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Women abuse: the unfinished story



As I was preparing for this article, I came across a news item in thepost newspaper of April 8 – 14, 2021, headlined: ‘Tough law for domestic violence.’ A similar article, albeit hidden in the middle pages, came up in another local paper. ‘The Counter Domestic Violence Bill’ represents a massive milestone in Lesotho’s women’s emancipation endeavours. A woman, a potential victim, champions the Bill.

According to the positioning of these articles in these newspapers, gender violence and rape are peripheral matters. They are not worthy of front-page coverage. As Makeba says, it is: ‘aluta continua’, for Basotho women. These incidents confirm Dr Molapo’s assertion that gender equality and redress do not occupy much space in Lesotho’s discourse.

Society must do more to fully emancipate women in our patriarchal society of male supremacy and women domination by men. This article is a continuation of an unfinished story: ‘Women must free themselves’ of February 25 – 3 March 2021. The theme in this article is the same, ‘No man shall liberate women. Women must pull the bull by its horns and emancipate themselves.’

The Minister of Gender Youth, Sports and Recreation is carrying her share of the baton in Lesotho. As the title of this article suggests, I focus on women abuse. The article argued that Lesotho has normalised gender violence. I gave an example of the controversial bail hearing and outcome where the leading actors and the murdered victim were women. Murder is a capital offence in Lesotho.

Two actors were highly qualified legal personnel in Lesotho, one, an acting chief justice, and the other, the Director of Public Prosecutions. The murdered victim was the estranged wife of the prime minister-elect. This murder raised eyebrows worldwide, yet Lesotho’s legal system trivialised it.
According to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) proposal for Transitional Justice Commission (TJC), this murder is high profile. The TJC is a SADC-sponsored lethal assault of the Lesotho legal system and Basotho’s collective intelligence by the politicians. They propose to make awful crimes lawful.

The UNAID describes Lesotho as a country with one of the highest rape and intimate partner crime rates in the world. Lesotho under-publishes gender indicators in national databases. She loses information that would enable her to understand the impact of patriarchy and gender injustice on Basotho society.

The Commonwealth estimates that the ‘disgusting pandemic’ of domestic violence scourge costs Lesotho M1.9 billion per year. Domestic violence has a price tag. The plague drains Lesotho in numerous ways. These include loading health, police and judicial services, fostering absenteeism at work and school and permanently damaging children who witnessed it, affecting future generations.

One in three Basotho women, or 33.3%, suffered physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, often by a partner. The government must declare a state of emergency for the scourge of this ‘disgusting pandemic.’
Lesotho’s gender violence statistics are disheartening. Domestic violence is the ‘other’ pandemic Lesotho must fight. The NGO, Gender Links, revealed that in 2014, 62% of women in Lesotho had experienced intimate partner violence, and 86% had experienced gender-based violence in their lifetime.

They showed that 8% of women had experienced rape, while 16% of men admitted to committing rape. 68% of physically abused women spent days in bed due to their injuries, and 24% had to miss work due to injuries. 7% of the women raped by an intimate partner attempted suicide, and 12% raped by non-partners had attempted suicide.

There is a direct causal link between the HIV/AIDS prevalence and gender violence. The World Economic Forum found the prevalence of HIV among males aged 15 – 49 was 18.7% compared to 27.9% among their female counterparts.
But statistics give an exciting account when it comes to education. In 2015 UNESCO estimated that the adult male literacy rate was 65.52% compared to 84.96% for the adult female literacy rate. In the same light, the gross male enrolment ratio in higher education institutions (HEI) was 8.65%, and their female counterparts were 13.07%. The 2018 Education Statistics Bulletin shows that there were 13 982 (or 61.3%) female students enrolled in HEIs.

The total enrolment was 22 802. 61.4% of females graduated from HEIs over the same period. The UNESCO reports that in 2005, 36.5% of female students were enrolled in engineering, construction and manufacturing tertiary education programmes. But the profile of the teaching staff members is different. 48.7% of the teachers in HEIs are female. This article does not present all educational statistics. But statistics confirm that Basotho women are highly knowledgeable.

The Bill defines domestic violence as an act, omission or behaviour which inflicts pain and injury on a person physically, sexually, emotionally, verbally, psychologically and economically. It applies to people in a domestic relationship. It outlines these groups of people.
The Bill also recognises the discrimination experienced by certain groups of people by their age, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. It hopes to eradicate existing abusive practices such as forced child marriages, levirate and surrogate marriages, sex between parents and children that degrade the vulnerable, especially children and women.

The name: ‘the Counter Domestic Violence Bill’ is counterproductive. The words ‘counter’ and ‘violence’ in the name negatively portrays the Bill. The words carry negative connotations debilitating the Bill instead of advancing good conduct.
They magnify the consequences while diminishing the good intentions of the Bill. It must affirm women as human beings and augment their rights.

Also, it must promote good citizenry while at the same time deterring and punishing abhorrent behaviour. In other words, the state is reactionary instead of being proactive. The Bill must reinforce good conduct while diminishing undesired behaviour. Thus, those who infringe these rights must be condemned, and they will bear the consequences.

South Africa proclaimed a similar act in 1998, the Domestic Violence Act. It intends to protect vulnerable people. It defines domestic violence as a pattern of behaviour used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence when one person believes they are entitled to control another. Domestic violence includes marital rape, violence and abuse in marital and non-marital relationships by parents, grandparents, guardians or anyone cohabiting.

Domestic violence may be physical, sexual marital rape, economic, emotional, verbal and psychological harassment, abuse and deprivation. The Act obliges the police to inform victims of their rights to protection, including free application for a court protection order and shelter provision.
A South African study made a critical observation about their intervention. The law did not affect domestic violence, and domestic violence persists despite the law. Statistics continue to show a high prevalence of domestic violence, with the Ministry of Police reporting that there is one rape every 36 seconds. Women are helpless. Their most significant risk of violence is from someone they know. Victims and families do not report the occurrences for cultural reasons and fear of embarrassment. This act is similar to the Counter Domestic Violence Bill in many ways.

Drs Molapo and Mosetse explain that the Basotho beliefs system, customs and language, reinforce patriarchy. Their traditions justify women subordination. Patriarchy facilitates gender roles and gender stereotypes. Patriarchy is visible in a Sesotho customary marriage. Basotho practise male heir succession in the family. Also, a woman is under the guardianship of the father. Upon marriage, she transfers to her husband’s custody. When the husband dies, whoever is her husband’s heir becomes her guardian. Women are represented in court by their fathers, husbands or male guardians.

Molesters use intimacy as a strategy for social control or a tactic of intimidation. It regulates relations between men and women and allows men to control women through economic dependence and the threat of violence. The Minister echoed this sentiment in her motivation for her Bill in parliament. Mosetse argued that patriarchy is primarily responsible for relegating women to minors. Their place is at home and bringing up children. Their focus should be on their nurturing abilities rather than on their capabilities.

Lesotho inherited an education system that promotes gender inequality, steering women towards home economics, sewing, teaching and commercial studies. Girls are discouraged from studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Gender discrimination is prominent in the education system. The church itself played a significant role in gender discrimination. Unmarried women teachers who fell pregnant lost their posts. Similarly, pregnant girls dropped out of school.

A disappointment is that this groundbreaking Bill took the Ministry over 20 years to develop. The time that the Ministry took to create the Bill compromised many lives. However, the Bill is now in parliament.
According to Dr Mosetse, rape in Lesotho is a capital offence, second to murder. But sentences of convicts remain discretionary, depending on the presiding magistrate. The Counter Domestic Violence Bill is in itself guilty of the same indiscretion. For example, the Bill says:

A person who, without the consent of another, comes in direct contact with (the) anus, breasts, penis, buttocks, thighs or vagina of another person or says sexual utterances, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding M2 500 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both.’

It romanticises rape while at the same time trivialising the harm inflicted on the victims. It is inundated with inconsistencies and falls short of stating rape as it is. This omission reduces the significance of the damage that these misdemeanours inflict on the victims. The actions in the quotation are without consent. They constitute rape. Trivialising rape gives rise to disproportionate sanctions. They are too lenient. They warrant a penalty that sits in the vicinity of capital conviction.

The penalties for rape, like all others, must be consistent with the harm the act inflicts on the victims. In other words, the sentences must be similar to the extract below:
‘If a sexual, domestic offender is infected with HIV and has knowledge or reasonable suspicion that he is infected, he will be sentenced to life imprisonment.’

The Bill takes the deliberate infection with HIV/AIDS seriously. Simultaneously, the same Bill plays down other acts of rape. It is absurd. The sanction that takes some actions seriously neglects to see the harms caused by other sexually transmitted diseases. These psychological scars are often deep-rooted and almost impossible to cure. The sanctions of the offences must match the scars that the crimes leave on the victims. It must not be discretionary. The Bills must include minimum sentences. Such a minimum sentence in a country that still practises capital punishment should be reasonably close to a death sentence.

Domestic violence is costly to Lesotho. It burdens the country’s essential services such as healthcare, police and judicial services and fosters victims’ absenteeism from work and school. The education statistics paint a favourable picture for women in Lesotho. Yet when it comes to position authority, the same discriminated against.

Lesotho has one of the highest per capita occurrences of rape and gender violence in the world. The South African experience reveals what the intervention of law does to protect women. It fails to alter the phenomenon. Enforcement on its own is not the solution to this problem. Lesotho has to identify proactive, innovative interventions that would significantly reduce the prevalence of rape and incidents of gender violence.

Lesotho is aware that the best solution to this scourge is not medical. Prevention is better than cure. Like HIV/AIDS and Covid-19 pandemics and climate change, the key is prevention through education, education and more education. There are several ways that the country can proactively approach the scourge educationally. Domestic violence is part of the social and life skills that children need as part of their development. The school curriculum must incorporate social and life skills.

The most common method for education in the nation is through non-formal and informal education. Civil society must engage in structured national awareness campaigns through marches and mass media, print or digital. They must be at a similar scale to HIV/AIDS. These campaigns must include prominent men in Lesotho. This should include the heads of all arms of government, including Their Majesties and the Church. Basotho trusted religious leaders and organisations. This trust places them in strategic positions where they could positively sway Basotho attitudes on domestic violence.

Engaging men is the new approach. Men’s active participation as partners must be encouraged. South Africa showed that threatening offenders does not often act as a deterrent. The nation must teach the would-be-offenders from the strength of people’s inherent goodness. Education must emphasise the goodness in people. Education must focus on the values of humanity and peaceful coexistence. Sanctions in the Bill are consequences. They should not be the focus of the Bill.

Finally, the scourge of women abuse has reached pandemic proportions. The legal recourse curbs the plague. But this intervention is inadequate. The crimes persist. I urge a positive approach, an educational process. The approach must assert women, girls and the vulnerable as human beings and augment their rights. Combining the legal intervention with educational approaches will take Lesotho a long way towards eradicating this appalling scourge.
Indeed, a woman is championing the fight for women emancipation in Lesotho. ‘Aluta continua’!

Dr Tholang Maqutu

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Harnessing imagery in writing



All writing is imaginative. Every piece of writing reflects the artistry and mental resourcefulness of the writer.

Effective writing also reflects the colourfulness of the writer’s mind and heart; their ability to paint the world to the reader and their capacity or facility of taking the reader with them to beautiful mental and physical and picturesque journeys.

In this piece we focus on how we can hone our creative abilities through the use of imagery and the effect of using colourful and evocative imagery in writing. Let’s go! What if I say, “Learn to prepare wisely and meticulously in time,” you will still grasp the message in a very clear way, isn’t it? But would that be interesting and colourful?

But what if we put it in a colourful manner, “Make hay whilst the sun still shines,” you really grasp the colour and the full import of the message, isn’t it? That’s what imagery does to your writing; it allows you to feel, touch and smell what you are reading.

There is no doubt that the proverb, “make hay whilst the sun still shines” has taken you to the countryside, in a farming community. You hear the bleating of sheep and the neighing of horses.

At the same time, you visualise the good farmer gracefully at work, cutting grass which he is piling in orderly stacks, preparing fodder for his animals in the future. The sun’s rays buoy his attempts and ensure that the hay is prepared with care and colour.

Thus, the point of good imagery is to capture in full detail a world that allows the reader to grasp and enjoy using their five senses. Let me give you a small but beautiful extract which further drives home the point.

“With his machete he detached a brittle clod, broke it on a stone. It was full of dead twigs and the residue of dried roots that he crushed in his fingers.

“Look, there isn’t anything left. The water has dried up in the very entrails of the mountain. It’s not worth while looking any further. It’s useless.” Then, with sudden anger, “But why, damn it! Did you cut the woods down, the oaks, the mahogany trees, and everything that grow up there? Stupid people with no sense!”

Thando struggled for a moment to find words. “What else could we do, brother? We cleared it to get new wood. We cut it down for framework and beams for our hearts. We repaired the fences around our fields. We didn’t know ourselves. Ignorance and need go together, don’t they?”

The sun scratched the scorched back of the mountain with its shining fingernails. Along the dry ravine the earth panted. The countryside, baked in drought, began to sizzle.”

What a colourful piece! The extract aptly paints a countryside’s pulse and the rhythms of seasonal and climate change and how that affects the livelihood patterns of the inhabitants. Have you seen how the sun has been endowed with human-like features?

And the description of the earth assuming human-like features, for instance, “the earth panted.” No doubt, you have seen the earth subdued by the intensity of heat in a way that is similar to a person who is panting.

To paint excellent images the writer needs to have the gift of observation. He/she should be able to observe quite a panorama of things around him and immerse them in the soil of their imagination. Let’s see another good extract where you can discern the link between good images, excellent description and the power of observation.

“It’s in the morning, the fourth watch, to borrow from biblical discourse. It’s damp outside. I brace the slicing chilly weather to go outside. There is a drizzle, constant showers seeping deep down. I pace up at least 400 metres from my hood. I see lined-up, almost cubicle-like houses.

I keep walking, with a spring in the step buoyed by the damp aura wrought by the incessant downpours. I take a deep breath, and step back as it were.

I want to be deliberate. I want to take in everything in my environment; the colours, the diverse hues and plethora of landscape contours. I notice a woman, almost in her forties, from my eye-view assumptions. She is grabbing a basket clutched tenaciously almost close to her big bosom.

She is going to Mbare Musika, the famous agricultural market wherein she intends to buy items for her stall. Behind her, there is a big strapped baby covered in velvet. As she briskly walks, I see her jumping a poodle of water as she observes her stall. I also observe a man, clad in sportswear running trying to cure a big belly.

As I keep watching, I see a woman sweeping her small veranda. I keep walking. I see a woman, plump tending to her garden. She seems animated by the drizzle, thanks to the rains.

I hear another woman, especially her piercing voice, she is selling floor polish. Her voice fills the air. As I drown in the sweet voice, I notice a man staggering. He is filthy. He could have calloused the whole night. He is holding a Black Label quart, speaking gibberish in the air. I keep watching.”

So here were are! Writing is a matter of painting with words, carving images and allowing the reader to experience the impact of all the senses so as to fully grasp the sense of what is put across.

Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school.

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Politicians’ propensity to score own goals



Lesotho politicians are often in the habit of scoring own goals. For example, look at the circus that took place in the country at the opening of parliament after the winter break. These events remind me of the article that I wrote with the title ‘Scoring own goals’.

This article appeared in this publication dated March 18 – 24, 2021. It argued that Lesotho’s politicians had a propensity to score own goals.

Many say that education and academia should not involve themselves in politics. This belief is a fallacy. The two are intrinsically intertwined. Education and politics link in a complex way.

For instance, parliament is an organ that passes laws that govern and guide national education policies. The interconnectedness includes the curricula that educational institutions and schools teach. Now, if the National Assembly’s focus is misplaced, important legislative decisions may stall or be derailed by lack of action.

I must make a disclaimer though. I am not promoting any view about a political party. I am writing this article purely as a concerned citizen.

I revisit the own goal tendency of those in authority by assessing the drama that unfolded in politics and governance. I review the recent events that culminated in the failed vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane and his government.

I use arguments from research to demonstrate the fluidity of Lesotho’s democracy. Some politicians often take advantage of this fluidity for selfish gain. I contest that the Prime Minister and his government should treat their adversities as stepping stones to meeting their targets.

A constitution is a living document. Accordingly, to keep Lesotho’s constitution alive, current and relevant, parliament should regularly amend it.

However, in so doing, parliament must be careful that tinkering with the country’s constitution does not compromise the essence of democracy they champion. National and democratic principles must form the dogma that underpins the improvements and amendment exercises.

Personal aspirations, ambitions and creed must not underpin the amendments.

The recent events in and out of the National Assembly make one question the perceptions of the different roles players in the democratic playground in Lesotho have.

First, there was a vote of no confidence that the Speaker ruled to defer subject to the high court’s decision.

Second, there was the allegedly drunken MP’s own goal.

The third is the press conference led by the Commissioner of the Lesotho Mounted Police Services flanked by the head of the Lesotho Defence Force and the Director General of the National Security Services.

It is already a hat trick of own goals. Fourth, there was the statement of the Prime Minister claiming an attempted coup.

The fifth own goal is the moratorium that prevented parliament from holding a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister before the lapse of three years of his inauguration.

The sixth is the practice of shirking responsibility by MPs. MPs often refer political matters to the national courts for decisions. The seventh, and the mother of all own goals, is the electoral system that Lesotho elected to pursue. The National Assembly has 120 MPs. There are 80 MPs representing constituencies and 40 proportional representatives.

The Commonwealth suggested that Lesotho review the modalities of the PR nominations. Sekatle and the Commonwealth agree that the PR system introduced plurality but at a cost. The cost is what scholars and commentators term minority rights and coalitions.

Also, it compromises accountability and transparency. It undermines the collective intelligence of the voters. Chief Jonathan warned against coalition governments by citing their instability. Political instability plagues Lesotho today.
Sekatle and the Commonwealth cited the overreliance on a threshold in awarding PR seats in parliament, cheapening them.

The PR system ballooned parliament unnecessarily. By comparison, Botswana had a population of 2.6 million in (2021). Lesotho had 2.3 million (2021). Botswana parliament currently has 65 seats, and Lesotho has 120.

A consequence emanating from the PR system in Lesotho is a hung parliament. Since 2012, there has not been an outright majority in the National Assembly. The results yielded chaos. Over that period, PMs constantly look over their shoulders. All these coalitions imploded.

Democracy is about the majority. Politicians must be persuasive to attract votes to achieve the majority. In other words, the PR system rewards failure.

The own goals cause stagnation. MPs score these own goals by serving their selfish interests. They waste time and energy on trivial things. And yet, they receive full-time salaries and earn allowances such as sittings and petrol allowances. How, then, would one explain that the external urging of parliament had to engage in the reforms exercise?

Today, reforms are lying latent. Politicians use the reform programme as an excuse for ensuring that they retain or access power. In the recent correspondences to SADC, the government and the opposition cite reforms and democracy to justify their actions. But as I write this article, there is nothing much that is happening along the lines of these very reforms. Why?

The starting point of any achievement is desire and definitiveness of purpose. The definitiveness of purpose is more than goal setting. It is one’s roadmap to achieving the overall objectives. Elsewhere, I took the definition of desire as explained by the author, Wallace Wattles.

According to Wattles, ‘Desire is possibility seeking expression, or function seeking performance’. All desires began as a thought. Expressing their desires through a manifesto is a means by which parties attempt to concretise them (their desires).

The starting point of an election campaign is the expression of political intentions and goals through manifestos. A manifesto is a public declaration of aims and policy by a political party or candidate. Political parties express their desires for what they will do in their manifestos.

After elections, these desires become the guiding principles and laws. Politically mature voters would then elect political candidates based on these manifestos.

Who instigated and drove the reforms in Lesotho? The contemporary history of Lesotho reveals that external forces pushed the reforms. Basotho merely reacted. They do not own the reform process. High on the list of their drivers are SADC, the US through AGOA and the European Union.

The practice contradicts Wattles’ definition. According to Wattles definition, desire must emanate from inside the individual, or in our case, from Basotho and be expressed outward through actions.

I do not want to comment too much about the involvement of the security agencies in politics. In my view, the relevant bodies, namely, the Law Society of Lesotho, the media and the opposition parties dealt with their involvement adequately.

Former PM Leabua Jonathan often described democracy as the government of the people by the people. But, the meaning of the construct of democracy is fluid and elusive, depending on the position of governance in Lesotho’s political arena.

Authors Hughes, Kroehler and Vander Zanden explain that democracy is a system in which the powers of government derive from the consent of the governed, namely the masses who vote, in which regular constitutional avenues exist for changing government officials.

The authors characterise the system as one which permits the population a significant voice in decision-making through the people’s right to choose among contenders for political office. Also, the system allows for a broad, relatively equal citizenship among the populace.

Lastly, it affords the citizenry protection from arbitrary state action.

Now, the question is whether the recent activities fit all the three criterias. Are the actions of the MPs who moved for the vote of no confidence in the PM’s government acting in line with Lesotho’s constitution and democracy?

This definition of democracy says that regular constitutional avenues exist for changing government officials. The no confidence vote exists in Lesotho’s constitution. But the PM and his security agencies questioned this. They claim the move by the members of the opposition to dethrone the government was a coup attempt.

The drama began when an MP from the ruling Revolution for Prosperity (RFP), Thabo Moea MP, sought an order from the High Court to delay the motion of no confidence against the Prime Minister until after the completion of the reforms process.

The opposition contests that the prayer by Moea stifles a democratic process for self-serving ends. Subsequently, the Speaker cited this impending case to defer the matter.

The constitution of Lesotho stipulates that the legislature is to pass laws, the executive is to approve and execute them, and the judiciary is to expound and enforce them. But a scholar, Nwafor, claims that the courts in Lesotho often intrude into the functions of the other arms of government.

Lesotho ‘s constitution confers powers on three arms of government in such a manner as would ensure cooperation and coordination in governance. The courts ought to bear in mind that the effective discharge of the responsibilities of the courts largely depends on the effectiveness of the other arms of government.

Nwafor brings up the issue of encroachment. He asserts that the powers of the different arms of government in such a manner would guarantee a coordinated discharge of government responsibilities to the nation. But, parliament overly relies on the courts to make political decisions. The practice encourages the risk of overreaching.

The PR electoral system denies Basotho the right to choose their representatives among contenders for political office. Instead, parties ‘hand pick’ these representatives in the pretext of the constituency elections outcomes. Often, these PR members are the ones who lost their constituency elections.

These are the politicians whose constituencies rejected them. They represent their parties and not the voters. They do not account to the voters.

Both the PM and the opposition made presentations to SADC. They overlooked the electorate. Why would SADC have power and not the electorate that elected the politicians to office? Running to SADC, an outside organisation, to settle Lesotho’s internal problems is not a solution. It is scoring an own goal. Lesotho, with its 57 years of independence, should be able to solve its internal problems.

Nonetheless, I have a completely different take from Mokhothu on the issue of the protest march by the RFP. It is unimportant to find the instigator of the protest march. The people to persuade are the voters, the people who put governments into power in a democracy, not external bodies such as SADC.

Napoleon Hill’s creed reads: ‘Every adversity brings a seed of equivalent or more benefit’. Any business person knows that business is a solution to an economic problem. So, the PM and his colleagues in his party who are business people must look at the adversity emanating from the opposition as a seed of equivalent or better benefit.

The government must dig deep to find how the problem may benefit them.
They must identify their failures and use them as stepping stones to success.

Elsewhere, I presented the views of an American scholar and activist, Anderson, who suggested that marginalised communities must cease granting candidates blank cheques. Instead, the electorate must draw their expectations and demand the campaigning party or candidate promise to meet them.

This practice is called quid pro quo. It enforces accountability and transparency.

You scratch my back, and I scratch yours. Quid pro quo is an example of one of the universal laws that demonstrate reciprocity. Reciprocity is the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit. The universal law is the Law of Cause and Effect. It means that for every effect, there is an equal cause. You plant a seed, so shall you reap.

Both the government and the opposition ran to SADC for help. Remember, Matekane is a successful businessman. He has, on more than one occasion, explained that he wanted to use his prowess in business to take Lesotho forward. As a businessman, Matekane has faith in his ability.

Words that come to mind here include self-confidence and trust in himself. He believes in himself. Running to SADC does not display this faith in his ability to deal with problems emanating from his opposition.

Hill argues that riches, or any form of success and achievement, begin with a thought. Faith removes limitations. Matekane must apply his faith as a businessman to become a successful politician.

To summarise, the article explores the events emanating from the fiasco of the no-confidence motion. The individuals who ought to champion constitutional democracy in Lesotho betrayed Basotho by scoring hordes of own goals.

I explored the meaning of concepts that helped me unpack some of these own goals. These were democracy, faith and desire. Also, I coupled these with scholarly research views on the constitution of Lesotho.

I contest that while the opposition may argue that they are within their rights to ruffle the government, the PM must use different tactics. He must display faith and confidence in himself and trust Basotho.

The move to influence the voters to back him deserves a big WOW! He must hold more campaigns to persuade voters to support his government. Voters may make or break him.

MPs waste time in discussing trivial issues that have no bearing on the national agenda. Often, they focus on self-serving matters. The RFP promised to refocus Lesotho towards national development and improving the quality of life.

The article also shows that the PR system does not benefit Lesotho. It diminishes accountability and the principle of quid pro quo. Also, it ballooned the numbers in parliament unnecessarily. It increased political instability by forging formations of coalition.

Politicians must refrain from abusing the judiciary by making them make political decisions. Involving the courts in making political decisions leads to encroachment. Encroachment defies democracy.

In conclusion, Matekane must not allow his detractors to derail his mandate. The same is true for the opposition leaders who attempt to dethrone him. No party campaigned on removing sitting PMs.

Also, the MPs must take the responsibilities that Basotho entrusted them with. It is high time that they make the political decisions instead of shifting them to the judiciary or external bodies.

Matekane, his business associates and technocrats in his government should revisit attributes that made them successful. One such attribute is their faith in their abilities. They must remember that riches (and success) begin with a thought, and faith removes limitations.

Dr Tholang Maqutu


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Painting mood effectively



Writing is not different from beautiful artwork. Just like a skilled painter holding a brush with its broad strokes, the writer occupies the same place and vocation in life. Writing is a work of painting life’s experiences, its hues and beautiful unfolding internal journeys. In this piece we focus on mood and how it can be achieved. Many students struggle with understanding and contemplating the scope and ambit of mood in writing.
It is hard to define and frame the scope of mood in writing. What really constitutes mood? Generally, mood encapsulates the totality of the “air” or “spirit” or “aura” that a certain work of art evokes in the human mind, feeling or sensibility. There is a certain dominant feature or streak associated with a certain work of art, place or person.

There is something which is evoked in our hearts which is associated with a certain place, person or event. Every place or event or person carries or imbues with him or her a certain mood or sensibility; and there is a panorama of sensibilities; for instance, a happy or sombre or whimsical mood. We will now focus on a certain extract and discern how it paints mood.

“He quickly rights himself and keeps walking, but there is an unsteadiness to his knees. He has been given many looks in this quarter – dirty ones, blank ones, sympathetic ones, annoyed ones. For the most part, he had learned to tolerate those than can be tolerated, and ignore those that should be ignored, but the look this woman gave him is not a look one gives to humans but to flies, ticks, cockroaches, fleas…Thato feels anger, then humiliation, then something nameless. If he were in his own country he would turn and confront the woman; but now he’s hurt, wounded, a part of him wishing he were invisible. Breathing evenly, he walks with care, only lifting his eyes once he reaches his own quarters, among his own people. He proceeds to his shack. He could stop by Thapelo’s, his neighbour, where he knows that men and women are already congregated to watch videos from home. Yet, no matter the promise of good fellowship and laughter, Thabo does not join them. Watching videos is a form of forgetting; the 2008 elections, the police with batons, the soldiers with guns, the militia with machetes. Do you remember? Limbs broken. Roofs blazing. I remember.”

This extract is characterised by the intensity of feeling and evokes feelings of sadness, despair and pain. The excerpt paints a harrowing and blood-curdling account which produces a sombre, dull and subdued mood. Thato, the protagonist in the story is in a foreign land. He was impelled to leave his country as a result of political violence which saw many people lose limbs and lives. He feels lonely and unwanted in the foreign land. He feels lost and alienated.

There are sentiments of xenophobia expressed through the glances of citizens of the foreign country he is in. Even if he were to entertain himself together with his countrymen residing in that foreign land, Thato still felt a deep and nagging feeling of being an outcast. Thus, we have made very deep and broad descriptions of the circumstances in which the protagonist finds himself with a view to demonstrate how mood is created in a narrative. The creation of mood feeds into the description of the character’s circumstances, his mindset and the space and place in which he finds himself.

Mood, as we have demonstrated from the portrayal of Thato’s experience, has a link with pathos. Pathos is that streak of sadness which pervades a story and creates empathy in the reader. The aim of effective writing is to move the reader and to impel him towards certain sensibilities which are of an affective kind. Mood, when effectively created, allows the reader to grasp meaning which is not directly said in the story or composition.

Meaning in a story is an interaction between the words in a text as read together with the effect of the words, the tone used and the created mood. There are certain words in a text which do not just communicate, but etches in the reader’s mind certain thoughts, viewpoints and feelings. These words would be so evocative. One such word describes Thato’s deepest sense of alienation in the extract given above.

The word describes him as nursing a wish of invisibility, he felt or wished he were ‘invisible.’ His wish for invisibility is of great importance. It portrays how he was deeply affected by the loathing expressed in the eyes of those looking at him with hate and disdain.

So, here we are! Creating a mood is a craft which takes time to acquire and hone. But when achieved, it makes effective reading and allows the reader to get meaning which goes beyond the text.

Vuso Mhlanga teaches at the University of Zimbabwe. For almost a decade and half he taught English language and Literature in English at high school. Send your comments and questions to:

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