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MP quits BAP, eyes RFP

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MASERU – THE Mabote MP, Fako Moshoeshoe, has quit the Basotho Action Party (BAP) and has set his heart on joining the newly formed Revolution for Prosperity (RFP). Although he was yet to officially announce his defection to the RFP, Moshoeshoe confirmed to thepost yesterday that he had left the BAP.

Moshoeshoe said he was not happy with how things were being done in the BAP which is led by distinguished academic Professor Nqosa Mahao. He said the last straw came after the BAP’s secretary general, Lebohang Thotanyana, cut him off the party’s social media group.

Thotanyana’s move, he said, showed that the party no longer considered him part of the team and did not want him to contribute to discussions of the party’s affairs.

The party’s social media group is shared by committee members and other prominent people. It is where critical decisions are often mooted and debated although it is not an official communication platform. Such decisions are then passed to the relevant committees just as a formality.

So, being kicked out of the group means one is no longer relevant and is pushed to the periphery where they cannot play any significant role in the party’s affairs. Moshoeshoe’s removal from the party’s social media group came a few days after he asked Police Minister Lepota Sekola why leaders who hold large rallies are not being arrested for violating Covid-19 regulations.

One of the parties which has been holding rallies is the BAP and Moshoeshoe has never attended any of them. His comrades in the BAP felt the question was a direct attack on party leader Mahao.

Sekola, answering the question in parliament last Thursday, said parties are allowed to hold constituency rallies only, adding that the issue would be investigated. Moshoeshoe told thepost that he also made it clear on some local radio stations that he wants the country to be ruled by Sam Matekane, the RFP leader.

“This country should not be ruled by a person who is busy begging for money from people for his campaigns promising to pay them back when he wins elections,” Moshoeshoe said.

“It is dangerous not to have our own resources as politicians because the people would expect paybacks with ministerial positions once we are in government.”

“Only Matekane and his party are the ones who can change the situation Basotho are in.”

Thotanyana confirmed to thepost that he indeed removed Moshoeshoe from their party forums because he had started going public about his love for the opponent.

“He is now free to go and campaign for Matekane and his party,” Thotanyana said.

He said Moshoeshoe no longer believed what they used to believe in “therefore we decided to remove him”.

“He has already defected to the RFP,” he said.

“He was not part of the party structures except for being a Member of Parliament.”

Moshoeshoe recently contested for the deputy leadership position during the BAP’s elective conference where he received only 10 votes against Motlatsi Maqelepo’s 408. Moshoeshoe is the second MP to defect from the BAP in a week.

Last week the Maputsoe MP, Sotlehang Sekhamane, left to join the Movement for Economic Change (MEC). Sekhamane and some of his followers announced outside his house that they had defected to the MEC.

While addressing his followers Sekhamane reminded them that they had made that decision together to leave the BAP. He said he met the MEC leader, Selibe Mochoboroane, for talks.

“I called Mochoboroane, and he came here at my house on Tuesday, he left here at 11pm,” Sekhamane said.

He also said he had learned from his legal team that being over-excited to leave the BAP and join the MEC without conditions would not be good.

“This is because tomorrow they might turn against us like these in the BAP who turned us into enemies yet we were together yesterday,” he said.

He told the followers that Mochoboroane agreed to all their conditions including that Sekhamane should contest for the coming elections in Maputsoe.

“This decision was made by the people and not me,” he said.

He said he had for a long time asked the BAP leadership why they had been failing to solve the Ha-’Mathata branch grievances but to no avail. He also told his members that they should be true to their new home and love it.

Sekhamane told thepost that he crossed with all the four Maputsoe branch committees made up of about 117 members. He said their main reason to leave was the issue of constituency committees that were elected outside the law.

He said the confusion started when the committee members who crossed to the BAP from the ABC wanted to join while keeping their positions. He said their leadership then decided that the members should be allowed to elect their interim committee and not use the old committee.

“The day to elect came and all the people who were contesting withdrew saying they would work with the existing structures while waiting to vote their new committees officially,” he said.

He complained that the time to elect the new substantive committees also came and the party did not follow the law.

“The (party) constitution says a person to contest should be nominated by their branch but here any member from any branch was allowed to nominate a candidate for any branch.”

He also said during the election the ballots were not used at all, which was inappropriate.

“Some members then appealed and the leadership agreed that the law was not followed,” he said.

“Now we are tired of writing letters to request the reelections, we are simply leaving.”

Thotanyana said they are not happy with Sekhamane’s defection adding that they tried several times to solve the Maputsoe issues. He said they went to Maputsoe about three times “and in all those three times Sekhamane and his faction lost the elections”.

“He must tell the truth,” Thotanyana said.

He said Sekhamane should tell the truth that the Maputsoe community no longer wanted him to stand for elections.

“That is why he defected with the conditions that he should stand for the elections. That decision is made by the people and not the leader of the party,” he said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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BNP wins rescission order against SG

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MASERU – THE Basotho National Party (BNP) this week successfully applied for a rescission of a court order that would have seen the party’s secretary general, Thato Lethobane, being awarded M126 000. Lethobane’s case will now be heard again at the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) on Monday.

The party raised technical legal reasons that prompted the cancellation of the award that ordered the party to pay Lethobane for the time he did not receive his salary since his suspension.

Lethobane was suspended in October last year after he was accused of embezzling party funds and he asked the DDPR to order the party to pay him from October last year to April this year.

The BNP deputy secretary, Moeketsi Hanyane, who is holding forte at the party’s administration, told thepost last night that “Lethobane’s glow was short-lived and was wrong in the first place”.

“The DDPR award against us will not see the light of day because Lethobane got suspended for two years after we discovered that he stole the party’s funds,” Hanyane said.

“A thief is a thief and we cannot allow him to claim monies he is unworthy of,” he said.

“We have opened a case against him at the police and he cannot come around and say we owe him.”

Hanyane said Lethobane was suspended for two years so that after that period, if he still loved wanted to be part of the party, he could come and participate in its affairs again.

“The suspension was not meant to put him aside for a while to allow investigations but it is a punishment for what we found on him,” he said.

Hanyane said Lethobane is not owed anything for that period because he is officially out of office as a result of the punishment he got from the party not because he was suspended pending investigations.

He said the BNP did not defend itself at the DDPR and the arbitrator ruled in favour of Lethobane in default.

“We did not go to the DDPR on technical issues and we have since applied for and acquired a rescission of the award,” he said.

Lethobane declined to get into the details of his case with the BNP but only confirmed that he had won an award at the DDPR.

“After I realised how much they owed me I decided to go to labour and successfully claimed my payment,” he said.

“The case judgment was done in my favor, even though I will not discuss that issue much.”

The party pays its secretary general M18 000 per month.

Nkheli Liphoto

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Killer police investigated

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MASERU – PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro has set up a special team to investigate police officers who killed a student during a protest at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) last week. Majoro’s decision comes as pressure mounts on the government and the police to identify the officers who pulled the trigger and bring them to justice.

The police killed Kopano Makutoane and seriously injured six more students on Thursday last week during a strike over their stipends that were not paid in full. Makutoane was shot with multiple live bullets in the face.

Police Minister Lepota Sekola, Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli and Development Planning Minister, Selibe Mochoboroane, confirmed that a team has been set up but were reluctant to give further details. thepost has been told that the police have zeroed in on 12 police officers who were part of the team that responded to the protest.

The police management is said to be close to suspending some of the officers and opening a murder case against them. Their names cannot, however, be revealed because they have not been officially identified and charged.

Majoro visited the Makutoane family last week and promised justice for their slain son. The strike was triggered by the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS)’s delay to pay students their monthly stipends.

Those who received the allowances only got M450 instead of their usual monthly stipend of M1 100. Several eyewitnesses and victims told thepost that the police conducted raids targeting NUL students even after the protesters had dispersed. Sello Khechane, a second-year student, said the police fired live ammunition at the protesters.

“We started fleeing the place and did not even realise that one of us was shot near the gate,” Khechane said.

One of the injured students said about 20 police officers knocked at her rented room when she was sleeping, dragged her out and beat her with sticks and truncheons.

“I was still wearing my gown and was not even part of the protest,” she said.

Another girl who had visited her brother was caught in the crossfire as police went on the rampage.

“I was watching a movie when I saw a mob of police approaching the door and asking all of us in the house to come out,” she said.

She said the police used sticks and kicked her.

“I tried to convince them that I am not a student there, but they refused to listen,” she said.

The Social Development Minister, Selibe Mochoboroane, said he immediately intervened when he was informed of the disagreement between the Students’ Representative Council and the NMDS management over the stipends.

“The school told us that there was a problem as students walked out of examination rooms.”

He also said the NMDS told him that there is a law that says students should not get full amounts when their school days are cut short during a month.

“We made a decision that students should get full amounts,” he said.

He said the students were notified that they would get full amounts but continued with the strike.

“I am sorry that one student lost his life.” The incident has sparked an outcry from different political parties.

The Basotho Action Party (BAP) leader and former Vice-Chancellor of the NUL, Professor Nqosa Mahao, condemned the killing saying it was the third time police have used force during protests and ended up taking lives.

“We are very saddened and embarrassed by this act,” Professor Mahao said.

He said they condemn the police actions that led to the death of the student, saying the behaviour by police shows that Basotho’s lives are not safe. He recalled that in 2009 the police shot a student during protests.

“They shot Tumelo Mohlomi in 2017, she was also shot by the police,” Professor Mahao said, adding that the police officers involved in the incident were not charged.

He blamed the conflicts on the NMDS management “that does not do its job correctly”. The Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) leader, Sam Matekane, met NUL students near the campus on Tuesday.

“We condemn that behaviour, it was uncalled for, it was not necessary,” Matekane said.

He said the police’s job is to protect and save people, not to kill people as they did or do.

“When promised sponsorship, we are expecting you to get them as promised,” he said.

“It does not make sense that someone can carry a gun and shoot an unarmed student.”

He also pledged to provide the students with transport to Quthing where Makutoane will be laid to rest.

“We will make sure that those who were affected get the necessary counselling and also help them,” he said.

The NUL management also condemned the killing and injuring of other students. In a statement, the university said it was aggrieved by “the plan by the NMDS to prorate the student’s allowance for June 2022”. The university pleaded with the students to remain calm, adding that it has started visiting all the affected families.

Staff Reporter

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Mafeteng magistrates’ court records burnt

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MASERU – A fire gutted the records section of the Mafeteng Magistrate’s Court last week. The police suspect it was an act of arson. Thousands of crucial case records were destroyed.

This could affect hundreds of cases that were pending in the court. Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli confirmed the incident, saying investigations have started but no arrests have been made.

“But our preliminary investigations show that the court was intentionally set on fire,” S/Supt Mopeli said.

“Important court documents have been set alight together with some chairs and a table.”

A source close to the case told thepost that a container of petrol was found outside a broken window. The guard was not at work when the incident happened.

In 2010 computers containing information on cars registered in Maseru and Leribe were burnt in a fire that police suspected was deliberately started to destroy records and cover up corruption.

The Integrated Financial Management System computers, National Transport Information System server, computers, and a printer were destroyed.

The incident happened as the police were investigating a syndicate that was illegally registering stolen cars.

In 2019 a fire at the Ministry of Health’s head office destroyed computers and records.

Although ministry officials said the fire could have been caused by an electrical fault, suspicions of foul play lingered on.

Majara Molupe

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