MASERU – Workers’ trade unions are elated that Keketso Rantšo has “finally been removed from her position as our minister” in the Ministry of Labour and Employment. Rantšo, and the Minister of Defence and National Security Prince Maliehe were on Wednesday booted out of Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro’s cabinet with immediate effect.
In brief letters to the two minister, circulating in social media platforms today, Majoro says he has advised King Letsie III, as appointing authority, to release the ministers from their offices as minister of the government of Lesotho pursuant to Section 87 (7) (d) of the country’s constitution. “I take this opportunity to thank you for the service you rendered as a minister of the government,” Majoro said in the letters.
Speaking to this publication, Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL) Deputy General Secretary May Rathakane said they were happy that Rantšo is no longer a minister in the labour ministry and that they were hopeful that their labour-related grievances will now be addressed. He, however, showed concern that only the minister has been changed and not the entire government, noting that their grievances were taken to cabinet by Rantšo “but to date nothing has been addressed by the whole lot.”
Rathakane said that all they remain with is hope in the newly appointed minister and wait eagerly to hear his strategic plan and his intentions concerning the workers and the ministry at large. Rantšo has been replaced by Moshe Leoma. “We are happy that ‘M’e Keke has finally been fired. She was inactive in all ways possible and we were tired of her. It was a matter a time before she gets the boot. She was failing in her job.
We hope that the new minister will be active and ensure that our grievances are addressed,” he said. Workers’ unions that include National Clothing, Textile & Allied Workers’ Union (NACTWU), Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho (IDUL), United Textile Employees (UNITE) and CMQ have been accusing Rantšo of incompetence throughout her tenure.
In May 2020 they gave the government an ultimatum to either fire her or risk factory workers going on strike. Among others, they showed a lot of disappointment towards the then Motsoahae Thabane-led government for appointing Rantšo as labour minister after dismally failing to execute the mandate of her office in past years.
General Secretary of National Clothing, Textile & Allied Workers’ Union (NACTWU), Sam Mokhele, said their dissatisfaction over Rantšo’s failure to deliver was in her lack of ability to run the ministry. He said since Rantšo was appointed minister, there has not been any kind of development in relation to factory workers’ minimum wage increment, and in ensuring that employees’ labour rights were protected.
He said she failed to even ensure that the country benefits from investors by barring them from saving their profits outside the country. “Instead of ensuring the wellbeing of our workers, she supported employers in oppressing workers and violating labour rights, therefore, giving us suspicion that employers were bribing her to side with them on every decision they made.
She reduced salary increments that were made in 2017 by her predecessor, suspended a gazette legalizing the increment under directive of employers and failed to order employers to also assist workers with salaries during the lockdown.
Rantšo has also failed to amend labour laws discriminating women factory workers’ when they go for maternity leave. The law stipulates that a woman who goes for a maternity leave is entitled to 12 weeks’ worth of salary; excluding factory workers.
She has also failed to protect workers dismissed from their jobs during the lockdown by employees who do to follow appropriate procedures in doing so,” Mokhele said. Section 51 of Labour Code gives minister Rantšo all decision making authority on salary increments.
Rantšo was appointed minister on June 23, 2017, following the 2017 snap elections. She is also a Member of Parliament representing the Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL) political party, of which she is the leader – the RCL is part of the current coalition government.
Maliehe was sworn in as defence minister in May, 2020, as part of Prime Minister Majoro’s new cabinet after he took office. Ex- Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane was forced out of government in May. Maliehe had been a Thabane loyalist who quit the camp amid allegations that the former premier had conspired to murder his wife – and faced prosecution.
He was public works minister in Thabane’s government, joining the new team together with three other ministers and he an All Basotho Convention stalwart that is senior partner in the current coalition.