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Minister pleads with teachers not to down tools

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MASERU – EDUCATION Minister Professor Ntoi Rapapa this week pleaded with teachers not to down tools telling them their grievances were being attended to.
Schools are set to re-open today for the new term.
Three teachers’ unions, the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) and the Lesotho School Principals Association (LESPA), last month threatened to down tools to press the government to address their grievances.

The unions and the government will appear before the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) to argue their case on Monday.
Prof Rapapa said the government is committed to address their concerns and has set aside M18.8 million to settle monies that are due to the teachers.
“Teachers and principals are expected to show up at their respectable schools,” Prof Rapapa said.

He said while the teachers are ready to go on protest, they have not followed the correct procedures.
He said the government has not ignored the teachers’ demands. He said there have been a series of consultations they have held with the aggrieved teachers.
Prof Rapapa said Cabinet had resolved to set up a ministerial committee that will be mandated with the task of advising the government on how contracted and pensionable principals should be paid.
He said the payments will be based on their contracts with the Ministry of Education and the advice to be given by the Attorney General.
Secondly, he Cabinet was still deliberating whether it should amend a law that regulates the promotion of qualified teachers.
Rapapa said the Ministry of Education had formed a committee which will drive the reform process on career and salary structure for teachers.
This committee will have representatives from all teachers’ unions, he said.

He said the government had decided to review the list of teachers in August and September 2018 at all schools.
Prof Rapapa said the government is committed to dealing with the teachers’ grievances.
Meanwhile, the Progressive Association of Lesotho Teachers (PALT) national organizer, Koali Koali, said their members will not take part in the picketing.

He said the decision to boycott classes is politically motivated and therefore PALT will not align itself with the other unions on the issue.
Koali confirmed that three of their members resigned when PALT said they would not take part in the protest.
He said this had not made any significant difference because they still command the majority of teachers by way of numbers.
Koali said they are pleased because the Ministry of Education is working towards solving teachers’ grievances.

“It is illegal to boycott work according to the Labour Code,” he said.
He said they do not deny that the ministry owes teachers but the ministry is making an effort to settle the debt.
“Some teachers’ unions do not like us because we do not want to take part in the strike,” he said.

The LAT secretary general, Letsatsi Ntsibolane, maintained they are still not going to attend classes when schools re-open today.
“We are doing it because the government is not doing anything about our grievances,” he added.Ntsibolane said they had sought legal advice and were convinced that their decision is within the ambit of the law.

He said if the government does not give them a convincing and positive answer “we will not go to school”.
“Teachers in this country are going to strike, very few without organisations will go to school but even those who belong to LUT and PALT are going on strike,” he said.

Ntsibolane also said if the government decides to expel or not pay them they already have alternative plans.
“It is not going to be easy for them to either expel or refuse to pay us,” he said.
“We are not afraid of those threats,” he added.

The teachers’ biggest gripe is that they were never consulted when Parliament passed the new Teachers Career and Salary Structure regulations as is required by the law.
Under the new structure, teachers will no longer be paid based on their educational qualifications.
They also say the appointment of teachers should be reviewed because some teachers were not employed with the blessings of the school boards.

They are also not happy with the performance contracts introduced by the Ministry of Education.
They say principals who were engaged on this basis are in dire straits as they have never been paid since their employment.
Only 20 were paid while 160 have never been paid.

Nkheli Liphoto & Tokase Mphutlane

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Police hunt former minister

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THE police have launched a hunt for former police minister, Lepota Sekola, who is suspected of involvement in stock theft.
Police want to arrest Sekola in connection with two cattle carcasses that were found at his grandfather’s funeral in Borokhoaneng three weeks ago.

During the initial interview, Sekola had insisted that the cows belonged to his late grandfather who had kept them in South Africa for better pastures.

The police didn’t arrest him at that time because investigations were still in the early stages. Further investigations have however led the police to believe that the animals were stolen from South Africa.

But when they were ready for the arrest, Sekola could not be found at his home or on his phone.

Police say Sekola will be charged with unlawful possession and illegal importation of two cows from South Africa.

The National Stock Theft Coordinator, Senior Superintendent Mapesela Klaass, told thepost last night that they “have completed investigations but he (Sekola) is nowhere to be seen”.

“We cannot get him on his mobile phones,” S/Supt Klaass said, adding that the police have been “visiting his home but he is not there”.

“His family members are aware that we are looking for him,” he said.

S/Supt Klaass said they are continuing with their search and as soon as they find him, they are going to drag him to the courts.

He said the police suspect the cows were brought from South Africa to be slaughtered for Sekola’s grandfather’s funeral.

Police sources told thepost that one of the cows had new branding while another had nothing. Both had holes on the ears that signalled that they used to have ear tags.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.
Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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Mphaka barred from ABC deputy’s race

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THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has barred former Government Secretary Moahloli Mphaka and three others from contesting for the deputy leader’s position at an elective conference set for this week.
The three are Kefeletsoe Mojela, Katleho Molelle, and Lekhetho Mosito.

Mosito was an MP who was appointed Defence Minister for a day and removed the following day during Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s premiership.
The elective conference is set to be held at the Leqele High School hall this weekend.

A circular from the ABC said the three did not qualify to enter the race because they had not held any positions in the party’s committees.

The decision to bar the three is reminiscent of the same tactics that saw former leader Thomas Thabane block Professor Nqosa Mahao from contesting for the party’s deputy leader’s position.
Professor Mahao subsequently walked away and formed the Basotho Action Party (BAP).

A weakened ABC has never recovered from that split.

Mphaka and his colleagues were vying for the deputy leader’s position until they were stopped in their tracks by the circular which was issued out on Monday this week.
Dr Pinkie Manamolela is the current deputy leader.

She was plucked from the women’s league to replace Dr Majoro who had resigned from the national executive committee after losing the leadership race to Nkaku Kabi in 2022.

There is a high chance that the four could drag the ABC to court to assert their right to contest. The legal wrangles will likely destabilise the party that is still smarting from a thorough thrashing in general elections held in October 2022.

Mphaka this week told thepost that he will challenge the decision to block him in the courts of law.
“They are crazy people,” Mphaka said.

“I will not allow this to happen,” he said.

“I have already instructed my lawyers to launch an urgent application in the High Court to challenge the decision before Friday this week.”

He complained that it was not clear why the party had decided to kick him out of the race after he spent a lot of time and resources campaigning.

Mphaka said the national executive committee “usually allows members to contest for positions without considering whether they were ever in the constituency committees or not”.

The contenders in the race are former Water Minister Samonyane Ntsekele, ex-Police MP Lehlohonolo Moramotse, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Leshoboro Mohlajoa, and Maseru Star Taxi Association member Sekhonyana Mosenene.

A member of the national executive committee told thepost that “many of us support Mphaka and Kefeletsoe at all costs”.

“We were dismayed when we saw the circular removing the duo from the race,” he said.

He said many ABC members were rallying behind Mphaka because “he has been campaigning even before everyone could start”.

“They know he has lots of followers.”

He said it is unfair that Mosenene has been allowed to run but he has never held any position in any constituency except that he represented his taxi association in the ABC national executive committee.
“Why has he been allowed to contest yet he is just like Mphaka and Kefeletsoe?”

He complained that Sekhonyana, while representing taxi operators in the committee, was eventually made the deputy party spokesman despite not being in any constituency committee after ’Matebatso Doti resigned from the position.

“Mphaka was chosen by the party to lead the 2022 elections campaign teams and develop a party manifesto,” he said.

“He was allowed to do all that without being involved in any party structures.”

The party’s spokesman Montoeli Masoetsa declined to comment.

Dr Manamolela told thepost that “the decision was not made by the party’s national executive committee”.

“I do not want to talk much …but it is not true that the party’s NEC decided to remove Mphaka and Kefeletsoe”.

Kabi could not be reached for comment.

Nkheli Liphoto

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