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Multiple citizenship in Lesotho

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Some of the causes of political instability in Lesotho are related to the fact that secure livelihood is very difficult for majority of Basotho because Lesotho is a small country with limited natural resources. Against this background, allowing Basotho to gain access to citizenship of South Africa and other countries has been touted as one of the ways in which socio-economic well-being can be secured for majority of Basotho, and, thereby, political stability established in the country.

At present, Section 41 of Lesotho’s Constitution bars citizens of Lesotho from simultaneously holding citizenship of Lesotho and that of another country. This paper discusses legal and political issues pertaining to multiple-citizenship in Lesotho.
Primarily, the paper looks at the legal position regarding multiple-citizenship in Lesotho; the stance of Lesotho’s political elites on the subject; and examines the potential of multiple-citizenship to reduce political instability in Lesotho.

Background

Lesotho is a small overcrowded country with a small economy that cannot support the well-being of society as a whole. Majority of the population are concentrated on the country’s ecological zone known as the ‘lowlands’, a small, arable but agriculturally-marginal and intensively cultivated strip of land that constitutes 17 percent of the country’s land mass.

Seventy-four per cent of the country’s topography comprises of the ‘foothills’ and ‘highlands’ where even more reduced capacity to grow food combines with other conditions, such as harsh climate and other inhospitable conditions, to make human habitation very difficult. Countrywide, in areas that are habitable, population density is estimated at 59 inhabitants per square kilometre.
Both under colonial rule (1868-1966) and after independence, economic survival has greatly depended on, and benefited from proximity with, more endowed South Africa. For society in general, Basotho’s ability to enter South Africa legally and illegally in search of jobs and necessities has provided a lifeline to many households in Lesotho.

For the Lesotho state, an old South Africa-dominated Customs Union, established during colonial rule, has been a major source of income and basis of national budgeting.
On both fronts, however, changes have occurred; two of these are worth mentioning. First, Basotho’s ability to move freely into South Africa in search of jobs has become increasingly restricted, as South Africa tightened its immigration controls, over the years. Second, Lesotho state’s income from the Customs Union, which contributes 44% of public spending,1 has fallen by close to 45%, from 29.2% of GDP, in 2014/2015, to 16.4% of GDP, in 2016/2017.2

This unfolding situation has contributed significantly to economic insecurity in Lesotho. Restrictions on Basotho’s cross-border movement into South Africa has increased their inability to access employment in South Africa, and has, thereby, increased unemployment in Lesotho, and intensified struggles for decent livelihood.

For many Basotho, the option has been to cross illegally, or to cross legally but end up violating South Africa’s immigration laws by overstaying, or working illegally. Cases of South African police’s arrests of Basotho found residing and working illegally in South Africa are quite frequent. They are sources of state-to-state tensions between governments of Lesotho and South Africa.
The view of South African government officials is that, Lesotho government do not do enough to help South Africa enforce its immigration laws. For their part, Lesotho government officials have to make representations, to the South African government, on behalf of Basotho who complain about ill-treatment and harassment, including deportations, by South African immigration officials.

Success and failure in struggles for power in Lesotho — which have increased in intensity, since 1993 — are, in large part, dependent on, first, the political elites’ access to public resources which they use to dispense patronage, and, second, on availability of an electorate rendered amenable to patronage because of its economic circumstances. On the one hand, dwindling income from Customs Union has meant that, the political elites do not have, at their disposal, enough means by which to dispense patronage; on the other hand, increased poverty and unemployment among the electorate has greatly increased the amenability of society to patronage.

This breeds political instability in that, the larger society is easily drawn into the intense struggles for state power between factions of the political elites.  Sections of the larger population participate in these intense fights for state power hoping that victory of the sides they support will guarantee patronage from dwindling state resources.

Crucially, sections of larger society that become drawn into these struggles include elements in groups such as the army, and quasi-militarised groups of youth allied to different political parties and supported by elements in the army. It is in these ways that, intense struggles for state power that take place within a small section of society — that is to say, the political elite — become generalised throughout larger society and assume character of national political instability.

Because the persistent political instability that results from the economic and political contexts described above is ascribed, at least, in part, to Basotho’s being overcrowded on small, marginal territory with bleak current and future economic prospects, the search for ways of achieving political stability in Lesotho has focussed on areas, including: abolition of immigration controls on the border between Lesotho and South Africa, freedom for Basotho to work in South Africa, and repeal of Section 41 of Lesotho’s Constitution to enable Basotho to acquire citizenship of other countries in order to gain access to economic benefits that can accrue from citizenship of such countries.

This chapter discusses legal and political issues pertaining to multiple-citizenship in Lesotho. Primarily, the paper looks at the legal position regarding, and examines the stance of Lesotho’s political elites on, multiple-citizenship.

Evolution of Citizenship Legislation in Lesotho: Citizenship Legislation as a means to persecute Political Opponents

Among pre-colonial Basotho, bases of senses akin to ‘citizenship’ included membership of, or being born in, or having blood relations with members of, a community that formed a chiefdom; subjecthood to a particular chief; and having rights to territory claimed by that community, and ruled by the particular chief.

In law, the former — sense of belonging based on community and kinship — is called jus sanguinis, or ‘right of blood’; while the latter — that is, a sense of belonging based on birth and other rights to particular territory — is called jus soli, or ‘right to the soil’.
Basotho chiefdoms were small, largely autonomous, and loosely connected to each other by kin and other socio-political ties. In this arrangement, individuals and groups were free to choose which chiefdom they attached themselves to, or territory where they wanted to live.

As in notions of citizenship, as understood today, belonging to a community that occupied a particular territory, under a particular chief, carried with it obligations and rights. Individuals and groups could not be members of more than one community, or subjects of more than one chief, or enjoy right-to-territory in more than one territory; as a Sesotho saying goes, ‘no-one can be a subject of two chiefs’.
Those who preferred to live in a different territory could easily leave their current territory to go and make a living in another territory, under a different chief, or perhaps, found a new chiefdom.

Equally, individuals and groups who became unhappy under their current chief could easily leave him, and attach themselves to another chiefdom of their choice. In those cases, such individuals and groups lost, in particular, rights to land and resources of land that belonged to the previous community.

This ability of individuals and groups to leave a bad leader for a good leader put limits on the tendency of chiefs to abuse their powers: good chiefs attracted adherents, and bad chiefs lost adherents — or retained their allegiance by incurring costs on means of force by which to secure disgruntled subjects allegiance.

With colonisation, and in typical practices of empires, Basotho were regarded as subjects of the British Empire, and accorded some citizenship rights of the Empire, or the Commonwealth. These were mainly legal rights, and excluded Basotho from many political and social rights that were availed to European citizens of the Empire in England and in the colonies.

Within the region, modern Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, and Swaziland were British colonies. For much of the colonial period, the British had a plan by which territories of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland were to be incorporated into South Africa.
This plan informed much colonial policy-making for the envisaged future relationship between South Africa and the other territories. It was partly in accord with the incorporation plan that, the British managed a largely relaxed regime of people’s movement and residence rights within the four colonies, which continued for over fifty years after South Africa gained independence under white minority rule, in 1910.

Because of this relaxed regime of people’s movement and residence in the four colonies, where people called home was determined more by where people with whom they had strongest ties lived, than by membership of a nation and a country. Border restrictions between South Africa and Lesotho were introduced in July, 1963. That gave Basotho a sense of being excluded from South Africa, and, arguably, crystallised a sense of being ‘citizens’ of Lesotho, and not South Africa.

Immediately after independence, Lesotho parliament passed Lesotho Citizenship Act of 1967.
The Act was intended to “ . . . make provision, to the extent permitted or required by the Constitution, for the acquisition, deprivation and renunciation of citizenship of Lesotho . . . ” and “to specify, in relation to persons, by what date those persons shall have done what is required by the Constitution in relation to dual citizenship, and to make provision for related and connected matters.”5

The 1967 Act described, and allowed, citizenship by naturalisation and by registration. Beyond this, it seemed to assume jus soli and jus sanguinis citizenship rights; that is, other than those who could acquire citizenship by naturalization and registration, the law recognised, and the state could grant, citizenship rights to anyone born in Lesotho, and anyone with blood relatives in Lesotho could claim citizenship rights in the country. Applications, or claims, of citizenship could be made on the strength of a male, not female, parent’s citizenship of Lesotho.

Passage of the Act can be seen more as part of process of acquisition of trappings of nation-statehood at independence, and less as an instrument to deal with any political, social or economic problem that the new country was facing.
The 1967 Act was succeeded, only four years later, by Lesotho Citizenship Order No. 16 of 1971. The 1971 Order was substantially similar to its predecessor. Coming, as it did, in the aftermath of Chief Leabua Jonathan’s seizure of power by force, and his suspension of the Constitution, after losing elections of January, 1970, the Order seems more to have been intended as a means to circumvent constitutional requirements that the government needed to meet in its actions regarding recognising, granting, or depriving citizenship rights. Importantly, the Order made it possible for the regime to persecute its political opponents under the catch-all phrase ‘national security’.

Lesotho’s Citizenship Legislation and Multiple Citizenship

A primary relationship that states and rulers seek to establish and maintain with their subjects and citizens is one in which states and rulers exercise complete and undivided sovereignty over their citizens and subjects. However, objective political and economic conditions of human existence have always been such that, individuals and groups often find themselves having to break away from oppressive rulers, or to seek making a living in other ‘greener’ territories.

Attempts may be of a complete break, in which individuals and groups permanently renounce territorial rights and rights of membership to a particular nation, or community; or an incomplete break in which individuals and groups maintain, or wish to maintain, rights in previous territory and previous community.

This tension—between states and rulers seeking to establish and maintain complete and undivided sovereignty over subjects and citizens, on the one hand, and individuals and groups seeking to break away, partly or completely, and establish themselves in politically less oppressive, and economically more beneficial circumstances, on the other — has a long history and continues in modern times.
Responses of states and rulers have varied. Some have hung steadfastly to laws that prohibit multiple citizenship; while some have made adjustments that give ‘non-citizens’ varying degrees of rights, from outright citizenship, at one extreme, to limited rights of movements, civic participation, and socio-economic rights, at another. Such is the case, for example, in the European Union, whose member countries practise what is called disaggregated citizenship.

Lesotho’s Citizenship Act of 1967 made reference to ‘dual citizenship’ with an intention to eliminate it. Sections 4, 5 and 7 of the Citizenship Order of 1971 required applicants of Lesotho citizenship to be “willing to take an oath of allegiance”, and to be “willing to renounce any other nationality or citizenship” that they might be enjoying at time of applying for citizenship of Lesotho.
With intention to prohibit dual citizenship, Section 41(1) of Lesotho’s 1993 Constitution clearly states that “[a]ny person who… is a citizen of Lesotho and also a citizen of some country other than Lesotho shall cease to be a citizen of Lesotho… unless he has renounced his citizenship of that other country, taken the oath of allegiance…”9

Lesotho Political Elites’ Attitude Towards Multiple Citizenship

There are not clearly-stated reasons why Lesotho political elites — writers of the Constitution, legislators, cabinet ministers, etc. — are opposed to dual citizenship. It can only be surmised that, the bases for their objections include fears of state’s loss of complete rights to its citizens and, perhaps, issues of national security.

However, as with Citizenship Order of 1971, it can be said with certainty that, citizenship legislation enables whoever is in power to persecute political opponents. Thus, when, in 2007, officials of the government of Lesotho sought to deport Adam Lekhoaba — a broadcaster who had run programmes critical of the ruling party — they accused him of both being an alien and of causing political instability in the country.

This section of the paper discusses some of the publically-stated concerns against changing Section 41 of the country’s Constitution with a view to allow the holding of Lesotho’s citizenship with that of another country, or other countries.
Being words by individuals who write and enact Lesotho’s laws, and rule the country, the statements reported here, and the attitudes of those who made them towards multiple citizenship, can be taken as some explanation of prohibition of multiple citizenship in Lesotho’s Constitution and subordinate laws.

One of the most powerful voices that have publically expressed fears and concerns about changing Section 41 of Lesotho’s Constitution to make dual citizenship possible is that of Dr Pakalitha Mosisili, several times Prime Minster of Lesotho.
Dr Mosisili has expressed concern that, changing Section 41 of Lesotho’s Constitution will make it possible for South Africans to vote in Lesotho’s national elections. As can be seen, below, he persuades his followers to join his opposition to dual citizenship by invoking the ‘spectre’ of Lesotho’s incorporation into South Africa. The rhetoric lacks either any nationalist substance, or logic, of any type.

Speaking during a brief period when he was out of power, in April 2013, he told his followers:

There are 46 million people in South Africa comprising Basotho, Shanganis and Zulus. If we were to allow for dual citizenship, they would swallow us raw because they will also seek Lesotho citizenship . . . This is one way this… government is intending to hand us over to South Africa. I therefore urge you people to be careful, very careful.

Beyond glib references to a “ . . . danger lurking on the horizon . . . ” if Lesotho allows dual citizenship; equating dual citizenship to “ . . . selling out Lesotho to South Africa . . . ”; and sowing fears of Lesotho being “ . . . swallowed by South Africa”, politicians opposed to dual citizenship, such as Dr Mosisili, are not able to state clearly what is wrong with dual citizenship.
Contrary to their views, participation of South Africans who hold Lesotho’s citizenship in Lesotho politics may, indeed, be a good thing for Lesotho democracy in that, Lesotho’s politicians and their parties will have to think about an electorate with a different political consciousness in their attempts to gain power.

Anyhow, for anyone to vote in Lesotho’s elections they have to be citizens. As things stand, it is more likely that people from Lesotho will apply for South African citizenship than South Africans apply for citizenship of Lesotho.
Seemingly, this opposition to dual citizenship is not limited to Lesotho’s political elites but it exists among other sections of Basotho society. Thus, in 2013, a survey conducted for AfroBarometer found that “ . . . a majority of survey respondents — 60% — said people do not have a right to be citizens of Lesotho and a second country.” Significantly, however, the survey found that, of the six southern African countries where similar surveys were conducted, even at 33%, support for dual citizenship in Lesotho was the highest, surpassing that of the next country, South Africa, by ten percentage points. Of the other countries, Zimbabwe scored 22%, Namibia 20%, Botswana 13%, and Malawi 11%.

Even more significant, perhaps, is the fact that, research evidence has been presented showing various levels of support for an even more contentious idea of incorporation. According to this research,

. . .41% of Basotho migrants continue to favour integration. Within Lesotho, 46% of respondents also support incorporation. But residents in the North appear most interested in the prospect of becoming part of South Africa, in contrast with the inhabitants of the Maseru region (56% against it), where the interest of many lies in preserving the status quo.

Some of the opposition to the idea of dual citizenship, such as that attributed to Prime Minister Mosisili above, gives the impression that, if the law is changed, all Basotho will be required to apply for dual citizenship from, in particular, South Africa. First, the changed law would not prescribe countries from which Basotho should apply for dual citizenship.

Secondly, and, perhaps, more importantly, changing Section 41 of Lesotho’s 1993 Constitution will not force all Basotho to apply for South African citizenship, or any other country’s citizenship. Those who will not want to do so will be free to remain with Lesotho’s citizenship alone, and, by doing so, they will not be breaking any law.

 

Majority of Basotho may opt not to apply for dual citizenship, but, like all Basotho, they will enjoy the freedom of choice that will result from removal of constitutional prohibition against dual citizenship.

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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