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Brace for fireworks!

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MASERU-FASTEN your seat-belts and brace for fireworks.
That is the simple message from Tefo Makhakhe, the interim leader of the Lesotho Economic Freedom Fighters (LEFF).
Makhakhe’s new political outfit is an extension of Julius Malema’s EFF that has over the last nine years shaken the political structure in South Africa.

The EFF has disrupted parliamentary proceedings and effectively hounded former South African president Jacob Zuma out of office.
The party has called for the seizure of white-owned land for redistribution to landless black South Africans as part of its grand agenda of “radical economic transformation”.
It has also actively supported Zimbabwe-style invasion of white-owned farms by hordes of landless blacks.
The EFF’s critics say Malema’s version of politics is unnecessarily abrasive while pushing all levels of decency.
They say Malema’s tactics sometimes border on the infantile while at the same time pushing what is patently a racist agenda against what the EFF calls “white monopoly capital”.

The critics see Malema as a dangerous demagogue who is out to destabilise South Africa and threaten racial harmony in the country.
Surprisingly though, Malema’s pan-Africanist agenda has found resonance with over a million South Africans who voted for the party in the last elections, making it the third biggest political party in Parliament by seats.

Only the ruling ANC and the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) garnered more votes in that election.
Makhakhe, who was speaking to thepost this week in the company of his close lieutenant, Mohau Mabetha, said Basotho must expect more of the same tactics that we have seen from the parent party in South Africa with slight tweaks here and there.

“Yes, you will see the same tactics in Lesotho but since the challenges are different, the approaches will also be different,” he says.
“But we will never nurse corruption and the exploitation of our people. We will make sure that we push the government to serve our people.”
Makhakhe says what attracted him to the EFF was its pan-Africanist agenda and its total commitment to socialism.

“I loved the ideology of the movement as a party that represents the interests of the black people of Africa.”
He says two decades after independence in South Africa, blacks are still getting a raw deal particularly in the mines.
The pay structures in the mines, which are still controlled by whites, are based on the colour of one’s skin.

Makhakhe says there are thousands of Basotho migrant workers who still bear the brunt of such racist policies.
“Basotho who work in the mines text us and tell us about these issues; they are ready to talk to us.”
Makhakhe says their focus in Lesotho is “to empower Basotho” so that they take charge of their economic destiny.
“The Chinese are taking over all the big tenders and they have effectively captured the State,” he says.
“The (foreign) investors are taking the land because they have the money and the system allows that.”

Makhakhe says the LEFF wants to shake up the system to stop all these shenanigans by empowering Basotho to take charge of their destiny.
He believes the “black people must be able to (drive) change without seeking funding from external sources”.
The key to effecting change in Lesotho is a revamp of the agriculture sector, Makhakhe says.
“We are going to empower cooperatives rather than a single individual,” he says.
“Most of our budget must go into agriculture and we know that Leribe has the potential to feed all of Lesotho if proper programmes are implemented.”
Makhakhe denies that the LEFF is pushing a racist agenda that targets the Chinese and other Asian nationals.

“All we are saying is that a black child must stand (on his own); it is simply not good enough that the Chinese and the Asians are getting rich at the expense of our people.”
Makhakhe says the party’s pan-Africanist ideology has captured the hearts and minds of thousands of Basotho.
“We can feel the reaction on the ground and it gives us confidence and hope that we are going to make it in Lesotho,” he says.
“People are saying they are tired of the Nationalists and Congress ideologies. The people are looking for a new broom, not a product of past political parties that have caused the current misery.”
“The people are looking for something new, untainted by the past. They no longer want people who have been MPs before. The LEFF is a party for the youths and they are telling us that they want something new.”

Makhakhe says the LEFF is “a platform where all youths will bring ideas on how to grow and strengthen Lesotho’s economy”.
What is also making the party attractive is their push towards “opening up of borders just like in Europe”.
Lesotho’s unique geographical position where it is entirely encircled by South Africa makes it imperative for Basotho to have open borders, he says.

“The people want us and we stand ready to contest the next elections,” he said.
Makhakhe’s close friend, Mabetha, says the LEFF will spring a major surprise in the next elections.
Mabetha says a lot of groundwork has already been covered in setting up structures throughout the country.
“We are going to be the next government,” he says. “People are going to be very surprised. The people are tired of corruption which has been taking place since the restoration of democracy in 1993.”

“All the people who have been in government since then, they have been friends who have been practising corruption together. But we are going to shock them.”
At 31 years of age, Makhakhe is relatively young, some would say too young and inexperienced to make it in the cut-throat politics of Lesotho.
His supporters hope that for him, youth will not be a liability but an asset to drive change in Lesotho.
They believe it is time Basotho dump the geriatrics who have run this country into the ground and give youths a chance.
Makhakhe graduated with an Associate Degree in Graphic Design from Limkokwing University in Maseru in 2011. But like thousands of other Basotho youths, Makhakhe never secured a formal job.

He has been a freelancer ever since.
“I never found a full-time job,” he says.
With a new political career on the horizon, Makhakhe says he is no longer interested in getting a formal job as that “might (interfere) with my new political aspirations in life”.
Makhakhe was born on March 6, 1988 to a father who was a school teacher while his mother was a house-wife. His parents however later joined the Lesotho Mounted Police Service in 1991.

With his parents both police officers, politics was never part of the family’s dinner table discussions.
“We did not talk about politics. In fact it was taboo to talk about politics as they were civil servants who were supposed to be apolitical,” he says.
“Even to play political songs (on the radio) was taboo.”

But gradually, Makhakhe found himself gravitating towards the political by working with people in the rural communities in their bid to improve their lot in life.
That is how he found himself joining politics.
“I found myself working with youths in an effort to change the conditions of our people in their communities and in the country.”
He formally joined politics in 2014. He joined the EFF sometime last year.

Staff Reporter

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Lawyer in trouble

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A local lawyer, Advocate Molefi Makase, is in soup after he flew into a rage, insulting his wife and smashing her phone at a police station.

It was not possible to establish why Adv Makase was so mad at his wife. He is now expected to appear before the Tšifa-li-Mali Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, he was released from custody on free bail on condition that he attends remands.

Magistrate Mpotla Koaesa granted Advocate Makase bail after his lawyer, Advocate Kefuoe Machaile, pleaded that he had to appear for his clients in the Court of Appeal.

Advocate Makase is facing two charges of breaching peace and malicious damage to property.

According to the charge sheet, on October 5, 2023, within the precincts of the Leribe Police Station, Advocate Makase allegedly used obscene, threatening, or insulting language or behaviour, or acted with an intent to incite a breach of the peace.

The prosecution alleges that the lawyer shouted at his wife, ’Mamahao Makase, and damaged her Huawei Y5P cell phone “with an intention to cause harm” right at police station.

During his initial appearance before Magistrate Koaesa, Advocate Makase expressed remorse for his actions and sought the court’s leniency, pleading for bail due to an impending appearance in the Court of Appeal.

His lawyer, Advocate Machaile, informed the court that an arrangement had been made with the police to secure his release the following day, as he had spent a night in detention.

Advocate Machaile recounted his efforts to persuade the police to release him on the day of his arrest.

He noted that the police had assured them of his release the following day, which indeed came to fruition.

Following his release, he was instructed to present himself before the court, which he dutifully complied with.

Advocate Machaile underscored Advocate Makase’s standing as a recognised legal practitioner in the court.

Notably, he was scheduled to appear in the Court of Appeal but had to reschedule his commitment later in the day to accommodate his court appearance.

Advocate Machaile asserted that Advocate Makase presented no flight risk, as he resides in Hlotse with his family and has no motive to evade his legal obligations.

He respectfully petitioned the court for his release on bail, emphasising that he had demonstrated his ability to adhere to the court’s conditions.

The Crown Counsel, Advocate Taelo Sello, expressed no objection to the bail application, acknowledging that the accused had a forthcoming matter in the Court of Appeal.

Consequently, the court granted Advocate Makase bail without any financial conditions, with the stipulation that he must not tamper with state witnesses and must fully participate in the trial process until its conclusion.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Trio in court for killing ‘witches’

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THREE elderly women were all stabbed to death with a spear during a deadly night after they were accused of being witches.

Three suspects, all from Ha-Kholoko village in Roma, appeared in the High Court this week facing a charge of murder.
They are Jakobo Mofolo, Oele Poto, and Pakiso Lehoko.

They accused the elderly women of bewitching one of Poto’s relative who had died.

The stunning details of the murder was unravelled in court this week, thanks to Tlhaba Bochabela, 32, who is the crown witness.

Bochabela told High Court judge, Justice ’Mabatšoeneng Hlaele, last week that he had been invited to become part of the murder group but chickened out at the last minute.

Bochabela said in March 2020, he was invited by Rethabile Poto to come to his house in the evening.

He said when he went there, he found Mofolo, Poto, and Lehoko already at the house. There were two other men who he did not identify.

“I was told that the very same night we were going to do some task, we were going to kill some people,” Bochabela told Justice Hlaele.

He said he asked which people were going to be killed and was told that they were ’Malekhooa Maeka, ’Mathlokomelo Poto, ’Mampolokeng Masasa.

They said the three women had successfully bewitched Rethabile Poto’s uncle leading to his death.

Bochabela said after he was told of this plot, he agreed to implement it but requested that he be allowed to go to his house to fetch his weapon.

He said Lehoko was however suspicious that he was withdrawing from the plot and mockingly said “let this woman go and sleep, we can see that he is afraid and is running away”.

Bochabela said the only person he told the truth to, that he was indeed going to his home to sleep instead of going to murder the three elderly women was Mofolo who also told him that he was leaving too.

He said he told Mofolo that he felt uncomfortable with the murder plan.

Bochabela said he left and when he arrived at his place he told his wife all about the meeting and the plot to kill the women.

He said his wife commended him for his decision to pull out.

“I told my wife to lock the door and not respond to anyone that would come knocking looking for me,” Bochabela said.

He said later in the night, Rethabile Poto arrived at his place and called him out but they did not respond until he left.

Bochabela said in the morning they discovered that indeed the men had carried out their mission.

The village chief of Ha-Kholoko, Chief Thabang Lehoko, told Justice Hlaele that it was between 11 pm and 12 midnight when he received a phone call from one Pakiso Maseka who is a neighbour to one of the murdered women.

Chief Lehoko said Maseka told him to rush to ’Mampolokeng Masasa’s place to see what evil had been done to her.

“I rushed to Masasa’s place and on arrival I found Pakiso in the company of Moitheri Masasa,” Chief Lehoko said.

He said he found the old lady on the bed, naked with her legs spread wide.

“I was embarrassed by the sight of the old lady in that state, naked and covered in blood,” the chief said.

He said he went out and asked Maseka what had happened but Maseka referred him to Moitheri Masasa.

Chief Lehoko said Masasa told him that there were people with spears who had threatened to kill him if he came out of the house.

He said Maseka said he knew that Masasa’s neighbour, ’Malekhooa Maeka, was a light sleeper and she could have heard something.

The chief then sent one Patrick Lehoko to Maeka’s house to check if she had heard anything but Patrick came back saying Maeka was not at her house.

“I immediately stood up and went to ’Malekhooa’s place,” Chief Lehoko said.

He said when he arrived, he knocked at her door but there was no response so he kicked the door open, went in and called out ’Malekhooa Maeka by name.

Chief Lehoko said he then lit his phone and saw her lying in bed covered in blankets.

He said he then went closer to her and shook her but she was heavy.

Chief Lehoko said he tried to shake her again one last time while still calling her out but he touched blood.

He said he immediately left and went back to tell others that Maeka seemed to be dead too.

“I decided to go and buy airtime from the nearest shop which I had passed through near ’Matlhokomelo Poto’s home.”

He said on his way he met one Sebata Poto who asked him who he was.

Chief Lehoko said he only replied by telling him that the two women, Masasa and Maeka, had been murdered.

He said Sebata Poto told him that “’Matlhokomelo has been stabbed with a spear too”.

Chief Lehoko said he rushed to ’Matlhokomelo Poto’s house where he found her seated in the middle of the house supported by her children with blood oozing from her chest, gasping for air.

“I stepped out and went to get airtime, but I found her dead when I returned from the shop,” the chief said.

The case continues.

Tholoana Lesenya

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Opposition fights back

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THE opposition is launching a nasty fightback after Prime Minister Sam Matekane defanged their no-confidence motion by roping in new partners to firm up his government.

Matekane’s surprise deal with the Basotho Action Party (BAP) has trimmed the opposition’s support in parliament and thrown their motion into doubt.

But the opposition has now filed another motion that seeks to get Matekane and his MPs disqualified from parliament on account that they were elected when they had business interests with the government.

The motion is based on section 59 of the constitution which disqualifies a person from being sworn-in as an MP if they have “any such interest in any such government contract as may be so prescribed”.

Section 59 (6) describes a government contract as “any contract made with the Government of Lesotho or with a department of that Government or with an officer of that Government contracting as such”.

Prime Minister Matekane’s Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) has a history of winning road construction tenders. Other Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MPs, most of whom were in business, had had business dealings with the government.

It is however not clear if the MPs were still doing business with the government at the time of their swearing-in.
Matekane’s MGC Park is housing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which is a government institution established by the constitution, getting its funds from the consolidated funds.

The motion was brought by the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Lekhetho Rakuoane who is a key figure in the opposition’s bid to topple Matekane.

The motion appears to be a long shot but should be taken in the context of a political game that has become nasty.
Advocate Rakuoane said the IEC’s tenancy at the MGC is one of their targets.

“The IEC is one of the government departments,” Rakuoane said.

“It is currently unethical that it has hired the prime minister’s building.”

“But after the motion, he will have to cut ties with the IEC or he will be kicked out of parliament.”

The Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said although the IEC is an independent body, it can still be regarded as part of the government because it gets its funding from the consolidated fund.

The Basotho Covenant Movement (BCM)’s Reverend Tšepo Lipholo, who seconded the motion, said the Matekane-led government “is dominated by tenderpreneurs who have been doing business with the government since a long time ago”.

“Now they have joined politics, they must not do business with the government,” Lipholo said.

He said some of the MPs in the ruling parties are still doing business with the government despite their promises before the election to stop doing that.

“Those who will not abide by the law should be disqualified as MPs,” Lipholo said.

“Basotho’s small businesses are collapsing day-by-day, yet people who are in power continue to take tenders for themselves.”

He applauded the Abia constituency MP Thuso Makhalanyane, who was recently expelled from Matekane’s RFP for rebellion because he withdrew his car from government engagement after he was sworn in as an MP.

“He set a good example by withdrawing his vehicle where it was hired by the government,” Lipholo said.

Rakuoane said during the past 30 years after Lesotho’s return to democratic rule, section 59 of the constitution has not been attended to even when it was clear that some MPs had business dealings with the government.

“This section stops you from entering parliament when doing business with the government. Those who are already members will have to leave,” he said.

Rakuoane said they are waiting for Speaker Tlohang Sekhamane to sign the motion so that the parliament business committee can set a date for its debate.

“The law will also serve to assist ordinary Basotho businesses as they will not compete with the executive,” he said.

“There are many Basotho businesses in business these MPs are in. They must get those tenders instead.”

The new motion comes barely a week after a court application aimed at disqualifying Mokhothu.

The government-sponsored application sought the Constitutional Court to declare Mokhothu unfit to be prime minister because he was convicted of fraud in 2007.

Mokhothu has been suggested as Matekane’s replacement should the motion of no confidence pass in parliament.

Nkheli Liphoto

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