Mo­sisili slams pa­tri­archy

. . . says women should take ad­van­tage of pro­posed con­sti­tu­tion­alnsti­tu­tional re­forms to lobby for the abo­li­tion of laws that dis­crim­i­nate again­stst them.

Lesotho Times - - News - Bongiwe Zih­langu

Women should “stand up” and take ad­van­tage of pro­posed re­forms to the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion by lob­by­ing for the abo­li­tion of dis­crim­i­na­tory clauses per­tain­ing to in­her­i­tance, Prime min­is­ter Pakalitha mo­sisili has said.

A self-con­fessed cham­pion of women’s rights, Dr mo­sisili says rights groups should cap­i­talise on these re­forms to do away with dis­crim­i­na­tory clauses that marginalise women and are ar­chaic as “they do not even con­form to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards”.

“Is­sues per­tain­ing to in­her­i­tance af­fect women di­rectly, but more of­ten than not, they are side­lined from dis­cus­sions and de­ci­sions made in re­la­tion to in­her­i­tance.

“only men have the right to dis­cuss these is­sues, which should never be the case,” Dr mo­sisili said as he ad­dressed an African Women’s month cel­e­bra­tion in Berea last Satur­day.

The com­mem­o­ra­tion, or­gan­ised by women’s leagues of the seven po­lit­i­cal par­ties com­pris­ing his coali­tion govern­ment, was held un­der the theme ‘Em­pow­er­ing the African Woman: Against HIV/AIDS, Gen­der-based Vi­o­lence (GBV) and In­her­i­tance Based Dis­crim­i­na­tion against Women and Girls’.

Ac­cord­ing to the Demo­cratic Congress (DC) leader, in or­der to ad­vance their in­ter­ests, men hide be­hind the “out­dated” cul­ture which dic­tates that women are in­fe­rior and should there­fore not be en­gaged where in­her­i­tance is­sues are con­cerned.

“In Le­sotho, men hide be­hind this pur­ported Se­sotho cul­ture to ex­act this type of dis­crim­i­na­tion against women. maybe it is high time that women faced this chal­lenge head on so that women to­gether with men, they can find last­ing so­lu­tions for our chil­dren’s sake, for jus­tice’s sake.

“This coali­tion govern­ment is soon to spear­head re­forms to Le­sotho’s con­sti­tu­tion. I am, there­fore, tak­ing this op­por­tu­nity to in­vite all the men and women of Le­sotho, to stand and join this noble cause to elim­i­nate all the clauses that make pro­vi­sion for the dis­crim­i­na­tion of women us­ing cul­ture as an ex­cuse,” said Dr mo­sisili, whose DC formed a coali­tion govern­ment with the Le­sotho Congress for Democ­racy (LCD), Pop­u­lar Front for Democ­racy (PFD), na­tional In­de­pen­dent Party (NIP), Le­sotho Peo­ple’s Congress (LPC), Ba­sotho Congress Party (BCP) and mare­mat­lou Free­dom Party (MFP) af­ter the 28 Fe­bru­ary 2015 snap elec­tions had pro­duced a hung par­lia­ment.

Quot­ing from the Book of num­bers in the Bi­ble, the premier went on to re­cite Chap­ter 36: 8-13 which states: “And ev­ery daugh­ter, that pos­ses­seth an in­her­i­tance in any tribe of the chil­dren of Is­rael, shall be wife unto one of the fam­ily of the tribe of her fa­ther, that the chil­dren of Is­rael may en­joy ev­ery man the in­her­i­tance of his fa­thers.

“Nei­ther shall the in­her­i­tance re­move from one tribe to another tribe; but ev­ery one of the tribes of the chil­dren of Is­rael shall keep him­self to his own in­her­i­tance.

“Even as the Lord com­manded Moses, so did the daugh­ters of Zelophe­had: For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah, the daugh­ters of Zelophe­had, were mar­ried unto their fa­ther’s broth­ers’ sons: And they were mar­ried into the fam­i­lies of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph, and their in­her­i­tance re­mained in the tribe of the fam­ily of their fa­ther.

“These are the com­mand­ments and the judg­ments, which the Lord com­manded by the hand of Moses unto the chil­dren of Is­rael in the plains of Moab by Jor­dan near Jeri­cho.”

Dr mo­sisili added: “This means that this Bi­ble of mine rec­og­nizes that there are girls born as heiresses and are there­fore wor­thy of in­her­i­tance.”

The Di­rec­tor of Women and Law in South­ern Africa (WLSA) Le­sotho, Libak­iso matlho, said she only had praise for Dr mo­sisili for show­ing the po­lit­i­cal will to trans­form women’s lives.

WLSA Le­sotho, a non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion (ngo), is part of the WLSA Re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tion es­tab­lished in 1989 and op­er­a­tional in Botswana, Le­sotho, malawi, mozam­bique, Swazi­land, Zam­bia and Zim­babwe. In Le­sotho, WLSA Le­sotho is regis­tered un­der the Le­sotho So­ci­eties Act of 2001. The ngo seeks to pro­mote and pro­tect women’s hu­man rights in a so­cioe­co­nomic, le­gal and po­lit­i­cal con­text through ac­tive re­search, lobby and ad­vo­cacy.

“Any­thing is pos­si­ble where there’s po­lit­i­cal will. We have long been call­ing for in­her­i­tance laws to be re­viewed. I ap­plaud the prime min­is­ter for his speech; it meansns we’re mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion,” ms matlho said.

“If to­day the Pm is also call­ing for a re­view of the laws in ques­tion, then it is go­ing to be easy for us to lobby for change. This, we will achieve by, among oth­ers, en­cour­agin­gurag­ing women in po­lit­i­cal cir­cles to use theirir in­flu­ence as well.”

ms matlho added WLSA was al­readyeady fol­low­ing this year’s theme — that the timeime has come for the African woman “to get thehe same recog­ni­tion as the African man”.

“The time has come for the African­can woman to get the same re­spect and re­cecog­ni­tion. We re­cently at­tended a SADCDC sum­mit where a sim­i­lar call was mad­ede that the African girl-child should be en­ti­tled to in­her­i­tance,” ms matlho said.d.

“We are also hop­ing to cap­i­talise on the pro­posed con­sti­tu­tional re­forms to in­tro­duce these changes. In fact, thehe con­sti­tu­tion should do away with al­lll types of dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

Fed­er­a­tion of Women Lawyers rs (FIDA) Le­sotho Di­rec­tor, Thu­soanana nt­lama, echoed sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments.

“The prime min­is­ter should be praised for his stance; we will be with him, sup­port­ing him.

“We will ac­cept this in­vi­ta­tion and sup­port him all the way. Dis­crim­i­na­tory laws should be re­viewed so that un­mar­ried women and girls be­come en­ti­tled to in­her­i­tance,” ms nt­lama said.

“As FIDA, we’re al­ready ad­vo­cat­ing for such laws to be re­pealed to al­low for girls and women to en­joy the same rights as men.”

How­ever, ms nt­lama was quick to add Dr mo­sisili should also have called for the abo­li­tion of Sec­tion (10) of the Chief­tain­ship Act no22 of 1968, which pro­hibits daugh­ters from suc­ceed­ing their fa­thers as chiefs, solely on the ba­sis of their gen­der.

“The prime min­is­ter should also have ad­dressed this Act, which still dis­crim­i­nates against girl-chil­dren, go­ing against Le­sotho’s com­mit­ment in­ter­na­tion­ally to re­view such laws,” ms nt­lama said.

“We will join him in this cause, but he should also re­mem­ber to ad­dress this clause.”

In Septem­ber 2014, Princess Se­nate ma­supha, Fida-le­sotho and the South­ern Af- rica Lit­i­ga­tion Cen­tre (SALC), sub­mit­ted a com­plaint to the African Com­mis­sion on Hu­man and Peo­ples’ Rights, chal­leng­ing Le­sotho’s law that pro­vides for male-only suc­ces­sion to the chief­tain­ship.

Ms Ma­supha, the first born child of the Ha-mma­mathe in the Berea District, is chal­leng­ing Sec­tion 10 of the Chief­tain­ship Act no. 22 of 1968. ms ma­supha had pre­vi­ously chal­lenged the law in the Le­sotho Con­sti­tu­tional Court and Court of Ap­peal ar­gu­ing it vi­o­lated her con­sti­tu­tional rights.

SALC in­ter­vened as am­i­cus cu­riae (some­one who is not a party to a case and of­fers in­for­ma­tion that bears on the case, but has not been so­licited by any of the par­ties to as­sist). The do­mes­tic courts up­held the law, rul­ing it did not amount to un­fair dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Prime min­is­ter Pakalitha mo­sisili

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