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Lesotho and the Land Question



“Sir George Grey, restore to me all the land that was in my possession before the arrival of the Afrikaaners” – Morena Moshoeshoe I – 31st July, 1858.

Land is a fundamental asset for sustainable economic development. Moreover, land restitution is critical for self-determination, sovereignty and total independence. In international law and relations, ownership of territory is significant because sovereignty over land defines what constitutes a state.

And it is based on this assertion that, without the restitution of its stolen territories, Lesotho isn’t totally independent and its sovereignty remains largely affected. Available evidence suggests that a land incorporates in it, renewable and non-renewable resources that are key in addressing socioeconomic ills detrimental to short, medium and long-term political and economic development.

Therefore the loss of land either through degradation and/or depletion or conquest unquestionably leads to increased food insecurity.

The land question in Lesotho, specifically the stolen Basotho territories found in certain parts of what is today the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal provinces, and the entire Free State province has often been ignored by many if not all governments of Lesotho post-1994.

Mostly with political movements and people who advocated for its return facing internal and external sabotage to either delay or thwart advocacy for the return of these territories entirely. This issue is periodically only mooted in the context of “land” being a ‘political campaign ticket’ lacking sufficient ideology, patriotism and political will.

However, the land question generally, but the stolen Basotho territories specifically is not a mere politicking ticket but rather a more serious issue of national sovereignty. Lesotho (i.e. with Basotho being an agricultural society) can never fully alleviate poverty or address the challenges confronting food security in the absence of these territories.

As a landlocked state, Lesotho’s economic security remains fragile.

Reclaiming the stolen territories a necessary political-legal agenda vis-à-vis culture. The cessation of Basotho territories will address Lesotho’s very limited resource base and decades-long extreme underdevelopment.

The issue of national identity, self-determination and total independence is inextricably linked to the return of its stolen territories.

What seems to be lacking specifically with regards to the land question in Lesotho among the masses is the necessary knowledge about the importance of these stolen territories that is essential in enhancing the brittle patriotism in the land discourse.

Because not acknowledging the positive outcomes that would come with the return of the Free State to Lesotho and the fact that Lesotho is not independent until retrocession and restitution of the Free State to Lesotho is final, it is not only detrimental to the knowledge and history of Lesotho and its nation respectively, but also to a determined restitution cause.

The total retrocession and restitution of these territories especially the Free State would mean an increase in arable land (which currently stands at 10%) for a population of 2.1 million agricultural people, especially if one considers the fact that most of Lesotho’s arable land was destroyed by dam constructions at the behest of and only to unevenly benefit South Africa.

In addition, the Free State is rich in a number of renewable and non-renewable resources vis-à-vis their quality. These resources include gold found in Allanridge, Welkom and Virginia; coal in Sasolburg; and, diamonds found in Jagasfontein and Theunissen.

Furthermore, the Free State falls under what is commonly referred to as “The Maize Triangle” possessing the best maize. This maize triangle stretches from Lichtenburg (North West Province), Hobhouse (Free State Province) to Ermelo (Mpumalanga Province) thus forming a triangle.

Furthermore, the same region (i.e. the High Veld in the Free State) is recognised, among four other parts of the world (i.e. the Prairies in Canada, the Pampas in Argentina, the Steppes in Ukraine, and the Downs in Australia), as possessing rich soil able to sustain agricultural life.

In addition to this is the recent discovery of large helium deposits. Currently, helium is produced by fewer than 10 countries in the world, and the Free State helium reserves could be the richest and cleanest in the world. Despite trade routes, Lesotho remains dependent on South Africa simply because it lacks resources (found in the Free State) essential for the development of a competitive economy and a prosperous social and political life.

Therefore, the restoration of these territories is viewed in the sense that they are essential to the improvement of Lesotho’s economic viability, and to fully secure its independence. As such, Basotho’s concern over issues of economic wellbeing should mean a concern over the restoration of these territories.

Without these territories, Lesotho is intentionally made to exist within the context of a virtual ‘bantustan’ or ‘high commission territory’ with a certain degree of political administration while achieving less economic success with subsequent dependence on South Africa.

Therefore, to ensure economic independence in Lesotho, the stolen territories must be returned.

The restitution of these territories can be addressed and/or resolved in a number of ways.

These include diplomatic negotiations, regional inter-governmental organisations (i.e. the Southern African Development Community (SADC)), continental forums (i.e. African Union, through the African Union Border Programme (AUBP) which serves as a mechanism for the settlement of border delimitation and demarcation especially in the case where natural resources are at play), and international courts (i.e. International Court of Justice (ICJ)) approached as a court of last resort.

However, the immediate reality of South Africa agreeing to cede these territories to Lesotho remains unlikely given the fear that this might create a domino effect in that, besides the Basotho territories, South Africa will virtually lose some parts of its territories to its neighbouring countries which would eventually follow suit in claiming their territories.

Moreover, there is a general fear of the domino effect territorial restitution will cause within South Africa with regards to respective ethnic groups. In addition to its nascent rejectionist attitude is South Africa’s attitude with the rest of Africa that is reminiscent of the apartheid regime. Point of reference is the Afrophobia prevalent in South Africa, and the 1998 Operation Boleas in Lesotho among others.

The expectation from the post-1994 South African government is to continue maintaining, like its predecessors, that Lesotho has no claim in international law having lost these territories by conquest and cession.

This is an easy and commonly expected position given what is often seen as the democratic government’s longstanding pleasure in the inheritance of the attitude, history and developments of the former apartheid regime. Would it therefore prove inadequate to place the leaders of democratic South Africa (i.e. from Mandela to Ramaphosa) in the same category as those who refused the restitution of Lesotho territories pre-1994 (i.e. from Sir George Grey to Louis Botha, Verwoerd, PW Botha and de Klerk)?

In consideration of historical-colonial events and contemporary political factors, what is South Africa’s moral justification to flourish on a colonial legacy of African bloodshed on the one hand while it claims to promote decolonisation and champion democratic principles? This will mark one of many flaws and contradictions to the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) principles that an ANC-led government asserts to be advancing.

The reality is, Lesotho’s moral claim is simply based on a crime committed to its people on the one hand, while on the other hand South Africa is deliberately inheriting a crime, and further committing the crime itself by the continued possession and developments of these territories.

In line with a Pan-Africanist doctrine, that is the Nyerere doctrine of State Succession, “new African states cannot enter into inheritance agreements, and apply the pre-independence treaties concluded by the colonial powers on their behalf”.

Approaching the ICJ won’t be a new phenomenon on issues of territorial restitution and the settlement of territorial disputes, which are commonplace before the ICJ. From just Africa alone, there are approximately 13 contentious cases concerning territorial or boundary disputes between states submitted to the ICJ. This is largely due to the inability of regional (i.e. SADC and the Namibia vs.

Botswana dispute over the Okavango river basin) and continental organisations to address and take responsibility for territorial disputes emerging within their jurisdiction.

Firstly, Lesotho can approach the ICJ on the basis of self-determination, among others, for the settlement of these disputed territories. In modern international law, the right to self-determination is significant. According to the ICJ, the idea of self-determination has developed into a legal norm rather than merely a political premise.

Self-determination has evolved into customary international law in the wake of post-World War II secessionist movements, the decolonisation process, and several UN resolutions.

Self-determination has evolved towards a more participatory ideal that encompasses participatory rights.

Two modalities of self-determination can be distinguished, that are, internal (i.e. aspiring towards outcomes internal to the state such as the establishment and/or access to democratic sociopolitical rights) and external self-determination (i.e. aspiring towards outcomes that are external to the state such as independence and/or irredentism or restitution).

Within the context of these two modalities of self-determination and given the status that the idea of self-determination holds in international law, Lesotho has achieved and advanced the former and now seeks the realisation of the latter.

Secondly, Lesotho can rely on a number of factors (i.e. Treaty law, economy, culture, history, elitism and ideology) in justifying legal claims to its territory before the ICJ. This is consistent with the nine justifications used to assess whether a specific rationale is dispositive or, at the very least, highly determinative in the decisions of land border cases decided by the ICJ.

As compared to other basis for territorial claims, the treaty justification is more legal and less emotionally persuasive in nature. The treaties serve as evidence of other states’ consent—or lack thereof—to certain boundary changes.

The court may employ treaties as factual evidence of how the borders stood at a particular time. One important issue moves the ‘conquered’ territory notion to the ‘stolen’ territory belief.

In 1854, when the British authority reached a decision through the Bloemfontein declaration, Basotho were not consulted on this matter with the final outcome and decision being subsequently being imposed on them. For instance, that convention (i.e. the Bloemfontein convention) made no mention of Moshoeshoe I. This constitutes a stealing, and not a conquering of territory.

Economic justifications for territorial claims assert that the territory in question is “necessary to the viability or development of the state.” For example, the territory may be necessary to exploit raw materials, to cultivate land, and the like. Cultural claims to land are sometimes compared to claims based on the self-determination.

Ideally, self-determinative actions would result in a more culturally homogenous state. Historical claims to territory are based on historical priority (first possession) or duration (length of possession).

Although effective control (possession) presents the strongest claim under property law, historical claims create an underlying entitlement to territory, regardless of whether a state has actual or constructive possession of the land at the time of the claim. Historical claims often relate to cultural claims, because the greater the cultural importance of the territory, the stronger the historical claim to it.

Because this “includes both priority and duration and expresses the ultimate case of man-land symbiosis,” historical claims are more persuasive when the territory in question is the claimant group’s homeland.

The nation’s identity is “fleshed out, revealed as a community of fate, and given genetic legitimacy” by the history of the people and their homeland. It may be based either on real-life occurrences or on intentionally made up myths. The identities of the land and its people support one another.

Elitist claims take on a more contemporary and visible form based on (superior) technological skill.

A specific group asserts sovereignty over a territory by virtue of possessing the ability to utilize the land’s potential to the fullest. Such assertions are in line with the labour theory of property law, which accords property rights to the individual (or entity) who works to make the land productively and invests in it.

Lesotho is now able to invest in and use land productively either through mining, farming etc. Ideological justifications for territorial claims refer to the anticolonial ideological justification, which argues that colonial borders are per se inappropriate delimiters of territory for moral and/or legal reasons.

However, it is essential to note that international law is universal and not partial in its application, especially with regards to the socioeconomic and political activities of the Global North vis-à-vis the Global South.

For as long as the Basotho nation exists, and within an independent Lesotho, the call to reclaim the stolen territories will continue to advance and prosper. In essence, ‘the land should return’ aspiration can never simply die while a Basotho nation exists.

To a large extent, it can be acknowledged that Lesotho’s persistent political instability, poor institutional memory, lack of patriotism, lack of national consciousness and ideology among other things has led to the inability of any government of the day to heed a call of reclaiming these territories, and subsequently take advantage of international law and resolutions.

Moreover, one main concern confronting the land reclamation issue is a lack of patriotism and political will. While the governing structures seem to lack a clear mandate or ideology relating to the land question, there is also an uncomfortable and unessential silence by Lesotho’s monarch over an issue that is less political but largely characteristic of Basotho national identity, sovereignty and self-determination.

The position of King Letsie III as head of state that is symbolic of a sovereign Basotho nation, and his international standing as witnessed in many international high-level panels and gatherings can help immensely in elevating this issue on the international political agenda.

The land question is an ‘all Basotho’ effort, with no one exempted from this determined attempt. The needed patriotism cannot take place in the absence of knowledge. Moreover, the much needed patriotism and political will to see the return of these territories a reality will remain highly affected by poor commitment to this cause by relevant stakeholders.

In the short and medium-term address of Lesotho’s legitimate moral claim South Africa must, within the context of Basotho’s self-determination, award participatory rights to Basotho in these territories that are currently awarded each and every South African citizen.

That is, the guarantee of land (i.e. farming, mining etc.), access to employment and education (i.e. especially in the case of university, Basotho should not be required work and study permits among other things), and guarantee the ownership of property (i.e. commercial and residential).

The truth is not measured through mass appeal. As small in population numbers to this notion as there could be, however, the truth will remain that these territories are stile and rightfully belong to Lesotho.

Dr Mahlakeng Khosi Mahlakeng

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Harnessing imagery in writing



All writing is imaginative. Every piece of writing reflects the artistry and mental resourcefulness of the writer.

Effective writing also reflects the colourfulness of the writer’s mind and heart; their ability to paint the world to the reader and their capacity or facility of taking the reader with them to beautiful mental and physical and picturesque journeys.

In this piece we focus on how we can hone our creative abilities through the use of imagery and the effect of using colourful and evocative imagery in writing. Let’s go! What if I say, “Learn to prepare wisely and meticulously in time,” you will still grasp the message in a very clear way, isn’t it? But would that be interesting and colourful?

But what if we put it in a colourful manner, “Make hay whilst the sun still shines,” you really grasp the colour and the full import of the message, isn’t it? That’s what imagery does to your writing; it allows you to feel, touch and smell what you are reading.

There is no doubt that the proverb, “make hay whilst the sun still shines” has taken you to the countryside, in a farming community. You hear the bleating of sheep and the neighing of horses.

At the same time, you visualise the good farmer gracefully at work, cutting grass which he is piling in orderly stacks, preparing fodder for his animals in the future. The sun’s rays buoy his attempts and ensure that the hay is prepared with care and colour.

Thus, the point of good imagery is to capture in full detail a world that allows the reader to grasp and enjoy using their five senses. Let me give you a small but beautiful extract which further drives home the point.

“With his machete he detached a brittle clod, broke it on a stone. It was full of dead twigs and the residue of dried roots that he crushed in his fingers.

“Look, there isn’t anything left. The water has dried up in the very entrails of the mountain. It’s not worth while looking any further. It’s useless.” Then, with sudden anger, “But why, damn it! Did you cut the woods down, the oaks, the mahogany trees, and everything that grow up there? Stupid people with no sense!”

Thando struggled for a moment to find words. “What else could we do, brother? We cleared it to get new wood. We cut it down for framework and beams for our hearts. We repaired the fences around our fields. We didn’t know ourselves. Ignorance and need go together, don’t they?”

The sun scratched the scorched back of the mountain with its shining fingernails. Along the dry ravine the earth panted. The countryside, baked in drought, began to sizzle.”

What a colourful piece! The extract aptly paints a countryside’s pulse and the rhythms of seasonal and climate change and how that affects the livelihood patterns of the inhabitants. Have you seen how the sun has been endowed with human-like features?

And the description of the earth assuming human-like features, for instance, “the earth panted.” No doubt, you have seen the earth subdued by the intensity of heat in a way that is similar to a person who is panting.

To paint excellent images the writer needs to have the gift of observation. He/she should be able to observe quite a panorama of things around him and immerse them in the soil of their imagination. Let’s see another good extract where you can discern the link between good images, excellent description and the power of observation.

“It’s in the morning, the fourth watch, to borrow from biblical discourse. It’s damp outside. I brace the slicing chilly weather to go outside. There is a drizzle, constant showers seeping deep down. I pace up at least 400 metres from my hood. I see lined-up, almost cubicle-like houses.

I keep walking, with a spring in the step buoyed by the damp aura wrought by the incessant downpours. I take a deep breath, and step back as it were.

I want to be deliberate. I want to take in everything in my environment; the colours, the diverse hues and plethora of landscape contours. I notice a woman, almost in her forties, from my eye-view assumptions. She is grabbing a basket clutched tenaciously almost close to her big bosom.

She is going to Mbare Musika, the famous agricultural market wherein she intends to buy items for her stall. Behind her, there is a big strapped baby covered in velvet. As she briskly walks, I see her jumping a poodle of water as she observes her stall. I also observe a man, clad in sportswear running trying to cure a big belly.

As I keep watching, I see a woman sweeping her small veranda. I keep walking. I see a woman, plump tending to her garden. She seems animated by the drizzle, thanks to the rains.

I hear another woman, especially her piercing voice, she is selling floor polish. Her voice fills the air. As I drown in the sweet voice, I notice a man staggering. He is filthy. He could have calloused the whole night. He is holding a Black Label quart, speaking gibberish in the air. I keep watching.”

So here were are! Writing is a matter of painting with words, carving images and allowing the reader to experience the impact of all the senses so as to fully grasp the sense of what is put across.

Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school.

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Politicians’ propensity to score own goals



Lesotho politicians are often in the habit of scoring own goals. For example, look at the circus that took place in the country at the opening of parliament after the winter break. These events remind me of the article that I wrote with the title ‘Scoring own goals’.

This article appeared in this publication dated March 18 – 24, 2021. It argued that Lesotho’s politicians had a propensity to score own goals.

Many say that education and academia should not involve themselves in politics. This belief is a fallacy. The two are intrinsically intertwined. Education and politics link in a complex way.

For instance, parliament is an organ that passes laws that govern and guide national education policies. The interconnectedness includes the curricula that educational institutions and schools teach. Now, if the National Assembly’s focus is misplaced, important legislative decisions may stall or be derailed by lack of action.

I must make a disclaimer though. I am not promoting any view about a political party. I am writing this article purely as a concerned citizen.

I revisit the own goal tendency of those in authority by assessing the drama that unfolded in politics and governance. I review the recent events that culminated in the failed vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane and his government.

I use arguments from research to demonstrate the fluidity of Lesotho’s democracy. Some politicians often take advantage of this fluidity for selfish gain. I contest that the Prime Minister and his government should treat their adversities as stepping stones to meeting their targets.

A constitution is a living document. Accordingly, to keep Lesotho’s constitution alive, current and relevant, parliament should regularly amend it.

However, in so doing, parliament must be careful that tinkering with the country’s constitution does not compromise the essence of democracy they champion. National and democratic principles must form the dogma that underpins the improvements and amendment exercises.

Personal aspirations, ambitions and creed must not underpin the amendments.

The recent events in and out of the National Assembly make one question the perceptions of the different roles players in the democratic playground in Lesotho have.

First, there was a vote of no confidence that the Speaker ruled to defer subject to the high court’s decision.

Second, there was the allegedly drunken MP’s own goal.

The third is the press conference led by the Commissioner of the Lesotho Mounted Police Services flanked by the head of the Lesotho Defence Force and the Director General of the National Security Services.

It is already a hat trick of own goals. Fourth, there was the statement of the Prime Minister claiming an attempted coup.

The fifth own goal is the moratorium that prevented parliament from holding a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister before the lapse of three years of his inauguration.

The sixth is the practice of shirking responsibility by MPs. MPs often refer political matters to the national courts for decisions. The seventh, and the mother of all own goals, is the electoral system that Lesotho elected to pursue. The National Assembly has 120 MPs. There are 80 MPs representing constituencies and 40 proportional representatives.

The Commonwealth suggested that Lesotho review the modalities of the PR nominations. Sekatle and the Commonwealth agree that the PR system introduced plurality but at a cost. The cost is what scholars and commentators term minority rights and coalitions.

Also, it compromises accountability and transparency. It undermines the collective intelligence of the voters. Chief Jonathan warned against coalition governments by citing their instability. Political instability plagues Lesotho today.
Sekatle and the Commonwealth cited the overreliance on a threshold in awarding PR seats in parliament, cheapening them.

The PR system ballooned parliament unnecessarily. By comparison, Botswana had a population of 2.6 million in (2021). Lesotho had 2.3 million (2021). Botswana parliament currently has 65 seats, and Lesotho has 120.

A consequence emanating from the PR system in Lesotho is a hung parliament. Since 2012, there has not been an outright majority in the National Assembly. The results yielded chaos. Over that period, PMs constantly look over their shoulders. All these coalitions imploded.

Democracy is about the majority. Politicians must be persuasive to attract votes to achieve the majority. In other words, the PR system rewards failure.

The own goals cause stagnation. MPs score these own goals by serving their selfish interests. They waste time and energy on trivial things. And yet, they receive full-time salaries and earn allowances such as sittings and petrol allowances. How, then, would one explain that the external urging of parliament had to engage in the reforms exercise?

Today, reforms are lying latent. Politicians use the reform programme as an excuse for ensuring that they retain or access power. In the recent correspondences to SADC, the government and the opposition cite reforms and democracy to justify their actions. But as I write this article, there is nothing much that is happening along the lines of these very reforms. Why?

The starting point of any achievement is desire and definitiveness of purpose. The definitiveness of purpose is more than goal setting. It is one’s roadmap to achieving the overall objectives. Elsewhere, I took the definition of desire as explained by the author, Wallace Wattles.

According to Wattles, ‘Desire is possibility seeking expression, or function seeking performance’. All desires began as a thought. Expressing their desires through a manifesto is a means by which parties attempt to concretise them (their desires).

The starting point of an election campaign is the expression of political intentions and goals through manifestos. A manifesto is a public declaration of aims and policy by a political party or candidate. Political parties express their desires for what they will do in their manifestos.

After elections, these desires become the guiding principles and laws. Politically mature voters would then elect political candidates based on these manifestos.

Who instigated and drove the reforms in Lesotho? The contemporary history of Lesotho reveals that external forces pushed the reforms. Basotho merely reacted. They do not own the reform process. High on the list of their drivers are SADC, the US through AGOA and the European Union.

The practice contradicts Wattles’ definition. According to Wattles definition, desire must emanate from inside the individual, or in our case, from Basotho and be expressed outward through actions.

I do not want to comment too much about the involvement of the security agencies in politics. In my view, the relevant bodies, namely, the Law Society of Lesotho, the media and the opposition parties dealt with their involvement adequately.

Former PM Leabua Jonathan often described democracy as the government of the people by the people. But, the meaning of the construct of democracy is fluid and elusive, depending on the position of governance in Lesotho’s political arena.

Authors Hughes, Kroehler and Vander Zanden explain that democracy is a system in which the powers of government derive from the consent of the governed, namely the masses who vote, in which regular constitutional avenues exist for changing government officials.

The authors characterise the system as one which permits the population a significant voice in decision-making through the people’s right to choose among contenders for political office. Also, the system allows for a broad, relatively equal citizenship among the populace.

Lastly, it affords the citizenry protection from arbitrary state action.

Now, the question is whether the recent activities fit all the three criterias. Are the actions of the MPs who moved for the vote of no confidence in the PM’s government acting in line with Lesotho’s constitution and democracy?

This definition of democracy says that regular constitutional avenues exist for changing government officials. The no confidence vote exists in Lesotho’s constitution. But the PM and his security agencies questioned this. They claim the move by the members of the opposition to dethrone the government was a coup attempt.

The drama began when an MP from the ruling Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), Thabo Moea MP, sought an order from the High Court to delay the motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister until after the completion of the reforms process.

The opposition contests that the prayer by Moea stifles a democratic process for self-serving ends. Subsequently, the Speaker cited this impending case to defer the matter.

The constitution of Lesotho stipulates that the legislature is to pass laws, the executive is to approve and execute them, and the judiciary is to expound and enforce them. But a scholar, Nwafor, claims that the courts in Lesotho often intrude into the functions of the other arms of government.

Lesotho ‘s constitution confers powers on three arms of government in such a manner as would ensure cooperation and coordination in governance. The courts ought to bear in mind that the effective discharge of the responsibilities of the courts largely depends on the effectiveness of the other arms of government.

Nwafor brings up the issue of encroachment. He asserts that the powers of the different arms of government in such a manner would guarantee a coordinated discharge of government responsibilities to the nation. But, parliament overly relies on the courts to make political decisions. The practice encourages the risk of overreaching.

The PR electoral system denies Basotho the right to choose their representatives among contenders for political office. Instead, parties ‘hand pick’ these representatives in the pretext of the constituency elections outcomes. Often, these PR members are the ones who lost their constituency elections.

These are the politicians whose constituencies rejected them. They represent their parties and not the voters. They do not account to the voters.

Both the PM and the opposition made presentations to SADC. They overlooked the electorate. Why would SADC have power and not the electorate that elected the politicians to office? Running to SADC, an outside organisation, to settle Lesotho’s internal problems is not a solution. It is scoring an own goal. Lesotho, with its 57 years of independence, should be able to solve its internal problems.

Nonetheless, I have a completely different take from Mokhothu on the issue of the protest march by the RFP. It is unimportant to find the instigator of the protest march. The people to persuade are the voters, the people who put governments into power in a democracy, not external bodies such as SADC.

Napoleon Hill’s creed reads: ‘Every adversity brings a seed of equivalent or more benefit’. Any business person knows that business is a solution to an economic problem. So, the PM and his colleagues in his party who are business people must look at the adversity emanating from the opposition as a seed of equivalent or better benefit.

The government must dig deep to find how the problem may benefit them.
They must identify their failures and use them as stepping stones to success.

Elsewhere, I presented the views of an American scholar and activist, Anderson, who suggested that marginalised communities must cease granting candidates blank cheques. Instead, the electorate must draw their expectations and demand the campaigning party or candidate promise to meet them.

This practice is called quid pro quo. It enforces accountability and transparency.

You scratch my back, and I scratch yours. Quid pro quo is an example of one of the universal laws that demonstrate reciprocity. Reciprocity is the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. The universal law is the Law of Cause and Effect. It means that for every effect, there is an equal cause. You plant a seed, so shall you reap.

Both the government and the opposition ran to SADC for help. Remember, Matekane is a successful businessman. He has, on more than one occasion, explained that he wanted to use his prowess in business to take Lesotho forward. As a businessman, Matekane has faith in his ability.

Words that come to mind here include self-confidence and trust in himself. He believes in himself. Running to SADC does not display this faith in his ability to deal with problems emanating from his opposition.

Hill argues that riches, or any form of success and achievement, begin with a thought. Faith removes limitations. Matekane must apply his faith as a businessman to become a successful politician.

To summarise, the article explores the events emanating from the fiasco of the no-confidence motion. The individuals who ought to champion constitutional democracy in Lesotho betrayed Basotho by scoring hordes of own goals.

I explored the meaning of concepts that helped me unpack some of these own goals. These were democracy, faith and desire. Also, I coupled these with scholarly research views on the constitution of Lesotho.

I contest that while the opposition may argue that they are within their rights to ruffle the government, the PM must use different tactics. He must display faith and confidence in himself and trust Basotho.

The move to influence the voters to back him deserves a big WOW! He must hold more campaigns to persuade voters to support his government. Voters may make or break him.

MPs waste time in discussing trivial issues that have no bearing on the national agenda. Often, they focus on self-serving matters. The RFP promised to refocus Lesotho towards national development and improving the quality of life.

The article also shows that the PR system does not benefit Lesotho. It diminishes accountability and the principle of quid pro quo. Also, it ballooned the numbers in parliament unnecessarily. It increased political instability by forging formations of coalition.

Politicians must refrain from abusing the judiciary by making them make political decisions. Involving the courts in making political decisions leads to encroachment. Encroachment defies democracy.

In conclusion, Matekane must not allow his detractors to derail his mandate. The same is true for the opposition leaders who attempt to dethrone him. No party campaigned on removing sitting PMs.

Also, the MPs must take the responsibilities that Basotho entrusted them with. It is high time that they make the political decisions instead of shifting them to the judiciary or external bodies.

Matekane, his business associates and technocrats in his government should revisit attributes that made them successful. One such attribute is their faith in their abilities. They must remember that riches (and success) begin with a thought, and faith removes limitations.

Dr Tholang Maqutu


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Painting mood effectively



Writing is not different from beautiful artwork. Just like a skilled painter holding a brush with its broad strokes, the writer occupies the same place and vocation in life. Writing is a work of painting life’s experiences, its hues and beautiful unfolding internal journeys. In this piece we focus on mood and how it can be achieved. Many students struggle with understanding and contemplating the scope and ambit of mood in writing.
It is hard to define and frame the scope of mood in writing. What really constitutes mood? Generally, mood encapsulates the totality of the “air” or “spirit” or “aura” that a certain work of art evokes in the human mind, feeling or sensibility. There is a certain dominant feature or streak associated with a certain work of art, place or person.

There is something which is evoked in our hearts which is associated with a certain place, person or event. Every place or event or person carries or imbues with him or her a certain mood or sensibility; and there is a panorama of sensibilities; for instance, a happy or sombre or whimsical mood. We will now focus on a certain extract and discern how it paints mood.

“He quickly rights himself and keeps walking, but there is an unsteadiness to his knees. He has been given many looks in this quarter – dirty ones, blank ones, sympathetic ones, annoyed ones. For the most part, he had learned to tolerate those than can be tolerated, and ignore those that should be ignored, but the look this woman gave him is not a look one gives to humans but to flies, ticks, cockroaches, fleas…Thato feels anger, then humiliation, then something nameless. If he were in his own country he would turn and confront the woman; but now he’s hurt, wounded, a part of him wishing he were invisible. Breathing evenly, he walks with care, only lifting his eyes once he reaches his own quarters, among his own people. He proceeds to his shack. He could stop by Thapelo’s, his neighbour, where he knows that men and women are already congregated to watch videos from home. Yet, no matter the promise of good fellowship and laughter, Thabo does not join them. Watching videos is a form of forgetting; the 2008 elections, the police with batons, the soldiers with guns, the militia with machetes. Do you remember? Limbs broken. Roofs blazing. I remember.”

This extract is characterised by the intensity of feeling and evokes feelings of sadness, despair and pain. The excerpt paints a harrowing and blood-curdling account which produces a sombre, dull and subdued mood. Thato, the protagonist in the story is in a foreign land. He was impelled to leave his country as a result of political violence which saw many people lose limbs and lives. He feels lonely and unwanted in the foreign land. He feels lost and alienated.

There are sentiments of xenophobia expressed through the glances of citizens of the foreign country he is in. Even if he were to entertain himself together with his countrymen residing in that foreign land, Thato still felt a deep and nagging feeling of being an outcast. Thus, we have made very deep and broad descriptions of the circumstances in which the protagonist finds himself with a view to demonstrate how mood is created in a narrative. The creation of mood feeds into the description of the character’s circumstances, his mindset and the space and place in which he finds himself.

Mood, as we have demonstrated from the portrayal of Thato’s experience, has a link with pathos. Pathos is that streak of sadness which pervades a story and creates empathy in the reader. The aim of effective writing is to move the reader and to impel him towards certain sensibilities which are of an affective kind. Mood, when effectively created, allows the reader to grasp meaning which is not directly said in the story or composition.

Meaning in a story is an interaction between the words in a text as read together with the effect of the words, the tone used and the created mood. There are certain words in a text which do not just communicate, but etches in the reader’s mind certain thoughts, viewpoints and feelings. These words would be so evocative. One such word describes Thato’s deepest sense of alienation in the extract given above.

The word describes him as nursing a wish of invisibility, he felt or wished he were ‘invisible.’ His wish for invisibility is of great importance. It portrays how he was deeply affected by the loathing expressed in the eyes of those looking at him with hate and disdain.

So, here we are! Creating a mood is a craft which takes time to acquire and hone. But when achieved, it makes effective reading and allows the reader to get meaning which goes beyond the text.

Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school. Send your comments and questions to:

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