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‘Crisis? What crisis?’

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MASERU – PRIME Minister Pakalitha Mosisili will tomorrow come face-to-face in Parliament with an opposition that is determined to oust him through a no-confidence vote.

His chances of holding on to power will likely rest on King Letsie III accepting his advice to call a fresh election, if the State Council gives the King similar advice.
If that is done, Mosisili would buy himself an extra three months if the King dissolves Parliament and calls fresh elections.
On Tuesday, Lesotho’s opposition parties said they will tomorrow pass a vote-of-no-confidence against Mosisili. They say they have the support of 74 MPs out of the 120.
Lesotho’s constitution provides that Mosisili can advise the King to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections within three months if he sees that he has lost the majority in Parliament.

If the King is not convinced that there is a need to call elections, he may seek advice from the Council of State as to what should be done.
The King can take the advice from his Prime Minister or from the Council of State.

For Mosisili, his future as Prime Minister will depend on whether the King will agree with his call for elections or whether the Council of State will give the King similar advice.
With the opposition pushing a no-confidence vote, if the Prime Minister sees that he has lost the majority, he can decide to vacate office or stay for just three days.
The leader of the opposition in Parliament, Thomas Thabane, who is also the leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), told the press conference that they have already picked Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader Monyane Moleleki to be Prime Minister once the vote-of-no-confidence is passed.

Under the agreement, Moleleki will be the Prime Minister for the first 18 months while Thabane will take over for the remaining 18 months.
“We are going to have a new administration without having gone for polls,” Thabane said, explaining that the government will just change in Parliament.

To show they command the parliamentary majority, four leaders of the new coalition bracing to take over paraded 71 MPs each of whom pledged to support the no-confidence motion tomorrow.

Three of the MPs, ’Mamandla Musa of the ABC, ’Mamahele Radebe from Hololo constituency and Mothae Mothepu of the Basotho National Party (BNP) were said to have apologised for their absence.

The three are however seen as fiercely opposed to the Mosisili-led government.  Some of the MPs who attended the press conference at the AME Hall were from Mosisili’s DC party and are serving as proportional representation MPs. These are former Water Affairs Minister Ralechate ’Mokose and Refiloe Litjobo.

’Mokose and Litjobo were the DC’s secretary general and deputy secretary general respectively before they were suspended for six years for taking sides with Moleleki, who was Mosisili’s deputy. However, under parliament’s regulations, proportional representation MPs do not have a right to cross the floor but they are at liberty to vote according to their consciences even if it means voting against their parties.

Parliamentary privileges protect proportional representation MPs from being recalled by their parties for voting against their wishes.
In 2006 the Lesotho Workers Party (LWP) failed to withdraw its leader, the late Macaefa Billy, from parliament complaining that he had failed to represent their interests.
The speaker wrote to the party saying Billy could not be kicked out of Parliament because he was protected by the law.

Also last year the Basotho National Party (BNP) wanted Speaker Ntlhoi Motsamai to kick out its two MPs, ’Mapalesa Matsumunyane and Lesojane Leuta for similar reasons.
The Speaker did not do so until the party sued her in the High Court, but later withdrew the case, and the MPs are still occupying the BNP’s seats.
Mosisili’s numbers in Parliament were further whittled down earlier this month after the then Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) secretary general and Small Businesses Minister Selibe Mochoboroane defected to form the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) party.

The LCD is in a coalition with Mosisili’s DC and five other parties. Mochoboroane, the Thabana-Morena MP, is expected to cross to the opposition benches tomorrow.
Although Mochoboroane said he does not support the vote-of-no-confidence against Mosisili, he also said in some issues he may not vote with the government.
This shows that Mosisili does not have any guarantee that the government business will pass in Parliament, rendering him squarely at the mercy of the opposition to rule.
The BNP deputy leader Joang Molapo told thepost that “we are not going to allow the government to run its business because it is now illegitimate”.

Molapo said Mosisili “will have to do something illegal, like doing everything without the approval of Parliament so that everybody can witness that there is no democracy in Lesotho”.
Mosisili may hang on to power pending a High Court judgment in a case in which 12 opposition MPs are challenging the Speaker’s decision to want to declare their seats vacant.
The judgment is expected to be delivered today or tomorrow.

Molapo said even if the court decides that the Speaker is correct, “eight of us are proportional representation MPs and our parties can replace us on the same day if we are expelled from Parliament”.

“This will not save Ntate Mosisili’s government in any way,” Molapo said.
However, the government spokesman Communications Minister Serialong Qoo said “those MPs who think there will be change of government on Friday have their hopes hanging on nothing”.

Qoo said the motion of no-confidence cannot be passed in Parliament before the High Court delivers its judgment on whether the Speaker has the right to fire the MPs.
“They should put in mind that they have a case in court. They are just rushing things for nothing,” Qoo said.

“As is the norm and tradition of Parliament, we are going to table the budget probably next week and after that it will have to be debated by Parliament,” he said.
“There will be no motion of confidence in Parliament’s business until we are done with the budget.”

Qoo said the business committee will have to first of all ponder on the proposed motion of no confidence and then set a date for it.
“After that, if we realise that these people outnumber us, the Prime Minister will simply go to the King to advise him to dissolve Parliament and call elections,” he said.
“The DC conference has instructed the Prime Minister to do so and it is what he is going to do.”

He said the constitution provides that and the King takes the advice of his Prime Minister.

Staff Reporter

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Dead on arrival

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My sister delivered a stillborn baby when she was on her way to the clinic,” ’Matemoho Letšela, 23, barely holding back tears.

Letšela says her sister, whose name she withheld, suffered birth-pangs when she was alone at home in Khonofaneng village in Mokhotlong.

She was then rushed down the slopes of a mountain by some passers-by on foot, striding on the slopes of a rocky mountain, crossing deep gorges as she sought to get to the Molika-Liko Health Centre some eight kilometres away.

When she arrived at the clinic, the baby was declared dead on arrival.

Welcome to Mokhotlong, Lesotho’s mountainous region known worldwide for its big and clean diamonds where the people do not have basic services.

Letšela said her sister collapsed when she was on her way to the clinic and was only seen by some passers-by.

By the time passers-by saw her, it was already too late for her and her baby.

She was eight months pregnant. 

“She was still far from the clinic and away from the villages,” Letšela says.

“She had no one to help her until she lost her baby. She was helpless the whole day until it was too late for her to survive,” she says.

 “She had already lost a lot of blood and could not make it to the hospital.”

Letšela shared her sister’s story with thepost during a tour conducted by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to assess the impact of their assistance in Mokhotlong and Quthing districts a fortnight ago.

Letsela pleaded with the government to provide services in Mokhotlong’s hard-to-reach areas to avoid unnecessary deaths like her sister’s.

“My sister was eight months pregnant so the long walking distance might have been the cause of her early delivery and ultimate death,” she says.

She says there are still some villages in her area that are way far from where she stays, villages like Lichecheng where a patient must travel early in the morning, sleep on the way and reach the clinic the following day.

Cars cannot reach those remote areas, she says.

At Letšela’s area, they only have one bus that travels from home to town at 9am and will be back late at 8pm.

Even though they would love to always catch a ride whenever they are going to the clinic, sometimes they just do not have the money.

Letšela is three months pregnant now and says she cannot wait to reach 37 weeks so she can go and stay at the accommodation facilities provided by the clinic.

 “That is the advice from our midwives and I am willing to take that offer,” she says.

“I don’t want what happened to my sister to happen to me.”

When thepost met Letšela at the clinic last week, she had left her place at around 4am walking alone to the clinic and arrived after 10am.

Relebohile Tšepe

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Doctor tampers with corpse

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THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns

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Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.

 

The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

Majara Molupe

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