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MPs want Majoro out



MASERU – PRIME Minister Moeketsi Majoro could face the boot after MPs filed a motion of no-confidence against his government.
The motion was filed by Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP) leader, Tefo Mapesela, who has been railing against Majoro since he was fired from Cabinet.
It was seconded by the Alliance of Democrats (AD) backbencher Kose Makoa.

Mapesela wants AD and former Deputy Prime Minister, Monyane Moleleki, to replace Majoro.
Mapesela confirmed that he had filed the motion against the deputy leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), a party he left several months ago.
It is however not clear if his motion will have enough numbers to topple Majoro and his government. Mapesela however appears to have been emboldened by the factional fights in the ruling ABC.
The number of the party’s MPs has been whittled in recent months due to incessant infighting that has triggered defections. Death had also played a part.

Until early last year, the ABC had grown the number of its MPs from 48 in the 2017 election to 51 through defections.
But those numbers have steadily come down in recent months, leaving the party with 35.
Nine have left with the party’s former deputy leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao, to form the Basotho Action Party (ABC).
Three have died while two have defected to the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and the AD. Another joined the diplomatic corps.
The remaining 35 MPs are said to be equally split between two factions led by Majoro and secretary-general Lebohang Hlaele.

Some sources however say five of those 35 are closeted members of the BAP.
If that is true, it means the ABC has 30 MPs, half of whom are presumably hostile to Majoro.
The DC which won 30 seats and on whose numbers the coalition is largely anchored has also suffered some losses. Two have defected while one has died, leaving the party with 27 MPs.
But despite the government’s slim majority, Mapesela’s motion appears to be a long shot.

The ABC might be divided but its MPs are likely to coalesce around Majoro to save the government, especially given that elections are due next year.
The Prime Minister can also count on the support of the 11 MPs of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) which has previously said it favours a government of national unity rather than another coalition of a few parties.
The MEC, which won six seats but gained one through a defection, has also said it doesn’t support the motion.
The Popular Front for Democracy (PFD), with its three seats, is firmly behind Majoro.

Prof Mahao’s BAP is said to be reluctant to support a motion to topple the government less than a year before the elections, reasoning that it would suffer reputational damage if it joins any governing coalition.
Yet all this doesn’t mean anything is guaranteed in Lesotho’s politics, where allegiances shift like quicksand.
The ABC secretary-general, Lebohang Hlaele, told thepost last night that his party is not involved in the motion but the national executive committee will meet on Monday to discuss the issue.
He however sounded confident that the ABC’s MPs will not support the motion.

“Our focus is to build the party and bring unity,” Hlaele said.
The ABC’s deputy chairman, Chalane Phori, said he was yet to decide how he will vote.
“I love Ntate Moleleki very much but at the same time Majoro is a member of the ABC. I don’t know how I will vote. I will see when I vote,” said Phori, who was previously at odds with Majoro and actively campaigned against him.

The party’s spokesman, Montoeli Masoetsa, who has had a public fallout with Majoro, said “it is up to the MPs to decide how they will vote”.
“We as the party do not have any say in how they will vote,” Masoetsa said.
“They did it before and they will still do it according to how they will deem fit.”
The Basotho National Party (BNP), which has stuck with the ABC through thick and thin, said it is yet to discuss its position on the motion.
Its spokesperson, ’Masetota Leshota, said the leadership will meet “probably over the weekend to decide whether to support the motion or not”.

“I cannot just say we would support the motion or not before we sit down,” Leshota said.
The DC, the ABC’s main partner in the coalition, was dismissive of the motion.
The DC spokesman, Serialong Qoo, said “everyone has a right to voice out their opinions in a democratic dispensation” but added that he doesn’t believe the motion will succeed.
“I wish Mapesela good luck in his endeavours,” he chuckled.
PFD leader Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane, who is a cabinet minister, said the motion is ill-timed and counter-productive as it is coming when the country is about to complete the reform process.

“This would bring us more uncertainties and instabilities,” Adv Rakuoane said.
The LCD leader Mothetjoa Metsing said such decisions require their national executive committee’s input not only him as the leader.
“This is a sensitive issue we are discussing,” he said.
He said this also needs consultations with the party first.
The Basotholand Congress Party (BCP) leader, Advocate Thulo Mahlakeng, said “as long as the motion is said to be from Mapesela it lacks substance”.
“If it comes from Mapesela we give it a big no! That man has mental problems,” Mahlakeng said.

The AD Secretary-General Dr Mahali Phamotse said they would not hesitate to help to push out Majoro “when his own party wants him out of power”.
Dr Phamotse said the government was incompetent and deserved to be toppled.
The MEC’s spokesperson, Liteboho Kompi, said they do not support the motion at all.
“Mapesela has not come to us asking for our support but even if he came, we would reject him as a party,” Kompi said.

Nkheli Liphoto & Majara Molupe

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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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