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Why the DC misfired



MASERU – THE young are brave but the old are wise. The Democratic Congress (DC)’s young leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, ran a brave campaign but he could have done better with a bit of political wisdom.

His major mistake was to underestimate Sam Matekane’s Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party.

Even as people in his inner circle persistently warned him of the swelling political hurricane, Mokhothu remained overly confident that the RFP would not defeat the DC.

Instead of taking Matekane head-on and couching his message to counter the RFP narrative, he insisted on hammering on the same old issues that had long ceased to resonate with the new voter. He reminded voters of the

DC’s legacy instead of selling the future the party was planning for them.

In making legacy his selling point Mokhothu had to mention his mentor, the DC’s former leader Pakalitha Mosisili. For he could not talk about the DC’s historical achievements without referring to Mosisili.

And so he rattled them out. Old age pensions. Free primary education. The hospitals. The schools. The primary school feeding programme.

There were two problems with that strategy. The first is that he was giving credit to Mosisili, the man that many believe overstayed in power and also set the country on the path to the economic crisis they experience now. The trend in the previous two elections had already proven that voters had fallen out of love with Mosisili.

The second is that Mokhothu was speaking to a generation of voters who could no longer be pacified by the successes of the past. This is a generation that cannot appreciate what it was before Mosisili implemented those policies. Their interest is in what a party will do for them now and tomorrow.

It is a generation hard to please because its expectations are lofty and ever-changing. If you give them a job they want one that is in line with their qualifications. Give them the one they were trained to do and they want more money for it. It is not about merely surviving but living well. They want it all and now.

So the right message to them is not just jobs but the quality of the jobs. Their idea of business is not a small spaza shop but a company that makes big and sophisticated things.

Agriculture is not about animal-drawn ploughs but tractors, combine harvesters and greenhouses. They want to sell what they produce in supermarkets and the international market, not in the bus stop area.

A home to them is not a modest house in the village but a mansion.

They want to earn well, dress well, eat well and travel the world. The DC’s old age pensions and free primary education won’t help them achieve that. But then there is also an older generation that had grown weary of the DC’s promises.

They remain thankful for the policies but they want more for themselves and their children. This generation too might have forsaken the DC to vote for the RFP. Once the legacy message failed to win hearts and minds, it was impossible for the DC to credibly sell a better future.

It could not promise jobs, business opportunities and economic prosperity that its government had failed to deliver in the past three years.

Mokhothu failed to read the political mood. He thought they would capitalise on the palpable public anger against the ABC. What he didn’t realise is that the DC was being painted with the same oily brush.

By forming a coalition government with the ABC, the DC entangled itself with a thoroughly loathed political party in decline. It could not wash itself of the ABC’s failures. It shared the blame for the economic problems, corruption and unemployment. A DC in the opposition would have campaigned as the alternative to the ABC. And maybe, just maybe, there might not have been an incentive to form the RFP.

But now that it was in the government it was seen as part of the problem that people wanted to jettison from power. Mokhothu was mistaken if he thought the power of incumbency would help his party in the election.

The results show that this election was a referendum on the incumbent. Although it retained all but one of the seats won in the 2017 election, the party’s share of the national vote dropped by about 40 000. Its share of the contested constituencies also shows that the party no longer enjoyed support in the rural strongholds that Mokhuthu thought would help him win.

What remains are a few strongholds and pockets of support scattered across the country.

Mokhothu’s other mistakes were more recent. The party spent valuable campaign time fighting over the delimitation of the constituencies. The result was that it had to rush the selection of its candidates. The party does not seem to have thoroughly vetted some of the candidates, opening themselves to attack from an alert RFP which argued that some of them had not properly resigned before contesting.

The DC lost two of its candidates because of that oversight. Even hours before the election there were still doubts about nine other candidates that were being queried by the RFP.

At that moment, a wiser Mokhothu would have taken to the radio to allay his supporters’ fears about the credibility of those candidates.

But a brave Mokhothu thought the problem would fix itself and his supporters would know that the RFP was playing a political game.

Some in the DC are asking if Mokhothu was the right man to replace Mosisili.

That is a wrong question. The right one is whether Mokhothu is the right person to take the DC into the future. Self-preservation might tempt him to say he is but the DC’s future doesn’t look too secure under his leadership.

Staff Reporter

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6 more added to Manyokole’s corruption case



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



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



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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