Throwing mud  at Mokhothu

Throwing mud at Mokhothu

This past week I listened to a friend of mine from the Alliance of Democrats (AD), Letuka Chafotsa, give a detailed account implicating the leader of the Democratic Congress (DC) who is also Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu in human trafficking. Chafotsa insinuated that the Miss DC beauty pageant, an initiative that began a year ago, is a front for human trafficking.

He insinuated that its aim is not to empower young girls as it claims but to harm them. The DC does this by removing them from these girls from their families and smuggling them out of the country. Chafotsa’s claims stem from allegations that the DC leader is acquainted to a Pakistani, Rana Qamar, who was fraudulently naturalised by the ousted Thomas Motsoahae Thabane administration.

Basotho rejoice in pulling each other down. I have been in this game for a while now, and I agree with an observation made by my friend and brother Silas Monyatsi, that in Lesotho’s political arena, we tend to rejoice in scandalising each other and exposing each other’s so-called sins yet we never see the eventuality of justice on most of these scandals.

Mothetjoa Metsing is still waiting for his day in court for the M53 million he stole. The All Basotho Convention brothers and sisters scandalised him and told us that he built the shopping center next to the traffic circle. Today, the ABC is today using that same building as their head office without any shame.

So today it is Mokhothu who is being scandalised. His friends and foes are rejoicing in rumours that he is involved in human trafficking, yet nobody has provided concrete evidence of his involvement. This is a smear campaign designed to discredit the DC leader. With this kind of political trajectory, where is this country going? It appears that Basotho rejoice and enjoy pulling each other down.

Before I talk about why I don’t think Mokhothu is a human trafficker, it is important we understand exactly what human trafficking is and the nature of the business. The United Nations defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer or receipt of persons, by means of threats or other forms coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of giving or receiving of payments of benefits to achieve the consent of a person, for the purpose of exploitation a person, having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”

Trafficking of persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights. To my knowledge the three most common types of human trafficking are sex trafficking, forced labour, forced marriage and debt bondage.
Moreover, human trafficking is currently an international crisis. The smuggling of humans has taken precedence in international media over the past few months, with campaigns such as “Save our Children” being a common feature on our social media timelines. People across the world have declared a war against this crime.

In Lesotho’s perspective, we have become even more susceptible to this monster because of the high unemployment rate prevalent in our country. This has increased the likelihood of our people becoming prone to being taken advantage of, across the border and beyond. This is already a reality that has been created by our existing history of migration to the neighbouring South Africa.

Just last year an Arizona statesman Paul Peterson was charged with human trafficking. It only makes sense that politicians get involved in such illegal activities, because there is a relationship between money and power. The reason politicians find themselves entangled in such illicit business is because they are money-spinners and criminals can pay large amounts for favors and services only the government officials can provide.

Only through collaboration with government entities can syndicates ensure they get fake paper work or they are able to bypass the stringent searches and questioning we go through, when moving from country to country. Hence human trafficking is a business that does not discriminate, it can go from a small-time runner that recruits people in villages or captures children, to top government officials that ensure the victims cross the border.

It would be a great shame if Chafotsa or the AD or any party for that matter would use something this serious, in the name of vilifying a political opponent.
I have to say I find it ironic that Chafotsa creates the illusion that Mr Qamar’s relationship with Mokhothu is exclusive, although the man’s papers were approved by the Thabane-led coalition government.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Home Affairs that gave him citizenship was occupied by the Basotho National Party (BNP), and the AD which Chafotsa is a member of, during that administration. One would wonder how Ministers from the AD, and the BNP would go through the trouble of giving this man that Chafotsa states is notorious for illicit activities, the right to live in our country. This makes me wonder whether the AD was not involved in any of Mr Qamar’s shenanigans, and now they trying to deflect the nature of their alliance with Qamar, to the DC.

Regarding the competition, a lot doesn’t add up about what Chafotsa said. The DC spent hundreds of thousands of maloti on the Miss DC contest. Hence if it was done to solicit or force young girls into human trafficking, how come the organisation and its leader have not cashed in on their investment? I mean none of the girls that took part in the pageant, Chafotsa alleges was meant to lure young girls, have been reported missing. This competition took place in 10 districts, with at least two contestants per constituency.

Therefore 160 girls from 80 constituencies nationwide took part in this competition. Yet to this day none of the girls have gone missing.
Even though it is not an anomaly for politicians to be corrupt and criminal, I wonder how anybody can use a beauty pageant for human trafficking purposes and expect not to get caught. If the Miss DC pageant was being used for purposes of human trafficking, believe me, the first whistleblowers would have come from the party. Miss DC was not Mokhothu’s pet project and he designated a subcommittee to run the competition.

Furthermore, members of the party from the eighty constituencies were required to identify girls, organise, transport and even pay for the modeling boot camps for these children. Unless Chafotsa is suggesting all members of the DC are morally bankrupt and are complicit in human trafficking, I wonder how Mokhothu would otherwise sell these little girls without anyone noticing, after having transferred so much power over the competition to his party members.

It makes no sense to me that a politician that aims to be elected would start an initiative under his party banner and simultaneously use their organisation as a human trafficking recruitment agency. What a risk?
I think claims that Mokhothu had meetings to discuss the naturalisation of the Pakistani gentleman do not suffice as evidence that he is a criminal. Mokhothu can’t be declared a human trafficker on such superficial information. In effect, the accusers should provide us with sufficient evidence that Mokhothu is in fact a criminal.

These are serious accusations that ought to be proven beyond a shadow of doubt, before being prattled around as fact. We don’t need another situation like the Metsing M53 million saga whereby a politician’s name was dragged through the mud, his integrity questioned, and he was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion only for him to be later found innocent of the crime he was accused.

Another piece that doesn’t fit in this puzzle is the fact that all processes of naturalisation were halted by Ministers that are members in the Democratic Congress. The Ministry of Home Affairs has been a DC portofolio, under the auspice of Motlalentoa Letsosa as Minister, and Maimane Maphathe as his deputy. It will interest you to know that Maphathe took it upon himself to report this Pakistani fellow to the police, for them to investigate his activities in the country. What are the chances that Maphathe would throw his party leader under the bus by reporting his partner in crime?

In a report presented to parliament, Letsosa states that it was a tip off from the Americans that led his Ministry to know of a series of human trafficking cases that can be tracked back from Moshoeshoe I Airport. In a bid to clean up the mess at the airport, which was putting the country in disrepute, they investigated and sacked corrupt airport officials that were in cahoots with human traffickers.

It is interesting to know that one of the people sacked during that clean-up is now accusing Mokhothu of being a human trafficker. The human trafficking Mokhothu is accused of precedes his time in office. These allegations just don’t make sense at all.

Ramahooana matlosa

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