’Maseribane wants recognition for Lesotho

’Maseribane wants recognition for Lesotho

BLOEMFONTEIN – BASOTHO National Party (BNP) leader Thesele ’Maseribane says Pretoria must honour three eminent Basotho leaders who played key roles in the liberation of South Africa.
He said the late Paramount Chief Letsie II, the late King Moshoeshoe II and Chief Leabua Jonathan all played important roles in the liberation of South Africa.

’Maseribane said when the ANC honours its heroes such as Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela, it must never forget three Basotho chiefs who gallantly fought against apartheid, side by side with the South Africans.
’Maseribane made the comments while addressing ANC cadres at the OR Tambo memorial lecture in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on Monday.
The ANC was founded in Bloemfontein in 1912 as the South African Native National Congress. Its honorary chairman was Lesotho’s Paramount Chief Letsie II who bravely fought against the white supremacists.

The late King Moshoeshoe II and Chief Leabua Jonathan both endured the wrath of the apartheid government for harbouring South African political refugees in Lesotho.
’Maseribane said when South Africa erects monuments to remember and honour its heroes, they must never forget these three Basotho chiefs.
He spoke about the long history of the struggle against colonialism and apartheid in which Basotho, both living in and outside Lesotho, fought shoulder to shoulder with black South Africans.

He recalled that in 1982 the South African Defence Force invaded Maseru and killed 32 ANC refugees and 12 Lesotho citizens.
’Maseribane said this was because Chief Jonathan had refused to yield to pressure to cooperate with the apartheid government.
“Indeed, black South Africans should count Chief Letsie II and Chief Leabua Jonathan as their icons too,” ’Maseribane said.
Chief Jonathan fought hard to ensure that Lesotho did not become “just another of the apartheid created Bantustans”.

He said the apartheid regime put pressure on Lesotho to accept Bantustans like Transkei and Bophuthatswana as independent states, which Jonathan rejected.
When Jonathan sent delegations to Pretoria on any business mission, South Africa would assign the Minister of Bantu Administration and Development to meet them.

Jonathan would always instruct his delegations to object.
South Africa had failed to turn Lesotho into one of its Bantustans and it resorted to violence to coerce Chief Jonathan to accept its terms.
’Maseribane said what irked the Boers was that Lesotho had given political asylum to several ANC cadres and they were launching guerrilla attacks on South Africa from within the country.

Chief Jonathan however denied that he harboured ANC refugees so that they could attack South Africa while operating from Lesotho.
On the morning following the Maseru invasion, the apartheid government announced through the SABC that its army had attacked 12 ANC bases in Maseru, killing 30 activists. Five women and five children died in the crossfire.
The apartheid government said the invasion was successful and said it hoped that Basotho would put pressure on Chief Jonathan to get rid of ANC refugees from Lesotho.

’Maseribane said Jonathan and Tambo held a number of meetings during which they discussed issues at the heart of the black community.
“Consultation between the two leaders was excellent,” he said.
He said South Africans should tour some of the places in Lesotho where their struggle veterans lived.

“Take them to Abia and Seoli (in Maseru) because that is where your veterans used to live,” he added.
’Maseribane said South Africans should understand that Lesotho is their country too.
“You scratch my back, I scratch your back, it is not a bad thing to ask for help from your neighbour,” he said.

He also said he is alive because of the arrangements put in place by Free State Premier Ace Magashule when he fled Lesotho in 2015.
“You should always remember your warriors. Some of them were told that they were going to die but chose not to run away,” ’Maseribane said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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