On saturday, an alliance of trade unions, political parties, businesspeople, youths and civic groups announced the three-day countrywide job stayaway and street demos in Maseru, to protest Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s handling of the group’s petition of May 5 this year. The coalition—it would be recalled— staged a street protest on May 5, culminating in the handing-over of a list of grievances to both parliament and Mosisili, with the Premier responding through a parliamentary speech on June 3, much to the anger of the petitioners.
The government had issued a public statement stating that for the people who will not comply with the stay away, transport will be available and that security will also be provided. In that statement Civil servants were vehemently warned against partaking in this peaceful protest and that those who will deviate from that warning will be dealt with severely. Leave applications dated Monday the 15 August would also not be entertained.
At the opening hours of the day Maseru was pretty quite and many commuters were worries that they might have a problem getting to work today due to inavailability of public transport. However as promised, the government had a lot of its vehicles availed and although many people were late today they managed to report to their work places safely. At mid-day things had settled back to normal as many businesses were open and public transport was also available.
However thousands of Factory workers were witnessed singing vulgar songs and burning tyres at Thetsane Industrial Area this afternoon. Although the police were able to contain the situation, there are fears that it might turn more violent as there is no sign of them going home. Lesotho has never realy been peaceful since the 1998 riots that brought the economy to its knees.
Federations which are involved in the planned stay-away include the Congress of the Lesotho Trade Unions (COLETU), Lesotho Congress of Democratic Unions (LECODU), Lesotho Trade Union Congress (LTUC) and Lesotho Labour Council (LLC),
Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the Voice of the Voiceless Association (VOVA) and the Lesotho University Teachers and Researchers Union (LUTARU) from the National University of Lesotho