Connect with us


Jubilation as King gets vaccine jab



MORIJA-KING Letsie III, senior government officials and health workers received the first jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccine at Scott Hospital yesterday.
The King was vaccinated together with Queen ’Masenate and Princess Senate at Scott Hospital in Morija, where he was born 57 years ago.

The decision to vaccinate the king first is meant to send a message that the vaccine is safe. The idea is to show that His Majesty is leading the way.
This is because the vaccination is happening at a time when there has been a massive pushback from anti-vaxxers who have been pushing a narrative that vaccines are not safe.

Some of the resistance is based on fear, flawed science and religious beliefs. Countries across the world are battling to correct the propaganda spread by the anti-vaxxers who aggressively use social media to propagate their theories.
Next to get the shot was Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro, who later told the press that the vaccination launch was “a great moment and a great start for the country”.

“It holds a promise that we can slowly start to reopen the economy,” Dr Majoro said.
“We have suffered immensely last year and we are eager to restart and restore Basotho’s lives.”
He said they were working with the private sector to ensure vaccination is completed by the end of the year.

“In the next few months, we should reach a large population and that by itself will begin to reduce the rate of infections,” he said.
Health Minister Semano Sekatle said the vaccine will not prevent people from getting the Covid-19 disease but will help them avoid severe illness that requires hospitalisation.

“What’s important is that you will not get a severe infection and you are unlikely to die if you are vaccinated,” Sekatle said.
He said they expect another batch (20 percent) anytime this month and another 40 percent from the African Union (AU).
Parliamentary Social Cluster chairman, Fako Moshoeshoe, encouraged Basotho to avoid misconceptions surrounding the vaccine.

“I encourage its usage because it helps reduce overcrowding in hospitals, oxygen running out as only mild symptoms will be treated,” he said.
The National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec)’s Infection Prevention and Control Manager, Dr Limpho Maile, encouraged health workers to be vaccinated.
Maile said over 600 health workers have been infected with Covid-19 and at least six succumbed to the virus.

“Being vaccinated ensures they are protected,” Dr Maile said.
Ntsoaki Sekhesa, the Primary Health Care Coordinator, said even after vaccination people should continue to wear masks, wash their hands and practise social distancing.
Among those who received the jab was Matsieng Principal Chief, Seeiso Bereng Seeiso, who said he hoped the vaccine would help Lesotho reduce the number of deaths and open the economy.

“After taking the vaccine we still have to remain vigilant because this is not a cure but a mere preventative measure so that we can have a live economy in the next two to three months,” he said.
’Matsaba Thoko, a village health worker who was vaccinated, said he wished people would stop spreading myths about the vaccine.
“We will sensitise them about the importance of taking the vaccine and hope they will eventually understand that they are safe and effective,” she said.

The United States Ambassador, Rebecca Gonzales, said her country recently committed to provide an initial US$2 billion (approximately M31 billion) — out of a total planned US$4 billion (approximately M61 billion) — to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment.
This makes the United States the single largest contributor to the international response to Covid-19.

“The US contribution will support the purchase and delivery of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines for the world’s most vulnerable and at-risk populations in 92 low and middle-income countries,” she said in a statement released afterward.
“This support is critical to controlling the pandemic, slowing the emergence of new variants, and helping to restart the global economy.”

So far, the US government has provided US$5.25 million (approximately M81 million) to the Covid-19 response in Lesotho, focusing on Covid testing, clinical care, surveillance and vaccine preparedness.
“Over the last year, the United States government has moved swiftly to support the local response to control the spread of Covid-19,” she said.

“We will continue to support the vaccine rollout with trusted implementing partners and the Ministry of Health.”
She said the US will provide additional funding to the COVAX Facility through 2022 and will work with other donors to make further pledges and commitments to meet the facility’s critical needs.

’Mapule Motsopa

Continue Reading


Suspension was malicious, says Nko



MASERU – A gunshot wound and an attempted murder charge have not stopped Dr Retšelisitsoe Nko from starting a new fight.

The suspended Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) boss is rolling up his sleeves for what promises to be an epic legal battle to be reinstated.

In an application filed in the High Court this week, Dr Nko argues that the LTDC’s decision to suspend him had a “glaring element of bad faith and malice”.

He says the suspension was procedurally flawed because there was no complainant to instigate it and he was not granted a hearing.

Dr Nko was suspended after he was involved in a shooting incident with guests at an event at a Hillsview guest house on December 27.

He is alleged to have rushed home to take his gun after an argument with some of the guests. Dr Nko and a guest sustained gunshot wounds in the scuffle that ensued.

Reports say the guests were trying to wrestle the gun from Dr Nko when the shots were fired.

The LTDC’s board suspended him two days later, alleging that he had failed to attend an extraordinary meeting called to discuss the incident.

The suspension letter was written by Nonkululeko Zaly who was the chairperson of the LTDC board by virtue of being the principal secretary in the Ministry of Trade.

Zaly, who has since been fired following corruption investigations, also approached the court to force the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences to return the assets confiscated during a raid at her house.

Dr Nko, in his court papers, accuses Zaly of usurping the board’s powers to suspend him. He says there was never a board resolution to suspend him.

The extraordinary meeting, he alleges, was a “prearranged dishonest scheme between certain members of the board and social media personnel which were part of the ruse deliberately designed to compromise” his interests.

Dr Nko says the board called him to the 29 December meeting when he was on sick leave and then suspended him without hearing his reasons for failing to attend.

He complains that Zaly wrote his suspension letter on the basis of mere allegations even though she had remained principal secretary and chairperson of the board when the corruption investigations against her were in full swing.

He queries why he was being suspended when Zaly was allowed to hold on to her job.

Zaly appears to have been belligerent when Dr Nko’s lawyers contacted her to query the suspension.

She told the lawyers, in a letter, that their queries were based on misinformation. She also dismissed the lawyer’s request for a record of the board meeting that decided to suspend Dr Nko.

“We are therefore not going to honour any of your demands and if your client is not satisfied, he is free to approach any appropriate forums to pursue these baseless issues,” Zaly said in her letter.

The lawyers say that response shows that Zaly was hell-bent on suspending their client.

Dr Nko wants the High Court to order the LTDC board to reverse the suspension, stop his imminent disciplinary proceedings and release the records of its December 29 meeting.

He also says the board is already conducting investigations on the incident to use as evidence against him in the disciplinary hearing.

Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


thepost columnist wins award



Maseru – Two scholars associated with the National University of Lesotho have been awarded the 2022 Thomas Pringle prize for the best literary article published the previous year.

Chris Dunton, who is a columnist for thepost, and Lerato Masiea have won the prize, which is awarded by the English Academy of Southern Africa, for their article “Between rocks and hard places: the controversial career of A.S. Mopeli-Paulus,” which was published by thepost.

Dunton was previously Professor and Dean of Humanities at the NUL and for some years cwrote a column for this newspaper titled “Left Side Story.” Masiea is a lecturer in the NUL’s Department of English and is currently pursuing his doctorate at the University of the Free State.

Their prize-winning article was published in the journal English in Africa (vol.48 no.3, 2021, pp47-64). In it the authors explore the writings and life of the South African Mosotho author Mopeli-Paulus.

As their title indicates, their subject was a controversial figure, who degenerated from being an opponent of the apartheid regime (he was, notably, one of the leaders of the Witzieshoek Cattle Rebellion, for which role he was incarcerated in the Pretoria Central Prison) to being a high-ranking accomplice in the Bantustan system.

He was a prolific writer in both English and Sesotho (at one point he referred to the compulsive desire to write as a kind of madness!), his best-known works being the poetry-collection Ho tsamaea ke he bona (from time to time a set-text in Lesotho schools), the novel Blanket Boy’s Moon and the autobiography The World and the Cattle.

Dunton and Masiea’s article covers all his writing, published and unpublished (his papers are freely accessible at the William Cullen Library, Wits University) and is especially concerned with the question of cross-border identity.

Mopeli-Paulus was born in Monontsa, South Africa, in the lost territories—much in the news recently—and remained a South African citizen all his life. The dust-jacket for his first novel, Blanket

Boy’s Moon — which was an international best-seller — carries his name with the tag “Chieftain of Basutoland”, but this was a mistake.

Nonetheless, Mopeli-Paulus identified very strongly with Lesotho and has much to say — some of it fanciful, even spurious — on concepts of Sotho identity.

Dunton and Masiea explore this issue in detail, as it remains a topic of crucial importance even today.

Staff Reporter

Continue Reading


Matekane to boot out PS



MASERU – THE Sam Matekane government is getting ready to get rid of Principal Secretaries appointed by the previous administration.

First to be axed is Nonkululeko Zaly who Matekane fired as a PS for the Ministry of Trade on January 11.

Zaly, who is challenging the decision, suffered a blow yesterday when the High Court refused to hear her case on an urgent basis.

Her case will now have to join the long queue of hundreds of others pending in the High Court.

Lefu Manyokole has been replaced as the PS of the local government ministry.

The axe is also likely to fall on government secretary, Lerotholi Pheko, and Foreign Affairs principal secretary Thabo Motoko.

The four have been the subject of a graft investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).

Their homes and offices have been raided and properties seized as the anti-corruption unit investigates allegations that they received millions in bribes from contractors. The four are likely to be the first to be shown the door.

Indications are however that Matekane could be readying to purge the government of principal secretaries inherited from the previous government. Matekane hints at that impending clean up in his dismissal letter to Zaly.

“You will agree with me that as a Principal Secretary, yours was a political appointment,” Matekane said in the letter that Zaly claimed not to have received in her court papers.

“It follows therefore that the working relationship between yourself and the person appointing you, the Prime Minister in this case, is mainly based on utmost trust and confidence.”

“The trust and confidence components become even more important under the obtaining circumstances where the new government, of which I am the head, has just been installed.”

Matekane told Zaly that his government came with new ideas and policies at the top of which is to fight corruption.

He said he was aware that the DCEO had seized certain documents in Zaly’s possession “evidencing a commission of crime and that you failed to give a satisfactory explanation for your possession of those documents”.

“This has eroded all the trust and confidence I had in you as the Principal Secretary and there is no way I can continue with you at the helm of any government ministry,” Matekane said.

Highly placed sources in the government have told thepost that Zaly’s exit is just the beginning of a shake-up that will continue for the next three months as Matekane seeks to bring in new people he trusts and share his vision with.

Meanwhile, Moahloli Mphaka, the government’s special adviser in the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission this week told the High Court that there is a plan to fire him and two other senior officials.

Mphaka made the allegations in an urgent application to force the commission to pay his salary and that of Thabang Thite, and Bahlakoana Manyanye who are also part of the lawsuit. Thite and Manyanye are assistant advisers in the commission.

Mphaka told the court in an affidavit that on December 22 last year, the Natural Resources Minister Mohlomi Moleko told them that his superiors had instructed him to terminate their contracts.

The reason, Mphaka said, is the fact that they are the All Basotho Convention (ABC) members hired by former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. He said the government’s delay to pay their December salary was meant to frustrate them into resigning.

Nkheli Liphoto

Continue Reading