Connect with us

Local News

Kaya: a victim of bedroom politics?



MASERU-RECENTLY fired as health minister amid talk that he was a victim of bedroom politics within the Prime Minister’s home, Nyapane Kaya is reluctant to discuss the reasons behind his dismissal from Cabinet.
But the All Basotho Convention (ABC) MP for Mechechane constituency is willing to talk about one thing: the role of a spouse in a professional set-up.

As principal at Khukhune High School before joining fulltime politics, Kaya worked with his wife, who as a teacher was his subordinate.

“We agreed on one principle, that our relationship as husband and wife would not derail our progress at school as principal and teacher,” the 54-year-old Kaya tells thepost in an interview last Thursday at parliament grounds.
“It’s one thing that helped me gather principle and discipline. I didn’t want her to interfere in the running of the school,” he says.

It is a lesson he hopes those who hold political power can take to heart.
A wife can have a hand in derailing a politician’s progress in whatever he wants to achieve “and some politicians have unfortunately fallen into the trap”.

“It needs courage, principle and discipline to ensure that at work you are not influenced by your spouse to do things you would not want to do, things that will derail you on the good path you are taking,” he says.
He refuses to directly link these statements to the fate that recently befell him. But others may have little doubt to whom the statements are referring.

He has been a centre of attention recently after he was fired and some have claimed that he was let go from his portfolio because he refused to dance to the tune of his boss’ wife.
Some MPs, such as the Butha-Buthe MP Motlohi Maliehe, alleged that Kaya refused to play ball when First Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane wanted him to dish out tenders to her friends. The Office of the First Lady has vehemently denied the allegations.

The same MPs were accusing Prime Minister Thomas Thabane of allowing his wife to interfere in the affairs of the government to an extent of actually directing the duties of Cabinet ministers.
Kaya has never confirmed or denied the allegations in public.

Avoiding talking about his alleged bad experiences with the First Lady, Kaya says he believes discipline is the most important quality in all spheres of life, a guiding power when one is tempted to compromise their principles.
Describing himself as a disciplined politician, Kaya says he owes it to his upbringing by parents who cherished such values.

Like any other Mosotho boy in the rural areas, Kaya grew herding livestock and attending school at the same time – a tough balancing act that he says taught him to manage his time and responsibilities.
Born in Makhoakhoeng, Liqhobong, in Butha-Buthe, Kaya says he was the only child in a family of 10 who pursed education as his brothers and sisters became disinterested in school.

“My father wanted all of us to go to school but I was the only one who lived up to his dream,” he says.
“In fact, in the whole village I was the only one who did what others were not doing. They were joining initiation schools or plainly not pursuing their education. I did the opposite,” he says.

He describes his village as composed of “typical Basotho traditionalists”.
“I’m the only one who surprised my peers.”
He says because of discipline, he got a first class pass in Standard Seven and at Junior Certificate.
After passing Junior Certificate, his parents could not afford to pay for his further studies and he ended up joining the mines in South Africa in 1984.

Shortly after that he married ’Malebohang Kaya, also a Junior Certificate holder.
Kaya decided to further his wife’s education and he enrolled her at a local school until she completed her Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC).
He also supported her when she went to the National University of Lesotho (NUL) to study education.
After his wife graduated, Kaya completed his high school education and passed COSC with first class.
He registered with the NUL and came back armed with an education degree, and worked as a Geography and English teacher.

He had a short stint at Lesotho High School before moving to his home district where he became a principal until 2015 when he joined fulltime politics.
Kaya says he demonstrated discipline as a teacher and principal at Khukhune High School, where for years he worked with his wife.

“At school I was a principal and she was a teacher, nothing more. I think this is how things should be when married couples work together,” he says.
He says when he left teaching he thought he could use politics to bring changes he wanted to see “but in politics challenges are so serious than I had anticipated”.

“A formidable background became a springboard for me. I am guided from the world of experiences,” he says.
He says the life of a politician requires discipline and holding fast to one’s core values and being courageous.
As an MP, people look up at him to fight corruption and improve their lives. Helping people should be a calling for all politicians, he says.

“Unfortunately, not all of us see things that way. There are many that are here (in politics) for different purposes, including the purpose to steal from the government,” he says.
Kaya is a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which routinely grills government officials suspected of misusing public funds.

“Working in the PAC has opened my eyes. I have realised that the whole nation has a problem. There is something wrong with our psyche as a nation,” he says.
“The manner in which these people plunder the government (coffers), across all sectors is frightening.”
“They plunder it vertically and horizontally, so much that every aspect of our life in government is tainted by corruption.”

He says he wishes that the whole nation “will understand the kind of predicament we are having”.
“If only we understand the problem we can face it. We must make people aware of the extent of the rot in government offices so that they can take action against it,” he says.
He says once people join hands, “the politicians will only have to tow the line”.

Kaya says corruption springs from senior political party officials and spreads to party members who hold high positions in government until it reaches Parliament.
He is also against partisan politics.

At times, ruling party MPs oppose progressive motions to deal effectively with corruption in government “merely because it has been brought or raised by an opposition member”.
He cited the example of the famous motion that was suggested by Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Lekhetho Rakuoane for a lifestyle audit.
“It was such a good motion but my fellow parliamentarians in government rejected it merely because it was from the opposition,” he says.

Kaya says he was caught in-between.
“My conscience couldn’t allow me to vote against that motion and at the same time I did not want to vote against my party,” he says.
“I had to recuse myself because I didn’t want to vote against my principals.”

If confronted with a similar situation in future “I will listen to my conscience and vote correctly”.
“I don’t want to be remembered in history as someone who rejected things that would benefit my people,” he says.
Already, there are government policies he is unhappy with. One of them is the policy of having students pass on to the next class despite failing their previous examinations.

“The government is trying to save money at the expense of the future of this nation,” he says.
“The government says it becomes costly to continue funding education of children who repeat classes and its solution is that they should all pass to the next class,” says Kaya, adding: “Do not make education poor to save money. This is the greatest mistake ever.”

Education, it seems, is still in his blood. Kaya, who obtained honours and masters degree later as a grown up, says he is pursuing a doctorate at the NUL “so that when I retire I can continue contributing to Basotho children’s education”.
“I don’t want to be in politics for long,” he says, still refusing to talk about his alleged tiff with the wife of the boss.

Caswell Tlali

Continue Reading

Local News

Lesotho’s own brandy



ROMA-“Go, eat your food with rejoicing, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for already the true God has found pleasure in your works,” so says the Big Book.

Driven by that divine, Mohapi Pule has gone a step further – by coming up with a new type of brandy – to make you merry.
The brandy, Mountain Spels Brandy, will make the heart of the dying man rejoice.
“The healthy nutrients in fruits that make brandy, end up in you when you drink it,” he said.

Pule studied nutrition at the National University of Lesotho.
His brandy is made by fermenting fruits into wine. The wine is then distilled into a brandy. It carries the flavour and the aroma of the original fruits.

The story began when Pule was born in Quthing, Mphaki. He was born to a hardworking mother who brew traditional beer like no other.
“She brew beer well before I was born. She is still making it to this day,” he said.

His passion for brewing was probably “born” even before he was born. Mothers have a hidden way of passing not just their looks but their passions to their children.

As he grew up, he found that he was still intertwined with his mom’s brewing business in one way or another.
“Mostly, I am expected to fetch water for the brewing process. That, I still do to this day when I visit home,” he says.
Two decades later, Pule found himself in the Roma Valley, doing BSc in Nutrition.

“At some point, I found that I had lost purpose in life. There was not a thing that I could say, well, I was passionate about this thing or that thing.”
That situation, of course, threw him into some serious soul-searching.
It brought him back to his roots.

“During this period, I recalled that when I was younger, I used to imagine helping my mom do the packaging of the beer she was making and helping distribute it countrywide,” he said.

From a young age, the issue of subsistence business didn’t appeal to him. But that imagination came and passed. Now here he was, worried that he might not amount to anything in life.

Then, boom! An idea came!
What if he produced an alcoholic drink?

He could have thought about anything to do as a business but, lo and behold! He thought about his mother’s passion!

One of the things he loves about alcoholic beverages is that they are popular.

“I haven’t seen products as popular as alcoholic drinks,” he said.
He might be wrong or right but the reality is, the rest of the world has for generations found delight in alcoholic beverages – some to the extent of overdoing it to their injury!

“Mabele khunoana ralitlhaku thabisa lihoho. Mabele u tsoa kae e le khale re u batla re sa u thole? Ueeeena mabeeeele!” (Loosely translated beer brewed from sorghum make men happy. We’ve been looking for you from afar, you sorghum. In short, this is a praise poem for the Sesotho sorghum brew).
But then came the most difficult part. Which specific beverages should he focus on and how would he do it?

He decided that he would focus on ciders. He realised that not many people in Lesotho were making ciders.

He started experimenting at home and realized how difficult the process was. He just couldn’t get it right. To worsen matters, he also did not have the right equipment.

But like most successful innovators, he just knew that he had to start his business right away.

Pule says he then learnt about other forms of beverages: the spirits. Spirits are very high in alcohol content. Here we are talking the likes of whiskey, vodka and brandy.

He was particularly interested in vodka. He went into one NUL laboratory and, with necessary permission, began testing a number of spirits and doing a lot of research about them.

He began saving some of the money he earned from the National Manpower Development Secretariat in the form of student allowance so he could buy equipment. Saving was not easy. The subsistence money was already not that much. Having to share it with a business was asking a little too much.

But Pule was so determined that he did it, bought equipment that allowed him to develop what he thought was “vodka”.

However, after buying the equipment he immediately realised that the equipment was to make brandy not vodka.

“Now I was forced to get into brandy by chance,” he said.
It was a mistake that he has never regretted having realised that there are very few individuals who were making brandy in Lesotho.

Pule had to throw himself fully into experiments. He read books about brandy production. He even enrolled for an online course on distillation.
In the end, he began to see some light.

“I began to feel some difference in the taste of my produce,” he said. “When I shared my produce with my lecturers, they were over the moon!”
With that encouragement, Pule began packaging his brandy and is now selling it to family and friends.

“My small equipment means that I can’t produce much. However, If I were to get bigger equipment, things would be much better.”

Own Correspondent

Continue Reading

Local News

Ready-to-cook vegetables



ROMA – ’MATUMANE Matela, a National University of Lesotho (NUL)-trained nutritionist, is an example of how a nutritionist should think and act.
Matela makes and sells ready-to-cook vegetables out of produce from her own farm or produce she preferably buys from local farms.
“When I make a dish, as a nutritionist, I make choices that ensure a typical package is packed with nutrition,” Matela said.

Today, we examine an interesting story of the lady who is determined to ensure that you eat healthy despite your busy schedule.
It started with her experiences in life.
She describes herself as an extremely busy woman.
She likes getting things done.
As the busy amongst us will say, the busier you become, the less you watch your diet.
She couldn’t escape the trap!

“My busy schedule meant that I ended up eating junk and I was gaining weight,” she said.
With time, she came to her senses.
As a nutritionist, she recalled that the best way to preach was to preach by example.
So, was she preaching what she practised?
Clearly, she wasn’t.
She had to find an option to maintain the busy schedule and eat healthy at the same time.

The beautiful thing about nutrition is that the healthiest foods are the closest to us: fruits and vegetables.
Some scientists even claim that our bodies seem to be designed to thrive on fruits and vegetables.
“Have you ever wondered why looking at a ripe raw peach on a tree is mouth-watering but looking at a fat cow isn’t?” asked one scientist.
Well, whether we were designed for fruits and vegetables or not, the truth is that they are good for our bodies.
That’s what good science tells us.

And we somehow “know it” too if you have heard about anything called intuition.
So one day she found herself increasingly eating fruits and vegetables.
It’s easier to change a religion than a diet, they say.
So it is commendable that she changed her diet at all.
“The idea was to chop as much vegetables as possible and put them in a fridge so that in future, I will just pull them out and cook.”
She wasn’t proposing something new.
Who amongst us doesn’t enjoy the convenience of just pulling up chopped frozen vegetables and cooking?

Little did she know that what she was doing was putting her on a path to a brilliant business.
It took a post on a social media to achieve just that.
“I took a pic of the chopped and packaged vegetables and posted them on my social media account. The reaction was swift. I began getting questions like, “how much?””
It immediately dawned on her that she could be sitting on a great business idea, after all.

So she gave it a try and started selling.
To her surprise, people started buying.
In fact, “I get orders for my products almost on a daily basis.”
That is how interested people really are.
This to an extent that her business now gets up to four irregular employees, she included, when the demand is high.
She said her training in Agriculture, Home Economics and Nutrition has helped her to give a thought into what she was doing.

For instance, where possible, she grows her own crops and sells them as first preference.
She has grown spinach, butternut, green pepper, onion, herbs and beans.
She is also in the process of renting more fields to grow more vegetables.
Then she empowers Basotho producers by requesting them to supply.
Going for foreign produce is the last resort.
Look at her packages and you realise something.
The “7 colours” proverb comes alive.

Those seven colours (several colours actually) may have been designed to appeal to your eyes but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
The colours of vegetables mean a lot in terms of nutrition.
Each colour gives you something different.
So, the more colours in one meal, the merrier.
To drive this home, let’s go a scientific route for a second.
Red, Blue and Purple: These vegetables contain substances that are good at reducing the risk of stroke, cancer and memory problems.
White: The likes of onion or garlic may help lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer and heart disease.

Orange and Yellow: Carrots immediately come to mind.
These vegetables contain substances called carotenoids which may help improve your immune system and help to improve the health of your eyes.
Basotho, it would appear, have long known a thing or two about the relationship between carrots and eyes.
Hence the famous saying, “o jele lihoete” (they ate carrots), often applied to good sportsmen or women with symbolically “good eyesight”.

Green: Green is life. Green vegetables come packed with chlorophyll, a chemical that scientists believe can boost your immune system, eliminate fungus in your body, clean your blood, lead to healthy intestines and give you boundless energy.
As a bonus, her Home Economics background is such that she is armed with a host of recipes for each of the packages she sells.
She has great dreams for the future.
“I want to see my products decorating the shelves of big supermarkets,” she said.
It’s time!

Own Correspondent

Continue Reading

Local News

A new, co-operative chain store



ROMA – ’MAKUENA Lesiea is spearheading the creation of a cooperative chain store that will sell Lesotho products only.
The store is being developed under the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub and it will be incubated by the Hub.
“Have you seen it? Basotho are producing like never before,” Lesiea said.
“However, their products are hard to see in the markets. We want to change all that.”

The store, she said, will open branches in all districts of Lesotho, starting from Maseru.
Visit any supermarket in Lesotho and check the products on the shelves.
You will be shocked to realise that, in general, just one percent of them are made in Lesotho.
The other 99 percent comes from elsewhere.
Is it because Basotho are not producing or can’t produce at all?

“Having worked directly with the NUL Innovation Hub and the Tsa Mahlale TV programme under the Hub, I have travelled the depth and breadth of Lesotho and I was amazed at the amount of work Basotho are doing,” she said.
What is the problem?
Basotho products are not given sufficient platforms to prove themselves.
“Credit where it is due, some shops are beginning to accept and sell Basotho products,” she said.

“However, they are barely making a dent because Basotho products, being at their infancy, cannot receive full attention unless by a store that is designed to give them full attention.”
Such a store doesn’t exist.

She said the idea is not to compete with any of the existing stores because “we are getting into a new territory altogether, we are addressing a different market”.
So listen to Lesiea as she presents some features of the store that will surely persuade you to join the bandwagon:

  1. Customer and producer confidence: The store, she said, will achieve two things.
    First, when they see masses of Lesotho-made products in one place, Basotho customers will slowly grow confidence in them.
    The confidence will shoot to the roof when the customers experience that many of the products made in Lesotho are already way ahead of foreign competitors in terms of quality.
    Secondly, the store will give Basotho producers an assurance that their products have, at least, one store that is willing to take them, dark or blue.
    More production will come from such assurance.
  2. Selling “everything”: The store will sell everything from fruits and vegetables to processed foodstuffs to clothing and building materials (if Thabure car will be in production by then, it will be on the shelves too).
    “Suppose what we want to sell is not locally made, we will never cross the border, any border, to find its equivalence. We will encourage Basotho to produce it until they do.”
  3. We mean business: whereas Basotho are beginning to produce, their products are still all over the place.
    You bump across them in some few willing stores, in expos and trade shows, or as being sold by individual resellers. Those are good efforts, but they are not enough. In fact, many in Lesotho have come to see producing and selling as being more of an art, a hobby, a therapy or a hustling than a business, “so we are seriously moving away from such a casual approach, we mean business this time around.”
  4. Ownership: So when you enter this store, you could be purchasing a product made by you in a store owned by you. What a difference!
  5. Reasonable standards: the store will only demand reasonable standards. As a struggling Mosotho, try taking your products to some of the local shops and you are, at worst, turned away without reason or, at best, given a long list of standards you must meet before they can take your product.
    “In our case, as long as your products are reasonably of good quality, you are in. NUL Innovation Hub is already testing many Basotho products. We won’t ignore quality, but we won’t use it as a way to prevent Basotho products from growing either.”
  6. A cooperative chainstore: From contributing as little as M50 per month, members will use a continuous financing model to ensure that the store doesn’t just end in Maseru but reaches the ten districts of Lesotho.
    Each branch will start at a medium scale in order to grow along with Basotho products. We won’t ask for investors to come from anywhere, “we will be investors ourselves.”
  7. An export launch pad. “We are often told to export our produce. The obvious question is, if you haven’t convinced your own people to consume your own products, how can you convince people in other lands to do so? Why should they take you seriously?”
    However, the store is not meant to be a local store forever.
    It will be a means by which we export our products to other countries in the future.
    When we export the store to Soweto, we export it along with products from Lesotho.
    Don’t say no because we have seen Chinese shops and Indian shops and, of course, South African shops, filled to the brim with Chinese products and Indian products and South African products in many countries.
    “If they can do it,” Lesiea ended, “so can we.”
    “Because if it is there in some of us, it is there in all of us.”

Own Correspondent

Continue Reading