Honourable Dr Mahali Agnes Phamotse
Country: Lesotho

Honourable Dr Mahali Agnes Phamotse


Honourable Dr Mahali Phamotse is the Minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation of the Kingdom of Lesotho (2017-). She held two Ministerial Portfolios between 2015 and 2017: The Minister of Education and Training, and The Minister of Justice and The Correctional Service respectively. She also is the Secretary General of the Alliance of Democrats Party which is one of the current Coalition Government partners in Lesotho. Hon. Dr Mahali Phamotse was born in Butha-Buthe district of Lesotho. After completing both her Secondary and High School Education from St Paul’s High School in 1985 and 1987 respectively, she enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts in Education at the National University of Lesotho which she completed in 1993. In 1999 she enrolled with the University of the Witwatersrand and obtained a Master of Education Degree in 1999, followed by her Doctor of Philosophy Degree in 2013. Apart from serving as a Lecturer at Lesotho College of Education (1999-2002), and the National University of Lesotho (2002-2015), Honourable Phamotse also worked as a teacher at St. Cyprian’s High School in Botha-Bothe.

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Honourable Mahali Phamotse is the Minister Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation. She is also a Member of Parliament by virtue of Proportional Representation (PR) representing the Alliance of Democrats (AD) political party. After completing both her Secondary and High School Education at St. Paul’s High School in 1985 and 1987 respectively, she enrolled for a Bachelor of Arts in Education at the National University of Lesotho, which she completed in 1993. In 1997 to 1998, she enrolled with the University of the Witwatersrand and obtained her Honors Degree and Master of Education respectfully. She obtained her Doctor of Philosophy in 2013 also from the University of Witwatersrand. In June 2017, she was sworn in to the position of Minister of Justice and Correctional Services following the June 2017 snap election which resulted in the Lesotho’s current Coalition Government. She served in her previous portfolio until April 2018 when she was transferred to her current position. Following the February 2015 snap elections, she was appointed as a Senator and also Minister of Education and Training, the position she held from March 2015 to September 2016. Apart from serving as His Majesty’s Cabinet member, Honourable Phamotse has worked at the Lesotho College of Education (LCE) and National University of Lesotho (NUL) as a Lecturer of Ethical courses in the department of Theology and Religious Studies. She also specialises in curriculum development. Since 2007, she has been lecturing and focusing on Educational curriculum and Philosophy of Education as well as Teaching and learning strategies. She worked as the Head of Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the National University of Lesotho from 2007-2011. During this period, she was involved in many academic activities that included designing, reviewing, planning, lecturing and examining courses in Theology and Religious Studies, module writing as well as supervising student’s research projects. Honourable Phamotse’s academic experiences also include publication of an academic article entitled “The Role of the Humanities in the Modern University: Some Historical and Philosophical Considerations”. This article was published in the May 2008 issue of Journal of Philosophy of Education. She also attended and presented research papers in many conferences. The latest paper that she presented was entitled “Inclusion of Religion in the Constitution of Lesotho”. This paper was presented at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Conference that was held in Maseru, Lesotho in 2013. Her previous experience includes working as the Head of Social Sciences Department and Religious knowledge Teacher at St. Cyprian’s High School from 1993 to 1996. Honourable Mahali Phamotse was born in Botha-Bothe on the 09th January, 1969. She is married and blessed with two children.

‘Let’s bury hatchet and move on’

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HER parents separated when she was just a toddler and political persecution amid abject poverty was a staple. Welcome to Dr Mahali Phamotse’s eventful childhood. “Our history is not our destiny,” she tells thepost. Yet, it appears the tumultuous childhood could have shaped her future – both academically and politically. Now a sports minister and the secretary-general of the Alliance of Democrats (AD), Phamotse began interfacing with the treacherous world of politics as a child. And it was the separation of her parents when she was just a toddler that forced her into school earlier than her peers, a development that guaranteed her “torturous” late nights of reading political news stories for her semi-illiterate grandfather. The abject poverty made her resilient, a quality she can count on today. Phamotse recalls the horror of her father being stripped naked and whipped in front of his terrified children. Her father Makhothatsa Mafeka’s crime was his association with the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) and a perceived supporter of its military wing, the now defunct Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA). She was barely 10 years old when she experienced first-hand the trauma befalling children whose parents and close relatives were persecuted for their political beliefs. Born in Ha-Shepheseli in Leribe in 1969 to a couple from economically and educationally unequal families but deep in BCP politics, Phamotse’s early life was eventful. She does not know when her mother, ’Mamoeketsi Mafeka, separated from her father but vaguely remembers that at age three she was already living with her mother’s family in Salang, Mokhotlong. Living in the workers’ quarters of a hotel where her mother was employed and her maternal grandfather, Seth Putsoane, was a manager; Phamotse only knew that she had a father although she did not know him at the time. Although she was too young to comprehend what was happening, Phamotse says she was troubled by the frequent night raids at the hotel by white police officers with dogs. Strapped on her mother’s back, they would scramble into hiding from police officers who suspected that the hotel was a hiding place for African National Congress (ANC) refugees who had escaped apartheid in South Africa. When she was not at the hotel, Phamotse would be at grandpa Putsoane’s home in Salang but even there, trouble was always waiting for the family. Putsoane was one of the elders in the Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC) and a strong supporter of the BCP who was suspected of harbouring the LLA guerillas. “Time and again the police, soldiers and members of the BNP (Basotho National Party)’s Lebotho la Khotso (Army of Peace) would raid the family,” Phamotse says. “I grew up seeing and hearing these things. I was already being soaked up in adult politics from infancy,” she says. Unlike her peers, Phamotse attended school at age three because there was nobody to babysit her at home. So a family friend who was a teacher at a local primary school volunteered to take her to class every day. She could read Sesotho fluently by the time she formally registered for school at age five. Those reading skills would come in handy when her parents reunited three years later. An uncle – her father’s elder brother Lentša Mafeka, called on her to read for him daily news articles. It traumatised her then. But with hindsight, she connected to current events at an early age. The mother had stayed in Mokhotlong to continue working at the hotel and Phamotse and her two siblings had to live with their uncle and his eight children. Phamotse was the only one who could read fluently in the household as all her cousins did not attend school because Uncle Lentša was a traditionalist who preferred initiation school. Uncle Lentša depended on a Sesotho weekly newspaper which was published by the Lesotho Evangelical Church, Leselinyana la Lesotho, for vital political information and analysis. But he could not read. Neither could any of his children so Phamotse became an asset in the family. When all other children were asleep, uncle Lentša would wake her up and instruct her to read the newspaper for him. “It was my job every week to read him stories when the paper comes out. I was traumatised because of pictures of dead people I saw in the newspaper,” Phamotse says. “The stories were so heart-wrenching that my uncle would shed tears and I would find myself crying too,” she says. A deeply entrenched BCP activist, uncle Lentša and his son-in-law who was a LLA cadre, used to harbour LLA combatants at home and the house was frequently raided. “One day the uncle’s son-in-law came home wounded and the soldiers followed his trail of blood to our house,” Phamotse says. “You can imagine how they behaved when they arrived at the house. However, they arrested nobody because my uncle and the son-in-law had run away,” she says. With uncle Lentša in hiding for a whole month, it was left to Phamotse to supply him with food in a forest where he was staying. “I would take a basin full of clothes and disguise as if I was going to the river to wash the clothes. At the appointed time I would sneak to the forest to give him food,” she says. This happened until the soldiers gave up their search. Phamotse says she failed Form B, partly because she no longer wanted to go to school, prompting her mother to quit formal employment to focus on the development of her family as a housewife. Meanwhile, Phamotse’s father lost his job in the mines and returned home, resulting in poverty engulfing the family. Her father had a college diploma and was regarded as one of the most educated people of his generation but his educational certificates were destroyed during the numerous political raids on the home. “So, perhaps out of frustration after losing his job as a miner, he would publicly insult the BNP government when drunk,” she says. It was during these raids that his father would be stripped naked and whipped in front of Phamotse and other children. This sad history, however, has not made Phamotse an angry woman. In fact, as an adult she has been at peace with the BNP as a party and its members. “My grudge with the BNP ended a long time ago when I was a child,” he says. Phamotse says she believes that whatever was done against anybody “was not a party policy but crime perpetrated by individuals who happened to be members of the party”. “All parties have their bad sides. Crimes committed by members of a party should not be taken to be crimes committed by the parties,” she says. “I personally believe that legal means should be followed to prosecute individuals who committed crimes instead of labelling a whole party as a group of criminals,” she says. “In most cases you will find that members of the party do not condone acts of some influential and powerful members of their party and they don’t join them in such acts.” Phamotse says even the Democratic Congress (DC), which she left last year to join the AD “is not a bad party.” “Let’s bury the hatchet and move forward,” she says. Phamotse says history is valuable for people to learn so that they avoid mistakes of the past. “That is what got me out of the class at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) where I was a lecturer to join politics,” she says. She says many times she would go to Leribe and meet with her former students who would tell her that they were without jobs. “It did not matter to me which party they belonged to but I felt pity for them. They are Basotho youth who have been educated with our taxes and we need to give them a chance to develop this country,” she says. Now as the newly elected AD Secretary General, Phamotse says her core task is to “build a party that will answer to the needs of the poor people”. “As my leader often says, we do not discriminate. We want everybody on board,” she says. Phamotse says the AD seeks to build a nation with people who are tolerant of each other’s religious, political and social belonging. “I have a job to go around the country and promote the spirit of national oneness. The AD is and will continue to be a party promoting this.” She says the party promotes reconciliation “because we wronged each other in the past but we need each other if we want to build an economically, socially, culturally and politically strong nation”. “My job is to ensure that the AD becomes so strong that its leader will one day become prime minister,” she says.

How community volunteers support livelihoods in Lesotho

iving in a mud house together with her 21-year-old son, Mafusi, suffering from mental illness, and two orphans, Malefu and Lehlohonolo, whom Tso'sane adopted at a young age, life has never been an easy journey. With the possibility for shelter, through a United Nations programme, Tso-sane and her family can start to lift themselves out of poverty. With support from the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme and Lesotho’s Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation (MGYSR), a decent two-roomed house was built and handed over to Ts’osane family in the Butha-Buthe district where the Ts’osane family lives. Youth volunteers and the community members assisted with the construction of the group of houses. While launching the social housing scheme under the theme 'Volunteerism: Add Value, Change Lives', the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Dr. Mahali Phamotse, noted that the initiative was in line with the recently adopted National Youth Policy 2017 – 2030 intended to facilitate meaningful initiatives for youth living in poverty. Dr. Phamotse, on the event of the housing being handed over to residents, encouraged the community through the area chief and the community councilor to secure a safe and peaceful neighbourhood for vulnerable children in the village. Speaking at the launch of the initiative, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Ms. Christy Ahenkora, noted that volunteers add a lot of value in communities. On the other hand, Mr. Ambrose Toolit, the UNV Programme Officer for Lesotho and South Africa noted that the spirit of volunteerism calls for introspection and commitment from government, private sector and development partners towards addressing the numerous challenges faced by young people in the Kingdom.

UNESCO World Teachers’ Day shines light on motivation and critical shortages

This year’s event, celebrated under the banner Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status, marked the 50th anniversary of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers and is also the first held within the new Sustainable Development Agenda. Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) contains a target which calls for an increased supply of qualified teachers. Highlight of the day was the awarding of the two winners of the 2016 UNESCO-Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers. This year’s winners were the University of Malaya, Malaysia for its Environmental Citizenship Education Malaysia 2005-2015 programme and the See Beyond Borders mentoring of teachers’ programme from Cambodia.

Education a foundation for peace

The prizes were jointly awarded by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and the Minister of Health of the United Arab Emirates Mr Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais. Ms Bokova spoke of the unique ILO/UNESCO Recommendation. “The world has changed since 1966 – education has been transformed. In this context, more than ever, I believe we must remain true to the spirit of the 1966 Recommendation. “Teachers are essential for empowerment, for societal progress, for peace and understanding. Times have changed -- our core message remains. Nothing can substitute for a good teacher. Putting education first means putting teachers first. This is why education is core to the 2030 Agenda. Education is a human right essential to dignity and empowerment. It is a force for gender equality, poverty eradication, sustainability. It is, fundamentally, a foundation for peace.” The ceremony was followed by a high-level panel attended by the French Minister for National Education, Higher Education and Research Ms Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the Honourable Dr Mahali Phamotse, Minister of Education and Training of Lesotho, Mr Gilbert Houngbo, Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships, ILO, and Mr Fred van Leeuwen, General Secretary of Education International. Earlier at the opening Assistant Director-General for Education Mr Qian Tang reminded everyone of the global shortage of teachers. “To achieve SDG4, by 2030 we will need 69 million of teachers, 24.4 million at the primary level and 44.4 million at the secondary level. So we have a long way to go. Addressing the teacher gap requires our immediate attention. But we also know that quantity does not mean quality. We need qualified and motivated teachers, working in well-resourced education systems,” he said. Keynote speaker Mr Marc Tucker, President of the National Centre on Education and the Economy, highlighted how the 1966 Recommendation had predicted the future for teaching on three counts: that it would come to be seen as essential to the economy, that there would be a significant shift from quantity to quality and that it would be necessary to consider it as a true profession. What it could not have predicted were the consequences of the rapidly developing global labour market and the rise of automation which has left people lacking the new skills and quality education necessary to keep up with the job market. “If countries fail to provide prosperity and people don’t see their lives becoming better democracies will not last. Our political future is at stake if we don’t solve the economic problems underneath which lie a problem with education and skills.” Quality training, support and career progression The day included an exhibition and thematic panel discussions on fifty years of teacher development in BRICS countries, teacher motivation across different levels of education and in crisis and emergency situations. The panel on motivation in crisis and emergency situations had participants from UNRWA, UNHCR, Greece, Liberia and Haiti. UNRWA runs a school system providing free basic education for more than half a million Palestine refugee children and works in Syria, Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan. Director of Education Caroline Pontefract said that even working in the most difficult circumstances putting teachers first in terms of quality training, support and career progression meant that UNRWA, according to World Bank data, had produced a school system that outperforms its host countries.

'Groundbreaking' Lesotho study reveals high cost of domestic violence

Countries could save billions of dollars a year by tackling the “disgusting pandemic” of domestic violence, the Commonwealth secretary-general said as economists estimated the scourge cost the tiny African kingdom of Lesotho 5.5% of GDP. Patricia Scotland said domestic violence burdened health, police and judicial services, led to absenteeism at work and school, and permanently damaged children who witnessed it, impacting future generations. About one in three women in Lesotho has suffered physical or sexual violence - often by a partner, similar to the global prevalence rate, according to a Commonwealth study published on Friday. Analysts calculated this cost the country more than 1.9 billion Lesotho loti ($113 million) a year - equivalent to $50 per citizen. Scotland said the “groundbreaking” study was part of a wider Commonwealth initiative to encourage all countries to put a price tag on violence against women and girls. Nations that argued they did not have the money to tackle the issue should look at how much it is already costing them, she said. Lesotho’s gender minister, Mahali Phamotse, said domestic violence was impacting development in the mountain kingdom, which lies within South Africa, and the study would shape efforts to address it. Recommendations included training health staff, teachers and the private sector, improving data collection and enacting a long-awaited domestic violence bill. Scotland has made tackling domestic violence a key plank of her leadership of the Commonwealth, an alliance of 54 countries that are home to more than 1 billion women and girls. The Lesotho study revealed not only the direct costs of domestic violence, but also the broader economic impact. It said victims’ annual income losses - which exceeded $20 million - lead to reduced spending power which have knock-on effects on the wider economy, while missed school affected girls’ future earning potential. Scotland hoped the greater global focus on domestic abuse, which has soared during lockdowns to curb the spread of coronavirus, would spur more governments to take action. “The consequences are not just for this generation but for the generations to come,” she said. “All the data shows us that if we do not have peace in our homes we haven’t got a hope of having real peace in our world.” Scotland said domestic violence cut across all sections of society and urged everyone from bosses to religious leaders not to turn a blind eye.

Lesotho Minister of Sport opens country's third Advanced Sports Management Course

esotho's Minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation, Mahali Phamotse, officially opened the country's third Advanced Sports Management Course (AMSC). The aim of the AMSC is to teach sport administrators how to bring about positive change in sport organisations. It consists of six modules, including organising an Olympic sport organisation and organising a major sport event, with the course featuring practical case studies and projects as well as academic material. Twenty participants have been selected to take part in the course which will last for eight months from January to August. Phamotse officially opened the course, the third to take place in Lesotho. In her speech, she encouraged the participants and told them that the success of sport in Lesotho was in their hands. President of the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission, Khiba Mohoanyane, and President of the Lesotho National Olympic Committee, Matlohang Moiloa-Ramoqopo, also gave their good wishes to the new participants.

Outstanding Achievements

‘I unified sports leadership in Lesotho’ – Dr Phamotse

MASERU - The former Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Dr Mahali Phamotse, says during her time in office she prided herself in having managed to unite sports leadership in Lesotho, a situation that she says did not prevail before. In an interview with Metro, Phamotse said upon her arrival in office, she set some goals which were aligned with the national goals even though she encountered some challenges in achieving some of them. “The most important thing in sports is leadership. There was no collaboration between the ministry and the two sports mother bodies – the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) and Lesotho National Olympics Committee (LNOC) but I managed to unite those stakeholders and are now working together,” she said. She said the parties are now working together with the Local Organizing Committee to make Maseru Region 5 Games a success. “I strive for good sports administration,” she said, also emphasizing that through the LNOC, she ensured that programmes were developed to train sports administrators and that was a success too. Phamotse further mentioned that she instilled the love for sports in Basotho which she did through attending various sports activities. She said the fact that the national football team Likuena managed to defeat South Africa’s Bafana Bafana side during her tenure, is worth mentioning as an achievement on her part.

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