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MASERU

TUMANE Thabane, who graduated from the National University of Lesotho (NUL) with a major in Statistics, is pioneering the art of leather crafting from several fronts—and he is savoring every moment of it.

His creations are unique, durable and breathtaking.

His skill, combined with exquisite brilliance of nature that gave birth to leather, coalesce and ultimately precipitate to form unbeatable shade in fashion.

Handmade to perfection, his inimitable designs leave customers mesmerised and feeling closer to nature.

He crafts leather marvels ranging from normal bags, clutch bags and belts and the result is a mass of crafts permeated by intuitive elegance.

If the words by Bill Bernbach be true, “Rules are what the artist breaks; the memorable never emerged from a formula,” thenThabane is all too happy to break the rules and shatter the boundaries in his passion for art and crafts, or a combination of them thereof.

Thabane’s infatuation with leather was never a planned occurrence. They say an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. So Thabane was intent on avoiding an idle mind after finishing his first degree.

“I was desperate to engage myself and limit idleness after graduating,” he says.

“So I visited my friend MoeketsiRamahlosi who happened to have studied leather crafting at Thaba-Tseka Technical Institute (TTI). He made leather sandals and I helped him. We would sometimes split the job. In due course, I fell in love with leather crafting.”

In his repertoire of colors, tints and hues, he chooses either the trending or the classical, all to suit specific designs. In his words, “other people’s designs fade away or lose value as time goes on while my crafts gain more value with time, just like wine.”

He may be just about right. Men of wisdom of old have long acknowledged that things of value, be it in music, art or sports, are timeless, in fact, mature rather than degrade with time.

To sustain and grow his business, he taps into the wisdom of first understanding what people want, then coming out of the closet, to provide just that – what they want.

“As for business,” he reveals, “I do a lot of research on what people need, then I do good items or products that will sell themselves.”

If no one lights a lamp and then puts it under a table, he has been doing a lot of advertising on many platforms. His products are a regular feature on Facebook, television and in newspapers; TV Lesotho, and radios; Lesedi FM, Ultimate Radio and Voice of God FM. He also attends a lot of flea markets in Lesotho and abroad, especially in South Africa and he was recently in China.

Yet he is careful that he doesn’t find customers for his products, rather, he finds products for his customers.

Thabane also knows all too well the power of giving. Giving, they say, breeds one of the greatest paradoxes in history. For it is “they that giveth, not they that taketh,” who seem to be rewarded with more.

“I teach people leather crafting very cheaply,” he says, adding: “I also developed an initiative to help alleviate poverty among the vulnerable and the orphans, so I am teaching one orphan boy leather crafting freely.”

He goes on to lay down his vision of the leather crafts industry in Lesotho.

While he believes that financial backing is important, “what we need most is a platform. Government officials need to buy our products so they be our ambassadors when they go abroad to show the world what we can offer,” he says.

“We also need more schooling to polish our skills.”

He also has a short message for Basotho: “We would appreciate more if our people could be kind enough to support us, more than they support designers from abroad.”

That is not all, as he has a note of thanks to the NUL, “My studying at NUL has given me good understanding of different people, a must in business success. I have made more networks there, and most people that were my peers do work and are able to buy my products.”

With his skills and passion, Thabane comfortably joins “The Innovators of the Kingdom in the Sky.”

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The gangs of men in blankets

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GUN-RELATED violence is on the rise in Lesotho. The gruesome killings of five people in Fobane and the murder of a woman and her children in Matsieng are only but two cases that recently shook the nation.

Several factors have been hypothesised as contributing to this situation. They include the rivalry between the various famo gangs, access to illicit firearms, failure of the judicial system and corruption and complicity of the security services (police, military and correctional services).

The violence and crimes committed by gangs of men in blankets has not only spilled over into South Africa but also resulted in a slowly escalating blame-game between Lesotho and South Africa over the issues of cross-border crime.

In June last year South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, accused the Lesotho government of supporting illegal mining and causing economic sabotage in South Africa.

The gangs of men in blankets are at the centre of the rampant killings, gun violence, illegal mining in South Africa and the illicit trade of firearms.

These men generally fall into two major groupings of Terene and Seakhi. The two groups often distinguish themselves in terms of their regalia, most prominent of which is the blanket.

Terene members wear the gold and black blanket Seanamarena or Victorian blanket while Seakhi members wear Letlama of various colours often associated with a specific faction of their gangs. The blankets are often complemented with branded jerseys and hats.

Terene members often wear a yellow jersey with the word “Terene” or the slogan “Hae Tlale” embroidered on it. This is often complemented with a yellow hat with the same embroidery.
Seakhi members generally wear a jersey that matches the colours of their blanket which they wear.

Likewise, the jersey often has the word “Seakhi” or the slogan “Hasebetsoe” embroidered on it.

Seakhi members also have a preference of a woollen hat known as “Stragel”.

Both gangs claim that they are nothing but burial societies.

Despite having fragmented into two major groups, namely Terene ea Khosi Mokata and Terene ea Khosi Chakela, the two major factions of Terene remain largely centralised organisations which pay strong allegiance to their leaders.

Seakhi is more fragmented and decentralised. They generally owe their allegiance to the mountain of the region from which the specific faction associates itself and their slogan. For example, they will say “Hasebetsoe Seakhi Thaba-Kholo or Thabana Morena” and so on while the members of Terene will say “hae Tlale Terene ea Khosi Mokata or ea Khosi Chakela”.

Seakhi has fragmented into several smaller groups including, Phul’a Bobete, Thonado, Liamabatha.

The gangs operate across at least twelve areas of criminal activity: illegal mining, cable theft, livestock theft, guns and ammunitions, explosives, human trafficking, drug trafficking, car theft, murder, provision of supplies to illegal miners, money laundering and corruption of the security services and judicial systems.

Almost all these activities operate through syndicates which are hierarchically organised crime chains whose activities can either be loosely or tightly structured to reach their criminal ends.
These syndicates can operate within and across national boundaries.

Across all these syndicates the men in blankets occupy the lowest tier of the hierarchy.

Illegal gold mining

Illegal Mining is perhaps the most lucrative of all the illegal activities that the gangs of men in blankets and most popularised as “zama-zama” in South Africa and makhomosha in Lesotho.

The illegal mining activities almost entirely happen in the South Africa which has over 6 000 abandoned mines of numerous minerals, the most prominent being gold.

The revenue from illegal gold mining is estimated at R8 billion per year.

Illegal mining is estimated to employ 30 000 illegal miners distributed across 39 hotspots in six of South Africa’s nine provinces.

Illegal miners, the majority of whom are members of the gangs, occupy the lowest tier of a five-layered hierarchy of the illegal mining syndicates.

The tiers above that of the illegal miners comprise the illegal mining kingpins, the majority of whom are the leaders of the famo gangs along with South African, Zimbabwean and Nigerian kingpins.

The tiers above that of the kingpins comprises the regional bulk buyers, the national and international distributors and finally the international buyers located in Dubai, China, India and Russia.

Cable Theft

Cable theft syndicates often comprise the diggers of copper cables at the lowest level. The copper is then sent to kingpins who then sell it to scrap iron dealers.

The scrap metal dealers then either repackage it for resale or melt it down for distribution on the legitimate or black market.

In other instances the scrap metal dealers acquire legitimate contracts to supply scrap iron then sub-contract thieves to obtain the copper and process it for sale to the contract.

It is estimated that cable theft costs the South African economy R47 billion annually. In January 2023 five men, four of whom were Lesotho nationals, appeared in the Christiana Magistrate court, Rustenburg, after being arrested with M5 million worth of copper cables and brass (247kg).

Illegal firearms

The gangs are heavily armed. Members have often been seen brandishing their guns in photographs and videos shared on social media. The guns brandished on various social media platforms are an assortment of pistols, automatic rifles and snipers.

The Facebook pages of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service and the Lesotho Defence Force regularly share information on illegal firearms impounded throughout the country.

The arms seizure by these two security institutions indicate that pistols, revolvers and pump action shotguns are the most regular finds.

In particular the 9mm Norinco, the 7.65 and the .38 are very popular finds.

The big question is where do they get the guns. Lesotho and South Africa have been pointing fingers at each other in this respect. However, it is worth noting that there are several gun smuggling syndicates in Southern Africa that supply guns to the gangs.

Some of the common channels that have been identified include reactivation of neutralised weapons from former liberation struggles in Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, with the latter becoming an even bigger problem due to the Islamic insurgency.

There are also many guns stolen from homes during burglaries and thefts.

Some illegal guns are also sold on the Darknet. Chinese syndicates in illegal mining seem to be linked to the prevalence of the 9mm Norinco. There has also been the reactivation of decommissioned firearms used by security forces.

Global Initiative Against Organised Crime (GI-AOC) estimates that there are 3.8 million illegal guns circulating between three SADC countries of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

South Africa alone has an estimated 2.35 million unregistered firearms. During the 2021 KwaZulu-Natal Riots following the arrest of Jacob Zuma 1.3 million rounds of ammunition were stolen from a Durban harbour privately owned container yard.

Mark Shaw in a book titled Give Us More Guns documents how a Colonel in the South African Police Service SAPS Gauteng firearm licence division sold guns decommissioned by the SAPS to gang leaders.

The SAPS decommissioned the 9mm Z88 popularly known as the “Zuma” in 2000. The same guns have flooded the illegal gun market in South Africa and made their way to the hands of the men in blankets.

Livestock theft

Livestock theft also has its own syndicates with runners at the bottom of the hierarchy.

The runners are the ones who steal the livestock from the compounds of the livestock owners. According to the Chairman of the South African National Stock Theft Prevention Forum, runners may be paid as little as R500.

Livestock stolen in South Africa may be sent to Lesotho where it is rebranded (given new tags) and cooled off (ensuring the tags heal properly) then re-exported to South Africa.

Alternatively, the livestock is stolen from Lesotho, and sold directly to the informal market in South Africa or sold to the meat butcheries and wholesalers.

Explosives

Commercial grade explosives such as dynamite are widely used in mining operations. They are also required in illegal mining operations. These explosives are commonly used to open ATM safes and in cash-in-transit heists.

Evidence suggests that the explosives are usually smuggled from mines in Zimbabwe and acquired by the gangs mainly for their own mining operations.

Human Trafficking

Evidence suggests that it is very difficult to enter into illegal mining without being associated with a major famo gang. Recruitment takes place in different ways.

Within the gangs the Kingpins have lieutenants who undertake recruitment for the gangs at village level in Lesotho or among Basotho living in squatter settlements in South Africa.

At the village level recruitment often begins with family members who are promised lucrative opportunities in the illegal mining business

Murder

The gangs of men in blankets have been major perpetrators of the very high murder rates witnessed in Lesotho. Reductionist explanations have argued that the primary cause of murders perpetrated by men in blankets has been the famo music genre that they sing.

Such explanations are overly simplistic. Gruesome as it may seem, gangs use murder as a medium of communication.

There are as such at least five different stimuli for murder within and between gangs.

Firstly, criminal gangs have their own anti-social code of conduct which is often strictly enforced.

Violation of the gang code can result in a gang leader or one of his lieutenants ordering the elimination of a gang member. One common aspect of the gang code which often results in such deaths is snitching which involves releasing the gang secrets with non-gang members, especially the police.

Secondly, murder is used to establish positions of dominance within the structures of the gang.

Often in the social media groups, gang members who have a reputation of killing quickly assume celebrity status within the gang. The late Chimama of Seakhi was one typical example.
Thirdly, gangs use violence in their struggles for turf for territory or markets for their illegal activities.

Amongst the gangs of men in blankets one of the most common areas for struggle for turf is in the occupation and access to illegal mining operations. This fuels inter-gang violence.

Fourth, gang members kill to send a vile message of intimidation.

For example they will not shoot a victim with one or two bullets if they can. They often use multiple bullets so that the scene appears gruesome and a message is sent to anyone thinking of approaching them that they are ‘bad boys’.

Fifth, once a gang member assumes celebrity status, he also becomes eligible to be a hitman – killers who are available to be hired by non-gang members to kill. Hitmen in these gangs are paid as little as M600.00.

Sixth, there are revenge killings where a gang member kills another gang member because that gang member was implicated in the killing of a close relative or friend.

All these factors have played themselves out in the various killings related to both Terene, Seakhi, their splinter groups as well as conflicts within gangs. Finally, hits are often organised by gangs to destroy evidence in court as well as to intimidate potential witnesses.

Food and other Supplies

Illegal miners spend extraordinary time which sometimes extends into several months underground.

During that time they require food and other supplies which are taken down to them by other illegal miners who are able to go up to the surface or legal miners who go up to the surface on a regular basis.

The supplies of food and other necessities are facilitated by the kingpins as they are a lucrative business as many basic commodities are sold to the miners at exorbitant prices.

According to an article in Timeslive a loaf of white bread costs R150, a roll of toilet paper R300, a whole cooked chicken R500 and a six pack of Black Label beer R1500.

Corrupting the Security Sector and the Judiciary

The gangs of men in blankets have become increasingly brazen in approaching the police and the judiciary to get their way.

Close association with the police is helpful to gang members in a number of ways that include offering protection to the gangsters, helping gang members to acquire legal firearms, disappearing dockets so that so that cases are thrown out of court, sabotaging prosecutions with false or faulty evidence so that cases collapse and reselling guns confiscated from proceeds of crime to the gangs.

In return many such policemen are placed on the gang payroll. Similar encroachments have been made in the military forces in order to acquire guns and sometimes training on how to use the large guns in the possession of the men in blankets.

Money Laundering

The various illegal activities in which the men in blankets engage, involve huge amounts of money which is technically difficult to move through banks without ringing alarm bells. Men in blankets, particularly those who belong to Terene often display large amounts of money accumulated from their various activities.

This is often done to entice non-members to join their gangs.

The big money amongst the men in blankets is made by the kingpins. As noted by one kingpin who was interviewed by IOL in 2022, they make R20 million a month which they share amongst five of themselves as kingpins.

Ordinary illegal miners can make between R200 000 and 400 000 over six months, depending on how much gold they would have been able to find.

Burial Societies

The gangs of men in blankets often portray themselves as burial societies. Some of them such as Terene ea Mokata are registered associations. These have been necessitated by the fact that so many of them die in South Africa and there is difficulty in bringing their remains home.

This is often further complicated by their illegal migration status.

This morass indicates the need for a more coordinated and concerted effort to deal with the syndicates that sponsor the gangs of the men in blankets than just dealing with the runners at the bottom who are the men in blankets.

Setsabi Setsabi is a senior lecturer in Development Studies at the National University of Lesotho.

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The great debate on the Ninth Amendment

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I was entertained after reading an interesting article by Professor Motlatsi Thabane on the subject-theme of the Ninth Amendment to the Constitution in last week’s issue of thepost.

The article raised a series of questions and most importantly showcased an interesting outlook on the pending judgement of the Court of Appeal due by June 14, 2024.

The Democratic Congress (DC), the party which I lead, participated directly in the litigation and I will be slow to express any view on the issues which are the theme of deliberations by the court as that would be legally reprehensible on my part and a direct affront to the sub judice rule which lawyers often educate us politicians about.

The article is an interesting intellectual odyssey informed by a decorated scholar. The author commences by stating that: ‘To those of us who lack understanding of constitutional matters, Lesotho’s Constitutional Court’s ruling last February confirmed one of the characters of the Ninth Amendment to Lesotho’s constitution…’

In spite of this telling admission of limitations on the theme of constitutional law, the author nevertheless proceeds to raise some salient points which exude knowledge and expertise in the field of constitutional law but not only that, an effort to try to interpret the implications of the Ninth Amendment which is a subject of debate both in the case and also in the political circles in Lesotho.

I will navigate around the apparent philosophical rationalisations made in the article and project an opposed view to those expressed.

I will start by projecting David Hume’s view that passions of electorates rather than reason govern electorates’ behaviour. The past elections are a real illustration of this fact when a political party which is hardly six months’ old assumed state power.

I will endeavour to weigh-in on the arguments made on account of my direct participation in the promulgation of the law in issue in order to dispel all the distortions and biased perspectives expressed in the article.

There were selective characterisations of what informed the motivation by Honourable Lekhetho Rakuoane and of course he was at the heart of the project but was supported by the majority of MPs when the administration of the state and the seat of the Head of Government at the time was faced with various challenges which were threatening not only constitutional rule but also the very democracy which the author espouses with a strong voice.

The importance of the legislative arm of government is not only that of being the vanguard of constitutional values but also a tool for accountability of the executive arm of government.

The removal of the head of government is not an act of raping democracy as suggested by the writer. The writer tends to overlook the fact that all those MPs including the prime minister are representatives of the people in a parliamentary democracy and he himself is a member of the National Assembly who must enjoy the confidence of its majority.

He seems to draw an analogy that the executive led by the prime minister is on the one end while the so-called and selfish MPs are on the other with self-serving ends. Both the executive and the National Assembly are constituted of elected representatives by the people.

The major considerations which informed the amendment were of a public interest and driven by us as representatives of the people. The writer selectively quoted out of context the aspects of the Hansards which bore the inputs of Honourable Lekhetho Rakuoane – that is regrettable.

It needs to be remembered that the amendment was a product of a Private Member’s Bill and it was promulgated immediately after the court’s intervention over an otherwise unconstitutional move by the erstwhile Prime Minister to prorogue parliament in order to avoid the consequences of an impending vote-of-no-confidence.

My predecessor in the leadership of the (DC) and a long-standing and decorated Congress movement leader (Prime Minister Mosisili) faced the same constitutional process of a perfected vote-of-no-confidence and advised dissolution of parliament.

Honourable Monyane Moleleki was the suggested candidate to replace prime minister Mosisili. He did not go to court in an endeavour to embroil the judiciary into institutional politics and to seek umbrage in courts of law over political battles like the current Prime Minister.

He was alive to the glaring reality that he had lost the confidence of his peers (elected representatives of the people in the National Assembly) and exercised the right available to him in law at the material time of advising dissolution.

This was of course prior to the Ninth Amendment but there was a litigation which served the purpose of achieving the objectives of the 9th Amendment staged by the then deputy leader of the Basotho National Party – Honourable Joang Molapo flanked by veteran lawyer cum politician – Adv Haae Phoofolo KC which served the purpose of interrogating the propriety of Prime Minister Mosisili’s advise of dissolution when the vote of no confidence had been perfected after all.

The issues raised in that litigation were all of a public interest nature and they were materially similar from sound policy considerations which informed the promulgation of the Ninth Amendment.

I am very worried with the selective choice of factors highlighted by the writer which completely mischaracterised the motivations espoused by Honourable Rakuoane and all those who were for the Ninth Amendment.

The real question to debate as a political question is whether it is necessary to call elections every time any prime minister loses the confidence of his peers in the National Assembly or whether the change of guard in the head of government is modelled on his enjoyment of confidence of the representatives of the electorates in parliament.

The case was decided on some other considerations, the merits of which can best be described by lawyers.

But the political question of a beleaguered prime minister who has endured a vote of no confidence advising dissolution instead of resigning and giving way for the preferred candidate of the legislators has been alive from as far back as the year 2017 when this country witnessed a perfected vote of no confidence for the first time.

The answer to this political question will always differ depending on the political mindset that informs the political analysts and their biases. This is not any different from what the current litigation entailed, where an evidently beleaguered prime minister Matekane followed the same avenue but through an act of staging a litigation leading to the entanglement of the judicial arm of government into institutional politics.

The impression expressed in the article seems to suggest that the amendment was an initiative driven and inspired by self-interest when in reality it was and remains in the public interest to guard against the excesses of autocratic prime ministers.

I am very cautious when I make this proposition because I was the suggested candidate to substitute the evidently beleaguered Prime Minister, but I will make an effort to highlight this point without any fear of contradiction.

Secondly and most importantly, the writer does not seem to understand that Lesotho is a multi-party parliamentary constitutional democracy under the Westminster Model type of government and the principles of the model clearly allow for an exit or change of government in the manner and context as envisaged in the Ninth Amendment.

In actual fact, the British themselves have had collapses of governments of more than four sitting prime ministers within a lifespan of parliament’s five-year tenure. From 2016 – 2022 Britain witnessed the administration of David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Elizabeth Truss.

Did these changes have any bearing or effect on the elective democracy? No! All these transitions were constitutionally recognised and I find it very odd to suggest that with each exit of a prime minister through constitutionally recognised channels there has to be elections so that the so-called will of the electorates is realised.

When all these British prime ministers exited office there was no need for dissolution of parliament and there were public interest considerations which informed those circumstances.

It is both wrong and disingenuous for the author to suggest that the exit of prime minister through the instrumentality of a vote-of-no-confidence amounts to an act of hijacking the electorate’s right or freedom to choose a government by legislators as suggested or at all.

The article is openly biased against the amendment and one would have thought an academic discourse on the subject of such grave national importance required at the very least a balanced academic discourse.

The author concludes that the NinthAmendment is undemocratic but also anti-democracy and anti-democratic and he further contends that this is one of the reasons for the deep resentment towards the amendment among sections of the electorate.

This view is unsupported by scientific evidence to that effect but I will assume in favour of this view because he is one of those electorates aggrieved with this amendment. This debate demands that there be an exposition of the distinctions between direct and indirect or representative democracy.

The biased views expressed in the article project a presumptuous proposition that the only recognised measure of democracy is realised through direct democracy to the exclusion of indirect or representative democracy which is the essence of Section 20 of the same constitution under the microscope.

The mutual inclusivity of direct and representative democracy is laid bare in the constitution of Lesotho. The author argues that the amendment is anti-democratic for two reasons, at least.

First, through it, MPs of the day arrogated themselves society’s fundamental right and power to vote for a government of their choice. In the system Basotho adopted at independence, MPs appoint a government at the beginning of a life of a parliament on the basis of a mandate given at most recent elections.

In the wake of the Ninth Amendment, MPs can now bring such a government down – and agree on another one among themselves without seeking a fresh mandate from society. In this way, the amendment has the effect of marginalising society from participation in decisions about who rules them and how they are ruled.

It adds to many other ways in which MPs have robbed the electorate of their rights and power to choose who rules them. Second, the Ninth Amendment is anti-democracy and anti-democratic because, through it, MPs of the day arrogated themselves the electorate’s right and power without consulting the owners of the right, the electorate.

This argument loses sight of the fact that the same evil can be attributed to a prime minister. Lesotho’s experience with both prorogation and dissolution is marred with self-serving ends expressed by prime ministers desperately using both tools not for the so-called electorate or public interest but for their own self-interests.

It is entirely disingenuous to suggest that the only legitimate way in which a change of government can be made is through elections and that the electorate bears the exclusive baton of choosing a legitimate government when the same constitution accepts both direct and indirect participation in government through MPs.

Thirdly, the writer contends that the Ninth Amendment is an addition to a list of amendments which MPs passed without a plebiscite despite the fact that the amendments were related to questions of how we are ruled, and how the country is developed.

A plebiscite is a constitutional requirement in this jurisdiction which is governed by Section 85 of the Constitution and also the Referendum Act.

This conclusion cannot be made without an enquiry whether the relevant amendment needed to go through all the conditions imposed by the constitution for a referendum. The conclusive reasoning is made without this consideration and hence flawed.

The writer goes on to suggest that the factors that informed the fourth Amendment leading to the increase of MPs from 80 to 120 was for self-serving ends and was never done with the concurrence of the electorate presumably through a referendum.

Was this a necessary legal requirement? The writer is not forthcoming on this subject. It is crucially important for the writer to accept and perhaps admit that elections do not serve as a barometer for democracy or at best, the best choice of who shall govern the state or the governance of the state as it were.

There are many features which play a part for fruitful democratic process to be met. Even better, a suggestion that real power is in the electorate and that they drive the decisions leading to the choice of government is both irrational and illusory.

We would first need to probe Lesotho’s constitution and reconcile section 20 with section 87 (2) and we are led to the inevitable conclusion that the appointment of a first minister or prime minister for that matter is not by the choice of the electorate but by MPs themselves.

The MPs are representatives of the same people. To suggest that they run away with the will of the people when they remove a sitting prime minister is to speak with a forked tongue.

The tool of prorogation and dissolution of parliament can be used to achieve the same ends by the prime minister and there must be tools in place to guard against such unconstitutional behaviour. This is the framework in Lesotho’s constitution which the Ninth Amendment sought to achieve.

The same constitution both before and after the criticized Ninth Amendment creates several pathways for the change of government or to put it bluntly, the exit of a first minister.

The writer is suggestive that the only legitimate way in which a government can be changed is through the instrumentality of elections and this cannot be true and this is unsupported by the constitution both before and after the criticized Ninth Amendment.

A change of government can legitimately be done through a vote-of-no-confidence and there is nothing inherently evil about this important tool of constitutional removal of a head of government. The argument bears both a head and tail of the same coin.

The inherent danger of a parochial criticism is that it almost invariably showcases one biased perspective to the exclusion of the parallel end.

In essence, the writer conclusively makes a point that the ninth amendment serves as an effort to disempower the electorates from the choice of government to rule them. Is this accurate? What is government? The appointment of a first minister is triggered by the MPs themselves and the Council of State and the Head of State then carries out the appointment process.

The features of the ninth amendment which are seldom discussed by all and sundry and which have played an important role in guarding against autocratic behaviour of prime ministers are the following: Firstly, it scaled down the timeframe upon which the legislative arm of government could meet following the invocation of the prorogation clause embodied in the constitution.

The time was expansive and long enough to cover a period of 12 months and if was scaled down to two months with the very desired-end to curb the excesses of an exuberant prime minister using it to stall his exit via a constitutionally recognised vote-of-no-confidence.

Secondly, it expanded and or extended the time-frame upon which the legislative arm of government could convene following its dissolution and after the holding of elections from 14 to 30days. This tool was merely utilitarian given the advent of coalition politics in this jurisdiction.

Thirdly, it provides for the continuity of the lifespan of the parliament in that upon death, retirement or resignation, a member of the national assembly who commands the majority in parliament may subsequently be considered by the King for appointment as prime minister.

If such a member is not ascertainable within a period of 60 days, the Council of State may then advise dissolution of parliament. This development in like manner is both utilitarian and very crucial as it shall help those legitimately elected to proceed with their constitutional mandate without there being any need for fresh elections.

Fourthly, and most controversially and which is the major gripe of the writer and certain sectors in the political spectrum, it deprives the beleaguered prime minister who has endured a perfected vote of no confidence of the opportunity of causing for the dissolution of parliament without the endorsement of two-thirds majority of the members of the National Assembly.

On the same note, even a prorogation tool cannot be embarked upon the same conditions. The debate of whether this was for self-serving ends or not must be paired with the argument of a beleaguered prime minister using the same tool and invoking either prorogation or dissolution for self-serving ends. The same arguments equally apply for a Prime Minister.

As we await the verdict of the apex court, I urge citizens to be wary of biased political outlook disguised as scholarly outlook but to move beyond partisan institutional politics. The democratic process is not about factionalism or divisive views but about openly debating and discussing issues of national concern with an open mind.

This is what we have since learnt as the DC from the recent elections and this is what we intend to instill as our mantra going forward. ‘Nete…. Sechaba ke Poho!

Hon Mathibeli Mokhothu

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Africa is Not a Country: Conclusion

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Dipo Faloyin’s account of African dictatorships in part four of his book is wide-ranging, to say the least. He covers specific points in their of history Somalia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and Libya.

In all cases, Faloyin traces with devastating effect the trajectory from colonial rule and later structures such as the Cold War to postcolonial dictatorship.

He doesn’t, however, examine failures in governance beyond dictatorship (I’m thinking of a certain small mountain kingdom not a million miles away from South Africa).

Faloyin’s concern to deconstruct stereotyping takes a lighter turn—though this turn is by no means trivial—with his parody of the depiction of Africa in Hollywood films.

“Let’s follow a herd of antelopes galloping resplendently as they start their nine-to-five jobs of being a herd of antelopes that gallop resplendently.” There are pages and pages of this and it’s hilarious.

This is followed by an account of the work of Faloyin’s mentor in the smashing of stereotypes and the production of satirical hilarity, the Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina.

Then comes a great deal on popular culture, for example, on Nollywood—the second biggest film industry in the world, the products of which I must admit to finding extremely tedious—and on the stereotype-challenging Hollywood film Black Panther. Nothing, though, on literature.

Part six of the book is on colonial pillage, looting and genocide. Much of Faloyin’s material here is familiar, but because the account is so condensed, the effect is of being battered by a hailstorm of horrors.

The final part of the book, “What’s Next?” looks at recent developments that hold out hope for the future: the anti-SARS protests against police brutality in Nigeria; the Hirak movement against sclerotic politicians in Algeria (one of whom was “closer to eighty than democracy”); protests against gender-based violence in Namibia; the courage and vitality of young radical politician Bobi Wine in Uganda.

All of these exemplify African populations taking command of means to improve their lives, based on their own analysis of their situation and without western help or intervention.

Faloyin ends his book by embracing the idea of African unity—the Pan-African vision—and then, referring back to the sub-title of his book he signs off: “But until then.”

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that Africa is Not a Country is perhaps the finest book on Africa published in the last 20 or 30 years, which is why I’ve spent so long singing its praises—and I’m not forgetting excellent works by Kwame Anthony Appiah, Basil Davidson, Binyavanga Wainaina, Ali Mazrui and James Ferguson.

It’s published by Vintage/Penguin Books and, please, do obtain a copy if you can. If this isn’t possible but you have access to the internet, you can call up a YouTube-Talks at Google, titled Dipo Faloyin on Challenging Stereotypes of Africa, given to the UK Royal Geographical Society (and there’s an irony for you).

Just Google Dipo Faloyin and you’ll find the icon next to his (lovely) mug-shots.

Chris Dunton is a former Professor of English and Dean of Humanities at the National University of Lesotho.

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