery and self-sacrifice, yet he is not celebrated or recognised. He is indeed an unsung hero, a villager who acted bravely in a battle that saw Minister Mapesela being pitted against wool and mohair growers in Mokhotlong. He sacrificed himself for the good of the group, without recognition.
Moshoeshoe showed us that it is possible to stand up to intimidation and manipulation by those in positions of authority. Indeed he demonstrated to us Basotho how to stand up for your rights and the rights of others against the police, soldiers and other government agencies.

Democracy needs pro-social champions to draw attention to it. I think this is so for three reasons. That’s exactly what Moshoeshoe championed three weeks ago.
Champions like Moshoeshoe are needed to draw attention to the causes of ailing rule of law and abuse of human rights by government ministers. Most of us don’t know about these ailments and even less about the medicines that can be prescribed to bring democracy (rule of law, human rights, good governance) back to life. This, among other things, is a job that heroes like Moshoeshoe can do.

The wool and mohair saga helps us understand why politicians like Minister Mapesela are frequently answering to the interest of Chinese business people, not the interest of the people.
Truly, Moshoeshoe is an unsung hero dedicated to bringing our government more in line with our democratic values and removing Chinese influence from our political processes.
He is a kind of symbol for the democratic belief that one should be tolerant of all things except intolerant, arrogant and self-serving ministers like Mapesela.
He is brutally honest (but) also extremely funny and on few occasions I found him interesting to listen to especially when he participated in the public debates over local radios on the issue of wool and mohair regulations.

It was not easy when there was inadequate knowledge about the industry, no consultations for farmers, and no agreement on how to approach the post regulations era.
Moshoeshoe is a gift to wool and mohair farmers who find themselves trapped under conditions of powerlessness, deprivation and poverty.

By: Ramahooana Matlosa

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