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The daring radical



MASERU- IF there was any event that brought Motebang Koma into the international spotlight, it was his decision to file a daring motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in June last year. In a notice to Parliament, Koma, who is the MP for Koro-Koro constituency on the outskirts of Maseru, said the House no longer had any “confidence in the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho led by the Right Honorable Prime Minister Thomas Thabane”.

The motion was backed by the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) party and a rival faction of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) party led by Professor Nqosa Mahao.
The motion sought to install Samuel Rapapa as Prime Minister.

But seven months after filing that motion, Thabane remains firmly ensconced in the seat of power at State House, thanks to the efforts of Speaker of Parliament Sephiri Motanyane.
Motanyane thwarted the motion arguing it was filed wrongly. At the centre of the Speaker’s argument was the notion that Koma and his colleagues in the ABC had erred when they nominated Rapapa to step in as Prime Minister as he was not from the opposition benches.

That argument was thoroughly punctured in an opinion piece written by Attorney General Haae Phoofolo.
“I was deeply hurt that he (Motanyane) did not accept the motion but I have since moved on,” Koma says.
He says he, together with other senior party officials, were still in “the process of trying to convince the leader (Thabane) to accept the new National Executive Committee (NEC) that was elected on the 1st of February, 2019”.

“That process (of talks) has made me not to grumble that the Speaker did not accept my motion of no-confidence.”
Koma says while they had decided to give dialogue with their colleagues in the ABC a chance, the talks “went forward and backward” throughout last year.
But much more worrying is Koma’s frank admission that at the moment, “inertia has now taken place”.

Koma remains respectful when speaking of Thabane, bizarrely denying that their faction had fallen out with Thabane.
“We have not fallen out with him,” he insists. “But we are wrestling with him (on contentious issues). We are struggling though to convince him that he must accept the new NEC that was elected in February last year.”

He says Thabane, whose legal woes mounted last week with the dramatic push by the police to arrest his wife, has now been pushed into a corner and is now “desperate”.
Koma says old age has also finally caught up with Thabane. But within that set-up, a few individuals were now taking advantage of his frailties to push their own agenda.
He says at the centre of this cabal is First Lady ‘Maesiah Thabane who has been personally handpicking individuals to serve as government ministers.

“The feeling of most people within the party is that the First Lady is directing the Prime Minister to honour certain ministers whom she personally chooses,” he says.
“But we hope a way out of this state of affairs has now come (following the events of last week).”
Koma was referring to last week’s dramatic events that saw the courts issue a warrant of arrest for ‘Maesiah over the murder of Thabane’s estranged wife Lipolelo Thabane in June 2017.
“(‘Maesiah) was a key figure in disturbing the peace within the party,” he says.

Having totally lost control of the ship of state, Koma argues the only avenue left for Thabane is to tender his resignation to King Letsie III.
“We no longer have a plan and we are now fumbling along. It would be better were he to resign,” he says.
“Although the future is dark, I hope the coalition government will plod on until the next elections in 2022.”

Koma believes Lesotho’s political problems are of our own making.
“The politics of this country has the same rhythm,” he argues.
He says we move in cyclical terms and make the same mistakes, over and over again. We never seem to learn from history and our mistakes in the past.
“We install an army commander whom we expect to comply with what we want. A police commissioner is nominated not on the basis of his abilities but on the basis of whether he will comply with what I want even if that violates democratic tenets,” he says.

It is this direct interference in how our security organs operate that is at the root of our political crisis in Lesotho, he says.
The best remedy, Koma argues, is for politicians to stop lying to the people that they are democratic when they are not.

“Our leaders must understand how democracy works and not advocate for their personal interests. They must stop lying to the people.”
Koma was first elected MP under the ABC banner in 2015 for Koro-Koro constituency. He was re-elected in 2017.
But his journey in politics has not always been smooth-sailing. His first attempt to represent the party in Thaba-Bosiu constituency in the 2007 elections was not successful after he was elbowed out on nomination day.

He went to court to challenge the decision but still lost.
Koma says he “felt molested” after his own party dealt with him in such an unfair manner.

Koma was born on December 13, 1946 and grew up in a rural village called Jorotane near Mohale Dam in an era where all fathers wanted their children to herd cattle and not attend school.
So he would leave the cattle alone and attend school secretly, until his father found out. Of course the old man was not too pleased but still allowed his son to continue with his studies.
Eventually he came to Maseru and enrolled at St Joseph which was then a teachers’ training school. He finished his studies there in 1969.
And thus began Koma’s long teaching career which ran from 1970 until 1991 when he left to join the ’Mateko Youth Centre, a school that sharpened the skills of youths with trades.
He later worked as a welfare officer at Lerotholi Polytechnic until he retired in 2001.

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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