HE has been out of the political limelight for the past three years.
But that period appears to have given RanthomengMatete enough space to think about the future and direction his country is taking.
For Matete that future does not look too bright unless something dramatic is done by those whom he calls “people of goodwill”.
In a candid yet measured interview at his home in Morija, about 40km south of Maseru this week, Matete unpacks what he sees as the biggest problems facing Lesotho.
He also delves into what he thinks must be done to reverse the “damage”.
“It appears the polarisation that characterised our politics in the run-up to independence (in 1966) has not yet thawed. It is resurfacing at a very alarming rate,” he says.
While he says he would not shift blame on any side, “so as not to stoke the fires”, Matete says he remains hopeful that all those “who are hands on should try and address this problem”.
“It will take a lot of honesty from all sides for success to be realised,” he says.
“If people are not interested in solutions and merely wish to have their own way then we would still have problems.”
Matete, a former secretary general of the Basotho National Party (BNP), says Lesotho has lost valuable time that should have been used for the development of the country.
Since it gained independence from Britain in 1966 Lesotho has gone through bouts of instability starting with the run up to independence in 1966 and culminating in the post electoral dispute of 1970.
The political quarrel would escalate into violent armed conflict in the 1970s and early 1980s with the opposition Basotho Congress Party (BCP)’s ragtag army fighting to topple the then Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan.
“We have lost valuable time (that should have been used) to develop this country. The moment is overdue when we should be holding hands to uplift this country from stagnation,” he says.
“Look at the joblessness, the declining economy, the hunger that characterises the country now. We need honesty for this country to be uplifted.”
Matete argues that “our socialisation was not correct” right from the inception of modern political parties.
“Right from the beginning manypeople did not understand the art of politics,” he says.
“We may differ in political opinions but at the end you are all driving the same boat and you must use it to reach your destination. This seems to be lacking despite the fact that we are a very literate society.”
Matete says to fill up this vacuum the churches and NGOs must play a key role in “re-socialising our people” on how they play their politics.
Between 1977 and 1986, Matete was close to the seat of power in Lesotho as he worked as a Press Officerand then senior private secretary in Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan’s office.
That gave him an opportunity to interact with a man who so much divides political opinion in Lesotho up to this day.
Historians from the BCP camp have often portrayed Jonathan as a full-bloodied dictator who did not countenance any opposition to his rule.
They charge that he was a man who exhibited undemocratic tendencies when he rejected the 1970 electoral outcome and ruled by decree.
But for those who were close to the BNP, Jonathan was no dictator.
Matete says while there have been attempts to demonise Jonathan he believes the former premier “was a simple man who wanted nothing but good for his country”.
“He was a very humane person who had a lot of sympathy towards people,” he says.
At one point, Matete says when incidents of torture were brought to Jonathan’s attention, he went out of his way to summon his security officials and ordered them to stop the incidents immediately.
“He did not know about it (the torture). He was a very humane person who found himself operating under very difficult circumstances.”
In the sphere of agriculture, Matete says Jonathan exerted himself vigorously “to ensure that every Mosotho had bread on the table”.
Matete looks back fondly at Jonathan’s Food Self-sufficiency Programme where “all farmers irrespective of political affiliation were assisted to produce food”.
“He always made sure that the programme was running well and to see that the work was being done he would spend the whole week out of office to supervise production.”
But somewhere along the line Matete says the programme was abandoned resulting in Lesotho requiring food handouts from international relief agencies.
He argues that the food self-sufficiency project which was quite successful during the 1980s was run without any coercion from the government.
Matete was a senior private secretary to the Prime Minister when Jonathan was toppled in a military coup in 1986.
He argues the events of 1986 must not be viewed in isolation but should be understood in their context.
He says the Prime Minister felt that Lesotho needed to make friends with other countries outside the traditional Western bloc so that the country could be truly non-aligned.
That decision to establish relations with Eastern countries such as the Soviet Union,Cuba,People’s Republic of China and others,infuriated Pretoria which felt that Lesotho was introducing Communism at its “door-step”.
The second reason was that Jonathan had not made it a secret that he was supporting liberation movements in Southern Africa such as the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan-African Congress (PAC).
“South Africa was accusing Lesotho of harbouring guerrillas when in fact we were merely giving refuge to people of all political persuasions,” he says.
“Jonathan never made it a secret that he was in support of the SouthernAfrican liberation struggle. In 1984, South Africa got to the extent of coercing Lesotho to sign a security accord that would see Lesotho expelling ANC refugees.
“The Prime Minister (Jonathan) refused and that infuriated the South African government.”
Another point of dispute with South Africa was the latter’s attempt to rush Lesotho into signing the Lesotho Highlands Water Project before internal Lesotho consultations had been completed.
Matete says Jonathan’s obstinacy in refusing to play ball saw the South African government stepping up a campaign of destabilisation of Lesotho by “giving logistical support to elements within Lesotho”.
There was also a border blockade “so that Basotho could suffer and blame the Prime Minister”.
The result of such a campaign was that elements within the military “gobbled this propaganda that this man (Jonathan) was causing pain to the country and must be removed”.
Matete says the events of 1986 were not a bolt from the blue but were a result of a build-up orchestrated by the apartheid government in South Africa. He says he was detained at Maseru Police Headquarters for two months after the 1986 coup and subsequently expelled from the civil service.
He was then put on house arrest for a further two months together with Jonathan and three of his ministers.
When he looks backs at almost four decades of service in the government, Matete says he is happy that he has had an opportunity to serve his people in very senior positions.
“That is a source of gratification for me,” he says.
Perhaps his biggest satisfaction comes from serving in the Interim Political Authority (IPA) which drafted the current Mixed Member Proportional Model for elections for Lesotho.
The IPA was established by statute to prepare for fresh general elections after the disturbances that followed the elections of May 1998.
“To have served in that type of body as executive secretary means a lot to me. I was able to interact loyally with people of different political persuasions,” he says.
Between 2002 and 2012 Matete served as an MP for the BNP. He also served as Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs during the coalition government led by former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
But is he still active in the BNP, the only party that he has known for decades?
“I have done my part to the best of my ability and it is only fair that other people especially the younger generation should be given a chance to show their worth,” he says.
Matete is the longest servingelected BNP secretary general after serving four consecutive terms.
Matete was born in Morija on December 28, 1949. His father was a civil servant during the colonial era, first as a tax collector and later as an interpreter in the colonial administration. He later served as a district commissioner.
Between 1964 and 1968 Matete attended Peka High School which was a hot-bed of political activity. The majority of students at Peka were fervent BCP supporters and I initially felt “isolated politically”.
“But it taught me tolerance,” he says.
“Living with the majority of people who are not in your political camp forces you to accept reality that there are people who are not the same as you. I left high school clear minded about political trends.”
• Attended Botha-Bothe PEMS, Lithabaneng PEMS Maseru district, Loretto RCM, St Gerrard RCM, Mafeteng, between 1957 and 1963
• 1970-1974: University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (UBLS), majored in Government and Administration
• Declared persona non grata in South Africa because of student activism
• 1974-1975: Planning Officer in Central Planning and Development Office
• 1975-77: Assistant Secretary, and deputy director Ministry of Prisons, Information and Broadcasting
• 1977-86: Press Officer, and Senior Private Secretary to Prime Minister
• 1989: Hereditary Chief of Morija
• 1998-2002: Executive Secretary of the Interim Political Authority
• 2002-2012: MP for the BNP
• 2003 – April 2012: BNP secretary general
• April 2013 to September 2015: Principal Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs
. His father also served as secretary in the office of the then regent paramount chieftenessMantseboSeeiso,who held the throne for King Moshoeshoe II during his studies abroad
‘We lost direction in the ABC’
THE Mechechane MP, Nyapane Kaya, defected from the All Basotho Convention (ABC) to the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) contrary to the expectations that he would cross the floor with Nqosa Mahao’s new party, the Basotho Action Party (BAP). In fact, Mahao had earlier said Kaya was one of the MPs who would dump the ABC for his party. Kaya’s defection to the MEC took many by surprise. Our reporter, Margaret Katimbo, spoke to Kaya the day he joined the MEC. Below are excerpts from the interview.
What does it mean to you having to switch to the MEC?
It gives me special happiness and satisfaction, a special feeling of strength having changed parties. I joined the ABC from the very first day it was formed as a teacher, and I wasn’t even an active politician at the time. It was a vibrant party which filled people with a lot of hope. The problem, however, is that we abandoned the direction which we took with the people from the beginning after we felt cushioned.
I have to accept that the ABC has done a great deal of good things for Lesotho that I can point to but unfortunately there are times when people feel like they have reached a stage where they feel successful and the love for their nation is no longer there. I was aware that with my (ABC) party, there is no longer an interest to maintain the rhythm of working for the people. Having changed to the MEC, I feel that special kind of satisfaction because I trust that I will get the new strength to work for the people.
What attracted you to the MEC?
Well, in particular the MEC leader is one hard-working politician with vigour and a strong wish to produce results in this country. He makes and leaves a mark wherever he goes. Therefore, being close to him this much encourages me and gives me pleasure because I too am a results-oriented politician. I hope that we will work together with other politicians, not necessarily the MEC, in order to give the country the boost it needs. Even better, I worked with him in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) where we tended to understand the underlying problem in this country. Corruption has made Lesotho what it is today so I want to align myself with people that fight against it.
By fighting against corruption, does it imply that the current government is corrupt?
There are still instances of corruption but not at the same levels as we saw during the so-called 4 x 4 government. There is some improvement on that but there are reports of corruption that we get especially when working in the PAC. There are still issues I still have to follow up with regards to allegations of corruption. There is a slight improvement I must accept.
Why did you leave Mahao for the MEC?
I must say I have always wanted to work with the MEC for a while now. It was simply a question of time. However, I still had strong alliances with Ntate Mahao’s group so much that by the time they were packing to leave the ABC it would have been thought that I would leave with them regardless of some developments which had already discouraged me. At some point, a WhatsApp group was created and my number was left out. There were other instances where I would get sidelined from meetings I knew they had.
As a matter of fact, I would learn from you reporters that they had held meetings amongst themselves without me. It is only about a week ago when they were preparing to leave the ABC, and they thought that I would leave with them but I told them No, I can’t go with you people. I told them that they had already sidelined me and that they no longer needed me. That is also when they told me the truth that the fact that I had stood for elections for the deputy speaker, it had been the decision rather conclusion in the government party’s caucus as to who would be elected deputy speaker.
However, there was a great encouragement from a number of them that I should stand which I did but little did I know that my group (that was just a small faction) within the ABC felt offended that I had stood for the post, although some had actually voted for me. So that is how and why I left them because to keep such alliances was no longer safe. My political career is now much clearer and this should be the last round in my political journey. Age also has caught up with me. However there are really no guarantees, something might arise in the future.
Bullet-proofing your online data
ROMA – Dr Makhamisa Senekane, a lecturer in the Department of Physics and Electronics at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) is assessing a new way of bullet-proofing your online information to ensure it is safe.
When you send sensitive information online, such as banking information, there is a way to hide that information from crooks.
“However,” he says, “some methods of hiding information (encryption) are very difficult to bullet-proof. That is why we are assessing a new way of bullet-proofing the security of your online experience.”
In the world of information hiding (encryption), you are sending the information from this side and your name is Alice.
And the one who receives the information on the other side is called Bob (Robert).
As far as Alice and Bob are concerned, one can sleep peacefully at night, these folks cause no problems whatsoever.
But then comes the third person called Eve (Eavesdropper, if you know what we mean?) and everything turns upside-down.
Eve is interested in getting the message that Alice is sending to Bob, so that she (Eve) can use this message for her personal gain.
That message may as well be a password you use to log into your online banking system.
If Eve is successful, you may wake up one day with all your money wiped off from your bank account in one stroke.
Now you know why the gurus, like Dr Senekane, are working day and night to make sure that that just won’t happen, if possible.
First, let’s consider one of the normal approaches which Senekane says it’s hard to prove their security.
Rest assured, we are using the simplest examples, in real life, it is more complex.
Suppose Alice is sending a number 10 to Bob on the other side of the online device.
But both know that Eve, that shady character, is waiting like a hungry shark on the route between them, to devour the information.
Hiding now begins.
The computer system generates the information called security keys.
Let’s say it gives the first key to Alice as the number 3 and the second key to Bob as the number 7.
“Prime numbers, those numbers such as 2, 3, 7, 11, 13, 17, the numbers that can only be divided by 1 or themselves, are often preferred because, as they get bigger, they are often hard to deal with,” Senekane says.
A bit of maths here but a simple one will suffice.
On the side of Alice, 10 is raised to power 3 times 7 (Remember 3 for Alice and 7 for Bob).
So 3 times 7 is 21.
So 10 is raised to power 21 which makes the number 1000000000000000000000, that is, 1 followed by 21 zeros.
When Eve the crook tries to steal the information, she comes across this ginormous number.
She is fooled because she doesn’t know that actually, that number represents 10.
When this mammoth number reaches Bob’s side of the system, Bob’s side has two advantages.
It “knows” Bob’s own key, 7, and it “knows” Alice’s key, 3.
Immediately, it can tell that there was a number which was raised to power 3 times 7—a number that was raised to power 21.
To arrive to this mammoth number (1 with 21 zeros), it can only mean that 10 was raised to power 21.
Now it is clear, Alice sent Bob the number 10!
But it appeared to Eve as a huge number she could not make sense out of.
Not so fast.
It is not difficult to see that should Eve have access to both Alice and Bob’s keys, that is 3 and 7 respectively, she doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize the hidden number sent was actually 10.
“That is why we need to hide these keys also, 3 and 7 and that is the most difficult part,” Dr Senekane says.
“It is hard to prove mathematically, that Eve can’t find the keys and use them for her own benefit.”
That is why he is assessing the use of quantum physics.
In this case, another line is created between Alice and Bob to exchange keys.
But the keys are sent, not as numbers but as photons (very tiny particles that make up light).
The number of particles interpreted in the binary format, are translated to either 3 or 7 for Alice and Bob.
But here is the big trick for Eve.
Photons are quantum particles (that is enough).
When you try to measure them they become something else.
So when Eve tries to measure these particles, they lose their identity (from quantum to classical) and the Bob’s side immediately realises that Eve interfered and the whole transaction stops.
What matters, is not so much that Eve did not see the information.
It is that we can detect that she saw the information and we can stop her on her tracks.
So Dr Senekane and the team are working to ensure that the techniques used to generate these keys using quantum physics are indeed mathematically provably secure.
This is to ensure that if the techniques are implemented correctly, the only way that Eve can interfere without being detected is by violating the fundamental laws of nature; a feat that is quite impossible.
The electronic ticket
ROMA – THATO Rammoko and Mohale Molieleng, two National University of Lesotho (NUL) trained computer enthusiasts, are introducing eventspoynt, your electronic ticket to your favourite events.
It is fully paperless!
You buy your ticket online, you pay online with either M-Pesa or Ecocash or even your bank account and, listen to this one, you only bring your phone to the event!
No paper. Nothing!
Just your phone!
So you are one of those in the Born After Technology (BAT) generation who is baffled by the prevalence of paper-based tickets in the 21st century?
Or, are you, perhaps, one of those hardworking fellows who like organizing events but get frustrated when potential clients blame distance or even obscurity, of your ticket selling outlet?
Or maybe you are just a good old environmental enthusiast bewildered by the ever-declining forest resources that help keep our atmospheric greenhouse gases balanced—and you want to see paperless technology reinforced, bit by bit?
Thato Rammoko and Mohale Molieleng have a solution.
“I am a computer trained hip-hop artist,” Rammoko said in an interview.
“It turns out those double passions, computer and hip-hop, combine in him to create the product we are introducing today,” he said.
Everybody somehow knows a thing or two about Lesotho’s rising hip-hop music.
But have you heard a thing or two about the music from an insider?
Okay, listen to Rammoko relate.
“Outside my technology life, I am a hip-hop artist,” he said.
“Some people call our fast-moving music industry sotho-hop.”
In a nutshell, it is a version of hip-hop delivered in a combination of Sesotho and English or in Sesotho only.
It drives young people crazy!
But behind the vibe, pop and fanfare, there are glaring cracks.
“It is an industry that is moving fast, but with no financial rewards in the end,” said Rammoko.
‘In this industry, it is not uncommon for you to be famous, have your music played on radios, TV and all over, while you are broke.”
‘It is a survival industry!”
He added in a tone layered with determination to transform the status-quo.
Here are the problems.
Lack of proper copyright law means “you can sell just one CD for M100, and the next thing you hear your music played across the country, while you remain with that measly M100 you started with, in your pocket”.
Your CD has been copied!
So they have a strategy, they no longer make money through selling CDs.
They give them for free and then organize live events.
“But this alternative is no picnic either,” Rammoko added, holding his breath.
Fraud, fraud, fraud, is a problem here.
“When you are on a stage delivering music to your fans, you can see the hundreds and hundreds in the adoring crowd, only to receive income that clearly doesn’t correspond to the numbers.”
“It leaves you wondering, what happened there—we mean, like— at the gate?”
Oop! Eventspoynt jumps in at this point.
It is a brilliant solution, not only for hip-hop events but for all kinds of events.
Doing it is as simple as ABC.
You go online—register.
Then you choose your event, and the kind of ticket you want to buy, e.g. VIP, Goldern Circle or normal ticket.
Then you pay the given price with your M-Pesa, Ecocash or through your bank account.
During the paying process, a unique number, called order number, is generated.
This you use as a reference when you pay in any of those options.
Once they receive your payment, Eventspoynt folks confirm both by your email and by your order number and your e-ticket is sent to your email.
You can either print it (but please don’t, save the trees), or you can leave it on your phone.
When time comes for the event, you show up with your phone on hand [or your printed paper if you are the Born Before Technology (BBT)].
And here is Rammoko again: “In your e-ticket, there is a code called QR code.”
That is Quick Response two dimensional bar code, it determines if or not you will enter the event.
“We scan the code, in your electronic PDF ticket on your phone or on you printed paper. For scanning we use any phone that has a camera, as long as an app is installed there, to recognise the QR code.”
This time around, no money is exchanging hands.
Thus fraud is kept at bay.
It is stress-free for both the buyers and sellers of the tickets.
All you need to attend you favourite show is to have a phone and money in your M-Pesa account.
That is it!
It doesn’t get easier than that!
The beauty of this system is that it is versatile – all kinds of event organisers can use it as a tool.
And you can buy a ticket, while in any corner of the Mountain Kingdom, or beyond.
Eish! Those are NUL trained computer gurus for you!
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