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Taxi operators to join protest

by Lesotho Times

MASERU — Taxi operators have agreed to join a protest organised by a group of Lesotho Congress for Democracy youths and the opposition against a government job freeze next Thursday.

The youths are now courting factory workers’ unions to be part of the demonstration.

The protest was initially set for yesterday but the alliance committee co-ordinating it has now rescheduled it for next Thursday.

A final meeting will be held today to plan the demonstration.

The “concerned youth”, as they call themselves, said they were planning to head to Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s offices in protest against the public service job freeze and other issues of national concern.

Maseru Region Transport Operators Association’s public relations officer Lebohang Moea yesterday confirmed that the taxi operators’ association is joining the protest.

But he said next Thursday was only a tentative day for the demonstration.

“Yes we have agreed to join the protests.

“But we are supposed to meet on Wednesday night (yesterday) to finalise the day,” Moea said.

The involvement of the taxi operators in the protest could result in many workers in the city failing to report for duty since the majority rely on public transport.

The deputy public relations officer for the youth’s coalition committee, Libe Moremoholo, yesterday told the Lesotho Times that the protest was gaining momentum because they had included other issues of national concern.

“Now that we are incorporating people from other sectors we will no longer march to the finance minister (Timothy Thahane)’s offices.

“Instead we are going to march to the Prime Minister’s office because we have now included many issues which we say the government should respond to.”

Moremoholo who is the president of the main opposition All Basotho Convention (ABC) youth league said they had decided to include factory workers because they were still complaining about poor wages.

The plan to incorporate them was formulated at the coalition committee’s meeting on Monday which was also attended by some taxi operators.

The textile industry is the country’s largest private sector employer with just over 35 000 workers.

Because of their huge numbers they are crucial to anyone planning a national demonstration.

Moremoholo said the demonstration is also expected to urge Mosisili to ensure that a case in which the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) is seeking a court order to liquidate the troubled MKM is withdrawn.

“Now some LCD youth members seem to have joined my campaign that MKM should be allowed to pay its depositors without going for liquidation,” he added.

MKM’s fate is still hanging in the balance because a South African judge hired to deal with the case is yet to deliver judgment.

But Moremoholo denied that the demonstration seems to be taking the shape of a stay-away.

“This is not a stay-away because people will still be free to go to work.

“But there is a high possibility that public transport will be scarce that day,” he said.

The Likhetlane constituency MP added: “We are appealing to them to join us for the benefit of youths as they are the most affected people by poor governance.”

He dismissed allegations that the planned demonstration might threaten national security.

“We are not threatening security here. We beg everybody not to misinterpret us. We are only demanding social services.

“We demand our rights and we are not turning back!”

The planned demonstration comes after the ruling LCD faction referred to as Litima-mollo convened a multi-party meeting at Khubetsoana on April 17.

The meeting was convened at the same time another faction of the party was marching in support of Mosisili.

The meeting was seen as a snub to the LCD.

The Litima-mollo faction is reportedly led by LCD secretary general and government communications minister Mothetjoa Metsing.

But Metsing has in the past publicly distanced himself from the faction which is now spearheading protests against the government.

The other faction, Lija-mollo, is reportedly led by natural resources minister Monyane Moleleki.

Moleleki has also denied leading the faction.

Moremoholo said there would be more protests if Mosisili does not respond positively to their grievances on Thursday.

“If he does not positively respond to our grievances we will look for other options and one of the
options is a massive stay-away,” he said.

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