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When teaching is a calling



HLOTSE – GROWING up under the inspiration of her Principal at Leribe English Medium School (LEMS), Beata Matasane knew she only had one profession to follow: Education.

“I just loved how she dressed, walked, managed the school and conducted herself. I knew as a kid what career path I wanted to take because of her,” said Matasane, referring to ‘Makabelo Mosothoane, the principal.

Matasane, who grew up in Mankoaneng, said her love to drive positive change and help people also fuelled her love for education.

“I believe education, formal or informal, is vital to everyone and we all need to access it,” said Matasane, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education holder from the National University of Lesotho (NUL).

Matasane specialised in Sesotho and Development Studies before pursuing an Honours Degree in Educational Management, Leadership and Policy Studies at the same institution.

She further obtained an Honours Degree in South African Sign Language and Interpreting at the University of the Free State (UFS) where she passed with a distinction.

Matasane also holds a certificate in Lesotho Sign Language and SA sign language and obtained a distinction in both of them. Currently, she is pursuing her MA in South African Sign Language at the UFS.

She was one of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) 2022 fellows and one of the MWF Professional Development Experience Alumni who will be attached virtually at one of the “biggest” institutions in the United States of America.

Apart from being an interpreter, Matasane is a part-time lecturer at the NUL, a businesswoman, a sign language translation and interpreting consultant and Early Childhood Care Development (ECCD) inclusive education officer at the Lesotho National Federation of the Disabled Lesotho (LNFOD).

Since 2015, her focus has been to improve access to quality education for deaf students.

“It is a very long journey but I believe that there is hope for tomorrow,” she said.

Her biggest achievement, she said, was being chosen out of about 200 applicant for the Mandela Washington Fellowship to represent Lesotho in the United States.

“Also, being one of the people who assisted in producing the very first deaf student to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in 2022 is one of my huge accomplishments as an interpreter,” said Matasane, who grew up in a family that struggled to put food on the table.

“At times, we delayed paying school fees and got expelled with my siblings but we still went back regardless and pretended that nothing had happened. I am super grateful for all those who helped me overcome the challenges that included bullying at school. Had it not been of them, I think I would not have made it this far. I had to grow a thick skin,” she said, adding: “I come from a very hardworking and supportive family. My dad, mother and sisters played an important role and I am here because of their continuous support. It was very easy for me to accomplish my dreams because every time I feel like I am tired and want to quit I have them by my side to encourage me to do more and better.”’

She describes her parents as her “best friends as we communicate almost everything”.

“If I have a beautiful idea or project that I am interested in, I know they will help me make it better. Their hard work and support has turned me into a very hard working woman, someone who is very confident, caring and loving. I have learned that I cannot achieve anything in life unless I work very hard to achieve it.”

Matasane is concerned about the prevailing situation relating to education of people with disabilities due to stigma and other “numerous” challenges they continue to encounter.

“No specific person is to be blamed. We are all responsible for the unsuccessful implementation of the 2018 Inclusive Education Policy,” she said, noting that the policy “only exists on paper.”

“How practical is it? How come there are still a lot of dropouts of students and learners with disabilities?” she queried.

“As society, we are the ones causing people with disability to feel excluded because we fail to meet their needs,” she said, citing that to date, there are no sign language interpreters in centres that offer basic services such as clinics.

“We are causing hearing disability by not engaging professional sign language interpreters in those areas.

“If we do engage them then we will not have any form of disability as the social model of disability concurs with the above statement that disability is caused by barriers in our different communities like access to certain services.

“There is a dire need for sensitisation and it should start within our families such that as parents we should refrain from using words like ‘likooa kapa batho ba phelang le bokooa’ as that is very discriminatory. Rather we should say ‘batho ba nang le bokooa’.”

Matasane added: “We have to teach our children that there is nothing wrong with having a child with disability or playing with them. That way as they play together in schools, it will not be a foreign thing when they see any kind of disability as that becomes normalised.

“We need to engage the organisations of PWDs in all the policy discussions and plans so that they have a say because they are usually left behind. We also need to have strong and strict laws that support and protect people with disabilities.”

She said Lesotho is a member state of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Article 24 of the Convention states that “all member states need to recognise the right of persons with disabilities to education and shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels.”

“However, this does not happen in Lesotho,” she said.

She said Lesotho also has a free primary policy but “to date there are children that do not go to school due to various reasons and no one is held accountable such that we see early child marriages and child labour challenges”.

Matasane said she shifted from education to being a sign language interpreter because of her love to effect positive change. “I take pride in being part of the people that bring happiness to segregated groups.”

She said she has observed with agony the “very low” school enrolments of deaf people.

“Then I asked myself how I can assist and that is when I decided to be a sign language interpreter. Also I am someone who is very curious to learn about exclusion.

“I am super happy with my choice as I see light at the end of the tunnel and I am glad to be part of the people bringing that light,” said Matasane.

For the past seven years she has been practicing as an interpreter, Matasane describes one of her biggest challenges as “being challenged in different ways by some of the people I serve as there are so many untold stories that I face as I interpret”.

“Despite it all, I soldier on because I love what I do and have a vision for the deaf in Lesotho,” she said.

“I am already working with different organisations and individuals to increase public awareness either through the interpreting I do on my Youtube channel, on LNBS, NUL or any platforms. Sign language is heading to a more inclusive side where we will see different sectors having interpreters to accommodate the deaf.”

Matasane said currently people living with disability face common challenges. These include access to information, access to buildings, dealing with unqualified support staff, a non-flexible curriculum, lack of relevant assistive devices and attitudinal barriers.

“I feel like education is everyone’s responsibility for the betterment of our citizens. As such, political will has to be there to fully support the inclusive education policy by resources, finances, reviewing the existing policy and engaging organisations of people living with disabilities,” said Matasane.

“The best way to solve these issues is to fully engage organisations that represent people with disabilities, their families and the community at large in any decision making as well as the need to fully practice what is in the policy,” said Matasane.

’Mapule Motsopa

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MP defies party, backs opposition



MOHLOMINYANE Tota, the only MP for the United for Change (UFC), has defied the party’s order to stop voting with the opposition in parliament.
Tota, the UFC’s deputy leader, told thepost this week that he will vote, guided by his own conscience, and not the party’s instructions.

His defiance comes after the party publicly chastised him for voting with the opposition in parliament.
A fightnight ago, Tota angered his party when he sided with the opposition to vote against the government’s motion to continue discussing the reforms’ Omnibus Bill despite that it was being challenged in the Constitutional Court.

The government however won with 57 votes against the opposition’s 50.
The UFC issued a statement reprimanding Tota for defying its decision to always vote with the government.
But Tota told thepost this week that he was unfazed by the party’s warning.

“I will continue to vote with the opposition where need be, and I will also vote with the government where need be,” Tota said.
He said he respects the party’s position but “I also have a right to follow my conscience”.

This, he added, is because “it is not mandatory for an MP to toe the party line even when his conscience does not allow it”.
He said whether he will vote with the government or the opposition will depend “on the issue on the table”.
He said his conscience would not allow him to vote with the government on the Omnibus Bill motion.

“It was wrong,” Tota said.
“I will do the same again given another chance.”

Tota’s response comes three days after the UFC issued a statement distancing itself from his stance in parliament.
The party said its national executive committee had an urgent meeting over the weekend to discuss Tota’s behaviour.
It said its position is to always support Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s coalition government.

“‘The issue has caused a lot of confusion in the party and among Basotho at large,” the statement reads.

The party also said Tota did not bother to inform the national executive committee about his decision so that he could get a new mandate.

“He did not even inform the committee before voting,” the statement reads.
“The national executive committee held an intensive meeting with Tota about the matter because the purpose of the party is to support the government,” it reads.
The UFC said where the government goes wrong “the party will continue to confront it with peace and not with a fight” (sic).

“We have confidence in the current government because it was voted in by Basotho.”
The UFC’s statement makes it clear that the party “will not support anything against the government”.

Nkheli Liphoto

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Inside plot to oust Matekane



THE plot to topple Prime Minister Sam Matekane thickened this week amid allegations of brazen vote-buying ahead of the opposition’s planned vote of no-confidence.

The opposition is said to be ready to push out Matekane when parliament reopens sometime in September. They accuse Matekane’s government of incompetence, nepotism, corruption and using the security forces to harass opposition MPs.

But as the lobbying and touting of MPs reaches fever pitch, there are now allegations of each side using bribes to secure votes crucial in the vote to remove the government.
Democratic Congress leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, this week accused the government of bribing its MPs to defeat the motion against Matekane.

Mokhothu, who made the allegations at the opposition’s press conference yesterdday, did not give further details or names of those bribed and those bribing.
But on Monday, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP, Puseletso Lejone, told thepost that Mokhothu offered him a M2.2 million bribe to support the opposition’s motion to upend the government.

Lejone said Mokhothu made the offer at a secret meeting, attended by almost all opposition leaders on August 14, at Monyane Moleleki’s house in Qoatsaneng.
The Thaba Moea MP said the leaders claimed that 60 MPs were supporting the motion against Matekane and wanted his vote to make it 61.

“The money was to come directly from Mokhothu,” Lejone said.
“They asked me to provide them with my bank account so that they could transfer the money.”
Mokhuthu denied the allegations, saying he wondered if Lejone “was smoking socks”.

Lejone repeated the same allegations on the sidelines of yesterday’s press conference where Matekane assured Basotho that his government has enough numbers to fend off the opposition’s attempt to push him out.
He said apart from Moleleki and Mokhothu, other political leaders who attended the meeting were Lekhetho Rakuoane, Machesetsa Mofomobe, Nkaku Kabi, Professor Nqosa Mahao, Teboho Mojapela, Tefo Mapesela and Tšepo Lipholo.

He said the leaders gave him a document showing that six RFP MPs had pledged to support the vote of no confidence. Lejone however refused to name the RFP MPs, saying he still wants them to remain in the ruling party.
He said four MPs from parties in the RFP-led coalition had signed.

They are Mohlominyane Tota (UFC), Reverend Paul Masiu (BAENA), Mokoto Hloaele (AD) and Motlalepula Khahloe (MEC).
The deal, Lejone said, was that Mokhutho would become prime minister and be deputised by Dr Mahali Phamotse.
He said the RFP’s faction was going to be rewarded with 10 ministerial seats for their role in toppling Matekane.
Nearly all the political leaders mentioned by Lejone denied attending the meeting at Moleleki’s house.

“By the living God, I have never been in a meeting with that man (Lejone),” Mokhothu said, adding that Lejone’s allegations are “defamatory”.

Mahao said he last visited Moleleki’s house, which is up the road from his, 22 years ago. Mofomobe said Lejone is lying about the meeting because he wants to curry favour with Matekane, whom he had been criticising for months.
Mofomobe said all his meetings with Lejone were at the BNP Centre and their agenda was toppling Matekane.

“We were discussing his (Matekane) incapability to rule this country,” Mofomobe said.

Rakuoane and Mapesela said they have never been to Moleleki’s house.
So did Kabi who implied that Lejone could have smoked something intoxicating “to talk about a meeting that never happened”.
Lipholo, Rev Masiu, and Tota said they were not at that meeting while Moleleki said he had “no comment”.

Staff Reporter

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Matekane abusing state agencies, says opposition



THE opposition has accused the government of weaponising security agencies to harass and intimidate their MPs.
The accusations come as the opposition plots to push a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane when parliament re-opens in September.

Opposition leaders told a press conference yesterday that the government has resorted to using the army and the police against its MPs because it is afraid of the motion.
Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said the security bosses have been willing tools for the government because their bosses are desperate for Matekane to renew their employment contracts.

He was talking about Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, army boss Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela and National Security Service (NSS) boss Pheello Ralenkoane.

“Employment contracts for the security agencies’ bosses are the ones causing these problems because the commanders end up working towards pleasing the government for their contract extension,” Mokhothu said.

He said the army has also started setting up roadblocks closer to parliament to search MPs. Mokhothu said the army searched Nkaku Kabi and Advocate Lebohang Maema KC at the parliament premises last week.

“The government is now bringing back the security agencies into party politics,” Mokhothu said.
“This was the first time the army entered the parliament premises to search members and other people there. It is an embarrassment.”
“The responsibility of our soldiers is to guard the borders and ensure security, not to enter politics or set up roadblocks on the parliament roads.”
“They are now running the country like a shop or a company.”

Basotho National Party leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, alleged that Matekane had a meeting with the security bosses in Teya-teyaneng to discuss how they could use their institutions to clip the opposition’s wings.

“The LDF, LMPS and NSS boss’s contracts have expired, and now they are using the institution to get extensions,” Mofomobe said.
“The LDF and LMPS are doing this deliberately to protect the government.”
thepost could not independently verify this allegation.

Tefo Mapesela, the Basotho Progressive Party leader, said Matekane’s government is taking Lesotho back to 2014 when the army was wooed into politics.
He warned that officers who allow themselves to be used as pawns in political fights might find themselves in jail while their political handlers enjoy freedom.
He referred to Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who has been in remand prison for seven years as he faces charges of murder, attempted murder and treason.
Mapesela however said the opposition will not be intimidated because it is their democratic right to bring a motion of no confidence against the government.

“When there is time to enter a motion of no confidence it is time, it is written in the law, there is nothing wrong there,” Mapesela said.
“I once launched a motion of no confidence in the previous parliament, but I was never arrested or threatened.”

“We do not owe Matekane anything. When the time has come he has to go. We will lobby others as it is not a crime.”

The Basotho Action Party’s Nqosa Mahao criticised the police for issuing a press statement with political undertones.

In a controversial statement last week, Commissioner Molibeli said the police were aware that some MPs were coercing their colleagues to support their plot to topple the government.
Molibeli also said they were aware that such MPs were surrounding themselves with armed groups.

“Police warn those perpetrating these acts to stop immediately to avoid action that could be taken to protect the country,” Molibeli said.

Matekane made the same allegations at his press conference yesterday.
Professor Mahao said the statement shows that the police have now been entangled in politics.

“Every time parties experience internal problems the leaders conspire with the security agencies,” he said.
“The opposition leaders are now being harassed because the government wants to stop them from exercising their rights.”

The opposition’s charge sheet against Matekane

  •  Filling of statutory positions despite the reforms aiming to change the system.
  • Corruption
  • Nepotism
  • Using security agencies to deter MPs from ousting Matekane.
  • Job losses.
  • Lack of job creation.
  • Failure to fulfil campaign promises.
  • Protecting mining companies’ interests at the expense of Basotho.
  • Incompetence and lack of communication skills.
  • Arrest of MPs by the police.
  • Cherry-picking reforms that insulate his government.

Staff Reporter

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