SOCIALIST Revolutionaries (SR) leader, Teboho Mojapela, believes that Lesotho’s problems require aggressive approaches. Capital punishment is one such approach. Political leaders must particularly not be allowed to break the law with impunity. China – as an example – has been able to curb corruption by imposing capital punishment on those found guilty of stealing from the public purse. Lesotho should emulate that approach and kill those found guilty of stealing from the public purse to save the country from debilitating corruption. A militant Mojapela told the Lesotho Times (LT)’s Special Projects Editor, Bongiwe Zihlangu, and Multi-Media journalist, Joel Mosoatsi, he would track down those who have stolen public funds and deal with them mercilessly. He also shares his views on the formation of alliances and how he would run the country if voted into power in the 7 October 2022 elections.
LT: You formed SR five years ago in October 2017 following a fall-out with the All Basotho Convention (ABC) which you had vigorously supported to win elections that year. How has been the journey so far?
Mojapela: It has been quite a lonesome journey primarily because Basotho have become somewhat lethargic and to some extent retarded. We are a corrupt people. I have come across scores of marginalised people. I have accommodated some of them only for them to steal from me. We are swimming in corruption, killings, rape, infidelity, alcoholism etc. We have major problems.
LT: Have you made any inroads with your anti-corruption crusade?
Mojapela: Not exactly. I’ve not been able to worm into Basotho’s hearts as much as I would have wanted. It is regrettable that when you try to rescue Basotho by dealing with corrupt leaders that have entrenched themselves in government, the same people cry foul and see you as their enemy. Lesotho’s problems need an aggressive approach but some people treat corrupt leaders with kids’ gloves. They need to understand that there’s a place and time for everything and that some situations require a tough approach. I will continue to fight corruption until Basotho have been emancipated from the clutches of poverty. We cannot afford to see our people indulging in crime to eke out a living.
LT: You live a flamboyant life but claim to be representing the poor. How do you reconcile this with your aspiration for political office?
Mojapela: I am a very generous person who does not discriminate against anyone. I have called people to my table so that we could eat together. I have extended a helping hand to the poor. I have established projects in the party to help members become self-sufficient. However, I was scammed on numerous occasions but I’ve not let this deter me. I might have material possessions but I’m not elitist in nature. I hate the elites. I am your guy next door. I am firm in my beliefs. I’m determined to help people transform their lives.
LT: Is SR prepared to work in a coalition government in the very likely event that elections do not produce an outright winner? Who would you work with should such a situation arise?
Mojapela: I could easily work with Basotho Action Party (BAP) leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao. But the problem is that he has tasted being in government and appears to have been consumed by the niceties of power and office. He explained to me that in cabinet decisions are made by consensus. My concern is one’s inability to quit a government whose decisions you don’t wholly embrace. Prof Mahao should have quit the government before he was pushed out because it was clear he did not agree with many things in the cabinet. Then there’s Movement for Economic Change (MEC) leader, Selibe Mochoboroane, who is a good guy but who has been in the government and also appear to have been caught in the trappings of power and office. I would consider working with these guys these vices notwithstanding. However, I would generally not enter into any coalition government comprising any of the old parties, the All Basotho Convention (ABC), Alliance of Democrats (AD) and the Democratic Congress (DC). They are rotten. I would also not work with this new party, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) because it is equally rotten. The people in there have worked with criminal leaders in past governments. There’s no way you can separate RFP from DC. RFP is a DC splinter party. Most members of RFP benefitted from lucrative tenders. The RFP leader (Sam Matekane) has had monopoly in the mining industry over the years. RFP wants to be government because they want to cover their traces of corruption. They want to pocket as much money as they can from public coffers because they know that without access to state resources they are doomed.
LT: Are you implying that RFP will capture the state and squander Lesotho’s resources should it become government?
Mojapela: Yes. Look at the calibre of people in RFP. They are tenderpreneurs and some of them have been closely linked to previous governments. We are talking about uneducated wealthy men as well as academics who formed part of previous governments’ inner circles. RFP is no different from DC. Just look at the way their primary elections were conducted. RFP already knew who it wanted to contest the 2022 elections under its banner but it pulled wool over people’s eyes by creating an impression that all candidates stood equal chances. The leadership then went on to impose their preferred candidates. It is a party of corrupt people with questionable conduct. RFP members are gluttonous.
LT: What is your understanding of healthy politics?
Mojapela: Healthy politics is where people don’t break the law with impunity but where people are held accountable. I am insistent that criminals must be killed. Imagine electing people to power only for them to steal from you, rape and kill you! Shouldn’t those who betray voters who had faith in them die? Some politicians have no shame. They take an oath to serve only to mess up the electorate.
LT: What is your take on calls by some people, political parties and organisations representing Basotho for the incorporation of Lesotho into South Africa?
Mojapela: We will not gain anything from being incorporated into South Africa. South Africa has an estimated population of 60 million while we are two million plus. Lesotho with its small population has plenty of resources such as water, diamonds, uranium and iron ore to name but a few, all of which the whole world needs. But because we have the wrong people at the helm of government, we are not benefitting from these resources. How can I forget wool and mohair as well as possible deposits of coal? What of clean air? When you look at all the resources we have, then you know that we have enough. Are we saying we must take our precious resources and hand them on a silver platter to our big neighbour?
All that Lesotho needs is leadership that can manage our resources and distribute the country’s wealth equitably. We have more than we need in terms of resources, but we are where we are today due to their poor management. We need real leadership that gets things done.
Joining South Africa would be like jumping from a frying pan into a fire because that country has more problems than us. South Africa’s economy is in the hands of crooks. Black people are not economically empowered. Look at the Free State province now; it is dilapidated and a shadow of its former self. It doesn’t have decent roads all because of the poor administration of the African National Congress (ANC)-government.
LT: As a businessman, how do you plan to run the country if voted into power?
TM: I would run Lesotho the way I do business. Our so-called democracy has destroyed a lot of things including some of my businesses. People steal from you and you report them to the police. What do they do next? They bribe the police and you get nothing. I’ve decided to do things my way and in the direction that I see fit. As I always say, come push or shove…. I have produced millionaires and continue to do so. Lesotho doesn’t need prayers anymore but action. The nation’s founder, King Moshoeshoe I, fought very hard and blood was spilt for this country to exist today. That is why I am not ashamed to say that perhaps some people must be killed in order to drive the message home.
What I am saying might sound bad but what about innocent people who are killed every day? Shouldn’t we get to the source of the problem? Clean water will retain once we remove the rot at its source. In this case, the rot lies in the leadership we have. Most of our party leaders don’t have a presence. They don’t possess aura. You don’t even notice their presence unless someone tries hard to bring it to your attention.
LT: You have a soft spot for the late former Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan. Do you think Lesotho needs a leader with a firm hand and as decisive as him?
Mojapela: Yes. A political leader must be brave no matter what. I recall in the beginning people tried to dissuade me from forming SR because they feared ABC would hire people to kill me after I left the party. I told them to go their way and I would go mine. American scholar and author, Warren Bennis, says a leader must be brave and lead the way. A leader must be decisive. That’s what Lesotho needs.
People must therefore think carefully before voting. They must prioritise meritocracy. SR was the first party to preach meritocracy. If we are to prosper as Lesotho, the country must be run well and our wealth must be distributed equitably.