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Diplomat joins fight for chieftainship

Tefo Tefo
MASERU — Lesotho’s counsellor in Rome, Italy, Senate Masupha has joined the battle to succeed her late father, David Masupha, who was the principal chief of Ha-‘Mamathe, Thupakubu and Jorotane.
Masupha died in 1997 and was succeeded by his wife, ‘Masenate, Senate’s mother.
But things took a nasty turn when ‘Masenate died in December 2008.
The late Masupha’s younger brother, Sempe, claimed he was the rightful heir to the throne.
Sempe last year lodged a case in the Berea magistrate’s court asking the court to declare him the new principal chief.
He argued that the late Chief Masupha did not have a son with ‘Masenate. He said under Basotho customs only the first born son of the first wife should be deemed the rightful successor.
Sempe said since the late chief and his wife did not have a son, he should be declared the rightful successor to the throne by virtue of being the chief’s younger brother.
The late chief had two wives and one of his sons, Lepoqo, born from the younger wife is also fighting for the throne.
Lepoqo argues that by virtue of being Masupha’s eldest son, he should be declared the rightful heir to the chieftainship.
But the matter took a completely new twist last week when Senate, who is on an ambassadorial posting in Rome, entered the fray.
Senate filed court papers in the Berea magistrate’s court claiming she was the rightful successor to the throne.
The court application has thrown the chieftainship dispute into fresh chaos.
The application came as Berea magistrate, Manyathela Kolobe, prepared to deliver judgment in the matter between Sempe and Lepoqo last Monday.
In her affidavit, Senate is laying claim to the chieftainship arguing as her father’s first child, she should rightfully be declared the new chief.
She also says disqualifying her on the basis of her gender would be a violation of her constitutional rights.
“As indicated above, I am the daughter and first born child of my parents.
“Although I am the first born girl-child of my parents, the respondents (Sempe and Lepoqo) did not deem it fit to give me notice of the proceedings, presumably because they considered that as a female, I was not entitled to succeed the principal chief because that is a matter for males only,” she said.
“I am the first born of my parents and to exclude me on the basis of my gender would be inconsistent with Section 18 of the Lesotho Constitution in as much as it would amount to discrimination against me on the grounds of sex,” Senate said.
The magistrates’ court had to adjourn to February 11 when Sempe and Lepoqo are expected to gang up against Senate’s application.
The director of chieftainship in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship, ‘Mikia Molapo, said the law only allowed the eldest son of the first wife to be heir apparent.
“The issue of succession is contained in Section 10 of the Chieftainship Act (1968). The Act clearly states the successor should be the eldest son of the chief.
“If the eldest son is not there, the second son is the rightful successor,” Molapo said.
Molapo said he was shocked when he realised Senate was also contesting the position.
“I was not aware that she (Senate) also wanted to occupy the position.
“However, I understand her claim is based on the constitution not on the Chieftainship Act as she complains about gender discrimination. 
“This now turns the case into a constitutional matter,” Molapo said.

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