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Come out into the sunshine



On this beautiful Saturday the 20th of May 2017, I am invited to an exhibition of contemporary arts and crafts exhibition supported by Morija Museum & Archives, The Hub, Maeder House Gallery and Linotšing Art Centre.

It is an experience (that though it is told post-advance) opens up one’s eyes and makes them realise just one fact; we know too little of ourselves and our cultural heritage, and essentially are unaware of our potential that can only be expressed through our talent.
The main concern on my part as a writer is the continuing cry on the part of the artists, craftsmen, and entrepreneurs in our land, and this contained within the phrase, “there is no market for our products . . . ”

And so when institutions take it upon themselves to host a spectacle and an open fair where aficionados and connoisseurs can come to view and buy the works of local artists, the least one can do is to applaud the initiative, and the best one as a writer can do is to contribute to the best of their ability, the message that will help the advancement of the call to recognise the art industry in a manner befitting the efforts of the individual artists and the entrepreneurs that impact every sector of our economy’s development.

MMA and its partner institutions locally and abroad, not only toil to ensure that local arts and crafts are given due recognition, but these institutions also unite the local artists with prospective investors in their ventures.

There are a few core aspects of economic development one as an observer realises about this venture on the day that are salient to the promotion of artistic and entrepreneurial talent at fairs such as this one: i. commitment to promote local arts and crafts industry, ii.
The role and the significance of linking varied sectors in the economy, iii. Lessons on Business Strategy and Youth Development iv.
The venture by MMA and fellow institutions, in actuality acts as a platform through which the merging of the arts and crafts sector with other sectors of the economy is made possible.

Future prospects can only become a reality if institutions realise that the enjoyment of art is not only limited to the arts, the reality is that not all the buyers of art are cognoscente or pretentious arty-farty types: they actually have real appreciation for art and are willing to buy or invest in it.

This is one of the reasons why the day included sumptuous food and beverages, a visit to the MMA which is “the” well of knowledge central and core to our history as a nation under the guidance of its curator Dr. Stephen Gill.

Some of us took tours and hikes to historical and heritage sites as Makeneng with a group of international journalists that include Mr. Bill Hinchberger, who is on a mission to educate local media personnel on election reporting, Mr. Craig Anderson and his daughter Liako, and other international guests to the place where one cannot help but be overcome with emotion at the beauty of the architecture from a past age whose restoration questions MMA and partners are addressing at this moment in time.

Had the opportunity to interview individuals in the arts and crafts, and entrepreneurs at the Maeder House Gallery Exhibition organised by Nazreen Rorke in unity with Teyana Neufeld of Action Lesotho, and the two ladies are also hard at work developing the use of natural dyes for use in woven grass baskets and tapestries in local women development projects.

Beginning with Mr. Marcel Ntee the inspiration behind Martaramputana Design Studio to get the insight on his impressive art designs and wood-etchings, I then went to Thabang Mashapha of Reetzman J. who declares that he ‘seeks to teach the truth as it is to the kidz through art and nature’. Thabo Malefetsane of GYR (Good Young Rasta) designs his bracelets and varied art pieces for a “purpose”.

A talk with Ntate Samuel Chopho reveals how this artist and teacher from Ha-Abia not only creates beautiful ornamental houses, but also carries the spirit of ‘The Green Revolution’ that has helped him found innovative ways to make art from recycled material.
Relebohile Monkhe from Jona Belo Inc. is a spirited figure to whom art is a spiritual journey, the understanding of whose concepts leads to the idea becoming a reality.

\Ms. Boitumelo from Ulu (Wool) Creations makes marvels with wool ranging very wide in terms of design and beauty.
My feet then led me to Mr. Katleho Mthembu whose Bowshoeshoe designs (a community-based, in-house training project he started 2 years ago with Peacecorp teacher Edward Wycliffe) are sold as far as the USA and seen thriving projects started in Mafeteng, Semongkong, and Qacha’s-Nek.

I got a taste of the oven marvels of Mrs. ‘Matebello Nyabela whose Masutsa Bakery aims to supply Lesotho with much needed bread and confectionery of all types.

Rethabile Manare of Fast Food is a young woman whose kebabs and samoosas will leave the palate singing. The mosaic art of Puseletso Qhoai is beautifully different, revealing other perspectives in art.

China-trained potter ‘Me Majack of ‘Majack Pots churns out beautiful ceramics that show one that there is beauty in clay. And Napoleon Makhele of V26 Napoleon Couture has designs that are simply trendsetting haute couture.

I cannot forget the photography of Guga’s Khotso Monyamane, whose hat designs leave one spellbound. As said before, there were lots of individuals one met this day, and I was left twisted into the wire art of Karabo Mohapeloa of Wire Waya whose pieces one can only dream of while he twists them into reality.

And the Wushu master Sobo T. Bernard’s collage of copper designs and masks just exposed the depth to which we have gone into ourselves to express beauty to the world.

Moleboheng Rampou of The Nala Project defines it as an umbrella community market that has for a year now promoted the arts, the food, and acted as a platform of development for varied individuals active in the arts, food and beverages, and entrepreneurship; a commendable committed ‘get up and do it’ initiative.

Litema Designs’ Nkekeletse Molapo-Anderson reveals an endless universe of possibilities, and being a veteran who has traversed the full spectrum of the arts and crafts field, one feels that her novel “upcycling”” (recycling materials for the increase of their value) project is sure to open a door of endless opportunities for the arts, but more than that re-invent the concept of recycling for profit and livelihood.
Above this, the presence of Vodacom Lesotho with their stall brings a spirit of encouragement because I see; the company is indeed committed to improving the business sector and livelihoods of the various entrepreneurs in the country.

This is a day that opened up my eyes to the fact that; the efforts of one are reminiscent to the gentle flapping of a butterfly’s wings whose effect may not be noticed, but will upon maturation result in wealth, needed funds, and the nurturing of the spirit of togetherness we need to garner in unity, and lead us into the future as a connected unit of individuals from different sectors of the Mountain Kingdom’s economy.

To be present at this day’s event is to have the fortune to witness a mushroom blossom, to be part of the testament tomorrow when it becomes a worldwide spectacle.

The stars are bright in the Morija sky as I type in the privacy of the room that once was a master mason’s;  and the possibilities I have seen this day for growth today seem to outnumber the stars . . .

Tšepiso s. Mothibi

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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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