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The Maliba of racism



MALIBA Lodge, that overhyped compound of chalets, is accused of racial discrimination.

A guest complained that whites were separated from blacks in the restaurant.

Their group of blacks, she said, were hidden in a corner near the kitchen.

Muckraker is not in the business of sprinkling salt on festering wounds and will never attest to what she didn’t see or experience.

What has been proven beyond reasonable doubt is that Maliba Lodge’s management is hopelessly incompetent at public relations and media crisis management.

That much is clear from the audio of Stephen Phakisi, the managing director, responding to the racism allegations.

The audio is only useful in teaching managers and business owners to keep away from assignments beyond their qualifications and experience.

Public relations is something Phakisi should never attempt because he sucks at it.

In the audio Phakisi peppers his whining with arrogant statements that reveal his contempt for those who have dared to add their voices to the debate.

He insinuates, without much prodding, that most of those talking about the incident have never been “paying customers”.

He misses the point by miles. You don’t need to have spent a cent at Maliba Lodge to have an opinion about the incident. Nor do you have to understand the issue or know where the lodge is. You can say what you want even if you believe Maliba is in Mafeteng and offers day rest services for M100.

Phakisi also moans about the unfairness of the allegations as if that matters.

What matters is what people think about the allegations of racism.

More importantly, it matters more how the complainant interpreted their treatment.

Maybe they felt they were being hidden in the corner because of the colour of their to avoid tainting the lodge’s reputation as an exclusive white corner of Lesotho.

They could have thought they were being punished for just rocking up at the lodge as if they were buying makoenya and litapole at Mamas’ Café.

They probably thought they were put near the kitchen for the management to give their white guests the impression that they feed their employees well.

Phakisi doesn’t acknowledge these and other possible feelings and perceptions yet they are the possible causes of the fiasco he is trying to manage.

Muckraker thought Phakisi’s embarrassing performance would have been because he was ambushed with questions. But no. The lodge’s statement is equally scruffy and dismissive of the complainant and general complaints.

It breaks the first rule of dealing with a crisis: humbly acknowledge the feelings of the complainant, customer or victim – whether real or perceived – before anything else.

From the opening line, the management says it’s deeply pained by the accusations of racism. It says it feels “insulted” and “disappointed”.

The guest’s pain and dissatisfaction are not even acknowledged.

Nor is the “misunderstanding” that caused the mess explained and contextualised.

The only evidence that Maliba Lodge is not racist is that they “love the beautiful country of Lesotho and Basotho people”.

The statement sounds like it was written by a white person. If the author is black Muckraker will bet her last kobo that a white person was looking over their shoulder and dictating the words.

You know a statement is written or influenced by a white person when it says “Basotho people”. How many legs does that animal have?

Basotho are the people and the people are Basotho. No need to qualify, unless you are just uninterested or ignorant of Sesotho.

In case you are one of those “Basotho people” who keep moaning about racism, Maliba arrogantly reminds you to calm down and be grateful because they “strive to help empower local Basotho’s (sic) through employment and our community trust”.

Maliba Lodge doesn’t have any problem mentioning its jobs and donations in a statement dealing with allegations of racism.

As for the guest and others who might be primitive enough to ambush the restaurant with a food order, Maliba’s management has an answer: Don’t just rock up or we will roast you in the kitchen heat.

We are told that the complaining guest now understands that they “jumped to the wrong conclusion”. The lodge is saying it looked like racism but it was just procedure.

More like a confused Mosotho who likes to whine about procedures they don’t understand. An oversensitive blabbermouth, if you like.

This is the same “procedure” another guest endured five years ago when a white chef allegedly told her to f*** off for complaining about their shoddy food.

She followed the booking procedure but was still told to go hang.

The statement stinks of a superiority complex.

It says those complaining are beneath Maliba Lodge’s target market.

Phakisi hinted the same when he said the local market, Basotho to be precise, are the burger and chips diners. That might be true but not something a trained communicator would say.

Muckraker’s only wish is that the management of the ‘5-star’ Maliba would at least learn to spell. They think they are superior but spell severely as “serverly”.

They say “Basotho people” instead of Basotho. Superior people who are hostile to commas and full stops. Phew!

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuu!

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Zeroes for Zaly



There is something special about Nonkululeko Zaly.

Muckraker is yet to decide if she is just a magnet for trouble or a loose cannon. The only time you hear about her is when there is some trouble brewing or she is throwing punches. Nothing about performance or competence. Just drama.

Either way, that is her business. Sometimes a woman has to swing some punches and shout, especially when her bread is threatened.

What however amuses Muckraker is Zaly’s confusion, hypocrisy and lack of shame. The past three weeks have shown that she is capable of all three at the same time and in equal measure.

First the confusion. She filed an urgent High Court application to block Uncle Sam from booting her out of her PS position.

Her case sounded cogent until she admitted, in her affidavit, that she had not received the termination letter from Uncle Sam. That left the judge’s head spinning, wondering whether she was dealing with a real or dubious letter.

Zaly said her “attention was brought to the letter” and she galloped to the High Court.

Then the hypocrisy. While she was fighting for her job Zaly was busy suspending Retšelisitsoe Nko, the beleaguered boss of the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC), for being involved in a shooting incident.

She was doing exactly the same thing she was fighting against in her own case. While complaining that she was being fired without a hearing Zaly was busy suspending Nko without a hearing. She still held on to her job when she was facing allegations of corruption yet was quick to suspend Nko based on allegations. Phew!

The circumstances were similar but Zaly reached different conclusions.

Then there is the lack of shame. Even after ‘catching wind’ of her imminent dismissal, Zaly continued writing letters to Nko to inflict the same pain she was fighting to avoid in her government job.

Her dismissal letter from Uncle Sam is dated January 11 but she wrote a “show cause” letter to Nko on January 13. Zaly should learn to smell her armpits fast.

Muckraker is not saying Nko is a saint in this case. His phafa is still being prepared. So far Muckraker’s inquiries about the incident are pointing to the fact that he might just be an educated rascal that should be nowhere near any parastatal, especially one dealing with tourism. Let the leg heal and Muckraker will spank that Maqalika of pride and ego out of him.

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuu!

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Kicked in the nuts



An ABC friend invites Muckraker for some wine and gossip. As the merry waters infiltrated our grateful veins, the friend starts complaining about how people in rural areas rejected the ABC in the last election.

She calls them ungrateful and disloyal. Muckraker, already tipsy from the free booze, is in no mood to bore her host with some insights on elections and politics.

This being the January of misery, she is afraid a brutally honest answer might make her friend close the liquor tap.

So, she tells the friend an old story relevant to the political events of last October.

A prominent Maseru lawyer is bird hunting in Qacha’s Nek. Not that he likes eating birds.

It’s just a pretentious hobby acquired from some white friends and some TV nature channels. The lawyer shoots a large bird, and it drops into a farmer’s yard.

The lawyer is about to climb over the fence to fetch the bird when the old farmer appears. The farmer asks why he is about to trespass on his land and the lawyer says he wants to take his bird.

The farmer says he will do no such thing because the bird is now his. He explains that the rule in Qacha is that whatever is in your yard is yours.

The lawyer furiously reminds the farmer that he is a great lawyer and will sue him into poverty. He says he is the one who shot the bird and it was only by chance that the bird dropped in the farmer’s yard.

“You cannot claim to own something simply because it’s in your yard. What if that bird was a person? Would you say their dead body is your property?” the lawyer argues.

He is about to quote some laws but the farmer says there is no need for complicated solutions to a simple dispute.

“I see you know a lot of law but here in Qacha we are just uneducated people who like simple solutions,” says the farmer.

“So how do you suggest we solve this matter, old man?” the lawyer asks.

Farmer: Have you heard of the three-kick challenge, my son?
Lawyer: No! What has a silly kick challenge to do with our property dispute?

Farmer: It’s simple. We take turns kicking each other in the nuts and whoever surrenders loses the bird.

Seeing that he is up against a frail old farmer, the lawyer agrees to the nut-kicking challenge and allows the old man to kick him first.

He opens his legs and the old man unleashes the first kick on his nuts. The lawyer screams and crumbles to the ground.

The lawyer writhes in pain as the farmer waits for him to stand up for the second kick. The lawyer gets up and the old man gives him a thunderbolt kick in the nuts.

The lawyer is now crying but he knows he is just one kick away from punishing the old man. He opens his legs again and the old man delivers his third and final kick in his nuts.

The pain is unbearable but the lawyer doesn’t give up because he wants his bird and the chance to kick some old nuts. He struggles to his feet and gets ready for his turn to kick nuts.

“Now it’s my turn to kick you in the nuts. Open your legs old man!” the lawyer says as he fastens his shoe laces.

Farmer: No, that won’t happen son.
Lawyer: Why not? We have an agreement and it’s my turn to kick you.

Farmer: No, you won’t be kicking my nuts because I surrender. You can get into my yard and take your bird. Case closed. You won, Mr Akhente ea Maseru. Tsamaea hantle Mr Cleva.

The old man whistles as he walks away. The lesson is that you should never underestimate the rural folk.

They kicked the ABC in the nuts and it won’t make babies again. And that’s how Basotho deal with politicians who think they are clever.

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuu!

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Letsosa’s hunt for witches



Three days before the New Year, Motlalentoa Letsosa, the former home affairs minister, had a rare moment of insight. The little boy in him almost screamed Eureka!

He discovered that fighting corruption is a waste of both state resources and time. Genius neh? Being a common Mosotho man he has become since October 7, Letsosa decided he could offer some unsolicited advice to the government.

“Now everyone knows that witch hunt wastes the government’s time and resources. Those who tried it before have not convicted even a single person. This government should stop the witch hunt and deliver desperately needed services to Basotho. My advice!” he said on Twitter.

Of course, he was referring to the DCEO’s raids on several principal secretaries. It is instructive that he doesn’t say investigations but ‘witch hunt’. You don’t need to be Sandawana to know where he got the ‘witch hunt’ thing from.

He is admitting that his government was hunting witches when it arrested corruption suspects. He learned of that cliché when his government was hunting and hounding the DCEO’s director general, Advocate Manyokole.

It was when they were going after Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli. He should know that witch hunts are doomed to fail because his government was doing witch hunts instead of investigations on corruption.

The DCEO became a witch hunter because his government had starved it of resources to investigate corruption.

And speaking of failure to prosecute the corrupt, Letsosa is an expert because the Congress governments were using the C&R (Catch and Release) strategy to fight corruption.

Instead of hiding in shame, Letsosa is admitting that his government failed to catch and prosecute thieves.

And that those they pretended to catch got away because theirs were witch hunts and not investigations. Because Letsosa is no prophet, he was only reminding us of his government’s failures and not predicting the future.

We know the history of his government but cannot pretend to be fortune tellers about the current one.

The corrupt are worse than witches but to catch them you need an investigation rather than hunting skills. Those who use witch-hunting skills to catch sophisticated white-collar criminals will be wasting the government’s time and resources.

Real witchcraft is using your past failures to predict the future failures of other people whose actions you cannot control.

Nka! Ichuuuuuuuuuuu!

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