PM calls for new law on chieftainship

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MASERU — Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has called on the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) women’s league to work hard to change the law that bars women from inheriting chieftaincy.

Addressing the LCD women’s league conference on Saturday night, Mosisili said it was wrong that some people use Basotho customs to deny girls their rights to succeed their fathers as chiefs.

According to the Laws of Lerotholi which deal with Lesotho’s customary practices the first son of a chief inherits chieftaincy when his father dies.

Women are not allowed to be chiefs.

A recent example is of the principal chieftaincy of Ha-’Mamathe where after the death of the acting chieftainess ’Masenate Masupha last year the extended family fought legal battles over succession.

Chieftainess ’Masenate and her late husband Masupha Gabasheane did not have boys and since their eldest child, Senate, was a female she was not entitled to succeed in chieftaincy.

The Ha-’Mamathe chieftaincy was passed on to Gabasheane’s next of kin.

Mosisili said this was an unjust custom.

If the LCD women’s league takes up Mosisili’s suggestion and influence the ruling party majority in parliament to change the law, women like Senate will become chiefs.

“People hide behind Basotho customs when they deny women the right to inherit chieftaincy and other material possessions,” Mosisili told the LCD women’s conference.

“It sometimes boggles my mind that some of you women protect such bad customs.

“I am hopeful that you are going to work hard to ensure that the Laws of Lerotholi, especially where the girl child is denied rights to be a chief after her father, are amended.”  

The Basotho customary laws, also known as Laws of (Paramount Chief) Lerotholi, give all inheritance to boys.

Chiefs’ wives can only become acting chiefs after the deaths of their husbands. They will remain acting chiefs until their first sons are old enough to take office.

Trying to convince hundreds of LCD women at the conference that the customary law was unfair to females, Mosisili said they have powers to change it because “it is common knowledge that women are the majority.”

“You are the ones with powers to change such customs and laws to give girls equal rights with boys,” he said.

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