Lesotho is never short of political drama but, relatively speaking, the year 2010 started out slow for the country. But boy did it end with a massive bang!
From political brinkmanship to capitalist greed, the newsmakers in our small nation this year had all the ingredients of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Mosisili fires ministers
In October, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili fired four cabinet ministers from the government in the biggest shake-up of his cabinet since he assumed power in 1998.
Ostensibly, this exercise was carried out to improve efficiency in service delivery but those in the know said the changes reflect the shift in the balance of power within the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party.
Sure enough, against a backdrop of numerous incidents of infighting, it would later emerge that there were two warring factions in the party. Litima-Mollo (Fire Extinguishers), a faction believed to be led by secretary-general Mothetjoa Metsing, is reported to be at loggerheads with the Lija-Mollo (Fire Eaters) faction which is allegedly led by Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki.
The jury is still out on which faction will win the LCD war but we can tell you that 2010 will most likely look like a picnic party compared to the battlefield that will be 2011. After all this is the last year for all factions in all the parties to position themselves for the bigger war — the elections in 2012.
In fact, rumour doing the rounds in the corridors of power is that a snap election might be called soon if tensions remain as high as they are.
vs Billy Macaefa
As if the drama in the ruling party was not enough, the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) entered the arena with its own brand of skullduggery, which competed well with that of the LCD.
ABC leader Tom Thabane gave his alliance partner and secretary-general Macaefa Billy the marching orders after a bust-up between the two.
Billy went back to his Lesotho Workers Party where the first order of business was to fight a bunch of foes who had long decided that he no longer held sway in the party.
Soon the ABC executive was facing an internal rebellion as its youth league insisted that, in their view, Billy was still the secretary-general.
That rebellion has died down, but the withdrawal of Billy and his Lesotho Workers Party from the alliance could still have serious ramifications for Thabane in future.
The façade of tranquility which is covering the ABC at the moment could turn out to be the proverbial quiet before the storm if Billy decides to retaliate against Thabane’s brinkmanship.
When British writer Toby Young wrote his autobiography and titled it How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, he did the people of Lesotho a big disfavour.
While Young’s work is a compelling account of his attempts to make it as a journalist in the cut-throat United States media, it is our feeling here at Newsmakers & Noisemakers that he should have left the title for the autobiography of one Simon Thebe-ea-Khale.
When MKM was shut down in 2007, most people thought Thebe-ea-Khale was being persecuted by an unseen political hand because of his growing influence.
Over the years, as more details emerged of how there was a gaping M300 million hole in the company’s accounts, the call changed to “just let him pay up”.
However, as the courts prepared to hear the MKM case this year, it became clear to hopeful MKM creditors that something sinister was afoot.
First, High Court Judge Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane recused herself from the case alleging that Thebe-ea-Khale had sent an emissary to try to influence her on his behalf.
Then came the dirty tricks, as the 20202000 Trust Fund, a shadowy outfit bankrolled by Thebe-ea-Khale, tried to stall court proceedings. The courts were not fooled however and that attempt has hit a brickwall.
Indeed, in three years, Thebe-ea-Khale has gone from being a one-man-Wall-Street — offering investors the chance to make millions — to becoming Lesotho’s own version of Ponzi king Bernard Madoff.
And that is why we say his story is the one which is fit to be called “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People”.
But it wasn’t only in politics and business that wars were fought in 2010.
Civil society, dear friends, is not so civil.
We speak here of the Law Society of Lesotho, where a battle was fought for the control of this important mouthpiece of the legal fraternity.
Law Society president Zwelakhe Mda and his former deputy Molefi Ntlhoki engaged in a war of words as members stood by to elect one of them for the post of president.
These two gentlemen slung so much mud at each other that had a pig walked in and stood between them, it would have looked the cleaner of the three.
Eventually Mda retained the post, if only by a small margin.