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Muckraker: Bedbugs feasting



THE leaders of this wonderful country are capable of astonishing things.
Were Sanko, the maestro, alive he would have opened his eyes wide and said: Hela! Mehlolo. Mehlolo sefela sa Maroma. Mehlolo.
The first time Muckraker heard that masterpiece from Sanko her hair rose with excitement.

The second time her hair rose again without being combed was when she heard that some three ministers had formed a company to dabble in businesses their ministries regulate.
Once again Muckraker remembered Sanko when he screamed: Meleko!

But this time it was not rising because of delight but fury at the disgusting shenanigans of the ministers.
There are things that infuriate you and things that leave you flabbergasted. Muckraker could not speak for days after that discovery.
Some things are just incomprehensible. The mind boggles. Some things are as difficult as relaxing a chiskop.
To Sanko’s word Muckraker would add: Ba leka Basotho. Batho!

In 1993 Muckraker was just a little girl with her breasts germinating when BNP leader the late Retšelisitsoe Sekhonyana warned about the perils of electing poor and hungry people into government.
He said: Ho betere hore le khethe tšitšili e khotšeng hobane e ke ke ea le loma haholo. Ha e le e lapileng eona e tla le noa mali kaofela. (It is better for you to vote for a bedbug that is already full because it will not bite you. As for the hungry one, it will drain all your blood).

A modestly rich man Sekhonyana was referring to Ntšu Mokhehle, a politician of meagre means. You don’t need to have caught a whiff of chalk to know that Sekhonyana was right.
We are screaming as poor politicians play morabaraba with our lives and money.
A few months ago Phori and Mapesela hit the ground running.

They claimed they want to drastically change so that Basotho benefit from their economy and resources.
First to be clobbered with regulations were the butcheries that were banned from importing red meat. Meraka, a company whose shareholding is foreign but has a dash of local flavour, was handed the monopoly to import red meat.

There were howls of protest from the butcheries but they were told to either dance to the tune or go to hell.
It didn’t matter that the tune was riddled with discord and that some of them were already roasting.
Some have since watched helplessly as their businesses clamber the chariot to hell. A few weeks later the ministers unleashed another hatchet on the wool and mohair sector, this time spanking poor farmers.

Out of the blue farmers were told that they could not export their wool and mohair.
If you were caught exporting raw wool you would be hobnobbing with ‘you-know-who’ at the prison, the farmers were told. The licences were suddenly hiked to eye watering levels.
BKB, a company that has been buying wool from Basotho for decades, was shoved to the coals on some laughable trumped-up allegations that crumbled before their lawyer could say “My Lord”.

Viewed in isolation these policy changes were not that horrible. Their motive was to help Basotho.
The ministers said as much when quizzed about their vim in pursuing those policies.
But as they say ‘that which has horns cannot be hidden’.

This week we woke up to a staggering revelation that the ministers had a hidden agenda when they tinkered with the rules and stirred trouble in the sectors.
We now know that the ultimate plan was to form a company to enter the same sector.
So here we are, staring at documents showing that three ministers have formed a company called Masimo A Matala which will go into the farming business.

All along we have been wearing balaclavas without eye holes. The wool has been pulled off our eyes and we can see clearly.
It is astounding that the officials don’t see anything scandalous about the sequence of events here.
Its either they have a strong conviction or they think people are daft.

There are several issues that stick out like a sore thumb here.
The first is that the ministers were probably planning this for months before they molested the regulations in the name of benefiting Basotho.
If that is so then it means there is a clear case of ‘insider trading’. If you don’t know what that is then get a Babatone and google your way to enlightenment.
They have used their position to feather their nests.

Unlike others who are already running like headless chickens as they try to adjust to the new regulations the ministers had advance information as to how they were going to enter the market.
It is probable that they are entering the business while sitting on a huge kitty. After all they knew exactly how the rules were going to change.
It is doubtful that they would have jumped into that business had they not changed the rules to clear the hurdles.

The second is conflict of interest, an issue not far removed from insider trading. The ministers clearly understand the government’s attitude to the new regulations.
Being cabinet ministers, they have the power to influence any policy changes.
It is therefore highly unlikely that they would stand arms akimbo as other cabinet ministers push to make new regulations that affect their new business.
The ministers are therefore both players and referees in the sectors.

The timing of the incorporation of Masimo a Matala points to a well-orchestrated plan hatched probably over roasted maize cobs.
What we are seeing are officials on the verge of harvesting the fruits of their meticulous plan.
The third issue is one closest to Muckraker’s heart: the lack of shame.

How such a dubious scheme could have been concocted by three whole ministers beats Muckraker.
They could have formed a company each but they chose to just dive in as a team. The result is a deal that stinks more than a flooded VIP toilet.

The ministers will probably try to hide behind the finger by claiming that they have a right to form companies with whoever they want and venture into business of their choice. They are right.
It’s only that they cannot have their bohobe and eat it. Only unsophisticated minds would follow that line of reasoning.

The issue is not whether or not they have the right to do business with partners of their choice. Rather, the matter is whether they can own businesses in sectors under their control.
There is no need to split hairs here because the logic is apparent. The difficulty of managing the resulting complications is well established.
Muckraker will not bother to lecture about simple ethics because she has understood that such issues are minor irritants in this country.

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Let them take korobela



Nqosa Mahao has pulled a fast one on his opposition comrades to join Uncle Sam’s government. Muckraker suspected the bromance among the opposition leaders would end in tears but never expected Mahao to do the betraying. The lesson is that there is no honour among politicians and everyone has a price. The BAP’s price is two cabinet seats and some morsels to be flung its way here and there.
The opposition is furious at Mahao for stringing them along for three weeks while Uncle Sam whispered sweet little things in his ears.

They say Mahao attended their nocturnal meetings to plot Uncle Sam’s demise but was busy with a plan to get himself a mok’huk’hu in the government.
Their screams of anger are hypocritical. They too would have been charmed for the right price. Mahao just happened to have yielded earlier than them. None of them can claim that they were not approached by the RFP or its dealmakers.

No one could claim that they refused the RFP’s marriage proposal because they differed on ideology and principle. The only sticking issue was what was offered and what they thought their support was worthy. So let’s bin the hypocrisy and confirm that some of them overreached and overestimated their value by holding out for more spoils. It’s not their business if Mahao sold himself too cheap.

He was smart enough to understand that the market of political support was already flooded. That is being pragmatic.
In the end, it was a simple matter of demand and supply. Uncle Sam played the game well by lodging a scarecrow of a court case to delay the vote of no confidence to buy himself time. That blindsided the opposition leaders and allowed Uncle Sam to counterattack.

So while Lehata was laughing like a hyena in parliament and the opposition congregated at the BNP Centre for drinks Uncle Sam was cooking some delicious dish across town. It was only a matter of time before the aroma reached the politicians’ noses.

So while they were claiming to be united most of them were busy receiving calls to hear what was on the menu. It was a buffet of embassies and cabinet seats. The desserts were deputy minister positions and some small jobs for hungry supporters. The only problem with some of the opposition leaders was that they wanted to eat the whole buffet, including Uncle Sam’s portion.

Meanwhile, Uncle Sam was busy gauging what was enough to satiate the hungriest among the opposition leaders. In the end, he knew he didn’t have to part with much to get the deal and the numbers he wanted. Some politicians are saying Mahao could have asked for more because Uncle Sam was desperate and cornered. Not true!

Your tomatoes do not cost more simply because you worked hard to produce them or you think they are special. It’s the market that decides.
To get more for them you should get the timing right. The same applies to political support. Uncle Sam knew the market of political support would be oversupplied if he waited a few days before buying.

By the time he came to the market the available political support was about to rot and everyone was willing to sell at a huge discount. This is common sense but some opposition leaders want to pretend Mahao ambushed them by selling fast.

Muckraker suggests that next time they plot against Uncle Sam, the opposition leaders should visit a sangoma to give them all a huge dose of korobela so that none is tempted to find another lover. The best love portion comes from the North of us. Mwa, mwa, mwa!

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuuu

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How to share a stolen goat



Those who think Uncle Sam is now safe from the barbarians at the gates are naïve. Mahao’s defection is a temporary setback from which the opposition leaders are plotting to recover.
They are coming because Uncle Sam is holding something they cannot live without: power.
And they will not rest until they get it. Those who believe this fight is based on principle and ideology are unmitigated dimwits. Their claim that Uncle Sam’s government has failed is just a cover to justify their plot. They know they would not do a better job.

Everyone knows that because they have seen their epic bungling when they had a chance to rule.
The notoriety of their thievery, corruption, deliberate mismanagement and nepotism precedes them. They say Uncle Sam has failed to implement his party’s campaign promises but forget that some of them failed several times. If this was about ideology and principle it would reflect in the negotiations for coalitions. In countries where politicians still have morsels of self-respect and specks of shame, such negotiations would be dominated by ideological and policy considerations.

Political parties try to find some common ground on fundamental issues like the economy, education, climate change, trade and foreign policy.
Our rascals here talk about ministerial and diplomatic positions as if they are sharing a stolen goat; I want the head, give me likahare.

My ancestors said I should always eat the testicles. Give me the liver, I don’t have teeth. The heart is my favourite. In a way, our government is like a stolen goat being shared by thieves. Ba ja maleo.

It’s a fat goat stolen from Basotho. The politicians will eat it and not leave even the skin for Basotho to make a mat to lay on when hungry. The thieves are eating while the people watch.

Yet we people never tire to give the politicians the permission to rob and pee on them.
It’s tempting to say we deserve it but no one, not even the Devil, deserves the politicians we have in this country. Some say there is hell somewhere. Muckraker says we are already in a hell of some sort created by our politicians. We are being roasted slowly by politicians and they will never stop.

Does that make you feel depressed and hopeless? Well, you are not alone. There are worse places on this earth. Does that mean we should accept tosh because there is worse tosh in other places?
Well, it’s your choice.

Muckraker wishes you a wet weekend. Let’s hope Uncle Sam throws us a party to celebrate his great escape. You marched for him, didn’t you?
A beer is what you deserve for sweating from Maseru Mall to parliament.

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuuu

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Give Lehata a Bell’s



Mootsi Lehata behaved like a clown in parliament last week. Laughing like he was in a shebeen. Spewing insults as if someone had stolen his goats. He even used the ‘F’ word on Lejone Mpotjoane.
“Moshanyana enoa a se ke a ntella. Se ke oa ntella sonny, f**k you,” he said in response to Mpotjoane. Muckraker doesn’t know Mpotjoane to be a moshanyana. What she knows is what Lehata did to a ngoanana a few years ago.

The girl dropped the rape case on the condition that Lehata builds her a house and pays for the child’s upkeep. So ke eena ea tellang molao. Some might say it’s water under the bridge but Muckraker doesn’t forgive. Never!

For now, we should talk about his monkeyshines in parliament. He looked high on something. Lehata can however deny it. He can say he was shaking because he had spent sleepless nights plotting to topple Uncle Sam. He can claim he was shaking with excitement at the prospect of becoming a minister again. If that doesn’t cut it he can say wasn’t drunk but just suffering from a hangover.

That might work because he could say those who say he was drunk on that Monday should have seen him on Sunday. He could claim he was still suffering the effects of knocking down several bottles taller than him.
But whatever happens, no one can prove that he was high.

Yes, a test could have revealed that he had blood in his alcohol but that is now beside the point because it didn’t happen. In any case, Muckraker has seen worse things in parliament. Remember how some MPs spanked each other a few years ago?

Chairs and bins were given wings. An MP was once captured on camera groping another.
As for insults, worse things have been said. Some of the MPs don’t need to be insulted to feel humiliated. Imagine how it feels to be an LCD MP.
You see it in their faces that they are beating themselves.

No wonder they are not even mentioned as part of the opposition. They are not in opposition, not government and not in the crossbench. They are there, somewhere there.

Muckraker would not sleep well if she ended these musings without mentioning one small thing. During the debate on Lehata’s tomfoolery, one opposition MP said the Speaker should protect MPs so that their images are not manipulated to tarnish their reputation. Yeah, right!

You must have a reputation first for it to be tarnished. Muckraker and 98.9 percent of Basotho know 99 percent of our MPs to be freeloading, greedy and power-hungry charlatans.
That is their reputation. Those who say our MPs are honest and hardworking are tarnishing that sterling reputation.

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuuu

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