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Varsity invades business space!

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MASERU – THE National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub, which is hosting at least 12 businesses, is poised to deliver more than 25 products to the market shelves around the country in 2019.
It is time to enjoy the fruits of innovation at the NUL.

The year 2019 will be remembered as that in which the NUL Innovation Hub (NUL-i-Hub) entered the business space in this country. Thanks to the amazing efforts by the NUL management and Metropolitan Lesotho.

“We have invested in many things, but for us to invest in businesses that are this innovative and dynamic is deeply gratifying,” Nkau Matete, the Managing Director of Metropolitan Lesotho, said.

Metropolitan Lesotho dropped a whopping M1 million towards the NUL-i-Hub.
NUL added M2 million to make it M3 million.

Could this be perhaps the greatest single investment in innovation ever made in this country today?
We bet.

Mohalalitoe Natural Soap, Bohlale Biscuits, Phula Poultry Products, Mafika Stones, Pius IV Egg Incubators, Pitsa Manufacturing Pot, C-Mat Waste Paper Furniture, Sebatso Dairy Products, Sorghum Choice Muesli and Intriguing Software Services, Khuisa baby foods, Tloutle textiles, all these businesses will produce a host of products this year.

This time around, we want to put you in the loop concerning the hub. What is it? Why it is different from other innovation/incubation hubs, locally and internationally. Why does the difference matter?
NUL-i-Hub is a physical space that incubates businesses. This is what makes it different.

It is powered by research, not untested ideas: companies that enter the NUL-i-Hub are based on ideas that were previously tested within the NUL Laboratories and developed into reliable products.

Since NUL-i-Hub is based on creating value out of research and knowledge, it is more than just an incubation hub, it is an innovation hub.
NUL-i-Hub is not an IT hub although IT will be an essential part of it.

Normal innovation/incubation hubs favour IT at the expense of other technologies.
But IT works best when it supports these overlooked technologies.

So NUL-i-Hub is full of manufacturing mini-factories which will be powered by creative use of IT.
One IT company within the NUL-i-Hub will be marked by its use of IT to transform the hub itself.
For instance, it is creating an online system that will professionalize selling of the hub products.

On your phone, you will order products on your app, use mobile money to pay and check the status of the product you paid for (how much time is left before you can collect it).

If the NUL-i-Hub truck is used to deliver your goods, it is possible to trace its movements from Roma right to your doorstep, on a cell-phone.
Buying and selling will never be the same in Lesotho.

NUL-i-Hub does not incubate entrepreneurs, it incubates companies. Many incubation/innovation hubs put a laser focus on training entrepreneurs on “business skills.”
NUL-i- Hub is not a business school. Rather what will graduate from the hub will be independent companies (containing experienced entrepreneurs, of course).

NUL-i-Hub is about testing and refining business models by testing businesses in the real world.
It is about testing businesses for their (a) product acceptance in the markets (b) marketing and selling strategies and (c) manufacturing processes.

When a business is failing, strategies are checked, and products and processes are taken back to the lab for improvement.
Then the business is tested again in the real world.

Failure is not failure, it is part of the learning process.NUL-i-Hub is an intermediary institution, not the end in itself.
Conventional innovation/incubation hubs either incubate entrepreneurs for a set period of time (6 months to 2 years) and then throws them back into the cold where they came from, or these hubs end up becoming no more than permanent rental places for small businesses.

In contrast, when companies are incubated within the NUL-i-Hub, they are already on the road to the proposed NUL-LNDC Industrial Park for mass production, no matter how long it will take to reach there.
That is the final goal.

NUL-i-Hub does not incubate “earth-shaking” ideas (whatever that means).
NUL-i-Hub leaves self-driving cars to Google, electric cars to Tesla and Rockets to NASA (for now).
If you are the NUL-i-Hub and you live within a womb of a university that is not famous for having a big purse, then lofty thinking is not for you.

And that works to your advantage.You learn to start from humble beginnings (u tlhotleha boikhomoso).
You don’t shy away from producing the simplest products.
You learn the secrets of doing more with less, sometimes with nothing.
That we call innovation.

For instance, Mohalalitoe, one of the companies under incubation was supposed to buy a M1 million soap making machine — the money they could only dream of.“Instead, we entered into four years of intensive research in our labs,” said one of the representatives of Mohalalitoe.
“We ended up designing our own M80 000 machine, 12 times cheaper! Now we don’t only know so much about soap, we know about the machines that make it, some of which we manufactured here in Lesotho.”
Meanwhile, let’s hope for goodies from the NUL-i-Hub this year.

Own Correspondent

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RFP douses fires

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MASERU – THE Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) was thrown into a fire-fighting mode this week after disgruntled party members protested over the party’s “undemocratic practices” in picking election candidates.

The members who won primary elections to stand for the party in the October 7 general elections were however blocked by the party’s leadership, torching protests by the grassroots supporters.

The group says it now wants party leader, Sam Matekane, to explain the criteria used to pick election candidates.

In defending the process, the RFP has argued that it picked the candidates on the basis of meritocracy insisting these were the best qualified candidates for the constituencies, an argument the group says lacks transparency.

Shortly after the party’s secretary general, Nthati Moorosi, announced the list of the chosen ones last week, scores of RFP members flocked the party offices demanding answers why their elected candidates were left out.

On Tuesday morning, the RFP went all out to reassure the disgruntled members that they were still valued members of the party. thepost understands that the party held a counselling session with the group.

However, a few hours later the group held a press conference in Maseru where they said even though they still supported the party all they wanted was transparency.

The disgruntled members are ’Mampho Seutloali from Stadium Area, Monohi Ralentsoe from Makhaleng, Chopho Lekhoabane from Khafung, Morakane Monate from Hlotse, Kobeli Rethabile Letlailane from Lithoteng, Thabo Moloi from Machache, Mahali Phamotse from Matlakeng and ‘Mamako Mohale-Lerata from Matelile.

The group said Matekane should explain the criteria the party used to pick candidates. Earlier the party had said the candidates would be selected based on their educational backgrounds, business successes or other social achievements in their communities.

Most of all these people Matekane left out have solid academic credentials and are successful in other sectors of society. Letlailane, reading their joint statement at the press conference, said they are demanding the document drafted by their leader while shortlisting the candidates.

“We believe that these documents are the only ones that can end the outcry that is coming from members who elected us in the constituencies,” Letlailane said.

“Members are worried that the results do not have transparency. This has caused loss of members in some constituencies,” he said, adding that some had already started re-joining parties they had defected from.

He said they wanted Matekane to give them answers so that they could go back and convince members that all is still well in the party. He said the documents would allay the fears of the people in the party.

“We aim to help our party to stop losing members on account of this,” he said.

Letlailana got 28 votes but Matekane picked Siera Letsoela who got only 12 votes. Phamotse received a stunning 96 votes but the party picked a relatively unknown Kenny Ntoane who only got 10 votes.

Letlailane said the RFP should be a beacon of transparency because many people had left their parties to join it because they were not transparent.

“The people are asking the RFP to live by what it preaches.”

He stated that most of the candidates who won primary elections but were not chosen do not want to defect together with the people in the constituencies who have started defecting.

“We aim to work hard to build this party, to get things right so that people do not leave,” he said.

He said their other aim is to prove to the nation and the people that the results were transparent. Dr Phamotse said by asking for the criteria “the angry people will understand and stop defecting”.

“We are helping by asking for accountability as there are some constituencies that have also launched similar complaints,” she said.

She said there are 30 aggrieved candidates who won primaries but were not picked to stand in their constituencies.

“They are not happy and we do not want them to leave,” she said.

Dr Phamotse said what makes matters worse is that members do not have the party constitution and they do not know if they have any legal basis to complain. The people, she said, base their decisions on democracy as they know it.

“We are representing others who are also not happy, especially those who won the primary elections.”

The Stadium Area primary election winner, ’Mampho Seutloali, said the candidates have huge supporters behind them.

“They are expecting to know what will be done as they voted for people and the party chose otherwise,” Seutloali said.

She stated that they had been negotiating with members not to defect.

“We are telling our people that the RFP is still powerful,” she said.

Matelile’s Mohale-Lerata said they signed a document to be members, therefore, they have a right to speak on matters affecting the RFP.

“But the constitution has not yet reached our constituencies,” Mohale-Lerata said.

A day earlier, Qacha’s Nek constituency members stormed the party premises demanding answers over the party’s undemocratic selection of candidates.

The members who had traveled from Qacha’s Nek to seek answers were not allowed to enter the office until around 4pm when a security guard finally let four of them in.

One of their representatives, Kokolia Mosothoane, told thepost that the leader chose ’Maatang Chaka who lost the primary elections.

“We demand to know how our leader picked this nobody, who stays in Maseru and knows nothing about us,” Mosothoane said.

“We will not tolerate this,” he said.

The members left the offices without answers.

On Sunday, the party co-founder Tlohang Sekhamane defended the party’s stance at a rally in Qeme constituency. Sekhamane said change is a beautiful thing as it goes along with developments.

“Change is not delicious on some people’s palates. We must embrace change,” Sekhamane said.

Sekhamane said Matekane has pointed out who should represent which constituency and “people lash at him for that”.

“That is why Lesotho is a poor country because we do not want to do the right things,” he said.

He said Matekane is doing what he knows by changing the ways things have been done in the country in the past.

He stated that Matekane wants to work with people he trusts the most.

“We thank you for allowing him to do so,” he said.

He said members “should change their old ways”.

“Stop believing that a parliament is an employment place where people go to eat with their families.”

He urged the members not to leave when unhappy because their party is doing this for their sake and the sake of the entire country.

“Matekane should be allowed to show and lead the way, he wants new things for your sake.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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Why Thabane case flopped

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MASERU – THE murder case against former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane and his wife, ‘Maesaiah, collapsed this week because it hinges on the testimonies of four key witnesses the prosecution could not find. thepost can reveal that those witnesses have been playing ‘hide and seek’ with the prosecution for more than two years.

The police and the prosecution have so far failed to track down those witnesses, according to sources close to the case.

The four, who are Basotho based in South Africa, are said to be reluctant to give statements to the prosecution.

“They are not clearly saying that they don’t want to testify but they are always giving excuses,” said a source involved in the investigation.

thepost understands that attempts by the police to meet some of the suspects in South Africa last week failed.

“I am told one of them said he was rushing to Lesotho for an emergency. When the police came back to Lesotho, the witness said he was already back in South Africa.”

The source said two of the witnesses are famo music gang members that have information on the people who carried out the hit on Lipolelo Thabane.

The other two know how the murder was planned. Sources told thepost that for the past three weeks the police and the prosecution have been debating on how to proceed with the case against Thabane and his wife.

“We have some good information from the other 35 witnesses but the evidence from those four is crucial to this case.”

The source said the prosecution and the police have been racing against time to get the witnesses before the Thabanes’ legal team applies for the case to be dismissed due to lack of prosecution.

“They don’t know when those witnesses will be available. It’s not like those witnesses can be simply subpoenaed to give their statements,” the source said.

“The prosecution knew that the defence was now planning to apply for acquittal on the basis that the cases had been delayed for too long and the case against ‘Maesaiah is not proceeding.”

“If the prosecution had charged Thabane it meant he had to enter a plea and the case would have to proceed. But the trouble was that the prosecution is still struggling to get the four key witnesses.”

He said the withdrawal was the prosecution’s only option.

“It’s a strategic retreat rather than surrender. The charges have not been dropped so they can still be reinstated when the witnesses are available.”

There are however fears within the prosecution and the police that those witnesses might no longer be willing to testify and could disappear off the radar.

The police, another source said, are worried that those witnesses might be intimidated or induced to refuse to cooperate with the prosecution.

Two of ‘Maesaiah’s co-accused have died.

Staff Reporter

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Molibeli in new bid to hold on to post

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MASERU – COMMISSIONER of Police Holomo Molibeli says Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro no longer has the power nor mandate to advise the King to retire him. This is contained in a new application he filed in the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

In the application, Commissioner Molibeli says the Prime Minister cannot advise the King to fire him after parliament was dissolved two weeks ago.

He argues that following the dissolution of parliament, Majoro has become a caretaker Prime Minister without powers to make any major decisions in the interim.

He said section 83 (7) of the Constitution of Lesotho says a Caretaker Prime Minister “is limited to maintaining the status quo existing before the dissolution” of the 10th Parliament.

Commissioner Molibeli pleaded with the court to order that Majoro’s advice to King Letsie III to retire him from the office “during the caretaker period be considered unconstitutional, null and void for being contrary to section 83(7) of the Constitution”.

He added that the court should “interdict and restrain the King from acting on any advice of the Prime Minister or having the effect of advising His Majesty to require” him to retire.

In his founding affidavit, Commissioner Molibeli said that when the 10th Parliament was dissolved on July 13, the government assumed the caretaker role and with effect from July 14, “the Prime Minister became a caretaker Prime Minister presiding over the caretaker government”.

“The Prime Minister during the caretaker period is constitutionally prohibited from, among others, removing or effecting changes to key positions as the heads of securities, the judiciary, other law enforcement agencies such as Lesotho Revenue Authority and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences,” Commissioner Molibeli said.

“As the Commissioner of Police, I am the head of and superintend the LMPS and its operations in Lesotho,” he said.

He said the 9th Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits significant changes to key positions in the government “was inspired not only by the need to express the constitutional convention to that effect but also to specifically deal with the specific incidents influenced by collation politics since 2012”.

He said these are “matters of common knowledge and which the court is entitled to take judicial notice of”.

He said during the reforms process, the constituent popular sovereignty of the people of Lesotho was expressed in the Plenary II Report.

“There should be no appointments or removals to the heads of securities (LMPS, LDF and NSS) including the Commissioner of Police in the interim,” he said.

He emphasised that as the occupier of the office of the Commissioner since 2017, he is entitled to exercise and perform the functions of that office until otherwise removed by both the constitution and the law authorities.

“I have a right to prevent illegal and unconstitutional means of removing me from that office, and therefore to approach the court for purpose,” he said.

He said his dignity, reputation and self-worth are also derived from the performance of the functions of the office of the Commissioner of Police which he is currently holding.

“I have a right to prevent my unconstitutional and illegal removal from office,” he said.

He said the unconstitutional and illegal removal from office will cause irreparable harm not only to the integrity of the constitution, maintenance of the rule of law but will effectuate constitutional injustice to him and trample upon and render illusory and worthless his non-material rights.

’Malimpho Majoro

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