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A woolly affair

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ROMA – HER handmade woollen mats are catchy.
Watch her patiently weave them, and you will see the depth of passion and skill.  For her, it is just a continuation of what has long been part of her life – wool.

“Wool has followed me in all my days,” the National University of Lesotho (NUL) trained entrepreneur, Tselane Sesiu, said.
Sesiu is busy in the business of making woolen mats.
In primary school, she was working with wool.
In high school, there was wool.

She went to the Lesotho College of Education (LCE) only to be schooled in wool. Even at the NUL, she met with wool.
And, guess what, she is still hooked on wool.
Handmade is cool.

Her mats are handmade to imperfection.
When you pick her mat, you cannot ignore the human feel that goes along with it.

There is something beautiful about a product that has escaped the monotony, repetition and precision of a machine.
That is the secret behind Sesiu’s products.

Today, we will try to look at the amazing journey both of an entrepreneur and a ‘woolenprenuer’—if there is such a thing, of course.
When she was young, she was always on her parents’ shop at the first opportunity—selling.

“I started selling when I was only in Standard 2,” she related.
On weekends, holidays, after-schools, she was in the shop, selling.
In her primary school years, she vividly recalls days when she was taught to make use of wool and crochet producing all kinds of traditional attire.

They made the products and wore them during cultural ceremonies.
Obviously, she still has fond memories of the good old days.
And she still remembers days when she would use her love for selling as an excuse for not taking time to study her many school books.
“That’s when I was in high school,” she said.

Naughty days but they underpinned her love affair with entrepreneurship.
Even in her high school days, wool would still stick to her like a postage stamp sticks to an envelope.

“In those days, I was making scuffs and hats with wool as a student of Home Economics,” she said.  Then there was time for college (LCE).
At this point she was prepared to try something different.

Forget about wool, she wanted to do Biology and Chemistry.
It was a cool course to do.  It was for the brightest.
But, behold, shocking things still happen.  She was admitted, not in Biology and Chemistry but in Home Economics.
“I was offended,” she said.
Rightly so.

Like most Basotho, she was made to believe that hand-crafting was for the “not-so-bright.”   That is the sorry thinking that has bedeviled the once hardworking Basotho nation to this day.

The handicapped thinking that it is lowly and backward to actually make things.  You have to be a pure intellectual to be successful, the reasoning continues.

It helps to explain why our country is awash with intellectuals who know the temperature at the core of the sun, intellectuals who can quote Plato and Aristotle, but intellectuals who don’t know how to grow cabbage or fruit trees.
Well, she was fortunate enough to be forced into a ‘dumb’ subject.

It would drive her arrogance off the window.  The subject did more than drive her arrogance, it reconciled her with her life-long friend—wool.
“I again met with wool,” she said.

In several of her projects at LCE, here she was, once again, making woolen products. She then landed at the NUL.  Here she did a course called Consumer Science.

“This course is designed to give you all kinds of entrepreneurship skills,” she said, “among which, of course, was the use of wool to make a variety of products,” she said, adding that she “still remember being given a project to make clothing for new-born babies using wool.”

She left the NUL and entered the outside world. Staying faithful to an entrepreneur in her, she was trying all kinds of businesses.
That is, until she once got a call from the Ministry of Agriculture.

She was asked to participate in a training offered by Wool and Mohair Project Promotion (WAMPP).
Once again, the word wool kept following her.
She agreed.

Therein, she learned, again how to make more products out of wool.
In the past, it was part of school learning, nothing serious.
This was different.  She wanted to make a life out of wool now.
“We were taught all kinds of interesting things we could make from wool,” she said.

“Being so married to wool, the training was so easy to follow.”
Now she makes woolen mats which sell like hotcakes.

Own Correspondent

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Police hunt former minister

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THE police have launched a hunt for former police minister, Lepota Sekola, who is suspected of involvement in stock theft.
Police want to arrest Sekola in connection with two cattle carcasses that were found at his grandfather’s funeral in Borokhoaneng three weeks ago.

During the initial interview, Sekola had insisted that the cows belonged to his late grandfather who had kept them in South Africa for better pastures.

The police didn’t arrest him at that time because investigations were still in the early stages. Further investigations have however led the police to believe that the animals were stolen from South Africa.

But when they were ready for the arrest, Sekola could not be found at his home or on his phone.

Police say Sekola will be charged with unlawful possession and illegal importation of two cows from South Africa.

The National Stock Theft Coordinator, Senior Superintendent Mapesela Klaass, told thepost last night that they “have completed investigations but he (Sekola) is nowhere to be seen”.

“We cannot get him on his mobile phones,” S/Supt Klaass said, adding that the police have been “visiting his home but he is not there”.

“His family members are aware that we are looking for him,” he said.

S/Supt Klaass said they are continuing with their search and as soon as they find him, they are going to drag him to the courts.

He said the police suspect the cows were brought from South Africa to be slaughtered for Sekola’s grandfather’s funeral.

Police sources told thepost that one of the cows had new branding while another had nothing. Both had holes on the ears that signalled that they used to have ear tags.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.
Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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Mphaka barred from ABC deputy’s race

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THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has barred former Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and three others from contesting for the deputy leader’s position at an elective conference set for this week.
The three are Kefeletsoe Mojela, Katleho Molelle, and Lekhetho Mosito.

Mosito was an MP who was appointed Defence Minister for a day and removed the following day during Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s premiership.
The elective conference is set to be held at the Leqele High School hall this weekend.

A circular from the ABC said the three did not qualify to enter the race because they had not held any positions in the party’s committees.

The decision to bar the three is reminiscent of the same tactics that saw former leader Thomas Thabane block Professor Nqosa Mahao from contesting for the party’s deputy leader’s position.
Professor Mahao subsequently walked away and formed the Basotho Action Party (BAP).

A weakened ABC has never recovered from that split.

Mphaka and his colleagues were vying for the deputy leader’s position until they were stopped in their tracks by the circular which was issued out on Monday this week.
Dr Pinkie Manamolela is the current deputy leader.

She was plucked from the women’s league to replace Dr Majoro who had resigned from the national executive committee after losing the leadership race to Nkaku Kabi in 2022.

There is a high chance that the four could drag the ABC to court to assert their right to contest. The legal wrangles will likely destabilise the party that is still smarting from a thorough thrashing in general elections held in October 2022.

Mphaka this week told thepost that he will challenge the decision to block him in the courts of law.
“They are crazy people,” Mphaka said.

“I will not allow this to happen,” he said.

“I have already instructed my lawyers to launch an urgent application in the High Court to challenge the decision before Friday this week.”

He complained that it was not clear why the party had decided to kick him out of the race after he spent a lot of time and resources campaigning.

Mphaka said the national executive committee “usually allows members to contest for positions without considering whether they were ever in the constituency committees or not”.

The contenders in the race are former Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, ex-Police MP Lehlohonolo Moramotse, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Leshoboro Mohlajoa, and Maseru Star Taxi Association member Sekhonyana Mosenene.

A member of the national executive committee told thepost that “many of us support Mphaka and Kefeletsoe at all costs”.

“We were dismayed when we saw the circular removing the duo from the race,” he said.

He said many ABC members were rallying behind Mphaka because “he has been campaigning even before everyone could start”.

“They know he has lots of followers.”

He said it is unfair that Mosenene has been allowed to run but he has never held any position in any constituency except that he represented his taxi association in the ABC national executive committee.
“Why has he been allowed to contest yet he is just like Mphaka and Kefeletsoe?”

He complained that Sekhonyana, while representing taxi operators in the committee, was eventually made the deputy party spokesman despite not being in any constituency committee after ’Matebatso Doti resigned from the position.

“Mphaka was chosen by the party to lead the 2022 elections campaign teams and develop a party manifesto,” he said.

“He was allowed to do all that without being involved in any party structures.”

The party’s spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa declined to comment.

Dr Manamolela told thepost that “the decision was not made by the party’s national executive committee”.

“I do not want to talk much …but it is not true that the party’s NEC decided to remove Mphaka and Kefeletsoe”.

Kabi could not be reached for comment.

Nkheli Liphoto

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