Last night I attended a dinner at the Belgian Embassy. This was a farewell dinner of sorts. Rumours claim that Belgium’s recalling its Ambassador any day now. Not surprising since virtually every other Embassy in the country has closed shop.
I expected the topic of conversation to be the recent car bomb at my hotel, but in fact most people hadn’t heard about it. Instead, talk centred on the emergence of the UFLL. In general, people view them as an opportunistic band of mercenaries who will dissipate once they realize there’s no money to be had.
But of all these diplomats and military analysts, one man spoke with particular authority. Wayne Mudekwa is the Editor-in-Chief of the independent local newspaper, The Port Selao Standard. It’s the last remaining paper in the country and it fearlessly covers the conflict. Mudekwa is the man behind such courage.
Mudekwa says the UFLL is led by Addi Mbantuwe. Mbantuwe is the former labour union chief and one-time Opposition Leader. If this is true, this is indeed news! It means the UFLL must be taken seriously. Mbantuwe has made a bold move. One must wonder how long he has been planning this and what his ultimate intentions are.
I spent the rest of the evening talking with Mudekwa. We have much in common. He’s a cricket fan. Sadly a Lesotho supporter! He’s kindly offered to give me access to his newspaper office for supplies and Internet access. This is brilliant. Now my posts will be more regular and my bureau chief will stop complaining about missed deadlines.
Additional note: Someone mentioned the ‘Jackal’ at the party. He said, “The Jackal is going to disrupt the apple cart”. This was in reference to the growing tension between both sides of the conflict. At the time, we’d all had too much to drink and his comment seemed like an idle reference to local mythology. But this morning I recalled a shop keeper mentioning the Jackal days before. I don’t know if this is yet another faction or a single person. I must investigate.