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The making of the new MCC compact

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MASERU – IN December 2017, Lesotho was reselected to benefit from a second compact of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a United States-funded programme that helps the poorest countries fight poverty and grow their private sector.
Since then, anticipation has been high because of the tremendous benefits Lesotho derived from the first compact. By the time the initial US$362 million compact ended in 2013, hundreds of thousands of Basotho had potable water and access to health facilities.

Several laws had been modernised and several institutions established to improve the business environment. All in all, over half Lesotho’s population has or will benefit from these investments. The second compact is expected to build on those achievements. But there are several steps to be followed before the second compact is signed.
That explains why an MCC team has been criss-crossing the country over the past months to consult politicians, the government, villagers, local government officials and other stakeholders on what they believe are the most pressing problems to be addressed under the second compact.

Over the weekend thepost spoke to MCC Lesotho Country Director, Dr Guyslain Ngeleza. We began by asking him about the progress so far towards the signing of the compact.

MCC’s focus is alleviating poverty through growth of the private sector. We believe that the private sector should be central in the battle against poverty. So the first question we ask ourselves is what is stopping the growth of the private sector in Lesotho.

We want to understand why the private sector in Lesotho is not creating jobs and contributing to the economic growth. To find the answers we teamed up with the Lesotho Millennium Development Agency (LMDA), our counterpart in Lesotho, to undertake a constraints analysis to understand why the private sector is not growing.

What did you find?

We found that HIV and AIDS are still a major problem. But beyond that, we also realised that there are serious issues with policy planning and coordination which affects execution within the government. But those are just indications. The second task is to understand what lies beneath these problems.
We have identified the problems, but that doesn’t mean we completely understand them. So we undertake a root cause analysis. To do that, the MCC, together with the LMDA, undertook a number of consultations in the country.

We visited all the districts to meet Basotho to understand the root cause of the problems we have identified. We want the people to tell us what lies beneath these problems and why they persist.
Based on those consultations and additional studies we, together with the LMDA, identified two concepts to explore further. It is early in the development of a proposed compact, but these are two areas that the teams are looking further into for possible consideration.

What are those concepts?

The first concept deals with strengthening the private sector so that there is growth. The second is to strengthen the health system and reduce the rate of HIV infections. In strengthening the private sector we are looking further at four sectors we believe can foster economic growth: agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and the creative industry.
The key question is why those sectors are growing slowly. The focus, therefore, should be to deal with the patronage and strengthen accountability in two ways: institutional reforms and building physical infrastructure.

What is the concept to deal with the health aspect of the problem?
We are still at an early stage in the project development process, so at this point, we are very much still considering different ideas and no project or concept is for certain going to be a part of the proposed compact.

When it comes to HIV and Aids, we would work very closely with President’s Emergency Plan for Aid Relief (PEPFAR) which is already doing tremendous work in the country.
In 2008 when the first compact kicked-in there were 270 000 people infected with HIV and only 12 percent of those were on treatment, meaning that many people were dying.
Now in 2018 there are about 320 000 people infected but 70 percent are on medication. The rate of infection remains high but not many people are dying.
The issue then becomes that of payment for the medication. There may be an opportunity to look at ways to strengthen the overall health system.

What comes after the development of these concepts?

We presented those concepts to our Investment Management Committee for approval. But I must say these are just concepts that could be turned into projects. That process will be from now until March of next year. During that time, we will be doing further studies and consultations.
After that, we will go back to MCC’s investment management committee with project proposals. It however does not automatically mean that projects will be implemented, as they must first be approved by MCC leadership.

What happens from March 2019?

Between March 2019 and January 2020 we will be doing feasibility studies and data collection so that we better define the projects so they meet the MCC’s conditions and objectives. We will be doing the beneficiary analysis and working closely with the government.
In January 2020, we will then present an investment memo to the Investment Management Committee. The Investment Memo is the document that designs the projects based on the studies.
The memo will also show how the projects meet the MCC criteria and conditions. Those are all internal MCC processes, and if the memo is approved, the Government of Lesotho and the MCC will negotiate a proposed compact. The proposed compact will be presented to MCC’s Board for a vote, and, if approved, can then be signed.

What have Basotho been telling your team during the consultations?

Generally, people recognise the impact of the first compact. In talking to Basotho we have learned that there are still huge problems that have to be addressed. For instance, the shepherds have problems with animal feed because the rangeland has been grown over by invasive plants.
The communities understand the issues clearly. They will tell you that there is need for strong coordination with the local authority so that government delivers public goods and services. (They say that) coordination is there in other places but absent in other areas.
In some hard-to-reach areas people urgently need roads and bridges. They are grateful for the investment in health. The visits have complimented [the information] we have gathered from the government and stakeholders. Again, all of these conversations have been helpful, but no assumptions should be made about what the proposed compact will focus on.
This consultation process is an important contributor to our work with the Government of Lesotho, but many factors will be considered as we continue to explore potential areas of focus for the work.

What’s your message to the government of Lesotho?

In general, reforms are the hardest thing to do. Lesotho needs to be prepared for reforms to improve the economy and pull people out of poverty. I must also point out that we are closely monitoring the SADC reform process.  Those SADC reforms are crucial for the sustainability of the investment we will make. The real benefit of that investment can only be realised if the country is politically stable.  We believe the SADC reforms are a pathway to the political stability necessary for the investment to benefit the people of Lesotho. We want all Basotho to be involved in the making of the compact because this investment is for them, first and foremost.

Staff reporter

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Doctor tampers with corpse

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THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns

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Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.

 

The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

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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