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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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The power of co-operatives

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‘To know and not to act is not to know’. This Chinese proverb relates to the predicament in which Lesotho finds itself presently. Lesotho has failed to learn from its mistakes and experiences.

Despite numerous Ministry of Economic Planning’s Five-Year National Development Plans, Lesotho hovers in the doldrums of poverty. Successful innovation depends on developing and integrating new knowledge in the innovation process.

Pointing fingers does not lead to solutions. Lesotho must focus its energies on developing endeavours that advance the livelihoods of its citizenry. For example, a government adviser suggests that Lesotho must establish a development bank.

The development bank would enable Basotho to participate in driving new investments. But we all know that Lesotho had development banks before, the likes of Lesotho Bank and Agricultural Bank. The government he advises shut down both banks.

Here, I want to pursue an idea that I brought up in the article of 18 – 24 August 2022 titled: ‘Pushing a community-based economy.’ I suggested that communities consider establishing agricultural cooperatives (co-ops) as a way toward economic emancipation.

This article reiterates the same approach. Lesotho must conquer the triple tragedy of hunger, poverty and unemployment by reverting to the basics.

Lesotho’s economic solutions lie with Basotho’s traditional communal farming practices.

So, co-ops are a solution to Lesotho’s food security crisis and can ensure that Basotho Prosper. They will ensure food and employment security for the communities they will serve. I will provide a deeper understanding of how Basotho may benefit from co-ops.

According to a local scholar, Mbata, about 13% of land in Lesotho is arable. However, Mbata asserts that during the 1920s, Lesotho’s food production began declining till 1930 when the country became a net importer of food grains.

Urbanisation and migrant labour came at acost to farming in Lesotho. Today, capable men leave their fields and flock to Maseru urban in search of work. The closure of mines in South Africa worsened the already awkward predicament.

Unemployment grew. In the meantime, people continue to migrate to cities leaving their fields unattended.

I will use the importation of pork to highlight Lesotho’s food shortage plight. Big retail businesses do not buy pork from Basotho piggery farmers because there is no hygienic slaughtering facility.

Moreover, the farmers do not possess the farming management technological know-how. Therefore, these shortcomings compromise the quality of local pork.

Lesotho’s annual pork import was 7 133 tonnes in 2020. According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, the imports were worth US$3.1 million. There is a need to reform agriculture and food production in Lesotho.

First, I will discuss the principle that grounds cooperatives; namely crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is not a new concept to Basotho.

Basotho, who have one goal come together to form groups like burial societies, stokvels and cooperatives. Organisations such as churches or schools use concerts as functions for raising funds.

In 2006 the Oxford English Dictionary coined this new term, ‘crowdfunding’. ‘Crowdfunding’ is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising money from a large number of people who each contribute a relatively small amount, typically via the internet.

Musicians, filmmakers and artistes successfully raised funds and fostered awareness through this initiative. Crowdfunding established the Lesotho Bank. It enables the masses to raise funds as a collective. As an individual, these people would not raise enough funds. Crowdfunding may work as a revenue stream for the individual.

Two Basotho proverbs echo this phenomenon. One proverb reads, ‘lets’oele le beta poho,’ meaning: working together gives a group power to get the job done quickly. The other reads: ‘ntja-peli ha e hloloe ke sebata’, meaning: two or more people conquer impossible situations.

This article focuses on a certain form of crowdfunding, agricultural cooperatives. Co-ops facilitate business access for ordinary field owners, and small-scale farmers make inputs that could promote their development.

For example, while individual smallholder farmers may not access bank funding, co-ops may enable them to bargain as a collective. In so doing, the farmers access facilities they would otherwise not be able to. Co-ops help reduce dependence on foreign investment.

Sikwela, Fuyane and Mushunje assessed the probability for South African agricultural cooperatives to engage in collective marketing activities over time, given market and institutional characteristics.

They observed that smallholder farmers benefit from market-oriented agriculture when they get support from various institutions and operate in organised groups such as co-ops.

Market access is critical to smallholder farming.

Market access improves productivity of subsistence agriculture.

First, it alleviates food deficiency at the household level of the rural population. Secondly, it improves the incomes of farmers. Co-ops’ collective action reduces transaction costs and boosts the bargaining power of farmers concerning markets.

Smallholder farmers are subsistence farmers. Subsistence farming is predominant in Lesotho.

Cooperatives, being a collective group, have the potential to penetrate high-value markets or better-paying markets to improve their living standards. Co-ops are the best way of converting employees and buyers into business owners through shareholding.

The concept of ‘cooperatives’ is not new to Basotho. Records show that co-ops existed in Lesotho by 1931.

However, they experienced avalanches of managerial problems. There was no regulatory framework for their operations.

By 1933, co-ops thrived through promotion and information sharing. In 2019, Lesotho had 99 co-ops with 9 092 members and 320 employees.

But Noko blames the demise of the co-op movement in Lesotho on the lack of supportive legislation and excessive regulation.

First, let us understand the legislative imperatives of co-ops in Lesotho.

Although 1947 saw the enactment of their formal registration, the Cooperative Society Act of 2000 and the Cooperatives Societies (Amendment) Act of 2014 unified the legal regime for different kinds of co-ops.

The Cooperatives Societies Act, 2000 describes Cooperative Societies as private business organisations of exceptional nature. Cooperatives register under this act and operate according to their listed principles and practices (Sic).

Lesotho participates in International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) initiatives. Accordingly, ICA brings together co-op organisations worldwide. It promotes and enhances collaborations in regions.

The Cooperative College actively participated in these initiatives. But its closure is an example of Lesotho scoring its own goals against itself.

ICA defines cooperatives as autonomous associations of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled model. Gordon-Nembhard explains that members of co-ops meet their needs and earn returns on their investments.

Hence, co-ops fill market failures ignored by private businesses and governments ignore. These gaps include affordable housing, healthy organic food, credit and banking services.

Co-ops are similar to Anderson’s communities in that they are oriented toward solving their problems. Co-ops aggregate communities’ resources and capital into economic units overcoming historical barriers to development.

Co-ops increase economic activities in communities. For instance, they contribute to the national fiscus through taxes and job creation.

Noko analysed Lesotho’s legal framework for co-ops in 2021. According to Noko, co-ops do not feature in Lesotho’s Constitution. Nonetheless, the constitution provides for and protects citizens’ rights to free association.

Noko’s analysis concluded that the cooperative movement experienced setbacks for many years because of unsupportive legislation and excessive regulation. He suggested areas that need urgent attention by legislation if cooperatives are to flourish in Lesotho.

On the other hand, a supportive regulation may allow their development. Here, I can cite two examples. King and Ortmann reported that the South African government committed to providing a supportive legal environment for co-ops.

Again, according to Gordon-Nembhard, the USA’s co-ops enjoy enabling conditions. Federal and state agencies support co-op development.

As a result, co-op start-up costs are low. Non-governmental financial institutions like co-op banks provide low-cost loans to co-ops. These banks function to assist co-op organisations.

Agricultural co-ops are critical to economic empowerment and poverty eradication. Studies in the developing world show that co-op societies play an important role in developing and enhancing the economic conditions for the unemployed educated youth.

Co-ops are critical in developing and improving economic conditions for unemployed educated youth by providing work. So, they help level the playing field for the privileged ‘haves’ and the underprivileged.

They are crucial in promoting economic and social development, creating employment and generating income. In doing so, they will economically empower the marginalised poor and eradicate poverty.

In the article: ‘Pushing a community-based economy’, I interrogated Anderson’s definition of a community. Anderson says a community is the ability to pull resources and power to produce and distribute consumption in a way that creates goods and wealth under its control.

But, Gordon-Nembhard showed that communities’ co-ops combine consumers with owners and sellers in democratic structures. So, co-ops are collective problem solvers. Their purpose is to meet members’ needs and enable them to earn returns on investments. In other words, co-ops will empower communities to develop independent sustainable economies.

Alternatively, co-ops are businesses where some or all the employees are owners.

Members produce and, or sell different goods and services and share profits. Worker members play direct roles in decision-making. For instance, workers participate in setting hours of operation and decide membership eligibility criteria.

The two South African studies on co-ops made profound findings. They found that co-ops supported by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have a longer life span than government-controlled co-ops. Gordon-Nembhard reported similar results in the US.

She also found out that community co-ops stay longer. According to her study, community ownership of co-ops promotes community growth.

Consequently, I propose a co-ops model that brings farmers and business owners together. They will collectively buy goods and services that would otherwise be too costly for an individual business owner to buy alone.

Thus, they will eliminate the middleman. Co-op businesses serve members’ marketing, processing and purchasing needs.

I propose forming a co-op model comprising three subsidiaries. The first arm will be the farmers’ co-op.

The primary purpose of the farmers’ co-op will be food production. To achieve this function, the Farmers Co-op will need to undertake the production, marketing and processing of agricultural products.

The farmers’ co-op will seek to produce crop and meat products. Their goals will include supplying meat produce that meets world standards in terms of slaughtering and quality control.

The long-term goal of the farmers’ co-op will be to cut food imports into Lesotho.

Presently many fields lie fallow, with able people migrating to towns looking for jobs. Farmers’ co-ops must invite the owners of these fields to join. Simultaneously, they must negotiate with the owners to have their fields surveyed to establish their surface areas.

The co-op with the field owners must cultivate all the fields. For the fields whose owners cannot till, the co-op must negotiate contracts for block farming. Farmers’ co-op will arrange favourable prices directly with the food market, cutting the middleman.

With time, the farmers’ co-op will acquire, let, sell or otherwise supply requisites necessary for farming operations.

It will ensure that members of the co-op and communities will benefit from its activities. Members must benefit from all proceeds of the food supply chain.

The second arm will be the food co-op. It will focus on providing local, organic, free-range, natural and healthy foods to all the members and surrounding communities. Subsequently, the food co-op will be the sole supplier of food products produced and processed by our farmer members.

In this way, they will eliminate the middleman in the food supply chain and give members affordable fresh food direct from the farm.

The food co-op will include food processing. For instance, the food co-op will process pork meat into polony, ham, etc. The food co-op must work directly with the farmers for their products.

The third and last arm of the co-op model will focus on capacity building and human development. I call this arm the Academy.

The Academy will provide academic and training services for the co-op. The Academy will offer training and short-courses in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the Ministry of Education and Training.

So I suggest the co-op model run under the stewardship of an elected board. The co-op membership must be open to people over the age of 18-years. People must apply for membership. The 2000 Act mandates that the minimum number of members in a co-op is ten.

Moreover, the co-op must agree on joining and membership fees. Members have the right to do business with or through the co-op.

Each member carries one vote in the co-op. The co-op shares will all be of the same class, ranking and nominal value. Members may apply for additional shares from the co-op.

In summary, this article scans the agricultural demise of Lesotho and suggests an approach to follow. I cite the pork import to concretise Lesotho’s food shortage plight. Lesotho is a net importer of grain crops.

I argue for a community-level approach. The solution to Lesotho’s economic problem lies with Basotho and its communal farming tradition. Accordingly, I propose that communities must establish cooperative enterprises.

Co-ops have existed in Lesotho from the second decade of the 20th century. However, they experienced numerous setbacks. These includes unsupportive legislature and excessive regulation.

Evidence from other countries show that supportive legislation enables greater co-op development.

These studies reveal that community-owned cooperatives are successful. They help ordinary people access banking services. Also, they help communities grow. At the same time, co-op members will participate in the economy and lead quality lives.

Thus, I propose establishing a three-pronged co-op model. The first is the farmers’ co-op.

This co-op’s primary task is fresh food production. They ensure that communities benefit from their activities.

The second arm is the food co-op. The food co-op shall negotiate prices directly with farmers.

So the co-op will generate affordable prices for the communities they serve by eliminating the middleman from the supply chain. Also, they will process the meat into other products.

The third and last arm is the Academy. The Academy will be responsible for human development and cutting-edge information sharing.

They will ensure that the co-op model remains on top of innovations in the food production industry.

In conclusion, our ailing economy adversely impacts economic development aggravating the triple tragedy of hunger, poverty and unemployment.

Thus, many citizens cannot participate in economic activities. Moreover, the low agricultural production and excessive food import exacerbate the awkward predicament. Community-owned cooperatives are an obvious solution. The country’s economic redemption lies firmly with Basotho communities.

Dr Tholang Maqutu

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The battle against ovarian cancer

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Once upon a time. There once existed a kholumolumo (dinosaur) who swallowed all the people in the world except one pregnant woman.

She eventually gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Senkatana. In time, the boy became a mighty hero when he confronted this monster with his shield and spear and freed all the people.

When the people met their young rescuer, they were thrilled and asked him to be their ruler. But the question that remained was how long they would be satisfied with his rule.

September is marked the National Ovarian Cancer Month on the calendar and it’s during this time that many organisations and other women, myself included, honour the courage of those affected by ovarian cancer and renew the commitments we once made to fight this disease that takes the lives of far too many women.

Cancer is defined as a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to spread to other parts of the body.

So, ovarian cancer is the growth of cells that form and multiply quickly in the ovaries and like all cancers, it is brutal and cruel, inflicting pain and suffering for women and their families.

Treatment of this cancer usually involves surgery and chemotherapy. Its symptoms may include abdominal bloating, weight loss, discomfort in the pelvic area, back pain and changes in bowel habits among others.

It is still not clear what causes this cancer but doctors have identified things that may increase the risk of the disease such as old age, inherited gene changes, post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy, endometriosis and never having been pregnant.

Even though doctors managed to pick a few risk factors that may increase the chances of acquiring this cancer, they do not have a sure way to prevent it. But taking birth control pills may help reduce its chances with you, many women have confirmed this.

The latest WHO data published in 2020 reported 0.07% of total deaths by ovarian cancer in Lesotho and the age adjusted death rate of 3.01 per 100,000 of population ranked Lesotho number 145 in the world.

It was also rated the No 4 cause of cancer deaths in women between 2003 and 2007 and the median age of women diagnosed with it was 63.

This cancer is very rare and deadly and because of its rarity many women are diagnosed with it at an advanced stage.

Research shows that despite ovarian cancer rates being highest among white women, black women are more likely to die from this disease because of lack of access to health care centres.

In the past years many initiatives have been implemented to raise awareness and improve healthcare capacity to mobilise funds to strengthen interventions on breast, prostate and cervical cancer but ovarian cancer has always been left out although it may hinder “nation building”.

Former First Lady Maesiah Thabane during her time in office swore to establish a fully equipped cancer centre that would provide improved care for Basotho diagnosed with cancer.

Today we have the Senkatana Oncology Centre (name inspired by the tale at the beginning of this article) and this is all thanks to the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation (BMSF), Ministry of Health (MoH), the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and Dr Kabelo Mputsoe, the Mountain Kingdom’s very first Oncologist.

Dr Mputsoe is a Clinical Radiation Oncologist and the first Specialist in Clinical Radiation Oncology in Lesotho. She holds a managerial position as Head of Non-Communicable Diseases Section Focal Person in Cancer Prevention and Control Programmes.

Some of her responsibilities include leading the NCD section with strategic objectives such as to raise the priority accorded to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in Lesotho agendas and internationally agreed development goals through strengthened international cooperation and advocacy.

The new Senkatana Cancer Clinic is manned by Dr Kabelo Mputsoe, the oncologist, Dr ‘Maseabata Ramathebane who is representing the NUL, Dr Pearl Ntšekhe of the MoH and Phangizile Mtshali representing the BMSF.

I was very fortunate to talk to one ovarian cancer survivor who was diagnosed with this disease at 35. She is now 62. She told me that after so many screening tests the results came back and she was told she had stage four ovarian cancer.

What traumatised her most was when they put a timeline on her life and said she had six months left before she could die. She went to see one top gynaecologic-oncologist who performed a radical hysterectomy and at his suggestion underwent six rounds of chemotherapy.

Although she beat the cancer, she lost the ability to bear any more children. Hysterectomy is a surgical operation to remove all or part of the uterus. Most women find it hard to conceive after undergoing this surgical procedure.

Though it may be possible, it is very rare (to fall pregnant) for the uterus is removed and there’s nowhere to house the baby. Such pregnancies often result in ectopic pregnancy because the embryo would implant in some place most likely the fallopian tube.

My message to women this month is: please make it a must to know your bodies and be observant with any changes you may notice, both normal and abnormal. Cancer screening is essential and never miss any session because early detection and proper treatment are significant factors in the battle against ovarian cancer.

“It is therefore imperative that all of us become familiar with the symptoms of ovarian cancer and the conditions that place us at an increased risk”.
May we remember to make good use of the Senkatana Oncology Centre so that we can lead healthy, happy, and full lives, cancer-free.

Bokang Masasa

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Let’s re-ignite the Vuka-Zenzele spirit

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Allow me to set the record straight and remind you of an interesting part of our history.

The first Mosotho to drive a Mercedes-Benz G-wagon came from a village named Mazenod, Ha Sekepe. Yes, the first Mercedes-Benz G-wagon in Lesotho.

It was in the year 1990 when I first saw a Mercedes-Benz G-wagon in Mr Kobuoe ‘Mile’s yard (our neighbour) and I thought I was dreaming.

Mr Koboue ‘Mile was a businessman and ran a local café named Vuka-zenzele café. The cafe was a second-generation café after he had inherited it from his father (Ntate Tšepiso ‘Mile).

There was always something peculiar about the name of the café and I always found it very fascinating. When loosely translated, Vuka-zenzele means, wake up and work for yourself. Tsoha u iketsetse in Sesotho.

So, Mr ‘Mile’s vehicle was a green left-hand drive ‘import’ and also had a car phone. Yes, a car phone located on the centre console and had a black coiled cord attached to it.

I remember, we would marvel at the vehicle for hours with my friends because it was something we had never seen in our lives. More especially, a car phone.

Remember this was a time before cell-phones even existed.

Those were the legends of our village named Mazenod. Yes, Mazenod was once great in one way or the other.

This past Friday, a good friend of mine and a coach of Swallows Football Club organised an inaugural Swallows Gala Dinner at Mojalefa Lephole Hall (Victory Hall in Moshoeshoe II.).

I attended the event and it was highly successful considering it was their first Gala Dinner.

Amongst the many guests that were present was the former Kaizer-Chiefs and Bafana-Bafana player, Pollen Ndlanya.

It felt good to see a lot of people that I grew up with converge in one place. It’s always funny to meet as adults. All you can talk about is how kids are doing. I used to find that a bit weird about parents.

They’d spend hours talking about their kids. But hey, here we are. We’ve joined the club.

So, Teele Ntšonyana organised the gala dinner as part of a bigger campaign named ‘Let’s make Mazenod great’.

There’s also a WhatsApp group that I’m part of, even though I hardly participate in it (I actually hate WhatsApp groups but don’t tell anyone).

The purpose of the campaign is to invoke the Vuka-zenzele spirit (tsoha u iketsetse).

It is also meant to promote a spirit of reviving the local economy by promoting cleanliness as well as promoting a culture of law and order.

What inspired the campaign you may ask? Mazenod is a very important place because it hosts the only international airport in Lesotho.

It starts there! Even if Beyonce happens to visit Lesotho, her point of departure would be Mazenod.

I love this campaign and I wish the same spirit could spread to places like Roma & TY. Jesus Christ please help Roma!

Roma looks like a shanty-town. This is a ‘town’ that hosts the National University but its surroundings look like a squatter camp named Diepsloot (Google search it).

Hao batho ba Roma! (Roma people). Why are you destroying your place like this? I say this because when you get to Roma, there is nothing that says this is a place of higher learning. Look at the Thomas Mofolo library! Ekare storo (It looks like a store room).

Why is it not a landmark building that can be accessed by the Roma community and tourists?

I bring this up after visiting an NUL lecturer named Mr Khoanyane last Saturday following the gala dinner.

My friend, Hlalele Rasephei insisted that we have to see the incredible work Ntate Khoanyane does.

Wow! I tell you Khoanyane is doing incredible stuff with fruit trees. After what I saw Khoanyane do with fruit trees, I concluded that our unemployment crisis in Lesotho is but a choice.

No, it’s a choice we have made as a country by repeatedly electing useless politicians.

We have hands, time (the same 24 hours that Beyonce has), land, over-abundance of water, a good climate and a young workforce. What more do we need? To sit in offices?

Khoanyane proceeded to take us on a study tour of his farm at Sefikeng. He showed us ways in which fruit trees are produced and can be reproduced.

There were various species of trees from, peaches, apricots, apples and pears that were all produced on the farm. Yes, apples do grow in Lesotho.

Khoanyane demonstrated that if we place all our focus on producing and growing fruit trees, we could defeat a monster named unemployment.

The Vuka-zenzele spirit! Tsoha u iketsetse! (Wake up and work for yourself). Instead of waiting for the government to create jobs.

Going into this week’s topic and as a follow-up to last week’s topic, I think there is something special that we can do for ourselves as citizens of this country, instead of depending on being given hand-outs from donors. More importantly, instead of depending on politicians (professional liars).

As a follow-up to last weeks topic, imagine if we could re-name the Palace Road, that cuts across Sefikeng sa Moshoeshoe, to Serena Williams Road?

I tell you, this is an opportune time to commemorate Serena Williams for her contribution to the sports fraternity.

I bring this up because the street crosses to the National Tennis Courts and this would be a perfect opportunity to commemorate the tennis legend following her retirement last weekend.

Can you imagine how much publicity and tourism this would bring to the Mountain Kingdom?

Hotels would be packed to capacity because television crews from across the world (CNN and BBC) would come and cover the ribbon-cutting event. Serena Williams could even run tennis coaching clinics for young girls.

Imagine if the ribbon cutting event is staged in between Moposo House and the Bank Tower (Damn! The Bank Tower desperately needs a fresh coat of paint).

By the way, the Bank Tower will be turning 40 years next year but still remains the tallest building in Lesotho. This symbolises 40 years of stagnation.

So, it’s not only Serena Williams that could commemorate but I think a British Formula-One super-star named Sir Lewis Hamilton deserves one road in Maseru city to be named after him. By the way, they are friends with Serena Williams and pledged some money to buy Chelsea FC.

Why do I bring Sir Lewis Hamilton into the equation? It’s because he is currently running a campaign to support South Africa to host the African leg of the F1 race.

Sir Lewis Hamilton is running the campaign in conjunction with a global logistics company named DHL.

Why is DHL part of the campaign? Because, they are an official logistics partner to the Formula One with transporting the vehicles and equipment world-wide.

Look, sports is big business and we need to open our eyes to this big opportunity should South Africa be granted the right to host the African F1 leg.

Now, can you imagine the amount of publicity Lesotho would get if it were to re-name the Airport Road, located behind the BNP Centre and the Central Bank to Sir Lewis Hamilton Road?

This would open up investment opportunities to global giants such as Petronas, Mercedes-Benz and of course DHL. Moshoeshoe I International Airport would benefit immensely and should partner with DHL as a logistics partner.

In fact, just privatise the damn airport or sell it to Emirates instead of fighting for tenders. We are missing out on golden opportunities.

Vuka-zenzele! It’s time to wake up and do it ourselves!

‘Mako Bohloa

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