Thabane’s bid to block rally flops

Thabane’s bid to block rally flops

MASERU – THE ANC’s secretary general, Ace Magashule, last week snubbed a request by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to block a rally organised by Professor Nqosa Mahao’s camp in the Free State.
The rally went ahead in Virginia last Saturday.

In a letter to Magashule dated June 28, 2019, Thabane said his party’s National Executive Committee was “reliably informed that there are individuals masquerading as ABC Members and Members of the ABC NEC, who intend to hold a political rally in Virginia…under the ABC banner”.
The letter said such people were illegitimate.

“We therefore humbly request your good office to assist in informing the RSA authorities, that be, NOT to grant any permit, to hold the said political rally under the ABC banner,” the letter read.

The letter described Professor Mahao and his group as “former members of the ABC NEC”.
The ANC did not issue any statement on the matter with the Free State authorities allowing the rally to proceed.
Speaking at the rally in Virginia, Mahao said the ANC could not stop their gathering because South Africa as a country believes in democracy.

“South Africa is a constitutional state and is governed by law and nothing else,” Professor Mahao said.
He said he is going to meet South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa this week for clarifications on some issues.
He said the Lesotho government should channel its energies to things that will develop the country instead of petty politics.

Ramaphosa is expected to be in Lesotho for a one-day visit today.
Addressing thousands of Basotho migrant workers and job-seekers, many of whom are illegal migrants, Mahao criticised Thabane’s job creation policy saying the premier should up his game to solve unemployment that has hit the country.

Mahao said it is not enough for Thabane to say youths should remove invasive shrubs (Lihala-hala or wild aster) as a strategy to curtail unemployment.

He said absorbing youths in the removal of wild aster is not the best way to respond to the massive challenge of joblessness in Lesotho.

Mahao said South African mines used to employ 150 000 Basotho 20 years ago.
He said now about seven mines have been shut down in Welkom alone, throwing out thousands of workers many of whom are Basotho.

Mahao said his miniresearch shows that there are now just 21 000 Basotho miners who are still left in the South African mines.

“Did we prepare as a country for such challenges? Our different governments slept until where we are today,” he said. Mahao said because of the stark poverty in villages, most Basotho move to South Africa in search of a better life in the illegal mines under harsh conditions.

“Many of them lose lives and it is not their choice, a man has to provide for his wife and the children,” he said.
He said the blame should be on the governments that did not plan ahead.

Mahao said he was embarrassed when Thabane announced at a press conference last week that youths will be given jobs to uproot wild aster.

He said this reminds him of his school days when the late Chief Leabua Jonathan told them he would assign Basotho mine workers to plant trees should they get fired from South African mines.

He said Chief Leabua, the then Prime Minister from 1965 to 1985, delegated the late Retšelisitsoe Sekhonyana who said “we should not worry because those 150 000 men will be hired to plant trees all over the country”.
Mahao said Chief Leabua spoke as if all the men would plant the trees in all 365 days that make a year.
“And by now we would have no space to walk in Lesotho,” he said.

He said the resolution that youths should be hired to remove weeds is not different from that one made by Chief Leabua.

“I am just saying our leaders should not be condescending towards Basotho,” Mahao said.
He said as the newly elected committee when they settle in office they will recommend a policy conference where members will meet and brainstorm strategies to lift the country out of penury.

He maintained that removing wild aster is not a strategy good enough to curtail unemployment in the country.
Mahao said countries are improving their education systems while Lesotho is doing the opposite.

He cited the case of Botswana which he said is going to hire 10 000 teachers to enhance their education but Lesotho is reducing the intake of students into tertiary institutions.

He said Lesotho needs to be restructured because the manner in which it has been governed over the 50 years was not correct.

Mahao said they will also answer the problems facing youths and they will also persuade the government to have a job summit as soon as possible.

He said at the summit the government, the nation and investors will meet to discuss how Basotho can be helped to create jobs.

Professor Mahao said political instability caused by the ABC members make investors refrain from investing in Lesotho. He appealed to Thabane to sympathise with Basotho because in this ‘war’ Basotho suffer.

Nkheli Liphoto

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