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Multiple citizenship in Lesotho

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Continued from last week

How would a Change in Section 41 benefit Political Stability in Lesotho?

The effectiveness of Section 41 of Lesotho’s Constitution depends on other countries’ laws: an individual who can acquire Lesotho’s citizenship first can later easily acquire and enjoy citizenship of any country, or countries, that grant citizenship rights without requiring renunciation of current citizenship.

That being the case, of the many questions that may be asked, then, the first one would be: If, as we have argued, Lesotho anti-dual citizenship laws are not completely efficacious in their attempt to prohibit dual citizenship, is it necessary to change Section 41 and subordinate laws?
The answer to the question is in the affirmative. Section 41 needs to be changed because it was intended to prohibit dual citizenship, and sometimes intention of the lawmaker is enough grounds to be basis of judgement in cases of dispute.

In this instance, the courts may find against a Lesotho citizen who acquired citizenship of another simply because he is citizenship of a country whose legal regime was intended to prohibit dual citizenship. We need constitutional changes whose intention is to allow dual citizenship, and laws which will be efficacious in supporting the idea and practice of dual citizenship.

As a small country that lies entirely within the boundaries of South Africa, Lesotho has had relationships with South Africa which have been, largely, shaped by the differing economic positions of the two countries.  When, during lifaqane, in the early 1820s, Basotho were faced with hunger and starvation that resulted from the instability of lifaqane, they scattered throughout modern South Africa, and as far as the Cape Colony, where some were employed in various occupations, and accumulated some wealth which they brought to Lesotho when they returned, in the 1830s.

When, in the thirty years that followed, Basotho found themselves being increasingly squeezed on small territory, as a result of loss territory and arrival of more groups fleeing wars and environmental disasters,15 the stability of the polity was possible because Basotho had legal and illegal access to economic activity in territory across colonial boundaries.
To the extent that some of the activities to gain access to means of livelihood were illegal, they were a direct cause of military conflicts between Free State Boers and Basotho—the most decisive of which was the 1865-1867 war.

For purposes of this paper, it is important to state that, Britain’s decision to colonise Basotho and what was left of their territory, in 1868, was driven by concerns over the political instability that the wars caused in the Mohokare Valley, and British officials’ recognition that, political instability inhered in circumstances that had been created in the Mohokare Valley since the 1830s. As Michael Ward pointed out, British colonial rule in Lesotho put more “…emphasis…on establishing and maintaining stable…” political conditions in the territory.

It was not that colonisation per se would restore political stability in Basotho polity and Basotho’s relations with the adjacent settler community. Rather, as a regional colonial power, Britain had resources and power in the region to establish necessary economic and political conditions that would undermine instability-causing conditions. Such powers included the power to allow Basotho movement and access to the larger political economy of the region.

Thus, under colonial rule, Basotho’s social order was stable because the colonial government encouraged various forms of dependence on economic activity across the border. For over a century, individuals and whole families went to work in the mines, farms and industry, and sent money to relatives left in Lesotho.

Some returned, and others settled permanently. In these ways, relationships that people of Lesotho established with South Africa over the years were not only economic but, just as important, they were also social.

Changes in Lesotho’s citizenship laws would make it easier for people to pursue citizenship of South Africa without any fear of breaking the law, and without fear of implications of renouncing their citizenship of Lesotho.

This done, access to livelihood opportunities, such as existed under colonial rule, would be open to Basotho holders of citizenship of both Lesotho and South Africa. In this way, the political instability that is caused by the weaknesses of Lesotho’s economy and restricted opportunities could be greatly reduced.

Throughout, economists and others who have studied Lesotho’s economy have been unanimous in their prognosis that Lesotho’s current and future economic prospects are bleak. After describing Lesotho’s economic situation and analysing prospects the country’s economy, as independence approached, in 1966, Michael Ward observed:

The economic prospects for Lesotho… are dim and in the short run [the country] has virtually no hope of becoming economically viable or independent of South Africa…

Some twenty years later, in 1986, Paul Wellings observed:

…there can be few countries with poorer prospects than Lesotho for the development of a viable domestic economy. Whilst international aid has become increasingly important to Lesotho’s development effort, the country survives only through its participation in the South African regional economy, and remains heavily dependent on South Africa.

After close to forty years of independence, and after experimentation with all manner of policies of economic development, one of the prominent economists who have studied Lesotho’s economy for many years, concluded, in 2004, that there is very little that can be done to make the country’s economy viable. In his own words,

It is difficult to envisage a set of policies that could change Lesotho’s status from what it now is: a relatively impoverished peripheral appendage to South Africa from which the more talented, skilled, industrious, or desperate will increasingly migrate to more prosperous places in South Africa.
This means that, to the extent that connections can be made between the weakness of Lesotho’s economy, on the one hand, and persistent political instability, on the other, attempts to tackle the problem of instability through changing the country’s economic fortunes alone seem hopeless.
Enabling Basotho to acquire citizenship of South Africa — and that of other countries they may wish to acquire — will help improve conditions of many who work in South Africa under current conditions. Currently, many Basotho who enter the South African labour market as casual labourers experience horrendous exploitation by employers, and at border posts between Lesotho and South Africa.

South African employers of Basotho casual labourers pay them bad wages, and even refuse to pay, knowing full-well that, as illegal workers, they have no rights and they cannot complain about their treatment officially.

Arriving back at border posts on their way home with the little they make as illegal casual labourers, they find Lesotho and South African immigration officials accusing them of having overstayed in South Africa, and demanding bribes in return for not pressing charges against them.
Politically, people in diaspora — such as Basotho holders of dual citizenship would become if they chose to reside in South Africa — are much more nationalistic, patriotic, and have more romantic perceptions of their countries of birth than those who remain at home.

This makes them important ambassadors of their countries. In this way, wherever opportunities present themselves, they promote the courses of their countries of birth. Thus, for example, in US national elections, people from, say, Turkey, who gain American citizenship, vote for a party which promises to maintain, or improve, Turkey’s benefits on the international economic and political stages.

This may happen with Basotho who acquire citizenship of, say, South Africa, and take part in the country’s national and local elections.
Perhaps a most compelling argument for allowing Basotho acquire citizenship of other countries whose citizenship they may wish to acquire, applies to acquisition of South Africa’s citizenship. There is very little doubt that, existing geopolitical conditions restricting Basotho’s citizenship to a small country with an unlikely economy were fashioned under colonial and settler injustice. As if this was not enough, confined to this small economically unviable territory, Basotho and their country bore political, economic and social costs creating South Africa’s prosperity.

As matters stand, it is not the families of majority of migrant workers whose labour built South Africa’s prosperity who benefit from that prosperity; instead, it is a section of Lesotho’s middle classes who are able to acquire South Africa’s citizenship, the law notwithstanding.
Allowing Basotho to acquire South Africa citizenship will go some way to redress these injustices of exploitation, conquest, exclusion, and others.
Fortunately, Lesotho’s Judiciary has already provided leadership on the issue of dual citizenship by criticising, and ruling against, the state’s attempts to enforce Lesotho’s current anti-dual citizenship laws.

A recent example of this was a case between Adam Pholoana Lekhoaba et al., on the one hand, and Director of Immigration and Others, on the other. Reverend Lekhooaba was a Mosotho who had lived in South Africa and acquired citizenship rights of that country.
After years of living in South Africa, he had returned to Lesotho and established a radio station which was critical of politicians in power at the time. In March, 2007, government of Lesotho decided to deport him on grounds that he was a South African citizen. In his judgement, Judge S. N. Peete said:

The concept or phenomenon of “dual citizenship” prohibition is in my view predicated upon traditional notions of nationhood and sovereignty and upon attendant rights and obligations of the citizen; that is: You are a citizen of country X and cannot contemporaneously enjoy citizenship rights of country Y.

This prohibition, the Judge pointed out, is “[a]rchaic… in a global and cosmopolitan world of today”.

Reservations

There may, also, be fears that, by allowing Lesotho’s citizens to gain citizenship rights of other countries, the country may lose its sovereignty, and lose sovereignty over its people. Perhaps Lesotho’s fears of this nature should be even greater, given that, its only neighbour is many times more powerful, and has many times more opportunities.

Smaller countries, like Denmark, have similar fears about their membership of European Union with more powerful and economically stronger neighbours, such as Germany. However, loss, or waning, of sovereignty is a reality that many countries face, including nation-states more politically powerful, and more economically well-resourced, than Lesotho.

The response of many countries to waning sovereignty over citizens has not been prohibition, or continued prohibition, against dual citizenship; instead, the response has taken the form of attempts at managing the contradiction of maintaining nation-statehood in a world in which many forces are working against some core, or ‘traditional’, characteristics of nation-statehood.

Part of the title of James Cobbe’s work, quoted above, is the question: “Will the Enclave [i.e. Lesotho] Empty?” Applied to this paper, the question would be: “Will Basotho leave Lesotho to settle in the Republic of South Africa, if they were given, and used, the opportunity to acquire South African citizenship?”

The answer to this question is uncertain, and depends on many known and unknown factors, and on how things will develop. However, the fact that we do not know what will happen next is no justification to continue constitutional prohibition against dual citizenship.
There is need to act on the basis of a reality that we know of the relationship between current conditions of Basotho’s livelihood, on the one hand, and persistence of political instability in the country, on the other.

A political reservation that some may have regarding changing the law to allow multiple citizenship is that, there is no guarantee that a diaspora community will always act in the interests of their country of birth — they may also act in the interests of their acquired home-country with potential for undesirable consequences for their country of birth.

A powerful diaspora originally from a country with a weak economy and a weak government can exert different kinds of pressure in ways that benefit their adopted country, or their lifestyle in their adopted country. Again, response to this should not be prohibition but management of the challenges that may arise.

Partner to Tango

Were Lesotho’s citizenship law to change, Basotho who wish to gain citizenship of another country and retain their citizenship of Lesotho would gain opportunity to apply for citizenship of any other countries that allow such an arrangement. In practice, however, for historical, social and political economy reasons, the ‘other citizenship’ that most Basotho are more likely to wish to acquire is South Africa’s. The question, then, would be whether it would be possible for Basotho who wish to do so, to acquire South African citizenship.

In some ways, it can be argued that, in fact, the question does not arise because South African citizenship laws allow for dual citizenship, and all what Basotho who wish to can apply for South African citizenship once Lesotho’s citizenship laws are changed.
However, the sense in which the question is relevant is that, in the circumstances of the two countries, Lesotho and South Africa would need to agree terms which would oblige South African government to treat Basotho’s application of South African citizenship differently from applications of citizens of other countries.
On these grounds, the question — whether it would be possible for Basotho who wish to do so, to acquire South African citizenship — needs to be raised, and attempts made to address it.
The present generation of political leadership in South Africa are inheritors of a long-standing recognition, among Africanists and African nationalists in South Africa, that land left to Basotho after years of settler and colonial land dispossession in the nineteenth century is not enough to reproduce life.
Evidence of the existence of this recognition includes the fact that, in general, the South Africa liberation movement was well-disposed towards any decision Basotho might make in the nature of their country’s relations with South Africa; this could inclusion anything from dual citizenship to some kind of union with South Africa.

As was stated in the Freedom Charter, “The people of the protectorates, Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland shall be free to decide for themselves their own future…”. For their part, during the struggle against minority-rule, the labour formations aligned to the liberation movement committed themselves to work for a “…non-racial democratic state…”which “… would actively seek to promote regional economic cooperation along new lines — in ways that would not be exploitative and will correct imbalances in current relationships…”

Specifically, two leaders of the ANC appreciated consequences of historical problem of colonial and settler expropriation of Basotho’s land, and showed themselves to be well-disposed to consider proposals for change in the status quo. Thus, in 1982, Oliver Tambo was quoted as having told a press conference that

…he had agreed with Lesotho leaders on the issue that they should fight for restoration of their land once the struggle for freedom had come to an end. He said that did not mean Lesotho would have abandoned its fight for restoration of its land which is known to stretch as far as Lekoa river and to be bearing diamonds and gold.

Further, visiting Lesotho, as recently as 1995, Nelson Mandela undertook to consider overtures that Lesotho government might make to South Africa regarding access to the sea. Highly welcome as it was, success of the labour movement, in 1995, in securing South African government’s agreement to grant permanent residential and citizenship rights to certain categories of migrant workers, did not address issues of dual citizenship. Without constitutional change in Lesotho, it meant that, those Basotho who applied for South African citizenship had to renounce their citizenship of Lesotho and rights attached to it.

This difficulty notwithstanding, it is significant that, in this concession, which was available to migrant workers from all over southern Africa working in South Africa, Basotho migrant miners were in the majority among applicants for the permanent residence permits—a stage in the process to acquire South African citizenship.

Apart from responses of South African political movements, official, and state to overtures regarding Basotho’s access South African citizenship on special terms, there is also popular response to consider; that is to say, the response of the South African middle-class, working-class, street vendors, and others, who may object to having to compete for opportunities with Basotho.

This is a much more difficult task. As of now, it can be said that, together with Batswana and Maswati, Basotho have not been victims of attacks against foreigners in South Africa; there aren’t many reports of difficulties experienced by Basotho mine migrant workers on grounds of their non-citizenship of South Africa; there aren’t many reported difficulties for Basotho who have joined the labour force at white collar and blue collar levels in the public and private sectors.

Nonetheless, it needs to be admitted that, none of this provides a reliable means of assessing South Africans’ popular response to their government agreeing special terms for Basotho’s acquisition of citizenship of South Africa and attendant rights.

Summary/Conclusions

It is arguable that structural and other circumstances of Lesotho’s statehood have played, at least, a part in persistent instability in the country. This being the case, changing Lesotho’s Constitution and relevant subordinate laws to allow multiple citizenship may go a long way to assist efforts to establish political stability in Lesotho by reducing socio-economic and political pressures that cause, or contribute to, the country’s political instability.

Psychologically, such a change would remove a sense Basotho may have, of being cooped up in small territory with limited opportunities, and remove other psychological and material senses of overcrowding; materially, the change will open up possibilities of gaining access to opportunities in other countries and, thereby, reduce socio-economic consequences of overcrowding in a small marginal territory, including political instability.
As indicated above, it is doubtful that Section 41 of Lesotho Constitution is effective in prohibiting dual citizenship, and it is likely that many Basotho already hold citizenship rights of at least one other country over and above Lesotho’s.

Majority of these are likely to be members of Lesotho ruling and middle classes who do not have the same fears of breaking the law as ordinary Basotho, and are able to ignore threats of being excluded from Lesotho.  More importantly, however, this change may make a contribution of very far-reaching consequences in the lives of Basotho who may wish to acquire citizenship of other countries.

By: Motlatsi Thabane

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China initiates strategy to influence African parliaments

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THE People’s Republic of China has fully financed the construction of at least 15 new African parliamentary buildings and refurbished and furnished several others on the continent.

Its method of donating parliament buildings – controlling their design, construction and long-term maintenance – seems designed to embed its influence in parliamentary institutions in order to have recurrent access to dominant cross-party elites. Innocent Batsani-Ncube examines China’s delivery of one such building in Lesotho.

China’s offer to build a new parliament for Lesotho can be understood as a bid to influence the soul of the Lesotho political system.

The offer was first made during Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s trip to China in 2005 and remade during the then-Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing’s visit to Lesotho in January 2006. It answered Lesotho’s need for a purpose-built parliament building, part of the parliamentary reform programme outlined by the government in 2004.

At the time of Mosisili’s visit to China in December 2005, he was also the incoming 2006-2007 Southern African Development Community (SADC) chairperson.

In this role, he would later play an important role at the 2006 FOCAC Summit in Beijing. On behalf of SADC, he was given the opportunity to address the opening ceremony of the High-level Dialogue and the Second Conference of Chinese and African Entrepreneurs.

The timing of the parliament building donation was possibly tied to the cumulative strategic importance of Lesotho at the time.

While the donation fulfilled an existing need in Lesotho, the mode of project execution indicates China’s intentions to leverage the gift for long term political influence in the parliamentary institution.

Parliament is Lesotho’s most visible, enduring and central political institution. It consists of the King, the Senate and National Assembly. The King summons Parliament and formally approves legislation through royal assent.

The executive is drawn from parliament and its leader, the Prime Minister has to command a majority in the National Assembly. In essence, parliament is the soul of the Lesotho political system.

In executing the parliament building project, China deliberately side-lined earlier plans developed by the Lesotho government’s multi-stakeholder steering committee. The steering committee that drew members from the Lesotho National Assembly, Senate, Ministry of Public Works’ Building Design Services (BDS), Maseru City Council and Ministry of Finance had produced a design template for the building in 2004.

Instead, China nominated the China Northeast Architectural Design and Research Institute to produce a separate design and appointed the Chinese Yanjian Group construction firm to construct the building. The firm employed Chinese artisans – such as carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers and electricians – in key roles. Basotho artisans were employed as labourers at worst and trainees at best.

The net effect of China’s dominance in the design and implementation of the building project was that the final product reflected more the desires of the giver and less the wishes of the recipient.

The contractor was supervised by a Chinese technical design team instead of the BDS. The role of the BDS was limited to monitoring the technical design team that was supervising the contractors. The Chinese construction firm applied Chinese construction standards and materials specification.

Chinese contractors have been maintaining the building since it was completed. They have established a semi-permanent work compound at the foot of the Mpilo Hill where the Parliament building is located. The compound precast wall is emblazoned with the words ‘Chinese Technical Team,’ taking care of the new Lesotho Parliament building and a visible China aid logo at its gate.

Lesotho government officials have conceded that they do not have the technical people to take care of the building and need to continuously extend the contract for the Chinese technical teams so that they assist in taking care of the building.

The octopus-like grip on the building’s value chain seems to have been deliberate and meant to guarantee China’s long-term presence in Lesotho. In constructing the building in this manner, China sought to make itself indispensable to the management and maintenance of the Lesotho parliament building.

This would grant China continuous access to Lesotho’s political system and secure its long-term foreign policy interests.

China’s direct engagement in Lesotho’s parliament building has partly enabled it to maintain and consolidate relations with successive governments. When China offered to build the parliament of Lesotho, the Lesotho Congress of Democrats (LCD) and Pakalitha Mosisili were the governing party and Prime Minister respectively.

At the time, the Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Congress (ABC) was the official opposition. However, by the time the building was completed the roles had changed, the ABC was now the governing party with Thabane as the Prime Minister. They have also dealt with two more – the Moeketsi Majoro and Sam Matekane administrations.

In sum, China’s method of constructing the Lesotho parliament building point to a self-interested nature of its parliament development and indicates a stronger vested interest in domestic mutli-party political institutions than most commentators think.

Instead of backing a single political player, China has adapted its strategy to hedge its bets. While political elites come and go, there have been two constants: China and the parliamentary institution.

  • Dr Innocent Batsani-Ncube is a Usawa Postdoctoral Research Fellow within the Politics Department’s political economy and infrastructure thematic cluster. He specialises in the politics and political economy of intra-global South relations, in particular, the relations between China (state and business actors) and African, Caribbean and Pacific States.

 

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Let’s establish a national airline

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Sesotho se re, mokopi ke mokokomali. Hee feela Basotho ba rata liphallelo. Hell! U fumane ba se ba kokometse ha hothoe liphallelo li teng. Feela, ha u ka re, lemang Basotho, u tla fumana masimo a omme ngo!

I’m referring to a news item I saw on Lesotho Television last week. The American Embassy had invited Basotho to apply for grants for various projects. This was held at the State Library in a section of the library called the American Corner.

Jesus! When the state library appeared on TV, it looked like a slaughter-house from a horror movie or a haunted house from one of those novels written by Stephen King. It looks very dingy for a ‘National Library’.

But I’m sure that five containers of paint (20 litres buckets) could have, at the very least covered the grime on the face of the State Library before it appeared on TV. Television is a very powerful medium.

Look, one bucket (20 litres) of paint costs about M895 and the library needs about five buckets for a face-lift at a cost of M4,475.00 (in total), instead of appearing on TV looking so scary. These are some of the fallen fruits that new RFP administration should have started with. Or should I donate some paint to facelift the library? Do I see any hands/volunteers?

In any case, I’m sure we all remember how our old primary and high school teachers used to embarrass us. They’d hit you with a duster on the forehead and sometimes you’d find you have a new GF in the same classroom and they would see you being smacked on the forehead. With all the chalk-dust landing on the face. The eyes would be red and full of tears due to the embarrassment.

But hey, the dusters seemed to do the work especially when the head refused to dispense correct answers. But we need to bring those dusters back. Ekare boroko bo bongata ka hara ‘muso oa RFP.

We need a teacher with a duster in one of the cabinet meetings. A re wake-up! Wake-up! Wake-up! On the forehead.

But I must be frank though, Ntate Lebona seems to be the only one carrying the entire weight of the new government on his shoulders. That man is a hard worker. He seems to be the only one with a sense of direction and vision.

No, seriously. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but things seem to be pretty much the same under the ‘new’ RFP administration. One doesn’t really get a sense that there’s a new government in charge. Yes, a new broom.

I mean, Kingsway Street is still dirty, filthy and dark at night (Yes, some of the lights are working). The Cathedral Circle precinct is still dirty and filthy. Grown men still urinate on the fence of the Cathedral. The flood-light (Apollo-light) located at the cathedral circle still doesn’t work (Yes, it doesn’t work).

The flag-poles around the Cathedral-Circle are still without the national flags. Guys! How much does it cost to put-up flags around this national monument?

Where are national flags at the border post? Where are the national flags at the entrance of the airport? These are fallen fruits and they don’t cost much to implement.

Why don’t they reinstate the tree-planting day? When was it held? 21st March? This should be a national tree-planting and cleaning day. Baitšukuli should also be forced to clean the Kingsway Road where they work. It’s only fair. This is the main artery of the capital city. This has to be our cleanest street. Let’s just keep it clean!

But I want to talk about a very sensitive issue. The use/usage of Ntate Matekane’s Jet for official trips. Is it right or wrong?

This issue has split opinion on so many levels. Especially when the jet is used by His Majesty for official trips. Now, this always give me shivers down the spine. Kee ke utloe ‘mele oaka o baleha.

You see, the nature of politics is that at one point, you become the most loved person in the world. Then suddenly, you become the most hated person on the face of the earth. Ask Ntate Tom or Ntate Majoro. They can tell you a story or two.

Knowing how the minds of Basotho work, there’ll come a time when Basotho are fed up with Ntate Matekane and want him gone as in yesterday. You’ll hear them all over the radio saying, “Hee rona re khathetse ke ‘muso ona oa barui.”

Now, you don’t want people to bring uncomfortable issues when they want them out of the office. You’d rather play your cards openly and above the table. Unfortunately, this issue of the usage of the private aircraft, is not as transparent as we’d want it to appear.

But Ntate Matekane actually has an opportunity to turn things around. Why not establish a national airline/carrier so that things are above board?

This will also give His Majesty an opportunity to board the ‘national plane’ with a clear conscience. It will also relieve us (the general public) the burden of carrying uncomfortable questions that we’re too afraid to ask.

As a matter of fact, there’s one journalist, Lekhooa Tšolo (Mlani) from Harvest FM that got ridiculed for asking whether Ntate Matekane paid for the recent trip to Mozambique from his pocket or whether the state was taking care of the bill.

In other words, did the Lesotho government lease Ntate Matekane’s jet for the trip to Mozambique? These are obviously, very uncomfortable questions hence the hostility from one of the cabinet ministers. “Ha re’a tla ka taba eno mona”, was his response.

This issue of using private assets also places the army in a very compromised situation. I mean, once you become a Prime Minister, you become an asset of the State and who is in charge of the safety and security of the Prime Minister? My hero, Major General Letsoela.

Now, should anything happen (God forbid) to Ntate Matekane, the sword falls on Ntate Letsoela. He’ll have to account and all eyes will be on him. Unfortunately!

And this reminds me of the stunts that Donald Trump tried to pull when he became president of the US. Yes, Donald Trump has it all. All the riches of the world. He even said, “No, I don’t need your money. I’m here to provide a service and I will work free of charge.”

The State said, Butle Buti. Remember, once you assume office, you become a public servant. And you have to appear on the government/state payroll. We have to comply with the rules and regulations. That is the reason why Donald Trump ended up being paid $1 as monthly salary from the state.

Donald Trump had to use state vehicles and a state owned jet (Air-force-One). Despite owning his own private jets and helicopters. Even now, during his retirement, he’s still a property of the state. Those are the rules and regulations.

In closing, like Major General Lekhanya did with purchasing a jet named Lengau, maybe it is an opportune moment for the state to establish a national airline that will also be used for cargo purposes as well. It could also help to boost the tourism sector.

In fact I have an idea on how we can establish an airline. Why not lease one jet from the Emirates or Qatar Airlines and operate it as Lesotho Airlines (with a national flag/colours), on the Maseru, Johannesburg, Dubai, Beijing/China Route? Do you see the reason why I added Beijing on that list?

And it should be managed and operated by Emirates or Qatar. In that way, we minimise the risk of losses, risk of corruption and we get international exposure. Maybe route-two could be Maseru-Johannesburg-Dubai-New York. For AGOA exports.

And I don’t think the Emiratis would say no to this proposal. So, the China route could also bring a lot of tourists into the Mountain Kingdom. For a new trend in tourism named: Digital detox Resorts (Google search it).

Even here, Dr Matlanyane should negotiate this deal for us as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. It will restore a sense of national pride.

Remember the embarrassment and torment that our army had to face when they had to ship their cargo to Mozambique. Ba tlameha ho kopa lift fofaneng sa Angola. Sesotho se re, mokopi ke mokomali!

‘Mako Bohloa

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The Ngugi, Mungoshi dynasties

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Literature dynasties of sorts are emerging in Africa. People in families of certain established authors are turning out to be writers and artistes of note. Brothers, wives, cousins, children and grandchildren of long established writers are taking to the pen with direct or indirect encouragement of the presence of a major writer in the family.

In Kenya there is the Ngugi dynasty while in Zimbabwe there is the Mungoshi dynasty. These families have become dominant actors in the literature of the two African countries.

Ngugi Wa Thiongo is a household name in African literature. He is best known for his first novel Weep Not, Child. His other novels – The River Between, A Grain of Wheat, Matigari and Petals of Blood – confirmed his stature as one of the major African writers of our time.

Ngugi, who turned 85 in January this year, is currently a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, and is still writing.

However, his sons — Tee Ngugi, Nducu wa Ngugi, Mukoma wa Ngugi and his daughter, Wanjiku wa Ngugi are all published authors, showing the father’s influence on his family.

Tee Ngugi, the eldest of Ngugi’s offspring is a writer, columnist and singer-songwriter of note. His short fiction, essays and commentaries have appeared in several publications including New Orleans Review, St Petersburg Review, Kwani, Brittle Paper, Timbuktu, New Black Magazine, Jahazi, and The East African, among others. His collection of short stories, Seasons of Love and

Despair, was published in 2015 by East African Educational Publishers. A graduate of Yale, Tee has worked in the academic and NGO sectors in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Kenya. He lives in Nairobi, Kenya.

In his short story called ‘Light from the Chapel,’ Tee Ngugi writes about the girl, Noni, who grows from innocence to experience in a religious set-up.

When she is in high school, she naively believes in the purity of priests, nuns and all religious people.

Noni thinks that sin is a far away thing for all people who follow the cross. Then suddenly she catches the local church priest in a very compromising position!

Noni is also starting to realise that: “There is a mysterious space where pure sexual and spiritual experiences connect…” She discovers that spiritual ecstasy appears to be in tandem with coital energy.

Later, at university, now a more “reasonable” Marxist feminist, Noni appears to learn that reality is universal and we only give it different names depending on where we stand and that Christianity, marxism and feminism tend to coalesce in their findings about mankind.

Meanwhile, Tee’s sibling, Nducu wa Ngugi is an educator and writer with noticeable art activities in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Nducu’s writing has appeared in such magazines as Wajibu and Pambazuka.

“I do not feel pressure knowing my dad is who he is, I enjoy writing,” says Nducu to one online journalist. Nducu has published novels such as City Murders, The Dead Came Calling and Benji’s Big Win.

In The Dead Came Calling, a detective novel, Nducu writes about an Indian businessman, Vishal Mehta, who is found murdered inside his garage in Tigoni, Limuru.

Then Jack Chidi, an investigative reporter with The Daily Grind, is called in to investigate. Jack has no idea why Mehta’s wife, Anarupa Mehta, has decided to call him. She informs him that it was Mehta, who had asked her to call him should anything happen to him, a few weeks before his death, signalling that he knew his life was in danger.

Jack’s life is in danger as he discovers that the killing of Vishal exposes an international ring of criminals.

My own estimation is that Mukoma Wa Ngugi could be the most academically gifted of all the offspring of Ngugi Wa Thiongo. An Associate Professor of Literatures in English at Cornell University, Mukoma is fast becoming one of the key names in African literary scholarship. Mukoma is the author of The Rise of the African Novel: Politics of Language, Identity and Ownership, the novels Mrs. Shaw, Black Star Nairobi, Nairobi Heat, and two books of poetry, Logotherapy and Hurling Words at Consciousness. Often Mukoma appears alongside his father, conducting many public lectures across the world.

His father often smiles approvingly as his erudite son explains very complex issues in African literature and politics.

Ngugi Wa thiongo’s daughter, Wanjiku Wa Ngugi is the author of the novel The Fall of Saints (2014) and she is a former director of the Helsinki African Film Festival (HAFF).

She was a columnist for the Finnish development magazine Maailman Kuvalehti, as well as a jury member of the Cinema Africa Film Festival, Sweden. Her story ‘Hundred Acres of Marshland’ was published in New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of Writing by Women of African Descent, edited by Margaret Busby (2019). Her short stories and essays have appeared in Nairobi Noir, Houston Noir, St. Petersburg Review, Auburn Avenue and Barelife Review, among others.

Meanwhile, the late Charles Mungoshi of Zimbabwe is also a household name in African literature. His literary profile is compact. He was a novelist, poet, short-story writer, playwright, film script writer, actor, editor, translator and consultant.

His last book, Branching Streams Flow in the Dark published in 2013 after a long break due to illness is a transcendental novel; marking then the long awaited ‘return’ of leading Zimbabwean author, Charles Muzuva Mungoshi.

The prize-winning author of Coming of The Dry Season, Waiting For The Rain regular Kunyarara Hakusi Kutaura? who had been ‘silent’ ever since his major single publication, Walking Still in 1997, had chosen a special way of returning. As his wife, the acclaimed actress Jesesi Mungoshi states in the dedicatory note, ‘it took Charles over 20 years to write this book and he was still perusing through it when he fell into a coma on the 30th of April, 2010’.

It is therefore befitting that this book is about living beyond malady. During her darkest and loneliest moment, when her baby dies of AIDS and her husband runs out of the house and her mother is virtually unkind, Serina Maseko sees through herself and others, as if she were beyond pain and reproach. She is floating because during this period, before the advent of Anti Retro Viral

Therapy use in the management of the Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), being diagnosed as having the infection is an automatic death sentence.

Serina begins to write a very long and winding letter to a long-forgotten school mate, Fungisai Bare. In that letter, Serina forages through her turbulent life and that of people around her, confessing her sins and confronting all the ghosts in her life, searching for certain key moments to hold on to.

And then Serina comes across one Saidi on a city bus. It is just by chance! As you read on, you want Serina and Saidi to fall in love. You tell your foolish self that this is love at first sight! It is because Serina and Saidi are forlorn because they have AIDS.

But Serina soon learns that Saidi is and has been much closer to her than she has ever known. Saidi leads Serina to her long lost father – the evergreen Samuel Maseko. Saidi leads Serina to her runaway husband, the brilliant coward – Michael Gwemende.

Saidi leads Serina to his own mother, Samuel Maseko’s first wife – the indefatigable Stella Mkandhla Dube! Finally, Saidi leads Serina to a path into herself.

All these ‘streams’ begin to branch into what was threatening to remain unknown. Here, as in the novels of Jose Saramago, especially Blindness, seeing can be both disease and recuperation. Mungoshi died in February 2019.

Charles Mungoshi’s younger brother, the late David Mungoshi, who died a year later in August 2020, appeared to always having followed his elder brother’s footsteps in literature ever since their childhood herding cattle in Manyene. They share a warm relationship of exchanging books and writing techniques. Their physical resemblance tended to confuse many.

Only a few years before Charles published a book about a woman with HIV/AIDS, David published a book, about a woman with cancer in 2009! It is called The Fading Sun. It is a novel about both living and dying.

Very few novels from Zimbabwe will come close to it as regards exploring a miscellany of human emotions and experiences in one breath. Here is sadness, bottomless joy, puzzlement, memories, regrets, fear… the whirlpool goes on.

A woman in menopause stops in her tracks to take stock of her life. From the leeward side, Mary has more than her fair share of maladies. Mary’s skin is wrinkled. Mary suffers from bouts of migraine and arthritis. Mary has had each of her three deliveries by caesarean section.

Mary has lost one of her ovaries early in life. Mary has a thyroid problem which has led to thyroidechtomy.

Mary has lost one of her breasts through mastectomy and she wears the breast prosthesis. Sadly, the surviving breast is also deteriorating and the pain is just unbearable. Mary’s sun is slowly fading.

She makes you realise that much of living and dying too, go on inside of the individual. Towards the end, she becomes very mystical like that woman who charms and is charmed in return by the spider in ‘A Passage to India’.

Midway, you realise that this is a novel that you cannot take all in, with a one off reading. The layers are many; history, geography, anthropology, politics… This novel must have taken David Mungoshi lots of meditation (and fasting too) that when such a script was finally released, he must have felt like collapsing from the sudden release.

In addition, David used a rigorous language and you may suggest that this story must be sung with the accompaniment of an instrument. This book pitches much higher than what David achieves with his debut novel, Stains On The Wall (1992). It is the kind of English language with the rigor you can only associate with the other good non-English writers writing in English, like Joseph Conrad and Ayi-Kwei Armah.

In 2016 Charles Mungoshi’s first born son, Farayi published a scintillating collection of poems called Behind the Walls Everywhere. Farayi Mungoshi’s short stories stun with their shocking intensity and tenderness.

Almost everywhere – from the bridge on the road that leads into the township and from the top of the all knowing tower light, and even from within the house of mourning, to the faraway lands of their supposed refuge – men and women, black and white, strip off their masks to reveal passion at its most elemental and sublime.

Here is a powerful and wild book, containing the genuine short story, sincere, individual and strictly economical. Farayi is also a film-maker.

Farayi’s younger brother, Charles Mungoshi Jnr is also a writer of motivational books. He is a regular voice on the social media scene, motivating people to carry on with their lives. In 2016 he published five motivational books on the same day!

To cap it all, their mother Jessesi Mungoshi, wife to the late Charles Mungoshi himself, is a household name after starring as Neria in the film Neria. It is a story about the challenges that widows face in African communities. The Neria role was career defining for Jessesi, who is still referred to by the name of the movie’s main character by fans.

“Here in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries, I’m strongly identified with the character I played in the film. Some do not even know my real name!” she tells one publication.

Memory Chirere

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