Ma­cae­faMaca Billy dies

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Billy Ntaote

Le­sotho Work­ers Party (LWP) leader, Ma­caefa Billy, passed away yes­ter­day at Queen ‘Mamo­hato Me­mo­rial hos­pi­tal.

Billy (56) died af­ter a long ill­ness and is sur­vived by one daugh­ter and two sons.

Born in ha tebelo vil­lage, Matelile town in Mafeteng dis­trict, Billy was a cham­pion of work­ers’ rights, which led to his de­ci­sion to form the LWP in 2002.

he be­came a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment the same year fol­low­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of Pro­por­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tion (PR) in the leg­is­la­ture, and would al­ways en­sure the work­ers’ voice was heard in the Au­gust house.

In 2007, the LWP en­tered into an al­liance with the All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC), which re­sulted in Billy be­ing elected the party’s sec­re­tary gen­eral. Billy how­ever, re­mained LWP leader while also serv­ing as sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Fac­tory Work­ers’ Union (FAWU).

how­ever, af­ter dis­agree­ments with ABC leader thomas tha­bane, Billy left the party but re­mained with the LWP and in the lead­er­ship of var­i­ous work­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tions.

Af­ter at­tend­ing Le­ha­ha­neng Pri­mary and then Mak­ena high and Bereng high school in Mafeteng, Billy left the coun­try to work in the south African mines, mark­ing the be­gin­ning of his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer and union­ism.

Ac­cord­ing to Daniel Maraisane, a long-time ally of Billy, the late LWP leader was among the first mem­bers of South Africa’s Na­tional Union of Minework­ers (Num)when it was formed in 1982.

“At the Free state saiplaas Gold Mine where he worked, Billy was part of the NUM lead­er­ship. And when NUM formed a Depart­ment of ed­u­ca­tion deal­ing with labour rights, Ma­caefa served in the union’s Free state Re­gion com­mit­tee, of which I was chair­man.

“Billy was also a prom­i­nent mem­ber of the Congress of south African trade Unions (Cosatu), and at­tended many meet­ings in which work­ers’ rights were dis­cussed.

“In short, Billy was a heavy­weight of the Na­tional Union of Minework­ers in the Free state , hence his de­por­ta­tion back to Le­sotho in 1987 fol­low­ing a pro­tracted strike or­gan­ised by the NUM.

“In fact, the South Africans de­cided to fire all the for­eign­ers who had led the strike, re­sult­ing in Billy be­ing de­ported to­gether with 25 other lead­ers.

“I was part of that group de­ported from south Africa. But fol­low­ing the de­por­ta­tion, the union started a project here in Le­sotho to help the fired minework­ers. The project was called the Mine Work­ers Devel­op­ment Agency and was based in seka­ma­neng. the for­mer min­ers raised chick­ens and also had many other projects. Ma­caefa served in the lead­er­ship of the agency, along­side my­self, tseliso hlalele, Jus­tice sello tsukulu and em­manuel Ma­sita.

“We ne­go­ti­ated for those fields in Seka­ma­neng for the project, which ex­ists to this day. Billy would travel to south Africa to col­lect fund­ing for the project but be­cause he was banned in that coun­try, he did so at great risk and would hide the money in his jacket.

“Just imag­ine in the mid-1980s, hav­ing to travel wear­ing a jacket full of M40 000.00 all the way from south Africa into Le­sotho!” said Mr Maraisane.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr Maraisane, Mr Billy started his union­ism in Le­sotho when he formed the Con­struc­tion and Al­lied Work­ers Union of Le­sotho (CAWULE) in 1989, which tar­geted dis­grun­tled Le­sotho high­lands Wa­ter Project em­ploy­ees.

“CAWULE had tsukulu as sec­re­tary gen­eral, with Ma­caefa be­ing the pres­i­dent. Lat- er, Ma­caefa went to Brussels to fur­ther his knowl­edge about work­ers’ rights and how best to rep­re­sent them,” said Maraisane.

Af­ter the Le­sotho Amal­ga­mated tex­tile Cloth­ing Union col­lapsed, tseliso Ramochela formed the Le­sotho Cloth­ing and Al­lied Work­ers Union (LECAWU) and ap­pointed Billy sec­re­tary gen­eral in 1994, Maraisane added.

“Billy was among union rep­re­sen­ta­tives who par­tic­i­pated in draft­ing the Le­sotho Labour Code or­der of 1992, which con­tin­ues to be used to­day. he formed the LWP while still serv­ing in LECAWU. In short, Billy was a cham­pion for work­ers’ rights and felt deeply for their wel­fare.”

THE late Le­sotho Work­ers Party leader Ma­caefa Billy.

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