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Thabane charms Xhosa speakers

Prime Minister Thomas ThabaneBilly Ntaote

MASERU — The leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC) Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has urged Xhosa people living in parts of the Quthing district to seek representation in Senate. Thabane made the suggestion when addressing his party rally in the Tele constituency recently where a huge number of Xhosa communities are located. He said during the Leabua Jonathan’s administration there were plans to expand the Senate and include the Xhosa people.

“We even had Chief Vova Tyhali represented in the Senate at some point in time and you should go back to that history and find out what happened,” said Thabane. The Tyhali’s family occupies the office of the local chief at Mjanyani in the Tele constituency and has always been recognised as the authority in the area. The Senate or the Upper House of the Lesotho Parliament has eleven appointments to the Senate by the King and twenty-two Principal Chiefs as ex officio members.

Thabane suggested that the communities should find out what has happened to their appeal to be represented in the Senate. He strongly advocated that Xhosa speaking people should also be represented in the Senate. Thabane also said the fact that there are indigenous people of Lesotho who are bilingual is very important and needs to be sustained. “We should not be jealous that these people speak two African languages as opposed to us,” he said.

Thabane said there is need for the ministry of education and training to ensure the communities always have both Sesotho and Xhosa language teachers in their schools and not just a teacher who is competent in one of the languages. “I know you have always complained that its either you’re given a Sesotho teacher and when you complain that the ministry should also hire a Xhosa teacher the Sesotho teacher is taken away from you. What you need is a teacher competent in both languages for the preservation of your language,” said Thabane.

When contacted for a comment the Tele constituency legislator Ndiwuhleli Ndlomose said Thabane is trying to lure the Xhosa and the Baphuthi communities but his attempts would be futile.

“That is not the way to charm those people at all. I can see what he is doing in that constituency and it will not work at all,” said Ndlomose.

Ndlomose said in the past the Tyhali family was represented in the Senate even in the constitution making body.

Meanwhile, Vuyani Tyhali told the Sunday Express he once led the Xhosa communities in marches in 2007 to petition the government to allocate a Senate position to a representative of the Xhosa.

“This is good news because we were promised by Ntate Thabane that he would give us a seat in the Senate and we are still waiting for that,” said Tyhali.

Tyhali reminisced that during the British protectorate times and the Basotho National Party government times and even the military regime, the Xhosa were represented in Senate.

“It’s only during the congress government that we ended not being represented in Senate and what baffles is that we do not know why that is the case today.

“We used to have Sandile Tyhali and later Baphathe Tyhali in the Senate and Baphathe was the last person to represent my home community in the Senate,” Tyhali reminisced.

He insists during the 2007 campaign by the Xhosa community to be represented in parliament’s upper house, he led the campaign but they were given a cold shoulder.

Commenting on the language teachers availability to the Xhosa communities, Tyhali alleged today only two elderly women who used to teach Xhosa language in the schools are still alive but they have since aged.

“The teaching of the Xhosa language in our school was suspended indefinitely during the 1970 troubles and because of the confusion there were never reasons explained.

“My own mother was one of the teachers in the schools but only two are alive today,” he said.

Tyhali explained there were Ombudsman findings of 2005 which showed “we should be given a Sesotho and Xhosa teacher for the best interest of our children in the Xhosa communities.”

He said it was unfortunate that the Mafisa findings were dismissed by Parliament and some Members of Parliament were very vocal that we should not be allowed to have two native languages of Sesotho and Xhosa.

Mafisa had argued in the report that “our children are being denied their rights and it is unfair to be taught Xhosa as their mother tongue and be taught Sesotho in schools which is also a prerequisite subject for passing in our Lesotho schools, so there is a need for them to be taught both languages,” Tyhali observed.

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