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Matekane pleads for unity



MASERU – THE Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) leader, Sam Matekane, last weekend made desperate pleas for unity after disgruntled election candidates launched fresh legal challenges against the party.

Matekane’s call for unity came two days after 16 members who were edged out from standing for the party in the October 7 general election filed an urgent application in the High Court.

The 16 want the High Court to rule that they were legitimately elected in the primary elections conducted by the party and must be allowed to stand as candidates during the election.

They argue that the party acted unlawfully by handpicking other people to be the official candidates despite that those people had lost to them in the primary elections.

Speaking at a rally in Maputsoe on Sunday, Matekane literally begged the party members not to resort to the courts to resolve disputes.

He said disgruntled members must sit down and talk instead of going to court.

“If we have issues amongst ourselves, let us sit down and fix them together,” Matekane said.

“The courts cannot find an amicable solution for us.”

Those who challenged Matekane in court last week are Dr Mahali Phamotse, Teboho Notši, Sello Hakane, Malothoane Mathiba, Mabote Malefane, Khotso Motseki, Teboho Malataliana,

‘Mammako Mohale Lerata, Chopho Lekholoane, Mphelela Khaoli, Motheo Ralitapole, Matabane Mosese, Monotsi Maliehe, ‘Makatleho Motsoasele, Mooki Sello and Tankisang Mosito.

The 16 RFP members who have been sued are Phumane Mojalefa, Malehanye Ralejoe, Talenta Masoatsa, Mofero Selupe, Lekese Matsoso, ‘Mantšali Yengane, Moleboheng Sefali, Kenny Atang Ntoane, Thabang Rapapa, Koena Marase, Thabiso Lekhotla, Mokete Jonas, Lebona Mphatsoe, Retšelisitsoe Theko, Motho-oa-sebaka Mosenki Letsie and Mamamello Holomo.

Matekane said his party is trying to resolve these disputes through dialogue.

“Do not allow the enemy to infiltrate you. I assure you that we are fixing it.”

Matekane reasoned that the RFP “only wants a Lesotho that will benefit every Mosotho equally”.

“Things will be okay, let us have patience.”

It is a message that has found no takers within the disgruntled camp. At the time of writing, the 16 were plodding on with the court case.

Dr Phamotse and her co-applicants argue that they were legitimately elected as candidates in their respective constituencies.

They argue that the party must therefore allow them to stand in the general election on the RFP ticket.

Their arguments are similar to those advanced in 1998 in a case where a Matsieng member of the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP), ’Mamonki Khalema-Redeby, challenged her party’s decision to replace her with another candidate, ’Mamahao Lehloenya.

Delivering judgment in the matter, Justice Semapo Peete said the application was “of great importance since it touches upon a fundamental human right guaranteed by the Lesotho Constitution”.

Justice Peete said the constitution clearly says “every citizen shall enjoy the right … to take part in the conduct of public affairs directly or through freely chosen representatives … to vote or to stand for election at periodic elections under this Constitution under a system of universal and equal suffrage and secret ballot”.

“To do otherwise would be to permit instances of violations of those very sacred fundamental rights which our constitution seeks to protect and guarantee,” Justice Peete said.

“This court therefore has power to determine the consistency or inconsistency of any act, provision or directive made by anybody public or private to ensure that the contents thereof accord with the principles of the Constitution,” he said.

“It is a fundamental right to be enjoyed by every citizen of Lesotho to engage in elections under a system of universal suffrage and also to choose freely their representatives in Parliament and other public bodies.”

The BCP leadership, as does the RFP now, argued that it was “entitled to select possible candidates” even though there was no such provision in its own constitution.

“Assuming for the purposes of argument that the BCP constitution has a specific article vesting in the NEC power so to select, it is my honest view that such a provision would not be held to be consistent with the fundamental provisions of section 20 of the Lesotho Constitution,” Justice Peete found.

“Whilst the courts of law should not and must not interfere in the governance of constituted societies like a political party, the courts of law have a sacred duty to see that the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizen are not abridged or compromised,” he said.

The judge said selection or election is not a “closed house” and out of bounds when the fundamental provisions of the Lesotho Constitution are imperilled, or when principles of fairness and natural justice are compromised.

“Supreme as it is, the Constitution of the party is however to be interpreted in a manner which is consistent with the provisions and principles of the Lesotho Constitution,” he said.

“Even if there was an inherent power “to save the party” this power cannot give the NEC power to assume the basic right to select a representative for a constituency,” he said, adding that “to endorse such a selection would be to make a sham of free elections in a democratic country”.

He was rebuffing the BCP leadership’s argument that it could reject a recommendation if it was satisfied that the person so recommended could not uphold principles, aims and objectives of the party, the same reasons the RFP has been advancing in its rallies.

“If an unacceptable candidate has been elected at the Constituency level, the NEC certainly has all right and indeed a duty – to order a re-election of an appropriate person but not to select such a candidate,” the judge concluded.

Nkheli Liphoto

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[BREAKING NEWS] Lebona sets curfew



MASERU– In an effort to curb the rampant increase of homicides in Lesotho, the Minister of Police Lebona Lephema has announced a 10:00pm-4:00am curfew, effective Tuesday May 16, 2023. Failure to comply with the curfew attracts a 2 years imprisonment or a fine.

Staff Reporter

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Two nurses deleted for misconduct



MASERU – A Kolonyama midwife, ’Mamalibeng Ralenkoane, who allegedly neglected a woman during labour has been deleted from the nurses’ register for the next six months.

The woman went on to deliver her baby by herself without professional assistance.

In another case the secretary-general of the Lesotho Nursing Council (LNC), ’Mamonica Makhoswonke Mokhesi, has also been deleted for violating a patient’s privacy.

The LNC’s disciplinary chairman, Advocate Rapapa Sepiriti, said Ralenkoane had committed an act of serious misconduct and deserved severe punishment.

Advocate Sepiriti ruled that Ralenkoane “should not be seen anywhere attending (to) patients”.

Ralenkoane was working as a midwife at the Little Flower Health Centre in Kolonyama, Leribe, when ’Mateboho Letlala was admitted there for labour in August 2020.

Letlala told the panel that Ralenkoane took her to the examination room and later left her despite that there were signs that she could give birth anytime.

“At 19:00 pm Ralenkoane examined the patient but left her unattended and the patient had to deliver on her own,” Advocate Sepiriti said in his verdict.

“Clearly the blame has to be put at the door of Ralenkoane,” he said.

Adv. Sepiriti ruled that she should be deleted with immediate effect for 12 months, half of which was suspended.

“During these six months period, Ralenkoane is prohibited in any way from attending patients and this judgment should be delivered at her place of work,” he said.

Letlala in her testimony said by the time Ralenkoane arrived, she was already having severe labour pains and was told to go to the labour ward for assessment.

She said when she stepped down the labour bed Ralenkoane said to her: “Ua seke ua tatela ho hema empa molomo oa popelo o buleile ka 3cm’ (meaning she seemed to be in a hurry yet the cervix had opened by 3cm only).

“I was so surprised because I could feel I was very close to delivering because this was my second child and I could say I have experience,” she said.

She said she told the nurse that she needed to use the toilet but was instructed to use a pan instead.

“As she left me on the bed pan I could not stand from the pan as the pains were severe. I called for help but to no avail,” she said.

She said the moment she got energy to stand from the bed pan she saw blood, she called her but there was no response.

“Ralenkoane promised to come after two hours but there were no instructions on what to do in case I needed help prior to two hours,” she said.

“I wheeled myself to the bed and sat on it, still calling to no avail.”

She said while still alone, her membranes raptured and the time of birth came and the baby was delivered.

“The child did not fall as I was able to hold him,” she said.

She phoned her aunt who told her to find s scissor to cut the umbilical cord.

She said she bled a lot and ran out of energy, then Ralenkoane arrived at around midnight.

“When she came in she asked where the baby was and I pointed to where I had put him where he clamped the cord,” she said.

She said it was then that she got assistance.

The investigator for Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), one Nteso, told Advocate Sepiriti that his findings were that “the mother’s life was in danger as she was found having bled heavily and tired and the baby’s life was also in danger from prolonged exposure which could lead to hypothermia and brain damage”.

“Ralenkoane was not there for the mother until she delivered in the absence of the midwife, this is a case of negligence,” he said.

However, in mitigation Ralenkoane said this was her first time to appear before the panel and has been a nurse for more than nine years.

She said she has two children to support and she has already been punished by the clinic as she was dismissed and that she has policies and loans.

She pleaded with the panel to have mercy on her.

In another case Mokhesi who was the Secretary General of LNC was also deleted from the register for two years after she was found guilty of sharing a patient’s picture on social media without their consent.

She was accused of defamation of character and violating the patient’s privacy by posting pictures of the injuries he had incurred.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Nurses back at work



MASERU -NURSES who have been on strike since Monday are set to resume work this morning after the government started paying their salaries.

The nurses went on a go-slow last week but escalated to a full-fledged strike on Monday after the government delayed their salaries. Some nurses claimed they had not been paid since March.

Morephe Santi, the secretary general of the Lesotho Nurses’ Association (LNA), said they have started telling members to go back to work after the government said the salaries will start reflecting in their accounts last night.

The strike has inflicted huge reputational damage on Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s government which came to power on promises of efficiency.

Minister of Public Service Richard Ramoeletsi blamed the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and the Human Resource Management System (HRMS) for the delay in April salaries.

Ramoeletsi told parliament last week that the two financial management systems were unable to reconcile, leading to delays in salaries.

But that explanation was little consolation for patients who bore the brunt of the strike.

At least 20 expectant mothers at Machabeng Hospital in Qacha’s Nek were told to go home because nurses could not help them.

Some of the women were later admitted at Tebellong Hospital, a facility under the Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL).

“We were staying at the hospital’s roundavel awaiting our time to go to labour but on Thursday afternoon (last week we were called by the nurses and they told us to go to other hospitals or go back home,” said Maretlotliloe Mpeli, who is heavily pregnant.

She said the nurses told them that they could not work on empty stomachs.

’Matlotla Poling, 19, from Ha-Rankakala said she had to call her parents because she did not have any money to either go back home or to Tebellong Hospital.

The Machabeng Hospital management declined to comment, referring thepost to the ministry’s headquarters in Maseru.

Ministry of Health spokesperson, ’Mateboho Mosebekoa, said Machabeng Hospital “did not expel the expecting mothers but merely sent them back home”.

“Due to the ongoing strike by doctors countrywide …they decided to take those women to the places where they would get help,” Mosebekoa said.

There was similar anguish at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

“The strike has affected all the departments including the kitchen, maternity, and emergencies, but the managers are on duty,” said ’Makananelo Sepipi, the hospital’s spokesperson.

Sepipi said managers were forced to hold the forte “because some sections cannot be left unattended utterly due to their importance”.

“The operations are happening in the emergency section, even though they do not operate in a normal way.”

She said patients whose operations were scheduled for this week were sent back home.

Santi, the LNA’s secretary general, blamed the government for the chaos caused by the strike.

Santi said as much as the government likes to call them an essential service they do not prioritise their ministry.

“They do not appreciate us, it is like they do not see the importance of our job,” Santi said.

“The government turns a blind eye to the fact that our working environment alone can put us at risk of contracting diseases.”

“Now we are not able to buy food and other necessities.”

Nkheli Liphoto & Thooe Ramolibeli

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