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Taxi operators kick out minister



’Marafaele Mohloboli

PUBLIC Works and Transport Minister Tšoeu Mokeretla was on Thursday kicked out of a meeting between taxi operators and political parties for coming late and without other representatives of the seven-party coalition government.

The meeting, which was held at African Methodist Episcopal (AME) hall in Maseru, was convened by the taxi operators to articulate their expectations from the political parties ahead of the 3 June 2017 general elections.

In attendance from opposition parties was All Basotho Convention leader Thomas Thabane, his Reformed Congress for Lesotho counterpart Keketso Rantšo, Alliance of Democrats spokesperson Teboho Lehloenya, Basotho National Party Deputy Secretary-General Tšepo Monethi and spokesperson Machesetsa Mofomobe, and Movement for Economic Change Treasurer Makhetha Thaele.

However, Mr Mokeretla from the Democratic Congress and Lebesa Maloi from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy pitched up late for the meeting; which incensed the taxi operators who were expecting representatives of all the seven parties in the governing coalition.

The other parties in the governing coalition include the Lesotho People’s Congress, Popular Front for Democracy, Basotho Congress Party, National Independent Party and the Marematlou Freedom Party.

According to Maseru Regional Taxi Operators Chairman, Mokete Jonas, they expected all the leaders of political parties attend the event so that substantive decisions could be made with regards to their welfare.

“We were very surprised to see the government being presented by the Public Works and Transport minister whom we interact with on a regular basis,” he said.

“We wanted all the partners in the coalition government to come so they would commit to implementing our demands.”

The meeting had been divided into two sessions, with the opposition making their presentation in the morning while the government was supposed to start at 2pm.

However, Mr Maloi only arrived at 2.55pm saying he had confused AME Hall with Memorial Hall as the venue for the meeting.

For his part, Mr Mokeretla only arrived at 3:15pm and found the irate taxi operators already milling around the hall contemplating leaving. The minister then told the taxi operators to start the meeting since he had arrived.

While some of the taxi operators decided to get back into the hall and to hear Mr Mokeretla out, others remained outside saying they felt “belittled” by the minister.

They also said the minister could not address their concerns since they had already raise them to him.

“We can’t present our challenges to the same man who has dismally failed to address them,” said one of the fuming taxi operators.

“What new thing will we tell him that he doesn’t know, and where is everybody else from the government?”

Mr Jonas eventually went to the podium and announced that most of the taxi operators wanted Mr Mokeretla to leave.

The minister walked out and asked the leaders of the taxi operators to meet him outside. However, Mr Mokeretla decided to get into his official vehicle and dispatched his bodyguards to return to the hall to collect the documents he had left in the hall.

Upon the return of the bodyguards, the minister left the hall without speaking to the taxi operators.

Mr Maloi tried to address the remaining people, but one by one, they started leaving until the taxi operators resolved to dispatch him to tell the government to attend the next meeting to be held at an unconfirmed date.

“We demand the full complement of the seven-party coalition government because we need to hear what they have to say in regard to our concerns” Mr Jonas said.

Efforts to contact the minister yesterday were unsuccessful as his phone was unreachable.

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