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Doti says goodbye!



MASERU – Matebatso Doti, who is retiring from active politics at the age of 70, is stepping out of the political ring battered and bruised.

Doti was among the high profile victims of a divisive leadership wrangle that saw All Basotho Convention (ABC) deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao, walk out of the party in frustration in 2019.

She was then fired as Minister of Social Development only to be recalled by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro when he took over the reins a year later.

Doti had thrown her weight behind Professor Mahao, much to the dismay of ABC leader and Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.

In this exit interview at her home in Lithabaneng this week, Doti cut a frustrated figure as she opened up on the battles within her beloved ABC party.

She is candid about the leadership wrangles in the ABC which she says will likely hurt the party come general elections on October 7, 2022.

“My journey in politics has not been a good one,” she says. “After the 2019 elective conference, they (ABC leadership) rejected the new committee.”

“I stood in a place which I thought was good and was victimised. I was retired from the ministry. It was not good because it was out of anger but it gave me a chance to work for the constituency that whole year until 2020 when Majoro came in and reappointed me,” she says.

Now with the elections only nine weeks away, Doti says she is worried about the ABC’s chances at the polls.
She has every reason to be worried.

Here is a party whose heart has been ripped out by factional fights.

Although current party leader, Nkaku Kabi, eventually triumphed in the race to succeed Thomas Thabane, he inherited a party that had been dishevelled by internal wrangling.

Kabi has struggled to reunite the party and fill in the big boots left by its charismatic founder Thabane.

This is the basis for Doti’s candid assessment of the ABC’s chances in the October elections.

“I don’t want to answer that one, but I am worried because of the fights,” she says. “Kabi is busy, trying to campaign; he is all over because he wants to see the party coming back (to power) but it’s tough.”

She tells thepost that although she is retiring from active politics, she fears she is leaving the party when it is at its weakest.

She says the ABC leadership has been “dwelling too much on conflicts than building the party”.

Kabi’s task has been compounded by a resurgent Democratic Congress (DC) party led by Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu that continues to draw huge crowds at its rallies across the country.

Sam Matekane, Lesotho’s richest tycoon, and his Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party, is also posing a huge threat to the ABC’s electoral prospects, she says.

“I was expecting the ABC to govern alone this time but because of the conflicts, on minor things, people are running away from it, they went to other political parties,” she says.

Doti is adamant that the ABC failed to manage well Thabane’s succession issue.

“We loved Thabane so much that we did not even think of a succession plan,” she says. “If there was any death we did not even know who we would appoint to take over.”

Doti says Thabane himself had however indicated that he wanted Majoro to take over as party leader in the event he was no longer there.

“He had indicated that he wanted Majoro to succeed him. He used to say ‘this is the boy I want’. He appointed him a minister. But then something happened and we didn’t know what was happening. He was no longer comfortable with Majoro, I don’t know why. These are some of the things that are making me retire,” she says.

She is also adamant that if the ABC had accepted Prof Mahao’s victory the party would have been in a much stronger position that it is right now.

“The ABC would have been stable and nobody would have gone to Mahao’s Basotho Action Party. Most of the people who joined Mahao are in fact ABC members, even if they say they are not ABC, they are ABC.”

Doti says she is stepping down as the MP for Lithabaneng constituency in Maseru, a constituency she has represented since 2012 and will not contest the October 7, 2022 general elections.

She says the decision to step down was reached as far back as 2017 when she told her people in Lithabaneng that she would be standing as their MP for the very last time.

“I told them in 2017 that I’m running for the last time and that they should find someone to succeed me. And here I am, five years is now over,” she says.

Although she is retiring from active politics, she will remain a committed cadre of the party that she says she still loves dearly.

Other political parties have been courting her but she has rebuffed their overtures, she says.

Doti is quitting politics at a time when the biggest political questions confronting Lesotho have not been resolved.

She wants to see a “caretaker government” taking over the reins for a three-year period to fix the issues ailing Lesotho.

That government must be there for a “short period to harmonise and continue with the national reforms”.

“By the end of the three years, everybody will be OK in their head.”

She says the politicisation of the civil service has meant that jobs are parceled to party functionaries at the expense of qualified Basotho youths.

“If you are not a member of the ruling party, it is very difficult for you to get a job (in the civil service). That is why our children are running up and down the streets.”

She says when she was working in the civil service they advised the then minister “to introduce psychometric tests and not care about the colour of the parties they supported”.

“But the people bought T-shirts and got the jobs.”

Doti says the proposed tweaks to the Constitution will deal with this problem by ensuring that only Basotho who are qualified for jobs get appointed by a panel.

“Principal Secretaries will not be appointed on the basis of their party T-shirts; they should meet the requirements of being top leaders.”

As the Minister of Social Development, Doti was seen as the face of the social protection programme for vulnerable children whose parents had died of AIDS.

She was therefore seen as a much-loved “mother” figure at the centre of the country’s social protection programme for the vulnerable.

As MP, she ran a successful bursary scheme for disadvantaged children in Lithabaneng constituency. Scores of children have benefited from the programme with some of them completing their studies at university.

“They all come here and say, ‘M’e we have passed and we are now looking for jobs’. Others are police officers. We have so many graduates who have benefited from this bursary.”

“That is why I am retiring. I don’t want to die in parliament,” she says with a chuckle.

She says she wants to help take care of her two grandchildren in retirement.

“Any politician who wants to tap from my head, I will be freely available for that as well.”

Staff Reporter

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Government is broke



… Borrows M500m to pay salaries
MASERU – THE government is so broke that it had to borrow a staggering M500 million to pay civil servants’ salaries.
thepost can reveal that the money was borrowed through Treasury Bills from the local market this week.
The borrowing spree comes as the government is battling to pay salaries and suppliers due to a massive drop in tax revenues.
It comes as Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s government is left with two weeks in office.
But those few days left on its tenure have not stopped the government from making plans to borrow more money from the local market.
Highly placed sources told this paper of plans to issue more Treasury Bills in the next two weeks to raise money to pay suppliers.
A source however said there is some reluctance from some technocrats in the Ministry of Finance who believe the government’s books and financial control systems are so shambolic that it doesn’t know exactly how much it owes the private sector.
The arrears fluctuate every day but this paper understands that the government owes between M800 million and M1 billion to the suppliers.
Although the government has been grappling with the financial crisis for the past few years the crunch began to bite this year.
Sources say this month has been particularly terrible for the government.
By last week, a source said, the government had only M150 million for salaries. The total public wage bill is around M600 million.
This explains why the government had to borrow half a billion this week through treasury bills issued by the Central Bank of Lesotho.
The money arrived in the government’s account yesterday afternoon according to sources privy to the transaction.
The government has options to pay the debt in three, six, nine or 12 months. But given its precarious financial position, the government is likely to opt for the 12 months.
This means the debt will be paid on September 21 next year at about 7.8 percent interest. That translates to an interest of M39 million which brings the amount to M539 million.
The latest borrowing pushes the government’s domestic debt to M4.3 billion.
The foreign debt is around M15.6 billion. Although the debt is moderate, the government might be forced to borrow more if revenues continue to drop.
That could spell disaster for the country.
As things stand the government has to cut expenditure or look for ways to generate more revenue.
But with the economy still smarting from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and companies shutting down, there doesn’t seem to be much wiggle room.
Donor fatigue and the drop in the Southern African Customs Union, once the anchor of Lesotho’s budget, have made things worse.
Cutting expenditure seems to be the only option but the government appears reluctant to bite the bullet.
Lesotho has consistently failed to implement the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s recommendation to cut the wage bill.
Successive ministers have hinted at plans to retrench some government employees but have never implemented them because that has political implications.
There are signs that the chickens are eventually coming home to roost.
A few days ago Government Secretary Lerotholi Pheko issued a circular announcing a raft of measures to “contain expenditure and overdue payments for ministries, departments and agencies”.
Pheko said due to increasing expenditure pressures and a drop in revenue the government is implementing measures that will contain expenditure to levels that are aligned with available resources.
“The Ministry of Finance will continue to issue monthly warrants only for wages and salaries as well as essential and critical expenditures in line with the approved procurement and cash plans plus availability of funds,” Pheko said.
He ordered chief accounting officers to stop international travel, buying furniture, large maintenance, subsistence allowances, and hiring new staff.
Also, all vehicles other than VVIPS will not fuel more than once a week unless they are for essential services as authorised by the government.
All government vehicles other than for VVIPs and selected offices must be parked at their designated places by 5pm and shall be used only for authorised purposes, Pheko said.
Nkheli Liphoto

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We’ll gang up against RFP, says Rapapa



MASERU – Lesotho’s biggest political parties have hatched a grand plan to throttle the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) led by Sam Matekane.
The plot was revealed by the All Basotho Convention (ABC) chairman Sam Rapapa at an election rally held in Mashai constituency last Friday.
He said even if the RFP makes it into parliament, they will make sure that it would not be part of the next government.
The plan, Rapapa said, is to “keep the RFP leader Sam Matekane at least as the leader of opposition, with no party to cobble up a coalition government”.
He said Matekane’s “dream of becoming a government alone is practically impossible because” the ABC, the Movement for Economic Change (MEC), the Democratic Congress (DC), and the Basotho Action Party (BAP) “will gang up to sabotage him”.
Rapapa spoke as he appealed to ABC members not to join the RFP which he said will not form a government or be in the next coalition government.
“These big parties will gang up against him (Matekane) and he will not be part of the government,” he said.
Rapapa wondered out loud why anyone would therefore want to leave the ABC to join the RFP.
“We will do everything to stop Matekane from getting into the government,” Rapapa said.
He urged Basotho to analyse critically which parties are likely to form the next government so they vote wisely on October 7.
“Both ABC and DC are likely to form a coalition government,” Rapapa said.
He said although he would in the past viciously attack the DC, he had since toned down after the two parties formed a coalition government in 2020.
In a lighthearted moment, Rapapa compared the political landscape in Lesotho to that of a child who runs away from his home to a neighbour’s house because the head of that house has arrived home with stolen wors.
Rapapa said people who are claiming they are leaving the ABC because it is engulfed in conflicts are lying.
Instead, he said the conflicts are in the RFP which has been battling numerous court battles as party members fight to represent the party in the general election.
“There is no peace in Moruo,” Rapapa said. “There is a fight that is going on in the RFP.”
Moruo, which means wealth, is the RFP’s slogan.
Rapapa urged the members to either vote for the DC or the ABC as there is peace and direction in those parties.
After the election, Rapapa said they will tell Maketane to stand in the corner with his people and a few constituencies.
He said Matekane is going to lead the opposition because they had discussed amongst themselves that he is a businessman and he should go back to business.
“We gave you a job to build roads, (but) you leave them with potholes and join politics,” Rapapa said.
He said Matekane is likely to only qualify as an MP and not a Prime Minister.
The ABC secretary general, Lebohang Hlaele, however distanced himself from Rapapa’s statement this week.
He said the party is busy campaigning to win next month’s election to form the next government and has not yet pronounced itself on any coalition deals.
“We have not planned to do anything about Matekane as the ABC National Executive Committee,” Hlaele said.
The ABC leader Nkaku Kabi told another rally in Thaba-Bosiu that “it is still premature as to which parties we would align ourselves with after the election”.
He said there are some parties that had been approaching the ABC to discuss coalition possibilities but they have not sat down to decide to cobble up any coalition agreements with any of them.
“Our committee has never met any party to discuss the formation of a coalition government after the election,” Kabi said.
Kabi said the matter should not trigger any ruckus in the party.
Nkheli Liphoto

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Stunning details of how Matela died



 MASERU – A witness has revealed shocking details of how ’Mahlompho Matela died.
Lekhooa Monaleli told the court that ’Mahlompho told her that she had been strangled.
Monaleli was testifying this week in the trial of Qamo Matela who is accused of the murder of his wife ’Mahlompho.
Monaleli was friends with the couple.
He was testifying before High Court judge, Justice Tšeliso Mokoko, last Thursday.
Monaleli said he went to the couple’s home after Qamo Matela had told him that his wife was not feeling well and he needed help to take her to hospital.
Monaleli said he found ’Mahlompho and Qamo on the bathroom floor. He said ’Mahlompho was sitting between Qamo’s thighs while their children were in the lounge.
Monaleli said Mahlompho looked “tired and helpless”.
“I helped the accused to lift (his wife) and carried her to the car,” Monaleli said.
He said Qamo had thrust a spoon into ‘Mahlompho’s mouth to stop her from biting her tongue.
“I noticed that something might have happened to the deceased (‘Mahlompho) apart from her being ill,” he said.
“What I picked from the deceased was that her eyes showed that she had been assaulted.”
“I kept quiet because this hit me hard,” Monaleli said.
They drove to Willies Hospital in Khubetsoana.
At the hospital, Qamo left them in the car as he went to fetch a wheelchair for ‘Mahlompho.
Monaleli said this gave him a chance to ask ’Mahlompho what happened.
Monaleli said ’Mahlompho told him that Qamo had assaulted and strangled her.
“I asked the deceased why she did not call for help when what happened. The response was that the accused was strangling her.”
Monaleli said ’Mahlompho told him that Qamo had strangled him for a long time.
The court heard that later on the same day, after helping the couple to the hospital and back, Monaleli sent Qamo a voice note on WhatsApp telling him that he had ruined his day.
Monaleli said he later went to the couple’s house with his wife but they could not see ’Mahlompho because they were told that she was still asleep after taking her medication.
Monaleli said seeing that his friend’s family needed help, he arranged for them to see a psychologist.
The crown’s second witness Rorisang Mofolo, ’Mahlompho’s sister, said she received a call on September 4 last year from Qamo telling her that ’Mahlompho had fainted four times.
Mofolo said Qamo told her that he suspect ’Mahlompho might have a heart problem but she was now feeling better after giving her some sugar.
“He also told me that they were waiting for a car to take them to Willies Hospital,” Mofolo said.
“After our conversation with the accused (Qamo) I called my nurse friend to ask about the temperature change issue, she said it might be Covid-19 so the deceased should get tested,” she said.
She said every time she tried to call ’Mahlompho the phone would be picked by Qamo who would speak on her behalf.
Mofolo said during a video call with ’Mahlompho, in Qamo’s absence, she noticed that she had bruises on her face.
She said ’Mahlompho told her she had fainted three times.
Mofolo said she was relieved after Qamo gave him the impression that ’Mahlompho was recovering but was shocked when Monaleli called and insisted that she goes to see her sister.
She said in their telephone conversation ’Mahlompho said she was “trapped in a hell of a marriage…this man is a psycho”.
Mofolo said ’Mahlompho told her that at one point Qamo had helped her pack her belongings and that of the children so they could leave but suddenly changed his mind and said she would not leave with the children.
She testified that ’Mahlompho said Qamo started assaulting and choking her, saying she refused to give his mother M20 yet she had M30 000 in her bank account.
Mofolo said ’Mahlompho was later taken to  Maseru hospital which quickly referred her to Bloemfontein where she died a few days later.
She said when a nurse at the Bloemfontein hospital called her to break the news of ’Mahlompho’s death she advised her to go to the police to open a murder case.
She reported the case at the Mabote police station.
She said when she arrived at the couple’s house she found Qamo crying in the bedroom.
Mofolo said Qamo said: “I am very sorry, please promise me that you will be there for me and the kids and that we will plan the funeral together”.
Mofolo said she did not reply but she went out.
Tholoana Lesenya

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