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Majoro faces ouster



MASERU– HAWKS within the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) are sharpening their knives to oust Dr Moeketsi Majoro as party leader, thepost heard this week.

A faction led by ABC secretary general Lebohang Hlaele, who is party leader and former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s son-in-law, is spearheading the fight against Majoro.

Sources said the truce that the factions struck when they connived against former deputy leader Professor Nqosa Mahao has collapsed.

Majoro’s faction is said to be furious at the Hlaele faction for allegedly reneging on its promise to organise an annual conference they believe is Majoro’s only opportunity to replace Thabane.

Sources say the deal struck in April last year was that once Prof Mahao was out of the picture Majoro would be nominated to replace him as deputy leader.

That was part one of the deal and it has not happened.
Part two, the sources said, was that the party would then organise an annual conference at which the Hlaele faction would help Majoro get elected leader.

The Covid-19 pandemic however intervened to block the January 2021 conference.

But some sources said even in the absence of the pandemic Hlaele and his people had no plans to have the conference or for Thabane to resign and allow Majoro to take over.

Majoro’s faction seems to have caught up to the plan and is aware that Hlaele’s faction has no plans to have the conference next January and that Thabane is not going anywhere fast.

The ABC’s constitution says the party leader can only be elected at an annual or elective conference. Other members of the executive committee can be appointed by nomination as happened to Majoro when he became deputy leader after Prof Mahao left to form the Basotho Action Party (BAP).
The elective conference is only due in 2024, leaving an annual conference as Majoro’s only route to being a leader.

He has only this coming January to make that happen or else the ABC goes to the election with Thabane as the leader.

Sources said Majoro believes that being the Prime Minister has given him a leg up in the race for the party leadership.

That advantage might however evaporate if the ABC doesn’t win the 2022 election.

As the party’s secretary general, Hlaele holds the key to the annual conference.

Sources however told thepost that the former trade unionist doesn’t want to have the annual conference until he is sure that he can win the vote to replace his father-in-law.

“Those who know ABC politics will tell you that the battle has long ceased to be between Thabane and someone else. It’s all about Hlaele positioning himself to be the leader,” said a source privy to the chaos within the party’s executive committee.

The source said Hlaele and his people schemed to first isolate Majoro and then pounce on him.

“Majoro is badly exposed without the support of Mahao’s faction. He has been trying to recalibrate the executive committee and his support in parliament by using his leverage in government to offer some jobs,” the source added.

He said Hlaele appears to derive his power from his stepmother-in-law Maesaiah Thabane. The two have smoked the peace pipe since their public and raucous fallout two years ago.

But that too, the source said, is an arrangement necessitated by political convenience.

The former first lady will keep Hlaele in her corner for as long as he can keep Majoro at bay.

“Hlaele will keep the former on his side for as long as she can prevail on Thabane to remain party leader even though he is now just a stooge,” the source said.

The source said over the past year Thabane has become a distant observer in the factional fights due to his advanced age and ill-health.

“Hlaele has always wanted to be the leader and now he is a few inches away but he first has to finish off Majoro because he is the only substantial threat remaining after Mahao left,” said another source who is a member of the executive committee and says his sympathies lie with Majoro.

“The only thing stopping Hlaele’s faction from toppling Majoro in government is that the two factions are evenly matched in terms of MPs,” he added.

Another source said the factional fights recently escalated when Majoro abruptly reshuffled principal secretaries.

“While that did not shift the power dynamics it moved Hlaele’s people from a cash-rich ministry that could be used to generate money through tenders and also doling out jobs to loyalists whose support is crucial to Hlaele,” the source said.

The ABC spokesperson, Montoeli Masoetsa, who is allegedly aligned with Hlaele, this week confirmed there were some grumblings about Majoro within both the executive committee and the party’s rank and file.

“What I can confirm to you is that the Prime Minister, despite that he is the deputy leader of the ABC, seems to no longer get a mandate from the executive committee. He takes his mandate from somewhere,” Masoetsa said.

“It seems there are people who are advising him, not the executive committee of the party he is leading. We understand that he is the Prime Minister and all decisions in his office are his prerogative, in terms of the law, but he belongs to the party and it is the party that put him there.”
“He must show some respect to the party that put him there and he must take advice from it. He is not working for himself but the ABC that gave him that chair to sit.”

Masoetsa said there are some ABC members pushing for the party to pull out of the government so that Majoro falls.

He however warned that such a move would be “dangerous to the party itself because our own MPs, who have a tendency to defy the party and make decisions contrary to its wishes, might decide otherwise”.

“We must not rely on MPs who are likely to vote to put Majoro there even when it is clear in the eyes of everyone that he is now working against his own party. They are the ones who vote in parliament, not the ABC as a party. So, that route won’t benefit the ABC at all,” he said.

So far, the leadership race is between Majoro, Hlaele and party chairman Sam Rapapa who is also Minister of Communications.

Rapapa said it would be wrong to characterise the battles in the ABC as factionalist. Instead, he said, they are just “differences of opinion on how things should be done”.

Rapapa said three issues have caused the ruckus in the party.
The first, he said, is a disagreement on whether the committee should continue to hold meetings in the absence of Thabane as the leader and Majoro as his deputy.

“There is also the issue of who should run for the leadership position. People don’t agree on whether me, Hlaele or Majoro should contest for the leadership,” Rapapa said.

The third issue, he added, is that ABC members should be given government jobs.

“Others are saying there is nothing wrong with that while others are saying we should not politicise the public service.”

Hlaele said there is “no bad blood between me and Majoro at the political level”.

“I have no plans whatsoever to oust him from either leadership office in the party or as the Prime Minister. To the best of my knowledge and recollection, he is still working harmoniously with the executive committee.

We held a meeting on Monday and there was no discussion about Majoro not working with us. No one even hinted at that,” Hlaele said.

“As for the allegations that I do not want to hold an annual conference where Majoro will replace the incumbent leader, it is a blatant, malicious lie peddled by people with political agendas not known to me.”

“How can we hold a special conference to elect a leader when we still have one in office? We have a leader and we need not think about conferences to elect another leader. We can only call a conference to elect a leader when there is a vacancy, and now we do not have any vacancy in that position.”

He said it is a constitutional requirement to call a special conference to elect the leader when there is a vacancy.

“I would not have any other option but I would have to facilitate it. The executive committee must ensure that the special conference is called when there is a vacancy. The responsibility should not be solely pinned on me as the secretary-general.”

Staff Reporter

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Lawyer in trouble



A local lawyer, Advocate Molefi Makase, is in soup after he flew into a rage, insulting his wife and smashing her phone at a police station.

It was not possible to establish why Adv Makase was so mad at his wife. He is now expected to appear before the Tšifa-li-Mali Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, he was released from custody on free bail on condition that he attends remands.

Magistrate Mpotla Koaesa granted Advocate Makase bail after his lawyer, Advocate Kefuoe Machaile, pleaded that he had to appear for his clients in the Court of Appeal.

Advocate Makase is facing two charges of breaching peace and malicious damage to property.

According to the charge sheet, on October 5, 2023, within the precincts of the Leribe Police Station, Advocate Makase allegedly used obscene, threatening, or insulting language or behaviour, or acted with an intent to incite a breach of the peace.

The prosecution alleges that the lawyer shouted at his wife, ’Mamahao Makase, and damaged her Huawei Y5P cell phone “with an intention to cause harm” right at police station.

During his initial appearance before Magistrate Koaesa, Advocate Makase expressed remorse for his actions and sought the court’s leniency, pleading for bail due to an impending appearance in the Court of Appeal.

His lawyer, Advocate Machaile, informed the court that an arrangement had been made with the police to secure his release the following day, as he had spent a night in detention.

Advocate Machaile recounted his efforts to persuade the police to release him on the day of his arrest.

He noted that the police had assured them of his release the following day, which indeed came to fruition.

Following his release, he was instructed to present himself before the court, which he dutifully complied with.

Advocate Machaile underscored Advocate Makase’s standing as a recognised legal practitioner in the court.

Notably, he was scheduled to appear in the Court of Appeal but had to reschedule his commitment later in the day to accommodate his court appearance.

Advocate Machaile asserted that Advocate Makase presented no flight risk, as he resides in Hlotse with his family and has no motive to evade his legal obligations.

He respectfully petitioned the court for his release on bail, emphasising that he had demonstrated his ability to adhere to the court’s conditions.

The Crown Counsel, Advocate Taelo Sello, expressed no objection to the bail application, acknowledging that the accused had a forthcoming matter in the Court of Appeal.

Consequently, the court granted Advocate Makase bail without any financial conditions, with the stipulation that he must not tamper with state witnesses and must fully participate in the trial process until its conclusion.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Trio in court for killing ‘witches’



THREE elderly women were all stabbed to death with a spear during a deadly night after they were accused of being witches.

Three suspects, all from Ha-Kholoko village in Roma, appeared in the High Court this week facing a charge of murder.
They are Jakobo Mofolo, Oele Poto, and Pakiso Lehoko.

They accused the elderly women of bewitching one of Poto’s relative who had died.

The stunning details of the murder was unravelled in court this week, thanks to Tlhaba Bochabela, 32, who is the crown witness.

Bochabela told High Court judge, Justice ’Mabatšoeneng Hlaele, last week that he had been invited to become part of the murder group but chickened out at the last minute.

Bochabela said in March 2020, he was invited by Rethabile Poto to come to his house in the evening.

He said when he went there, he found Mofolo, Poto, and Lehoko already at the house. There were two other men who he did not identify.

“I was told that the very same night we were going to do some task, we were going to kill some people,” Bochabela told Justice Hlaele.

He said he asked which people were going to be killed and was told that they were ’Malekhooa Maeka, ’Mathlokomelo Poto, ’Mampolokeng Masasa.

They said the three women had successfully bewitched Rethabile Poto’s uncle leading to his death.

Bochabela said after he was told of this plot, he agreed to implement it but requested that he be allowed to go to his house to fetch his weapon.

He said Lehoko was however suspicious that he was withdrawing from the plot and mockingly said “let this woman go and sleep, we can see that he is afraid and is running away”.

Bochabela said the only person he told the truth to, that he was indeed going to his home to sleep instead of going to murder the three elderly women was Mofolo who also told him that he was leaving too.

He said he told Mofolo that he felt uncomfortable with the murder plan.

Bochabela said he left and when he arrived at his place he told his wife all about the meeting and the plot to kill the women.

He said his wife commended him for his decision to pull out.

“I told my wife to lock the door and not respond to anyone that would come knocking looking for me,” Bochabela said.

He said later in the night, Rethabile Poto arrived at his place and called him out but they did not respond until he left.

Bochabela said in the morning they discovered that indeed the men had carried out their mission.

The village chief of Ha-Kholoko, Chief Thabang Lehoko, told Justice Hlaele that it was between 11 pm and 12 midnight when he received a phone call from one Pakiso Maseka who is a neighbour to one of the murdered women.

Chief Lehoko said Maseka told him to rush to ’Mampolokeng Masasa’s place to see what evil had been done to her.

“I rushed to Masasa’s place and on arrival I found Pakiso in the company of Moitheri Masasa,” Chief Lehoko said.

He said he found the old lady on the bed, naked with her legs spread wide.

“I was embarrassed by the sight of the old lady in that state, naked and covered in blood,” the chief said.

He said he went out and asked Maseka what had happened but Maseka referred him to Moitheri Masasa.

Chief Lehoko said Masasa told him that there were people with spears who had threatened to kill him if he came out of the house.

He said Maseka said he knew that Masasa’s neighbour, ’Malekhooa Maeka, was a light sleeper and she could have heard something.

The chief then sent one Patrick Lehoko to Maeka’s house to check if she had heard anything but Patrick came back saying Maeka was not at her house.

“I immediately stood up and went to ’Malekhooa’s place,” Chief Lehoko said.

He said when he arrived, he knocked at her door but there was no response so he kicked the door open, went in and called out ’Malekhooa Maeka by name.

Chief Lehoko said he then lit his phone and saw her lying in bed covered in blankets.

He said he then went closer to her and shook her but she was heavy.

Chief Lehoko said he tried to shake her again one last time while still calling her out but he touched blood.

He said he immediately left and went back to tell others that Maeka seemed to be dead too.

“I decided to go and buy airtime from the nearest shop which I had passed through near ’Matlhokomelo Poto’s home.”

He said on his way he met one Sebata Poto who asked him who he was.

Chief Lehoko said he only replied by telling him that the two women, Masasa and Maeka, had been murdered.

He said Sebata Poto told him that “’Matlhokomelo has been stabbed with a spear too”.

Chief Lehoko said he rushed to ’Matlhokomelo Poto’s house where he found her seated in the middle of the house supported by her children with blood oozing from her chest, gasping for air.

“I stepped out and went to get airtime, but I found her dead when I returned from the shop,” the chief said.

The case continues.

Tholoana Lesenya

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Opposition fights back



THE opposition is launching a nasty fightback after Prime Minister Sam Matekane defanged their no-confidence motion by roping in new partners to firm up his government.

Matekane’s surprise deal with the Basotho Action Party (BAP) has trimmed the opposition’s support in parliament and thrown their motion into doubt.

But the opposition has now filed another motion that seeks to get Matekane and his MPs disqualified from parliament on account that they were elected when they had business interests with the government.

The motion is based on section 59 of the constitution which disqualifies a person from being sworn-in as an MP if they have “any such interest in any such government contract as may be so prescribed”.

Section 59 (6) describes a government contract as “any contract made with the Government of Lesotho or with a department of that Government or with an officer of that Government contracting as such”.

Prime Minister Matekane’s Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) has a history of winning road construction tenders. Other Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MPs, most of whom were in business, had had business dealings with the government.

It is however not clear if the MPs were still doing business with the government at the time of their swearing-in.
Matekane’s MGC Park is housing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which is a government institution established by the constitution, getting its funds from the consolidated funds.

The motion was brought by the Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) leader Lekhetho Rakuoane who is a key figure in the opposition’s bid to topple Matekane.

The motion appears to be a long shot but should be taken in the context of a political game that has become nasty.
Advocate Rakuoane said the IEC’s tenancy at the MGC is one of their targets.

“The IEC is one of the government departments,” Rakuoane said.

“It is currently unethical that it has hired the prime minister’s building.”

“But after the motion, he will have to cut ties with the IEC or he will be kicked out of parliament.”

The Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said although the IEC is an independent body, it can still be regarded as part of the government because it gets its funding from the consolidated fund.

The Basotho Covenant Movement (BCM)’s Reverend Tšepo Lipholo, who seconded the motion, said the Matekane-led government “is dominated by tenderpreneurs who have been doing business with the government since a long time ago”.

“Now they have joined politics, they must not do business with the government,” Lipholo said.

He said some of the MPs in the ruling parties are still doing business with the government despite their promises before the election to stop doing that.

“Those who will not abide by the law should be disqualified as MPs,” Lipholo said.

“Basotho’s small businesses are collapsing day-by-day, yet people who are in power continue to take tenders for themselves.”

He applauded the Abia constituency MP Thuso Makhalanyane, who was recently expelled from Matekane’s RFP for rebellion because he withdrew his car from government engagement after he was sworn in as an MP.

“He set a good example by withdrawing his vehicle where it was hired by the government,” Lipholo said.

Rakuoane said during the past 30 years after Lesotho’s return to democratic rule, section 59 of the constitution has not been attended to even when it was clear that some MPs had business dealings with the government.

“This section stops you from entering parliament when doing business with the government. Those who are already members will have to leave,” he said.

Rakuoane said they are waiting for Speaker Tlohang Sekhamane to sign the motion so that the parliament business committee can set a date for its debate.

“The law will also serve to assist ordinary Basotho businesses as they will not compete with the executive,” he said.

“There are many Basotho businesses in business these MPs are in. They must get those tenders instead.”

The new motion comes barely a week after a court application aimed at disqualifying Mokhothu.

The government-sponsored application sought the Constitutional Court to declare Mokhothu unfit to be prime minister because he was convicted of fraud in 2007.

Mokhothu has been suggested as Matekane’s replacement should the motion of no confidence pass in parliament.

Nkheli Liphoto

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