Kholumo re­marks a pub­lic­ity stunt

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ON 29th De­cem­ber, 2015 Honorou­ble Tha­bang Kholumo, Deputy Min­is­ter of Education and Train­ing made state­ments on Har­vest Ra­dio in one of its morn­ing pro­grammes. Some of his re­marks seemed to cen­tre on the late Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao. Lt-gen Ma­hao’s fam­ily is deeply con­cerned by some of his claims that are un­founded, in­sen­si­tive and in bad taste.

As a mat­ter of prac­tice, we re­frain from en­gag­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic on the touchy is­sues sur­round­ing Lt-gen Ma­hao’s sense­less mur­der un­less we deem it ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary to do so. How­ever, we must re­mind those with short mem­o­ries that the fam­ily re­mains the cus­to­dian of Lt-gen Ma­hao’s mem­ory, good rep­u­ta­tion and in­tegrity, and we shall not hes­i­tate to ex­er­cise our re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect and guard them against those in­tent on blem­ish­ing them for rea­sons best known to them­selves.

Lt-gen Ma­hao led a life ded­i­cated to pro­fes­sion­al­ism, good gov­er­nance, the rule of law and shunned with ev­ery iota in his veins the cor­rup­tion now threat­en­ing the very fab­ric of our so­ci­ety. Hav­ing been the na­tion’s loyal ser­vant and an in­ter­na­tional civil ser­vant, he was well-known for th­ese at­tributes. That was the rea­son those who have sur­ren­dered them­selves to choices con­trary to th­ese prin­ci­ples saw him as an ob­sta­cle and de­cided to get rid of him in a most bru­tal way.

It is with painful hearts that we re­call that prior to Lt-gen Ma­hao’s as­sas­si­na­tion, lead­ers of cer­tain political for­ma­tions in Le­sotho had waged a cam­paign in which they claimed that he was head­ing a plot to trea­sonously over­throw the govern­ment. That cam­paign set the stage for him be­ing hunted like a wild an­i­mal and to his bru­tal ex­e­cu­tion on 25 June 2015.

The na­tion and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity re­acted to Lt-gen Ma­hao’s mur­der in an un­prece­dented del­uge of con­dem­na­tion be­cause of the high es­teem with which he was uni­ver­sally held. State­ments of con­dem­na­tion were is­sued by His Ex­cel­lency Ban-ki Moon, the United Na­tions Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Her Ex­cel­lency, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-zuma, African Union Chair­per­son and gov­ern­ments far and wide in our global com­mu­nity. For its part, the re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tion, the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) took the ex­tra-or­di­nary mea­sure of es­tab­lish­ing a com­mis­sion of in­quiry headed by Jus­tice Mpa­phi Phumaphi backed by a huge com­mit­ment of re­sources to get to the bot­tom of the cir­cum­stances of the Lt-gen’s death and to en­able those re­spon­si­ble to be held ac­count­able be­fore the courts of law. The fam­ily re­mains faith­ful to this process and calls on all peo­ple com­mit­ted to peace and sta­bil­ity in Le­sotho to give it a chance and sup­port.

Ev­ery­one will re­call that amid the groundswell of con­dem­na­tion of Lt-gen Ma­hao’s mur­der both here at home and abroad, an or­gan­i­sa­tion called the Pop­u­lar Front for Democ­racy (PFD) was no­table with its deaf­en­ing si­lence. They only sur­faced when they sought to oc­cupy ev­ery pos­si­bly avail­able pub­lic plat­form to threaten to sue Lt-gen Ma­hao’s griev­ing widow, Mrs Mam­phanya Ma­hao, for the ev­i­dence she gave be­fore Jus­tice Phumaphi’s com­mis­sion.

The PFD’S newly-found Da­m­as­cane about­turn ex­pressed by Honourable Kholumo on Har­vest Ra­dio ex­press­ing their sup­port for the re­lease of the Phumaphi re­port is wel­come. We must how­ever ex­press our deep sus­pi­cion that this about-turn is driven by political op­por­tunism to ride on the groundswell of na­tional and in­ter­na­tional de­mand for the ur­gent re­lease of the Phumaphi re­port.

Let Honourable Kholumo know that they would unas­sail­ably en­hance their cred­i­bil­ity if they fought and won the bat­tle not only for the re­lease of the re­port but also for the crim­i­nals who com­mit­ted the heinous act to be pros­e­cuted within the govern­ment of which they are a part. Fu­tile pub­lic­ity stunts while pri­vately join­ing hands with those bent on sup­press­ing the re­lease of the re­port can­not po­lit­i­cally bail-out his party.

Honourable Kholumo also made star­tling state­ments. He said he had ap­proached LtGen Ma­hao to ad­vise him to de­cline his ap­point­ment as com­man­der of the Le­sotho De­fence Force by for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane be­cause he knew that the lat­ter dis­liked Lt-gen Ma­hao.

The pub­lic must know that this state­ment is com­pletely de­void of truth and serves only one pur­pose: to cause con­fu­sion. There never was any con­tact what­so­ever be­tween Honourable Kholumo and Lt-gen Ma­hao. Honourable Kholumo must have for­got­ten that it was not un­der the watch of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Tha­bane’s govern­ment that Lt-gen Ma­hao was cal­lously mur­dered nor is it that govern­ment that is pro­tect­ing his killers even at the cost of risk­ing an in­ter­na­tional back­lash.

In a hardly veiled at­tempt to en­dear his party to the pub­lic, Honourable Kholumo claims that his party was in­volved in ar­range­ments for Lt-gen Ma­hao’s fu­neral. Let it be known that the fam­ily has never in­volved the PFD in any­way in ar­range­ments for Lt-gen Ma­hao’s fu­neral and in any case no one can claim to have seen the PFD at the fu­neral.

What Honourable Kholumo de­lib­er­ately seeks to mis­in­form the pub­lic about is a meet­ing of Sun­day 29th June 2015 where the fam­ily del­e­ga­tion met with a govern­ment del­e­ga­tion at the of­fices of the Min­is­ter of Home Affairs to dis­cuss the fate of Lt-gen Ma­hao’s per­sonal be­long­ings. It is of pub­lic knowl­edge that the be­long­ings con­cerned in­cluded LtGen Ma­hao’s spec­ta­cles, side fire-arm and es­pe­cially his two mo­bile phones which the pub­lic had alerted us about their abuse.

The govern­ment del­e­ga­tion in­cluded Mr Lekhetho Rakuoane, the Min­is­ter of Home Affairs, Mr Mo­lahlehi Let­lotlo, Min­is­ter of So­cial De­vel­op­ment, Mr Tsokolo Makhethe, the At­tor­ney Gen­eral and Ms Mamello Morri- son, the Prime Min­is­ter’s Pri­vate Sec­re­tary. In that meet­ing, we alerted the govern­ment del­e­ga­tion that the fam­ily would not be ex­pect­ing them to take part in the fu­neral.

We sub­se­quently con­firmed our view­point in a let­ter that was widely pub­li­cized in the me­dia. That meet­ing was the first and last for­mal con­tact be­tween the fam­ily and the govern­ment. In any case, it is clear that the meet­ing was not with the PFD as claimed by Honourable Kholumo un­less un­be­known to the pub­lic, Honourable Let­lotlo, Mr Makhethe and Ms Mor­ri­son are un­der­cover PFD agents who some­times con­duct PFD ac­tiv­i­ties dis­guised as govern­ment busi­ness.

Lt-gen Ma­hao’s fu­neral was a mas­sive and com­plex af­fair. But for the sup­port of mem­bers of the pub­lic in Le­sotho and else­where, it would not have passed as well as it did. Mem­bers of the pub­lic in their di­verse sta­tions saw to its suc­cess with money, live­stock and food con­tri­bu­tions. Some took leave from work just to as­sist with the ar­range­ments.

Prayer meet­ings and re­quiem masses were held in churches all over the coun­try. Some con­tri­bu­tions con­tin­ued to flow into the ac­count we pub­li­cized even long af­ter the fu­neral to en­able the fam­ily equip it­self for fur­ther bat­tles to se­cure jus­tice for his death. As the fam­ily, we re­main hum­bled by the sol­i­dar­ity the na­tion and Lt-gen Ma­hao’s friends and com­rades showed dur­ing that mo­ment of in­con­solable grief and trauma as well as af­ter­wards. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the fu­neral, we is­sued a state­ment to ex­press our in­fi­nite grat­i­tude to ev­ery­one for their sup­port.

We are how­ever con­stantly re­minded by the pub­lic that Lt-gen Ma­hao be­longed as much to them as to the fam­ily. The pub­lic con­stantly re­minds us that in dy­ing the tragic death he did, he gave him­self up for what the vast ma­jor­ity of Ba­sotho and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity hold close to their hearts. He was their hero.

What of the PFD’S ir­ri­tat­ing claim each time they take to a pub­lic plat­form to an­nounce that they con­trib­uted to­wards LtGen Ma­hao’s fu­neral? We must make it clear that as the fam­ily we have been un­able to es­tab­lish how and to whom they made their much vaunted con­tri­bu­tion. To take to pub­lic plat­forms to an­nounce that one made con­tri­bu­tions to a fu­neral is un­known in Ba­sotho cus­tom.

We are there­fore left with the con­clu­sion that, if in­deed the PFD made a con­tri­bu­tion, they seem un­able to live with it in their con­science. The fam­ily has re­solved to help ease their con­science. We in­vite them to bring what­ever proof of the con­tri­bu­tion they made and we shall re­fund it with­out any qualms what­so­ever.

Ma­hao fam­ily. al­low drainage. A compost bas­ket is lo­cated at the cen­tre, ex­tend­ing from the top to the ground level. This is used to col­lect kitchen or gar­den waste. Within the cir­cu­lar raised bed is a slice cut out for easy ac­cess to the compost pile. Cre­at­ing an over­all shape that is sim­i­lar to a key­hole. The raised bed is filled with soil, the compost bas­ket gets wa­tered and the wa­ter car­ries nu­tri­ents from the de­com­pos­ing compost ma­te­rial, thereby feed­ing the soil and ir­ri­gat­ing at the same time.

A trench gar­den is sim­i­lar to tra­di­tional veg­etable gar­dens, in­stead of build­ing a raised bed, a trench

gar­den is the op­po­site. One digs into the ground to cre­ate a hole or trench into which fer­til­izer is placed and mois­ture re­tain­ing lay­ers be­fore plant­ing crops. Only a small amount of top-soil lies above ground level.

It can be three feet wide by six feet long and 20 inches be­tween rows keeps it man­age­able, dig a trench that is as deep as the length of a shovel, make lay­ers start­ing with leaves or branches at the bot­tom, then straw or card­board, mix the top-soil with ma­nure to en­sure plenty of nu­tri­ents for plants, stones around the gar­den perime­ter will pre­vent soil ero­sion and help re­tain heat. Cli­matic haz­ards such as El Niño can­not be viewed as once off or oc­ca­sional events. Rather they need to be ad­dressed as long term cli­mate risks which undo de­vel­op­ment gains and need to be pre­pared for, adapted to and ad­dressed in a col­lec­tive man­ner.

Kono Kono.

Education and train­ing deputy Min­is­ter tha­bang Kholumo.

the late Lieu­tenant-gen­eral Maa­parankoe Ma­hao.

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