MASERU — Former premier Pakalitha Mosisili yesterday lashed out at the coalition government for failing to appoint “enough” women into senior leadership positions.
Mosisili told delegates at the Democratic Congress (DC)’s elective conference at the Methodist High School hall that it was surprising that the number of women in cabinet had dwindled despite the government increasing ministers from 21 to 31.
The DC leader said it was a pity that the coalition government had also slashed the number of women principal secretaries, “a sure sign that they are not serious about women issues” and that to them “women are not really leaders”.
Out of the 32 ministers, there are only three women who are substantive ministers in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
These are Tourism Minister ’Mamahele Radebe, Health Minister Dr Pinki Manamolela and Public Works Minister Keketso Rantšo.
There are also three women deputy ministers, Lucia Makoae for health, ’Malebitso Ralebitso for home affairs and ’Matšepo Ramakoae for finance.
During Mosisili’s premiership of 22 ministers, eight were female. They were Pontšo Sekatle for Local Government, ’Mathabiso Lepono for Sports, Mpeo Mahase-Moiloa for Justice, ’Mamphono Khaketla for Education, Mphu Ramatlapeng for Health, ’Mannete Ramaili for Tourism while Lineo Molise-Mabusela was assistant minister of home affairs and ’Matanki Mokhabi was an assistant minister of education.
Mosisili said failure to give women a place in leadership is a serious flaw in democracy, “which the Democratic Congress stands for.”
He said he won’t be surprised if vacancies in the embassies are filled up by men.
“You will notice that Lesotho is not represented in a number of countries at present,” he said.
He said vacancies have not been filled up in Egypt, China, India, the European Union, Switzerland, Germany, Malaysia, Libya and the United Nations.
“Unlike these other parties of the congress movement, we stand for democracy hence we are called Democratic Congress,” Mosisili said.
“You will recall that it was our Democratic Congress that came up with the idea of increasing the number of women in parliament when we influenced that the proportional representation lists should have women’s names accompanying men’s,” he said.
“By so doing we ensured that in harmony with the then government’s policy there would be an increased number of women in parliament, which the present government seems to take for granted.”
Mosisili added: “I challenge this conference to ponder on these things and come up with resolutions that will help
entrench women’s issues in our national agenda.”
Mosisili also complained that the present government seems reluctant to resolve the inheritance question where Basotho customs are used to oppress women.
“It is high time that our customs that bar women from inheriting their parents’ belongings are removed,” he said.
“The time has come for us as the Democratic Congress, because we are indeed democratic, to do away with such customs.”
Mosisili said women must qualify to inherit the chieftainship from their parents and “it is unsound to prevent them on account of outdated customs”.
“In modern days, such customs should be thrown away totally,” he said.
Mosisili’s comments come at a time when Senate Masupha, the eldest daughter of the late David Masupha and ’Masenate Masupha, is fighting a constitutional case to win the principal chieftainship of Ha-’Mamathe.
According to Basotho customs her half-brother Lepoqo Masupha should inherit the chieftainship but Senate has challenged the custom saying it is discriminatory on the basis of her gender.
Mosisili said the DC will not support customs that deprive women of their inheritance rights.