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A fighter for women’s rights



MASERU – Early in her life, Liteboho Kompi joined politics for fun.

“I did not have any further dreams than being just an ordinary Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) member who could be seen dancing to the party’s political songs,” said Kompi, recalling her novice days in politics.

In 2012 when the Democratic Congress (DC) was born after a split from the LCD, some members approached Kompi asking her to stand for elections at her then Qaqatu constituency.

But she lost the primary elections. After the loss, the LCD accorded her an opportunity to be a Proportional Representative (PR) Member of Parliament (MP).

Later, she landed a job as a Deputy Minister of Education and Training.

“Since then, my love for politics has intensified. I became exposed to issues that I never knew when I became an MP,” says the 40-year-old.

Before becoming an MP, Kompi says she had always fought against child marriages which are common in most parts of the rural Lesotho.

“Child marriages frustrate the development of the girl child because they cannot further their studies to the next level. I believe that education is a key to success. Once the girls get married at an early stage, that move usually throws banana skins in their lives,” Kompi says.

While in parliament, she says she advocated for the enactment of anti-child marriage laws.

“It was my passion to teach people in the village about the negative consequences of child marriages. I would throw in parliament hot debates. I also did the same in the villages. Some people do not understand that it is illegal for girls to get married while still young because their bodies are not yet ready for such burdens. The sad reality is that some parents push for the marriage of their daughters who are still at a tender age oblivious of the predicament they are putting them into,” she says.

“This is what I have been fighting for,” Kompi says, adding that she is going to continue her fight until the practice is eradicated.

The vibrant and energetic MP says she talks about child marriages on all public platforms so that people could understand it.

The MP entered the race for a second time in the same constituency under the LCD but she lost yet again in 2015 but that did not dampen her spirit in politics.

One of the important milestones in her political journey was securing a job as deputy Minister of Health. Kompi strongly advocated for maternal issues while at the Ministry of Health.

“I am gravely concerned about the deaths of mothers when delivering babies,” Kompi, who joined Selibe Mochoboroane when he split from the LCD to form the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) in 2017, says.

“In fact I was a founding member of the MEC. I became a member of the Executive Committee serving as the public relations officer, a position I still hold,” says Kompi, whose major task is to communicate party issues and policy positions to the public.

Kompi also became a member of the National Dialogue Planning Committee, whose function was to gather public opinion regarding the national reforms process.

There were three representatives from opposition parties in the reforms committee. Later, Kompi landed a job as deputy chairperson of the National Reforms Authority (NRA), whose task was to formulate reforms for the country in designated areas.

Another area of her interest is to see women at village level being empowered and economically emancipated. Kompi wants to see women financially independent.

“The current situation now is that many women still rely on their partners for financial resources yet it is possible for women to break through these barriers,” she says.

She says most women still venture into poultry farming with “abysmal ignorance”.

“So they have to be trained and equipped with skills so that they can graduate out of poverty. Others are in crop production with limited skills in that field,” says Kompi, who is also an enthusiastic farmer who keeps poultry for sale.

Kompi believes that it is high time that the country moves from peasant farming and adopt commercial agriculture as a strategy to fight poverty.

Incredibly, Kompi is unafraid and unashamed to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty. She also goes out under the baking sun to tend her crops in the fields.

In the October 7th elections Kompi threw her hat in the ring contesting the elections in Likotsi constituency under the MEC banner. She lost the elections to the Revolution for Prosperity’s (RFP)’s Lineo Rantšo.

Frustrated after the massive blow, her party offered her a PR seat in the 11th Parliament. Among issues that she plans to push in parliament is to see factory workers being given a fully paid three-month maternity leave.

“I am also going to push to see that the working hours of factory workers are flexible,” she says.

Since her constituency covers the Tikoe Industrial Estate, she regularly sees women hunting for jobs in the factories struggling to access facilities such as toilets.

Kompi says women looking for jobs need decent places to relieve themselves.

Asked about her future plans in politics, Kompi says she is not aspiring to be leader of her party one day.

“That is not my project at all,” she says, adding that being a leader comes with an avalanche of responsibilities.

When further asked if she wants to be a Prime Minister of this country one day, she was quick to shake her head in denial.

“I don’t want to be leader of a political party, let alone to be a Prime Minister of this country,” Kompi says.

Regarding the recent elections, Kompi believes her party performed well compared to other political parties. The MEC bagged the Thabana-Morena constituency which was won by party leader Selibe Mochoboroane.

Kompi says some big and old parties suffered a massive blow in the past elections.

“So our party, small as it is, did its best in the elections. But there are still some gaps that we want to cover as a party in order for us to grow from strength to strength,” says Kompi, adding that the party is satisfied with the coalition marriage with the RFP.

The MEC has four Proportional Representatives (PR) MPs in the government. The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) is also part of the marriage.

“We are being consulted adequately on critical issues in the government,” she said.

She says this means the government could last up to five years because it is operating in line with the coalition agreement.

“Undeniably, there is no marriage without problems,” Kompi says.

For her, the private sector could help rekindle the troubled economy by creating jobs for the unemployed, especially youths who are roaming the streets with nothing to do.

Majara Molupe

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MP defies party, backs opposition



MOHLOMINYANE Tota, the only MP for the United for Change (UFC), has defied the party’s order to stop voting with the opposition in parliament.
Tota, the UFC’s deputy leader, told thepost this week that he will vote, guided by his own conscience, and not the party’s instructions.

His defiance comes after the party publicly chastised him for voting with the opposition in parliament.
A fightnight ago, Tota angered his party when he sided with the opposition to vote against the government’s motion to continue discussing the reforms’ Omnibus Bill despite that it was being challenged in the Constitutional Court.

The government however won with 57 votes against the opposition’s 50.
The UFC issued a statement reprimanding Tota for defying its decision to always vote with the government.
But Tota told thepost this week that he was unfazed by the party’s warning.

“I will continue to vote with the opposition where need be, and I will also vote with the government where need be,” Tota said.
He said he respects the party’s position but “I also have a right to follow my conscience”.

This, he added, is because “it is not mandatory for an MP to toe the party line even when his conscience does not allow it”.
He said whether he will vote with the government or the opposition will depend “on the issue on the table”.
He said his conscience would not allow him to vote with the government on the Omnibus Bill motion.

“It was wrong,” Tota said.
“I will do the same again given another chance.”

Tota’s response comes three days after the UFC issued a statement distancing itself from his stance in parliament.
The party said its national executive committee had an urgent meeting over the weekend to discuss Tota’s behaviour.
It said its position is to always support Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s coalition government.

“‘The issue has caused a lot of confusion in the party and among Basotho at large,” the statement reads.

The party also said Tota did not bother to inform the national executive committee about his decision so that he could get a new mandate.

“He did not even inform the committee before voting,” the statement reads.
“The national executive committee held an intensive meeting with Tota about the matter because the purpose of the party is to support the government,” it reads.
The UFC said where the government goes wrong “the party will continue to confront it with peace and not with a fight” (sic).

“We have confidence in the current government because it was voted in by Basotho.”
The UFC’s statement makes it clear that the party “will not support anything against the government”.

Nkheli Liphoto

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Inside plot to oust Matekane



THE plot to topple Prime Minister Sam Matekane thickened this week amid allegations of brazen vote-buying ahead of the opposition’s planned vote of no-confidence.

The opposition is said to be ready to push out Matekane when parliament reopens sometime in September. They accuse Matekane’s government of incompetence, nepotism, corruption and using the security forces to harass opposition MPs.

But as the lobbying and touting of MPs reaches fever pitch, there are now allegations of each side using bribes to secure votes crucial in the vote to remove the government.
Democratic Congress leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, this week accused the government of bribing its MPs to defeat the motion against Matekane.

Mokhothu, who made the allegations at the opposition’s press conference yesterdday, did not give further details or names of those bribed and those bribing.
But on Monday, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP, Puseletso Lejone, told thepost that Mokhothu offered him a M2.2 million bribe to support the opposition’s motion to upend the government.

Lejone said Mokhothu made the offer at a secret meeting, attended by almost all opposition leaders on August 14, at Monyane Moleleki’s house in Qoatsaneng.
The Thaba Moea MP said the leaders claimed that 60 MPs were supporting the motion against Matekane and wanted his vote to make it 61.

“The money was to come directly from Mokhothu,” Lejone said.
“They asked me to provide them with my bank account so that they could transfer the money.”
Mokhuthu denied the allegations, saying he wondered if Lejone “was smoking socks”.

Lejone repeated the same allegations on the sidelines of yesterday’s press conference where Matekane assured Basotho that his government has enough numbers to fend off the opposition’s attempt to push him out.
He said apart from Moleleki and Mokhothu, other political leaders who attended the meeting were Lekhetho Rakuoane, Machesetsa Mofomobe, Nkaku Kabi, Professor Nqosa Mahao, Teboho Mojapela, Tefo Mapesela and Tšepo Lipholo.

He said the leaders gave him a document showing that six RFP MPs had pledged to support the vote of no confidence. Lejone however refused to name the RFP MPs, saying he still wants them to remain in the ruling party.
He said four MPs from parties in the RFP-led coalition had signed.

They are Mohlominyane Tota (UFC), Reverend Paul Masiu (BAENA), Mokoto Hloaele (AD) and Motlalepula Khahloe (MEC).
The deal, Lejone said, was that Mokhutho would become prime minister and be deputised by Dr Mahali Phamotse.
He said the RFP’s faction was going to be rewarded with 10 ministerial seats for their role in toppling Matekane.
Nearly all the political leaders mentioned by Lejone denied attending the meeting at Moleleki’s house.

“By the living God, I have never been in a meeting with that man (Lejone),” Mokhothu said, adding that Lejone’s allegations are “defamatory”.

Mahao said he last visited Moleleki’s house, which is up the road from his, 22 years ago. Mofomobe said Lejone is lying about the meeting because he wants to curry favour with Matekane, whom he had been criticising for months.
Mofomobe said all his meetings with Lejone were at the BNP Centre and their agenda was toppling Matekane.

“We were discussing his (Matekane) incapability to rule this country,” Mofomobe said.

Rakuoane and Mapesela said they have never been to Moleleki’s house.
So did Kabi who implied that Lejone could have smoked something intoxicating “to talk about a meeting that never happened”.
Lipholo, Rev Masiu, and Tota said they were not at that meeting while Moleleki said he had “no comment”.

Staff Reporter

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Matekane abusing state agencies, says opposition



THE opposition has accused the government of weaponising security agencies to harass and intimidate their MPs.
The accusations come as the opposition plots to push a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane when parliament re-opens in September.

Opposition leaders told a press conference yesterday that the government has resorted to using the army and the police against its MPs because it is afraid of the motion.
Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said the security bosses have been willing tools for the government because their bosses are desperate for Matekane to renew their employment contracts.

He was talking about Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, army boss Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela and National Security Service (NSS) boss Pheello Ralenkoane.

“Employment contracts for the security agencies’ bosses are the ones causing these problems because the commanders end up working towards pleasing the government for their contract extension,” Mokhothu said.

He said the army has also started setting up roadblocks closer to parliament to search MPs. Mokhothu said the army searched Nkaku Kabi and Advocate Lebohang Maema KC at the parliament premises last week.

“The government is now bringing back the security agencies into party politics,” Mokhothu said.
“This was the first time the army entered the parliament premises to search members and other people there. It is an embarrassment.”
“The responsibility of our soldiers is to guard the borders and ensure security, not to enter politics or set up roadblocks on the parliament roads.”
“They are now running the country like a shop or a company.”

Basotho National Party leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, alleged that Matekane had a meeting with the security bosses in Teya-teyaneng to discuss how they could use their institutions to clip the opposition’s wings.

“The LDF, LMPS and NSS boss’s contracts have expired, and now they are using the institution to get extensions,” Mofomobe said.
“The LDF and LMPS are doing this deliberately to protect the government.”
thepost could not independently verify this allegation.

Tefo Mapesela, the Basotho Progressive Party leader, said Matekane’s government is taking Lesotho back to 2014 when the army was wooed into politics.
He warned that officers who allow themselves to be used as pawns in political fights might find themselves in jail while their political handlers enjoy freedom.
He referred to Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who has been in remand prison for seven years as he faces charges of murder, attempted murder and treason.
Mapesela however said the opposition will not be intimidated because it is their democratic right to bring a motion of no confidence against the government.

“When there is time to enter a motion of no confidence it is time, it is written in the law, there is nothing wrong there,” Mapesela said.
“I once launched a motion of no confidence in the previous parliament, but I was never arrested or threatened.”

“We do not owe Matekane anything. When the time has come he has to go. We will lobby others as it is not a crime.”

The Basotho Action Party’s Nqosa Mahao criticised the police for issuing a press statement with political undertones.

In a controversial statement last week, Commissioner Molibeli said the police were aware that some MPs were coercing their colleagues to support their plot to topple the government.
Molibeli also said they were aware that such MPs were surrounding themselves with armed groups.

“Police warn those perpetrating these acts to stop immediately to avoid action that could be taken to protect the country,” Molibeli said.

Matekane made the same allegations at his press conference yesterday.
Professor Mahao said the statement shows that the police have now been entangled in politics.

“Every time parties experience internal problems the leaders conspire with the security agencies,” he said.
“The opposition leaders are now being harassed because the government wants to stop them from exercising their rights.”

The opposition’s charge sheet against Matekane

  •  Filling of statutory positions despite the reforms aiming to change the system.
  • Corruption
  • Nepotism
  • Using security agencies to deter MPs from ousting Matekane.
  • Job losses.
  • Lack of job creation.
  • Failure to fulfil campaign promises.
  • Protecting mining companies’ interests at the expense of Basotho.
  • Incompetence and lack of communication skills.
  • Arrest of MPs by the police.
  • Cherry-picking reforms that insulate his government.

Staff Reporter

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