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Pushing dream of reunification




KORO-KORO – FOR decades, the question of Lesotho being part of South Africa has stubbornly refused to go away. As the country readies for the 2022 general elections, the leader of the Alliance For Free Movement (AFM), Tšoanelo Ramakeoane, is reigniting the contentious and sometimes divisive issue.

Ramakeoane, who grew up believing in the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) doctrine of claiming Lesotho’s annexed territories, now says in his party manifesto Lesotho should join South Africa.

The former MP for the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), which carried forward the BCP’s philosophy of Basotho’s right to Free State and other parts of South Africa, is not a new face in the politics of this country. His involvement in political affairs started when he enrolled for tertiary education in 2002.

“Initially, I began developing an interest in politics following the BCP, around the time when the LCD was about to split from it (in 1997),” Ramakeoane said.

“Having been born in Tsoelike, I was always attending constituency gatherings organised by the party. It was only in 2002 when I became fully engaged in politics at the National University of Lesotho,” he said.

Ramakeoane assumed a leadership role and spearheaded, with other comrades, the formation of the university congress parties’ movement named LEVOSA. Later he became the LCD national youth league leader. He became an MP between 2012 and 2015 on the LCD ticket.

As splits continued ravishing the LCD, Ramakeoane aligned with the party’s factions. Ramakeoane eventually defected together with the party’s secretary general to found the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) in 2017.

Again in the MEC, differences led to squabbles that resulted in him forming a new political party, the AFM in 2020. He said what triggered the formation of AFM was his bid to fix the country’s economy through joining South Africa.

“I joined politics of this country optimistic that I would effect change and enhance the general livelihood of Basotho. But it wasn’t to be as a result of circumstances beyond the country’s control,” he said.

“I have been in the system and learned that it’s impossible for Lesotho to attain true economic prosperity and liberty if it’s not part of South Africa.”

Ramakeoane says what is happening on the ground “are false politics and giving people wrong hope that Lesotho can make it on its own”.

Ramakeoane states that “the only honest answer” to Lesotho’s problems is in the hands of the AFM “as we seek to give Lesotho everlasting prosperity by making it part of South Africa”. The AFM, he said, is formed by people of different political persuasions, including those who have been neutral in politics.

“Upon realisation that the current landscape of politics in the country is fruitless, we came from diverse backgrounds and formed the AFM.”

Ramakeoane defected from the MEC, his deputy is from the Democratic Congress (DC), the secretary general is from the MEC also the spokesperson is from the BCP and the deputy spokesman is from the All Basotho Convention (ABC).

The majority of the party’s followers are migrant workers who are based in South Africa and the party has committees in all provinces of South Africa and in all of Lesotho districts, according to Ramakeoane.

“The only way to successfully execute the mission (of joining South Africa) was to form a political party strictly oriented for it,” he said.

The existence of Lesotho as part of South Africa can be traced back to pre-colonial Africa, he said. Lesotho had co-existed with other chiefdoms in South Africa, each existing as a separate nation, he said. However these chiefdoms enjoyed unlimited interaction as there were no actual borders separating them.

The rift that set Lesotho apart from these nations, which later formed the Union of South Africa, present day South Africa, only emerged under the colonial rule which was later reinforced by the Berlin Conference of 1884.

“The urge for joining South Africa is just a rebirth of what existed before,” he said.

Ramakeoane said even after the formation of South Africa as a unified state, there had been calls for Lesotho to join “but our leaders could not cooperate as it was not for their personal benefit”.

“We are now left suffocating in a locked country to the advantage of a few privileged individuals.”

He said Basotho cannot access anything from the outside world without the involvement of South Africa, “which makes it absolutely ineffective to keep on operating as an independent state”.

“We are in a state of famine and economic instability due to being completely surrounded by another country.”

He said the unification of Lesotho with South Africa would not only yield economic benefits but also restore Basotho social ties that were broken by colonialism.

“The population of Basotho in Lesotho is around two million. But in a broader outlook there are more than six million Basotho in South Africa who are offsprings of Basotho conquered in the Napier and Aliwal North Treaty as well as those who migrated,” he said.

“We can no longer continue to remain a labour reserve for South Africa. We need to take part in being one with them for our social and economic benefit,” said Ramakeoane.

He said the South African government “has always been ready” for Lesotho to be incorporated into South Africa.

“It’s just that Basotho have not made up their minds on this issue. It’s our inflexible leaders who have been holding us back”.

“It’s high time that this issue is addressed without fear or favour and Lesotho becomes part of South Africa. South Africa supports this move hundred percent but due to international relations, it cannot initiate the move. We have to.”

Calvin Motekase

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[BREAKING NEWS] Lebona sets curfew



MASERU– In an effort to curb the rampant increase of homicides in Lesotho, the Minister of Police Lebona Lephema has announced a 10:00pm-4:00am curfew, effective Tuesday May 16, 2023. Failure to comply with the curfew attracts a 2 years imprisonment or a fine.

Staff Reporter

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Two nurses deleted for misconduct



MASERU – A Kolonyama midwife, ’Mamalibeng Ralenkoane, who allegedly neglected a woman during labour has been deleted from the nurses’ register for the next six months.

The woman went on to deliver her baby by herself without professional assistance.

In another case the secretary-general of the Lesotho Nursing Council (LNC), ’Mamonica Makhoswonke Mokhesi, has also been deleted for violating a patient’s privacy.

The LNC’s disciplinary chairman, Advocate Rapapa Sepiriti, said Ralenkoane had committed an act of serious misconduct and deserved severe punishment.

Advocate Sepiriti ruled that Ralenkoane “should not be seen anywhere attending (to) patients”.

Ralenkoane was working as a midwife at the Little Flower Health Centre in Kolonyama, Leribe, when ’Mateboho Letlala was admitted there for labour in August 2020.

Letlala told the panel that Ralenkoane took her to the examination room and later left her despite that there were signs that she could give birth anytime.

“At 19:00 pm Ralenkoane examined the patient but left her unattended and the patient had to deliver on her own,” Advocate Sepiriti said in his verdict.

“Clearly the blame has to be put at the door of Ralenkoane,” he said.

Adv. Sepiriti ruled that she should be deleted with immediate effect for 12 months, half of which was suspended.

“During these six months period, Ralenkoane is prohibited in any way from attending patients and this judgment should be delivered at her place of work,” he said.

Letlala in her testimony said by the time Ralenkoane arrived, she was already having severe labour pains and was told to go to the labour ward for assessment.

She said when she stepped down the labour bed Ralenkoane said to her: “Ua seke ua tatela ho hema empa molomo oa popelo o buleile ka 3cm’ (meaning she seemed to be in a hurry yet the cervix had opened by 3cm only).

“I was so surprised because I could feel I was very close to delivering because this was my second child and I could say I have experience,” she said.

She said she told the nurse that she needed to use the toilet but was instructed to use a pan instead.

“As she left me on the bed pan I could not stand from the pan as the pains were severe. I called for help but to no avail,” she said.

She said the moment she got energy to stand from the bed pan she saw blood, she called her but there was no response.

“Ralenkoane promised to come after two hours but there were no instructions on what to do in case I needed help prior to two hours,” she said.

“I wheeled myself to the bed and sat on it, still calling to no avail.”

She said while still alone, her membranes raptured and the time of birth came and the baby was delivered.

“The child did not fall as I was able to hold him,” she said.

She phoned her aunt who told her to find s scissor to cut the umbilical cord.

She said she bled a lot and ran out of energy, then Ralenkoane arrived at around midnight.

“When she came in she asked where the baby was and I pointed to where I had put him where he clamped the cord,” she said.

She said it was then that she got assistance.

The investigator for Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), one Nteso, told Advocate Sepiriti that his findings were that “the mother’s life was in danger as she was found having bled heavily and tired and the baby’s life was also in danger from prolonged exposure which could lead to hypothermia and brain damage”.

“Ralenkoane was not there for the mother until she delivered in the absence of the midwife, this is a case of negligence,” he said.

However, in mitigation Ralenkoane said this was her first time to appear before the panel and has been a nurse for more than nine years.

She said she has two children to support and she has already been punished by the clinic as she was dismissed and that she has policies and loans.

She pleaded with the panel to have mercy on her.

In another case Mokhesi who was the Secretary General of LNC was also deleted from the register for two years after she was found guilty of sharing a patient’s picture on social media without their consent.

She was accused of defamation of character and violating the patient’s privacy by posting pictures of the injuries he had incurred.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Nurses back at work



MASERU -NURSES who have been on strike since Monday are set to resume work this morning after the government started paying their salaries.

The nurses went on a go-slow last week but escalated to a full-fledged strike on Monday after the government delayed their salaries. Some nurses claimed they had not been paid since March.

Morephe Santi, the secretary general of the Lesotho Nurses’ Association (LNA), said they have started telling members to go back to work after the government said the salaries will start reflecting in their accounts last night.

The strike has inflicted huge reputational damage on Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s government which came to power on promises of efficiency.

Minister of Public Service Richard Ramoeletsi blamed the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) and the Human Resource Management System (HRMS) for the delay in April salaries.

Ramoeletsi told parliament last week that the two financial management systems were unable to reconcile, leading to delays in salaries.

But that explanation was little consolation for patients who bore the brunt of the strike.

At least 20 expectant mothers at Machabeng Hospital in Qacha’s Nek were told to go home because nurses could not help them.

Some of the women were later admitted at Tebellong Hospital, a facility under the Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL).

“We were staying at the hospital’s roundavel awaiting our time to go to labour but on Thursday afternoon (last week we were called by the nurses and they told us to go to other hospitals or go back home,” said Maretlotliloe Mpeli, who is heavily pregnant.

She said the nurses told them that they could not work on empty stomachs.

’Matlotla Poling, 19, from Ha-Rankakala said she had to call her parents because she did not have any money to either go back home or to Tebellong Hospital.

The Machabeng Hospital management declined to comment, referring thepost to the ministry’s headquarters in Maseru.

Ministry of Health spokesperson, ’Mateboho Mosebekoa, said Machabeng Hospital “did not expel the expecting mothers but merely sent them back home”.

“Due to the ongoing strike by doctors countrywide …they decided to take those women to the places where they would get help,” Mosebekoa said.

There was similar anguish at Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital.

“The strike has affected all the departments including the kitchen, maternity, and emergencies, but the managers are on duty,” said ’Makananelo Sepipi, the hospital’s spokesperson.

Sepipi said managers were forced to hold the forte “because some sections cannot be left unattended utterly due to their importance”.

“The operations are happening in the emergency section, even though they do not operate in a normal way.”

She said patients whose operations were scheduled for this week were sent back home.

Santi, the LNA’s secretary general, blamed the government for the chaos caused by the strike.

Santi said as much as the government likes to call them an essential service they do not prioritise their ministry.

“They do not appreciate us, it is like they do not see the importance of our job,” Santi said.

“The government turns a blind eye to the fact that our working environment alone can put us at risk of contracting diseases.”

“Now we are not able to buy food and other necessities.”

Nkheli Liphoto & Thooe Ramolibeli

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