Matekane’s war on unemployment

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Keiso Mohloboli

A FUTURE in politics might not be certain but the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) board chairperson, Refiloe Matekane’s thriving youth entrepreneurship empowerment drive is a guaranteed engagement for him.

From his personal earnings, Mr Matekane who was appointed to his LEC post in January this year has spent thousands of maloti in support of youth small business start-ups.

While he prefers that the figures remain a secret, Mr Matekane appears to be spending a fortune on different initiatives including charity activities where he pays school fees for several orphans and vulnerable children around the country.

In December last year, Mr Matekane sponsored 12 Thetsane soccer teams with M50 000 for a tournament in an effort to keep youths away from peer pressure, drug abuse, unplanned pregnancies and criminal activities.

So serious is his determination that he left a luxurious lifestyle in South Africa where he worked for Lulenge Metals as a gold marketing consultant from 2005 to 2012 at the earliest opportunity when he was called to serve in the government.

He talks of a simple life among his neighbours in Mafeteng, Ha Morena Lekhari and how he herded his grandfather’s livestock as a youngster living off the land just as his ancestors.

Born on 15 December 1974, the former Ministry of Police principal secretary reflects on his early years in the gold pricing industry and his elevation to gold marketing consultant who sold gold through registered refineries to international banks.

Along with his wife, ‘Mamohau Onazo, and his three sons, Mr Matekane has embarked on youth entrepreneurship empowerment activities with youth groups around the country.

With immense support from his widowed mother, ‘Matšepo, he mingles with and supports soccer groups not only with soccer regalia, soccer balls and medals but with business advice and financial boost to start small businesses in their respective communities.

Now a cog in the Alliance of Democrats (AD) fundraising team since 2016, Mr Matekane says he uses proceeds from his various businesses in South Africa, and his large scale medical marijuana project through his company, Maluti Meds.

Going by the famous Bible verse, Matthew 11 verse 12 motto the man looks determined to end poverty and unemployment through robust engagements with the youths.

The verse reads: “Since the days of John the Baptist, the Kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force” and Mr Matekane says this sums up his determination.

While he has not decided what position he would eventually want to take up in the AD, the son to the former Central Bank of Lesotho governor, Motlatsi Matekane, looks happy with his new-found ‘freedom’ in pursuing entrepreneurship. This, he says, is his obsession from the time that he realised the real value of business expertise from young men and women of the country.

“I cannot imagine life without young blood in the business fraternity because we have geniuses who already have ideas and only need some advice and financial assistance to venture into the business world.

“I was born and bred here in Lesotho even though I did part of my tertiary education in South Africa. I went to Iketsetseng Private School for primary education, ‘Mabathoana High School and National University of Lesotho. I later went to University of Witwatersrand in South Africa to study Bachelor of Science Honours in Advanced Mathematics of Finance and Actuarial Science.

“I worked for Gensec Bank Limited from 1999 to 2001 leading a team responsible for pricing of financial instruments traded by the bank. After that I went to AngloGold Ashanti as treasury quantitative analyst and risk manager responsible for formulating strategies for the hedging of the gold prices, currency an interest rate risks that AngloGold was exposed to,” he said.

It was during his time at AngloGold Ashanti from 2001 to 2002 where he was head hunted by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to become the principal secretary in the ministry of police. Mr Matekane said he grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

“Since I was already thirsty to contribute to my country’s economic growth, I moved from being active in the African National Congress youth league politics and accepted the appointment and joined the ABC,” Mr Matekane said.

His interaction with the masses at rallies grew his inspiration as he saw a “disturbing trend” of poverty, hunger and unemployment and he immediately set the ball rolling.

He said in the long-run, he intends to start a foundation that would help youths start sustainable businesses which will eventually attract international investment and contribute positively to the country’s economic growth.

“I wish to reach as much youngsters as possible so that graduates do not have to wait for government employment for years. Youth entrepreneurs should create products and services that fulfil the needs of the country and solve problems by creating jobs and wealth,” he said.

Although his father is also known for being the first All Basotho Convention (ABC) secretary general, Mr Matekane says he wants his own identity in politics instead of restrictions as to which political party to follow.

Mr Matekane also spoke about his departure from the ABC 2015 after the country’s snap elections to join the Democratic Congress.

When he left, he was accused of selling out the ABC administration on camera while testifying before the Southern African Development Community (SADC) commission of inquiry on the murder of former army boss, Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao.

He however, rubbished the allegations.

“I do not usually talk about my reasons for leaving the ABC because I feel that as a citizen of this country I have liberty to join any political party.

“After the 2015 snap elections, the then coalition government led by the former premier ntate Pakalitha Mosisili did not immediately get rid of me, as the police PS who was also active in ABC politics. I then worked closely with the current Deputy Prime Minister ntate Monyane Moleleki who was then police minister.

“I fell in love with his political ideologies and decided to follow him despite my dismissal from the ministry. Ntate Moleleki is the future, for the simple reason that he has youth empowerment at heart that is why when he left DC, I still followed him to AD.

“Ntate Moleleki always says that young people must be at a centre of sustainable agenda and I personally feel that he will take this country forward by investing in young generation, which is the future of every nation.”

According to Mr Matekane, the people who accused him of selling out ABC before the SADC commission of inquiry just wanted to gain political mileage by spreading baseless propaganda which did not reward them with anything,” Mr Matekane said.

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