Kholumo remarks a publicity stunt
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.
Education and training deputy Minister thabang Kholumo.
the late Lieutenant-general Maaparankoe Mahao.