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Fixing a serious water crisis

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Thaba-Tseka – Nestled in the stunning valleys of Thaba-Tseka district is Methalaneng Clinic which serves over 8 500 people from the Methalaneng community and beyond.

For years, the clinic was a source of pride for the people of Methalaneng community. It was a place of comfort where their sick went for health care, a place where expectant mothers safely delivered their babies.

But things turned sour four years ago when the clinic’s water supply system broke down.

Litlhare Nkhati, a registered nurse and midwife, recalls how the centre battled to cope with the water crisis.

“In the maternal ward, we would struggle to wash our instruments. We would sometimes collect water from outside the clinic and keep it in the ward for deliveries,” says Nkhati who has been the

Centre’s maternal mortality reduction programme coordinator since 2019.

The crisis also affected the staff who also had to spend hours collecting water for their homes, instead of helping patients.

For close to 600 people of the Methalaneng community who shared the same water source with the clinic, the breakdown of the water supply system to the clinic was a double blow.

In addition to visiting a clinic that didn’t have water, the community members had to also contend with water shortages in their own homes. Worse still, it happened during a time when Lesotho was experiencing extreme drought.

It became common for community members, especially women and girls, to spend many hours queuing at the only available stand pipe in the community.

Nkhati says the situation worsened further, when the water tank that fed the lone tap started leaking. The community found it difficult to practise basic hygiene due to inadequate water.

Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, when water was so much needed for the required hand hygiene, the community members could not do much, as there was no sufficient water.

As the crisis bit, the villagers began working together to deliver water to the clinic in tins.

’Maphohleli Mohlalisi, 46, was part of the village’s water committee that coordinated efforts to deliver water to the clinic.

“It would get difficult for pregnant women in the maternity ward. As the community, we would get buckets of water and help the clinic with water whenever needed,” Mohlalisi says.

“Unfortunately, we ended up getting tired because of the long trips to the clinic with the buckets of water.”

In the midst of all this, the Methalaneng clinic and community received support from UNICEF which worked with the Government’s Department of Rural Water Supply, with financial support from the UK Government’s FCDO to rehabilitate the water system.

Bernard Keraita, UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project coordinator, says when Lesotho was recovering from the 2019 drought emergency, the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in Lesotho in 2020.

It became even more urgent to fix the water supply systems in rural areas in Lesotho, especially those serving health care facilities and schools, and Methalaneng, was on top of our list.

This is part of UNICEF’s continued support to the Government of Lesotho to increase access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services in communities, households, schools and health care facilities.

He says, for this particular project in Methalaneng, a total of 620 000 Maloti was used.

Thetsinyana Mahooana, a senior officer at Rural Water Supply in Thaba-Tseka, says the project involved the construction of four spring catchments, four 500 litres silt boxes, a 500-litre pressure break tank, valve chambers and storage tanks.

It also included the construction of standpipes, donga grossing, gabion structures, a stone wall as well as an excavation trench and backfilling the trench. Water minders were also trained to maintain the system.

Seven taps were installed, two in the clinic and five in the community.

Mahooana, who supervised the construction, says UNICEF’s intervention has gone a long way towards helping the government to achieve its goal of delivering clean water to rural communities.

“UNICEF has helped because these people were really in need of this water,” Mahooana says.

Tséle Tlali, the village chief, says the water project has improved the quality of life in the community.

Chief Tlali says all the people in the village now have access to clean water.

He says the project came when the people were desperate for water because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nkhati, the nurse, says the rehabilitation of the water system has made their work at the clinic easier.

“We all know that Covid-19 made it extremely important for people to frequently wash their hands and practise good hygiene. The water supply has helped us implement the infection prevention measures,” Nkhati says.

“In the maternal ward, we can now clean our equipment and beds, therefore there is a decrease in the chances for infection.”

Mohlalisi says villagers are thankful to UNICEF, the Rural Water Supply and the UK Government’s FCDO that made the project possible.

“Even the people who recently built houses have access to tap water.”

Keraita says the Methalaneng project is one of the most important interventions under WASH. This was one of the most remote locations we ever worked in, so implementation was a challenge.

But, UNICEF’s role is to ensure all people, regardless of their location have safe water.

The challenge with WASH in Lesotho, he explains, “is not about availability of water because the country has a lot of it”.

“The problem is that the water has to be accessible to people. It has to be where the people are. The water has to be in clinics, it has to be in schools, it has to be in or very close to households. And,

Lesotho is prone to climate change, especially droughts. So, we have to ensure that we construct and rehabilitate our water systems in such a way that they can cope when droughts or even flooding occur”

He says, we still have over 400 000 people in Lesotho that need access to safe drinking water in their households. In addition, more than 700 schools and over 30 health facilities lack adequate water supply in their premises.

“We are working in all these settings to ensure the people in this country have water. For this project that had support from the UK Government, we are focusing on rural water supply and our aim was to ensure we put in place systems that can be able to cope with droughts,” Keraita says.

We invested over 13 million maloti and rehabilitated and constructed 79 community water supply systems serving water to communities, schools and health care facilities.

“This project has benefited more than 100 000 people, including over 14,000 learners in 69 schools across 7 districts in Lesotho,” he says.

He expressed sincere thanks to the UK Government for the continued support to UNICEF to increase access to drinking water in Lesotho, and the Ministry of Water, for their continued collaboration.

Staff Reporter

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6 more added to Manyokole’s corruption case

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MASERU – SIX more officials from the Land Administrative Authority (LAA) and the Maseru City Council (MCC) were this week joined to Lefu Manyokole’s corruption case.

Ntšebo Putsoa, Ntsoaki Matobo, Matlaleha Phahlane, Thakane Tau, Phakoane Pitikoe and Lebaka Matlatsa were formally charged and appeared before Magistrate ’Makopano Rantšo on Monday.

Court papers show that the accused contravened the Land Act between April 2016 and May 2018 at the LAA, they unlawfully and intentionally fraudulently processed the registration or issued a lease or any other document or instrument relating to land plot no. 13291-1110.

The state alleges that Manyokole, who is the former principal secretary in the Ministry of local government, made false representations to the LAA regarding plot number 13291-1110 to acquire illegal title to it.

The charge sheet says Manyokole, at or near the LAA offices in Maseru, registered or obtained a lease of the plot knowing that it did not belong to him.

Manyokole is accused of contravening provisions of section 83 of the Land Act of 2010 by making a false claim to gain the piece of land.

The court released Manyokole on M1 000 bail last week and ordered him to reappear before the same court last Monday.

Manyokole was granted bail under conditions that he should not interfere with the crown witnesses and that he should report to the police.

His co-accused were also granted bail of M1 000 each by the court.

The court papers showed that the said land was situated in Qoaling in Maseru district and Manyokole and his co-accused knew very well that they are not the official owners of that land.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Storm over fleet maintenance deal

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MASERU – Opposition parties are fuming after the government this week picked five companies to maintain its fleet without going through a tender process.

In a January 27, 2023 savingram, the Ministry of Finance said it had appointed Maseru Toyota, Maputsoe Toyota, Lesotho Nissan, Benny Enterprise, and Mdlokovana to maintain the government’s fleet.

The savingram, titled Interim Vehicle Maintenance Guidelines, says the vehicle maintenance contract signed between the Lesotho government and Fleet Services Lesotho (FSL) in 2020 “experienced serious challenges that involved the suspension of services in 2021 which were later resumed partially in 2022”.

“Since then the government made attempts to resolve some issues which were under its control without success,” it reads.

It also says the Ministry of Finance held a meeting with local vehicle service providers accredited by FSL.

“These are Maseru Toyota, Maputsoe Toyota, Lesotho Nissan, Benny Enterprise, and Mdlokovana,” it reads.

It says the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “the possibility of working directly with the government while processes of resolving issues between the government and the FSL shareholders are underway”.

This has however infuriated opposition parties that have accused the government of corruptly dishing out jobs without going through a tender process.

The Democratic Congress (DC)’s deputy leader, Motlalentoa Letsosa, told thepost that the party will soon call a press conference to address the matter.

“We always knew that these rich people would start dishing out tenders to themselves,” Letsosa said.

He said they have been warning the nation about the same people even before the general elections “but they called us names saying we have been benefiting too, now look”.

“The time for the rich people to eat in the face of hungry Basotho has come,” he said.

“No one should cry, we warned them not to vote for these people and they did not listen.”

He complained that the companies mentioned on the savingram did not even tender for the job.

“We are surprised that no tendering processes were followed here.”

He added that when giving themselves the tenders the government suspended the initial company that had been awarded the tender.

“It is not fair at all. How can you be the government and do business with yourself?”

Letsosa said the DC is “against the individualism that is being practised by the parties in government by not advertising the tenders so that all interested parties can bid”.

The Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) leader, Teboho Mojapela, said “the RFP heavyweights (made) their riches through corruption”.

“We always warned the people that these rich men would steal tenders at every chance they get, now they are doing just that,” Mojapela said.

“As a rich man I never did business with the government,” he said.

“This country needs rich leaders on the forefront, but not corrupt ones.”

He said time will expose what Basotho have called upon themselves by voting for the current government.

“They are showing their true colours now.”

He added that this will be a lesson to Basotho to start looking at qualities of politicians when voting.

“They must vote for people who fear God and are faithful,” he said.

“The RFP people are corrupt and all of them will never change, they are going to continue enriching themselves.”

The Basotho Action Party (BAP) deputy leader, Lebohang Thotanyana, said the government is “committing a crime by not issuing tenders for the job”.

“Mdlokovana is an interested party, it is a big mistake to give him a tender unless it is now their policy to award themselves tenders,” Thotanyana said.

Clute Mdlokovana, the owner of the car maintenance chain of businesses named after his name, is the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP for Mohale’s Hoek constituency.

Thotanyana said Mdlokovana will not be able to keep service providers to the government accountable as an MP “because he too is a service provider to the government”.

He also said the previous governments always advertised tenders “but these people just sit down and award themselves tenders, they did not even tender”.

The Basotho National Party (BNP) secretary general, Moeketsi Hanyane, also condemned the government’s move.

He recalled that during the BNP government, Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan once barred his ministers from being actively involved in running businesses.

“He told Chief Peete Peete to sell all his buses so that he could give a chance to other Basotho to do business,” Hanyane said.

“It is high time Basotho as a nation stood up to condemn the bad behavior of the RFP,” he said.

“It is not fair that the already rich people will be richer while other citizens suffer,” he said.

“Mdlokovana is a Member of Parliament, imagine how many millions he is going to make with this deal with the government.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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How MP’s wife was killed

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MASERU – A suspected love triangle has left an MP’s wife dead.

’Maretšepile Mabote, the wife of Malefane Mabote who is the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP for Tsikoane, was allegedly ambushed at her Tsikoane home by a hitman suspected to have been hired by her husband’s long-standing girlfriend.

The girlfriend, Bokang Mahlelehlele, is alleged to have been with the alleged hitman when he sprayed bullets on ’Maretšepile last Friday.

Deputy police spokesperson, Inspector ’Mareabetsoe Mofoka said Maretšepile’s teenage daughter responded to a knock on the door at around 10pm.

Inspector Mofoka said a man at the door asked the daughter to call his mother. She said as ’Maretšepile was approaching the door the man opened fire.

“Unfortunately when the deceased was at the passage to attend to her visitor, she was sprayed with a hail of bullets,” Inspector Mofoka said.

“She died on the spot.”

Inspector Mofoka said the suspect then fled in a 4+1 taxi that was waiting nearby. Alarm was raised and neighbours gave chase.

The neighbours were soon joined by the police. She said as the neighbours approached the car a man who the police suspect to be the hitman jumped out and disappeared into the darkness.

The police and the neighbours however caught up with the car.

Mahlelehlele, 32, whose affair with Mabote is said to be a public secret, was in the car. The driver was 27-year-old Matsoso Maekane. Mahlelehlele and Maekane were arrested and appeared in the Leribe magistrate’s court on Tuesday. They were remanded in custody.

The suspected hitman is still at large.

Inspector Mofoka said so far nothing links Mabote to the murder that has left the people of Tsikoane shocked. Mahlelehlele is a nursing lecturer at the National University of Lesotho while ’Maretšepile, 30, was a nurse at Motebang Hospital in Leribe.

Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced but Maretšepile’s grieving relatives are fuming.

thepost spoke to three relatives who all said they saw her death coming. They said they knew that Mabote and ’Maretšepile had several quarrels, some violent, about Mahlelehlele.

Mosa Ngatane, ’Maretšepile’s brother, said his sister lived a life of misery because of Mahlelehlele.

Ngatane said he is not surprised that Mahlelehlele is being implicated in the murder because she was openly having an affair with Mabote.

‘Makhomotso Ngatane, Ngatane’s wife and Maretšepile’s sister-in-law, said she knew Mahlelehlele as Mabote’s lover.

She also said she is not surprised Mahlelehlele has been arrested in connection with Maretšepile’s death.

thepost could not verify some of the allegations that ‘Makhomotso made about the way Mabote treated his wife.

She said Maretšepile once lived with her after a particularly nasty dispute with her husband.

Last night, Mabote said he was not in a position to speak about his wife’s death or the allegations that he was having an affair with Mahlelehlele.

“This is too much for me,” Mabote said, adding that he will only be able to talk to the media after his wife’s funeral.

“I will be ready for the interview after the funeral. I will even tell you the funeral date,” he said.

“We are still discussing the burial date as the family.”

In the aftermath of the incident some people have posted the picture of Mabote and Mahlelehlele on social media.

Staff Reporter

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