From the village  to the courtroom

From the village to the courtroom

MASERU – There is a certain aura that surrounds Advocate Makhetha Motšoari’s name in Lesotho.
Over the last decade or so, Motšoari has distinguished himself as a hard-working lawyer within the legal fraternity.
Yet when asked when he was born, Motšoari is evasive.

He says there appears to be a clear disconnect between his age and what he has achieved in his professional life within a relatively short period of time.
That is because Motšoari’s name has over the last decade been closely associated with the heavyweights within the legal fraternity.
He is not even above 40 years.

A son of a former migrant mine worker, Motšoari had a normal upbringing just like any other Mosotho boy in the dusty village of Ha Seeiso in Matelile in Mafeteng.
Each morning he would wake up at the crack of dawn to herd cattle and plough the fields.
When he was not herding cattle, he would go to school.
There was no electricity.

During the biting winters, the family relied on paraffin heaters and firewood.
Life was not easy. Yet it is that Spartan upbringing that keeps Motšoari firmly grounded as a Mosotho man who is seeking to play his part in the improvement of the lives of his people.
He says because of that background, he finds it easy to identify with the downtrodden masses.
He has not forgotten where he came from.

Motšoari is currently serving as a Cabinet administrator and works closely with the Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka.
Motšoari believes the new coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, which assumed power in June last year, is on a strong footing to bring real economic transformation for Lesotho.

He says five decades of bickering by the political leadership has resulted in economic stagnation for Lesotho.
“The political instability and security challenges have led to the downfall of our economy and held back the development of the country,” he says.
He says he believes Lesotho is endowed with natural resources such as water and diamonds and if these are managed well, then this country can become an economic giant in the southern Africa region.

Yet instead of managing these resources and focusing on the economy, our leaders have for decades been locked in a tussle for political power at the expense of economic development, he says.
“They failed to focus on the broader issues that would spur economic growth and development.”
The political infighting has held back Lesotho’s development, he says.

“Sadly this is the position right now. We have stagnated as a country with politics still dividing our judiciary, the civil service and the security sector.”
Motšoari says Basotho will need to “bury the past” and focus on the future if the country is to make meaningful progress.
“We must go back to the drawing board and ask ourselves what happened and where did we go wrong? We must change our mindset and the way we see things.”
That will not be easy given the levels of animosity among Basotho based on historical grievances.

Motšoari says the ongoing SADC reforms have given Basotho a rare opportunity to address such concerns to ensure we bury the past.
“The only way out for us is through the reforms.”
With a population of just 2 million people, Motšoari believes there should be nothing that should stand in our way to foster unity and true reconciliation.
“We are just a small country who speak the same language and share the same culture. There is nothing that is too hard to achieve as long as we (sit down) and plan together.”
Motšoari says perhaps it is time for Basotho to take a leaf from the teachings of Moshoeshoe I, the founder of the nation.

“He believed in unity, peace and stability and had an effective way to solve disputes. We have to go back to his philosophy. We must go back to our roots.”
A devout man with deep Christian roots, Motšoari is no political hawk.
There appears to be no tinge of bitterness and anger in his voice when he speaks about the previous regime that stands accused of perpetrating serious human rights violations.
In fact, he is a preacher of unity and forgiveness, basic tenets of his Christian faith.
“It does not help to keep on fighting,” he says.

“We will continue to fight until when?”
However, Motšoari appears not advocate for a blanket forgiveness for offenders without any basis.
“They must first admit that they made mistakes and accept that we need to solve our differences. We must put the interests of Lesotho first and not the interests of the individuals.”
He says the leader of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party, Thomas Thabane, wants “to see this country speaking with one voice and enjoying unity as one nation”.
He says if he gets a chance to advise Thabane, he would tell him to always respect the wishes of the people and humble himself before the people.
If he does not, then the voters will give him a bloody nose at the next polls.

He believes the previous coalition government led by Pakalitha Mosisili became “too drunk with power” and committed terrible atrocities against the people.
“That is why the people turned against them and rejected them at the polls. They failed dismally to look after the interests of the people.”
He says Thabane’s coalition must keep its eyes on the ball in fulfilling the needs of the people.
Top among those targets is fighting youth unemployment and poverty.

He says the government is also determined to “ensure there is peace and stability in Lesotho”.
Motšoari was magnanimous in his assessment of Mosisili’s 15-year tenure as Prime Minister.
He believes Mosisili can still play a constructive role if he chooses to.

But to do so he must “make peace with the current leadership in government”.
“Failure to come to the table and discuss the current challenges will take this country nowhere,” he says.
“I believe there are important lessons that he learnt as Prime Minister during his 15 years in power and there are good things that he can advise the current leadership to take this country forward.”

Mosisili should not always be thinking of ways to topple the current government but should be able to advise the government for the benefit of the people, he says.
He says the opposition must co-operate and fully engage in the reforms process “since the reforms are for everybody”.
“They started the process and must come and continue with the process. The people are looking to them to provide leadership.”

“After 50 years we should be able to look back proudly and say, we participated in the reforms and contributed towards the development of our country.”
He said former deputy Prime Minister, Mothetjoa Metsing, who is now in exile in South Africa must also come and be part of the reforms process.
“Basotho are looking forward to his contribution in the reform process and he must come back home and play his part.”

Motšoari grew up in a family of six.
He is the second born.
His father was a migrant mine worker in Welkom.

Most of the time his father would not be home and the burden of raising all six children would be left with his mother.
He says even at that young age, he would find himself “taking over leadership positions”, organizing things for his playing mates.
Motšoari enrolled for his LLB degree at the National University of Lesotho in 2001 and graduated from the university in 2006.
“I love law and even from a young age, I always wanted to be a lawyer,” he says.

Now that he is working as a Cabinet administrator, Motšoari says he still misses the practice of law.
“I miss law because that is what I love most. Law is my calling.”

Staff Reporter

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