When the  bombshell hit Doti

When the bombshell hit Doti

MASERU – ’MATEBATSO Doti was busy working in the mountainous region and had just addressed elderly people in Thaba-Tseka on her plans for them when her secretary called.
Doti could tell the call was not usual. It had nothing to do with the work appointments she had; neither did it require her to attend to any of the needs in her office.

The secretary told her, however, that it was very urgent.
It was a letter from the government secretary that needed her urgent attention.
Doti instructed the secretary to read the letter over the phone.
The secretary read that Prime Minister Thomas Thabane had just fired her with immediate effect.
That was on Monday last week when Doti was fired as Minister of Social Development.
Doti says she already anticipated the axe.

“I had already received a warning from insiders that I was going to be sacked but since I was aware that the government secretary, who writes such letters, was out of the country I continued with my work,” Doti said.
“I received the call (from my secretary) the following day on my way back from Thaba-Tseka and I was with my driver,” she said.
Looking at her driver whose job depended on her continuing as cabinet minister, Doti’s motherly instincts took over.
Upon hearing that the minister had been fired, the driver was perturbed. He knew that his job was on the line.

“I saw that my driver was taken aback. I told him to keep calm and drive slowly, which he did. We drove slowly until we reached Maseru,” Doti told thepost.
Doti, as a minister, was allowed to hire her own driver, maid, garden boy and a personal aide – and their jobs ended abruptly last week when she was fired.

“I am not disappointed. I am shocked. I did not see this one coming,” she said. “I was always reporting on my work, I have never been reprimanded or warned of any wrong doing.”
She added: “I have seen people dismissed without warning or explanation. When I received the letter I told myself that this was my turn.”
Doti talked fondly about her achievements in the Social Development Ministry.
She said ideally, the ministry is not only for the vulnerable but should cater for every citizen because it is supposed to address basic human needs.

“It is just that the focus has been put on the vulnerable because of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the vast number of orphans resulting from it,” said Doti.
She said she pushed for the policies that were drafted to become Bills. One in particular she was so fond of was the Disability Equity Bill.
“There is a lot that needs to happen for a Bill to pass through as a law. We had to go for public consultations to see if they were content with it, and then it would be sent to the Law Office for drafting before I give the first reading in Parliament.”
This happened shortly before the Christmas holidays last year.
She would have read it for the second time in parliament, had she not been fired.
The second one was the amendments to the Children’s Protection Act 2011, which she said “has a lot of loopholes because it does not include a lot of things”.

“Many children are being abused and it was not clear on the penalties to be given to perpetrators of abuse, issues of child marriage and initiation, all of these issues needed to be clear in the existing Act for the welfare of the children,” she said.
“We were busy campaigning to end child marriages and this amendment was important in this regard.”
Next is the law that protects the elderly for “there is no law governing the protection of the elderly; the law is in the drafting stage”.
“These are what I was working on and pushing diligently when my work came to a stop,” she said.
Doti said she wanted all records of the vulnerable persons and those in need, especially children, to be registered within a single system answering to three government safety net programmes – Child Grant Programme (CGP), Public Assistance (PA), and Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Bursary.

“I want to be fully involved in the protection of the vulnerable,” she said.
Doti said her job got terminated at a time when she was about to finalise issues surrounding the permanent housing of the Secretariat of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) in Lesotho.

During the 15th Ordinary Session of the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child Committee in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2010, it was agreed that there was need to find a permanent home for the ACERWC secretariat away from the AU headquarters in Ethiopia. Lesotho contested for that opportunity.

South Sudan was number one with 94 points and Lesotho came second with 92 points, and “we had to talk South Sudan in giving us the opportunity because they were not ready and we were”.
The next meeting to finalise the agreement is scheduled for today.

“This was not about social development only, it was another way to scale up tourism in the country because it would mean more conferences, more summits and more people coming to Lesotho,” she said.
“This is the agenda of the 4×4 government.”

Rose Moremoholo

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