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Tributes pour in for Cardinal Khoarai

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MASERU-CARDINAL Sebastian Koto Khoarai, 91, the first Mosotho to attain the position, died last Saturday in Mazenod after serving the Catholic Church for 65 years.
The church has not revealed the cause of death except saying he was sick and had to be admitted to a hospital for a while.

Reverend Francis Makhetha of the Mofumahali oa Maloti, Ketane, in the Mohale’s Hoek diocese, worked closely with the cardinal.
He described Cardinal Khoarai as a man of God who “was a strong bishop who started the Mohale’s Hoek diocese”.
Reverend Makhetha says the Cardinal’s early years were hard but he had gotten used to the hard work at Mazenod where he facilitated the improvement and facelift of the Regina Mundi, and Ha-Mohasoa.

His years as a priest in Mazenod led to his promotion in 1978.
He found the Mohale’s-Hoek diocese underdeveloped but worked hard to improve Paul VI High School.
He built churches and schools in such areas Phechela, Ha-Nkau in Sekake, Ribaneng.
“He was always in the quest for knowledge not only for himself but others which led to his facilitating scholarships,” Reverend Makhetha says.

He says the cardinal was a strong figure who cherished his pastoral role to the point where he would visit outstations on horseback even in his later years, always ensuring that he would find a place of spiritual refuge or a chapel where he would make his prayers or preach to the pious.
This could have been one of the reasons why his plans led to the construction projects that he ensured would be supervised to the point of completion.

Not only did he build schools and churches, but he ensured that buildings and places of refuge such as soup kitchens, old age homes, and vocational study centres such as CTC in Mafeteng came into existence.
He was a visionary who foresaw the progress of the church and ensured such progress’ success by fully engaging in each individual project regardless of the distance from his usual place of habit.

He is a figure that traversed the mountains and ravines of this kingdom not only for the sake of the Catholic Church, but his love transcended religious affiliation.
“He saw everyone as a child of God bound to be guided by the grace granted by God upon mankind. His role was not that of a mediator when there were problems in governance, here he became the guiding light in instances where political turmoil seemed to throw the tiny kingdom into the winds of bane.”

Cardinal Khoarai was in charge of migrant labourers and ended setting up a shack that served as a soup kitchen for job-seekers that wanted to join the mines.
These young men who wanted to join the migrant labour force in South Africa got their meals for free at the makeshift soup kitchen erected by Cardinal Khoarai for their sake.

His effort was recognised by The Employment Bureau of Africa (Teba) and a bakkie was donated to ease the weight of ferrying the free meals to the poor miners, many of whom came from distant villages with their only hope being employment in the mines of distant South Africa.
With the Cardinal around, they knew they would not have to worry about food and lodging whilst they awaited their passage to the mines in South Africa.

Their Good Shepherd, Cardinal Koto Sebastian Khoarai, ensured they were safe and well-fed.
He was born on Septptember 11, 1929, at Koaling in the Diocese of Leribe, when Lesotho was still part of the former British protectorate of Basutoland.
Cardinal Sebastian Koto Khoarai was baptised a Catholic at the age of 11.
After studying at local seminaries, he entered the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1950.

He was ordained to the priesthood December 21, 1956, two days after having baptised his father, according to his Vatican biography.
After holding various positions in seminaries in Lesotho, he was named pastor of the parish in Mount Royal Mission and then superior of the Oblates in Mazenod.

He served as the Oblates’ provincial as the country won its independence from Britain in 1966.
In 1971, he was named vicar general of the Archdiocese of Maseru and pastor of the cathedral.
In November 1977, St. Paul VI named him the first bishop of Mohale’s-Hoek and he was ordained the following April.

Tšepiso Mothibi

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Suspension was malicious, says Nko

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MASERU – A gunshot wound and an attempted murder charge have not stopped Dr Retšelisitsoe Nko from starting a new fight.

The suspended Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) boss is rolling up his sleeves for what promises to be an epic legal battle to be reinstated.

In an application filed in the High Court this week, Dr Nko argues that the LTDC’s decision to suspend him had a “glaring element of bad faith and malice”.

He says the suspension was procedurally flawed because there was no complainant to instigate it and he was not granted a hearing.

Dr Nko was suspended after he was involved in a shooting incident with guests at an event at a Hillsview guest house on December 27.

He is alleged to have rushed home to take his gun after an argument with some of the guests. Dr Nko and a guest sustained gunshot wounds in the scuffle that ensued.

Reports say the guests were trying to wrestle the gun from Dr Nko when the shots were fired.

The LTDC’s board suspended him two days later, alleging that he had failed to attend an extraordinary meeting called to discuss the incident.

The suspension letter was written by Nonkululeko Zaly who was the chairperson of the LTDC board by virtue of being the principal secretary in the Ministry of Trade.

Zaly, who has since been fired following corruption investigations, also approached the court to force the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences to return the assets confiscated during a raid at her house.

Dr Nko, in his court papers, accuses Zaly of usurping the board’s powers to suspend him. He says there was never a board resolution to suspend him.

The extraordinary meeting, he alleges, was a “prearranged dishonest scheme between certain members of the board and social media personnel which were part of the ruse deliberately designed to compromise” his interests.

Dr Nko says the board called him to the 29 December meeting when he was on sick leave and then suspended him without hearing his reasons for failing to attend.

He complains that Zaly wrote his suspension letter on the basis of mere allegations even though she had remained principal secretary and chairperson of the board when the corruption investigations against her were in full swing.

He queries why he was being suspended when Zaly was allowed to hold on to her job.

Zaly appears to have been belligerent when Dr Nko’s lawyers contacted her to query the suspension.

She told the lawyers, in a letter, that their queries were based on misinformation. She also dismissed the lawyer’s request for a record of the board meeting that decided to suspend Dr Nko.

“We are therefore not going to honour any of your demands and if your client is not satisfied, he is free to approach any appropriate forums to pursue these baseless issues,” Zaly said in her letter.

The lawyers say that response shows that Zaly was hell-bent on suspending their client.

Dr Nko wants the High Court to order the LTDC board to reverse the suspension, stop his imminent disciplinary proceedings and release the records of its December 29 meeting.

He also says the board is already conducting investigations on the incident to use as evidence against him in the disciplinary hearing.

Staff Reporter

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thepost columnist wins award

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Maseru – Two scholars associated with the National University of Lesotho have been awarded the 2022 Thomas Pringle prize for the best literary article published the previous year.

Chris Dunton, who is a columnist for thepost, and Lerato Masiea have won the prize, which is awarded by the English Academy of Southern Africa, for their article “Between rocks and hard places: the controversial career of A.S. Mopeli-Paulus,” which was published by thepost.

Dunton was previously Professor and Dean of Humanities at the NUL and for some years cwrote a column for this newspaper titled “Left Side Story.” Masiea is a lecturer in the NUL’s Department of English and is currently pursuing his doctorate at the University of the Free State.

Their prize-winning article was published in the journal English in Africa (vol.48 no.3, 2021, pp47-64). In it the authors explore the writings and life of the South African Mosotho author Mopeli-Paulus.

As their title indicates, their subject was a controversial figure, who degenerated from being an opponent of the apartheid regime (he was, notably, one of the leaders of the Witzieshoek Cattle Rebellion, for which role he was incarcerated in the Pretoria Central Prison) to being a high-ranking accomplice in the Bantustan system.

He was a prolific writer in both English and Sesotho (at one point he referred to the compulsive desire to write as a kind of madness!), his best-known works being the poetry-collection Ho tsamaea ke he bona (from time to time a set-text in Lesotho schools), the novel Blanket Boy’s Moon and the autobiography The World and the Cattle.

Dunton and Masiea’s article covers all his writing, published and unpublished (his papers are freely accessible at the William Cullen Library, Wits University) and is especially concerned with the question of cross-border identity.

Mopeli-Paulus was born in Monontsa, South Africa, in the lost territories—much in the news recently—and remained a South African citizen all his life. The dust-jacket for his first novel, Blanket

Boy’s Moon — which was an international best-seller — carries his name with the tag “Chieftain of Basutoland”, but this was a mistake.

Nonetheless, Mopeli-Paulus identified very strongly with Lesotho and has much to say — some of it fanciful, even spurious — on concepts of Sotho identity.

Dunton and Masiea explore this issue in detail, as it remains a topic of crucial importance even today.

Staff Reporter

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Matekane to boot out PS

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MASERU – THE Sam Matekane government is getting ready to get rid of Principal Secretaries appointed by the previous administration.

First to be axed is Nonkululeko Zaly who Matekane fired as a PS for the Ministry of Trade on January 11.

Zaly, who is challenging the decision, suffered a blow yesterday when the High Court refused to hear her case on an urgent basis.

Her case will now have to join the long queue of hundreds of others pending in the High Court.

Lefu Manyokole has been replaced as the PS of the local government ministry.

The axe is also likely to fall on government secretary, Lerotholi Pheko, and Foreign Affairs principal secretary Thabo Motoko.

The four have been the subject of a graft investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO).

Their homes and offices have been raided and properties seized as the anti-corruption unit investigates allegations that they received millions in bribes from contractors. The four are likely to be the first to be shown the door.

Indications are however that Matekane could be readying to purge the government of principal secretaries inherited from the previous government. Matekane hints at that impending clean up in his dismissal letter to Zaly.

“You will agree with me that as a Principal Secretary, yours was a political appointment,” Matekane said in the letter that Zaly claimed not to have received in her court papers.

“It follows therefore that the working relationship between yourself and the person appointing you, the Prime Minister in this case, is mainly based on utmost trust and confidence.”

“The trust and confidence components become even more important under the obtaining circumstances where the new government, of which I am the head, has just been installed.”

Matekane told Zaly that his government came with new ideas and policies at the top of which is to fight corruption.

He said he was aware that the DCEO had seized certain documents in Zaly’s possession “evidencing a commission of crime and that you failed to give a satisfactory explanation for your possession of those documents”.

“This has eroded all the trust and confidence I had in you as the Principal Secretary and there is no way I can continue with you at the helm of any government ministry,” Matekane said.

Highly placed sources in the government have told thepost that Zaly’s exit is just the beginning of a shake-up that will continue for the next three months as Matekane seeks to bring in new people he trusts and share his vision with.

Meanwhile, Moahloli Mphaka, the government’s special adviser in the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission this week told the High Court that there is a plan to fire him and two other senior officials.

Mphaka made the allegations in an urgent application to force the commission to pay his salary and that of Thabang Thite, and Bahlakoana Manyanye who are also part of the lawsuit. Thite and Manyanye are assistant advisers in the commission.

Mphaka told the court in an affidavit that on December 22 last year, the Natural Resources Minister Mohlomi Moleko told them that his superiors had instructed him to terminate their contracts.

The reason, Mphaka said, is the fact that they are the All Basotho Convention (ABC) members hired by former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. He said the government’s delay to pay their December salary was meant to frustrate them into resigning.

Nkheli Liphoto

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