’Marafaele Mohloboli/ Bereng Mpaki
LONG established political parties seem to be quaking following the launch of Sam Matekane’s Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party ahead of the October 2022 elections.
The formation of the new party has sent shockwaves across the political divide.
From anger, ridicule to excitement; so varied are the responses. But it appears the party has generated more excitement than what normally accompanies the launch of many other political parties in Lesotho.
Some said the new party posed a serious threat to long established parties noting the social media excitement it had already generated unlike other parties that are formed without anyone taking notice.
By having in its team business elites like Executive Transport proprietor Lephema Lebona, the party also posed a serious threat to many other parties which did not have financial muscle.
Basotho Action Party (BAP) leader, Professor Nqosa Mahao, took a swipe at Mr Matekane and other members of his party who include, mogul Mr Lephema, former Central Bank of Lesotho Governor, Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane and former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara and called them “thieves”.
“They have stolen all the principles of the BAP,” Prof Mahao said.
“They talk of good governance, rule of law and inclusive economy and these are our ideas. Now it leaves one wondering how much they are going to steal once they get access to state coffers.
“One just wonders why they didn’t just join BAP instead of reinventing the wheel. What they have done is to duplicate what we already have. There is no way they can talk about an inclusive economy when they are clustered as one class of the rich. They are not going to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor and it is worrisome.
“We have heard that they are already calling other rich people to contest for the elections under their banner. This means being rich is one of their qualifications to be a candidate. However, we do welcome them in the political arena.
“We still insist that they could have just joined us but then again, maybe they didn’t because they are too rich to mix with other people and we would not fit in their class.”
However, DC youth league president Moeketsi Shale, said there was nothing wrong with Mr Matekane joining politics except that he was a threat to the young generation.
“He has waged a generational war on the youth because he has always been in the system and even won tenders for the longest time and now to have him come back and compete with us is not right.
“He has every right to be in politics if that’s what he has chosen to do, but it is worrisome to see someone his age coming into the political arena when he should be going for retirement.
“I am saying this in my capacity as a youth leader because I have a youth constituency to protect,” Mr Shale said.
Basotho National Party (BNP) leader Machesetsa Mofomobe said Mr Matekane had surrounded himself with controversial figures.
“I just want to say Ntate Matekane welcome to Lesotho politics. Welcome to dirty dancing. His decision to venture into politics is going to tarnish his image and have repercussions on his business. Here we are talking about a mining magnate who is doing multi-billion business with government through his mines,” Mr Mofomobe said.
He also took a swipe at the members of the new party calling them “oligarchs”.
“I also look at the caliber of people following him into this new party. I have seen prominent businessmen who are into in different fields of business. Aren’t we building an empire of crooks here? I just see a team of oligarchs looking to loot the state.”
He added: “Again, I’m shocked by the people surrounding him, the first being the former Central Bank Governor Retšélisitsoe Matlanyane, who in my opinion did injustice to the bank throughout her tenure. Lesotho’s economy, in part, is where it is because of her incompetence”.
“The other person is former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara. You will recall that leading to her exit from the judiciary; she was exposed for corruption by abusing her position to rent a house whose rent was way over what she deserved as per benefits attached to that office. Her integrity was tarnished.
“Then we have former Government Secretary under former premier Pakalitha Mosisili’s pre-2012 government (Tlohang Sekhamane), under whose watch corruption took root in the PM’s office where prices for the procurement of commodities were inflated so that some people could get kickbacks. Each one of these people has a dark stain on their integrity,” he said.
While he appreciated Mr Matekane’s philanthropic work, the newly minted politician should be ready for a fight because “we are not going to make it easy for him”.
“He should be ready to play dirty because we are not going to make it easy for him. I doubt he has skin thick enough to survive in this harsh environment. And he might as well forget about politics should he fail in the polls this year,” Mr Mofomobe said.
Basotho Patriotic Party (BPP) leader Tefo Mapesela said he is happy that Mr Matekane had finally come into politics. For Mr Mapesela, the move was long overdue.
He said Mr Matekane would cause serious disruption to the status quo.
“People have undermined me on the issue of corruption and now there is someone else who understands what I have been saying.
“He is within his rights to join politics because just sitting back and watching the country going to rot is not helping anyone as everyone is going about their corrupt business. For him as a businessman he knows that should he mess with the state coffers his business will also suffer.
“Matekane is going to dilute Lesotho’s political system. He is a real game changer and those who are making all this noise are only doing so because they are crooks and are scared now that they won’t be looting anymore. They have been stealing from the people and now they don’t want to embrace change. I am very happy with this move that he has made,” Mapesela said.
All Basotho Convention (ABC) Secretary General, Lebohang Hlaele welcomed Mr Matekane to the political arena.
“He is a Mosotho and has the right to form a political party. We welcome him to the political dust that has no respect for anyone, and he should know that he is now going to be eyed through the political lens and he should know that he has a lot coming his way. Mr Matekane and his supporters should brace themselves and know that there will be repercussions for their move.
“He should also know that he has lifted the veil of respect and will now be attacked. His philanthropic work will be forgotten. All his businesses will now be out there for everyone to see,” Mr Hlaele said.