New movement on the political block
DISGRUNTLED youths from across the country’s political spectrum this week launched the Majalefa (loosely translated to mean the heirs) movement to press for a radical transformation of the country’s economy.
The youths say the movement stands to be guided by countrywide youth constituents on whether or not to register as a political party or to remain a movement.
Some of the Majalefa founders include former Democratic Congress youth league member Ramahooana Matlosa, former Basotho National Party youth league member Manama Letsie, budding entrepreneur Bokang Kheekhe, human rights lawyer Lineo Tšikoane and one Makhamathoane Malie.
“We come before you as Majalefa, a national youth movement seeking to advance the social, economic and political interests of Basotho,” Ms Malie said while addressing a press conference in Maseru.
“Majalefa is calling on the youth take a stand and make their voices heard; that enough is enough. This is not the Lesotho our fore-fathers envisioned and it is most certainly not the Lesotho we wish to be a part of today and going forward.”
She said they would hold consultative forums and platforms across the country over the next few weeks to discuss “what is to be done” to turn around the country’s fortunes as it enters the next 50 years of independence.
Ms Malie indicated the movement’s core principles included among others: “Radical transformation of the country’s economy, public participation in governance, promoting an accountable government and society with security agencies obedient to civilian authorities”.
She also said they acknowledged and remained grateful to the country’s founding father, King Moshoeshoe I for his vision in founding and protecting the nation, adding: “We would be far better off under his leadership if he was alive today.”
While thanking the “class of 1966 who ushered independence”, Ms Malie however said they were also aware of the political chaos that bedevilled Lesotho from 1970 to 1993 when multiparty democracy was restored.
“We also acknowledge the sacrifices made by many to bring change and political freedom to our society. We hasten to state that we are not here to blame or exonerate anyone on the catalogue of chaos between 1970 and 1993,” she said.
“As the youth, we have grown up bearing witness to yet another episode not to be forgotten in the history of Basotho; that which started in 1993 and to date has been marred by crisis after crisis, from one regime to the next.”
Ms Malie further said on the occasion of the golden jubilee of independence, Majalefa found it necessary to ask “in anger and despair, what the youth are celebrating besides political freedom”.
“Are we celebrating lack of economic growth or unemployment where youth bear the full brunt of the economic melt-down? Are we celebrating a leadership crisis that continues to shape our fate or a public service that is in chains and drowning in inefficiency?
“Are we celebrating local government that is not local and thus directly contributes to the lack of development? Is it self-interest based politics that we have seen from 1970 to date or the era of nepotism and cronyism- an era of poor state systems and institutions,” she asked.
She further questioned whether the youth were meant to celebrate the “lack of rule of law, weak and politicised law enforcement institutions”.
Majalefa, Ms Malie said was also concerned “there was no plan” to grow the economy beyond Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and South African Customs Union (SACU) revenues “while the same group of politicians continued to recycle themselves through floor crossing into new political formations falsely doing so in the name of the people”.
“Are we celebrating an era where ministers are ethically challenged and so comfortable fighting over tenders while amassing state wealth,” she asked.
“These are not things to be celebrated but they are the reality in which we live and we stand here today to say we have had enough”.
She said youths had dumped their political parties because they were tired of self-interested leaders that continuously failed the electorate.
“We are tired of an economy that is in regression and a leadership that is not concerned.
“We are tired and disappointed by the political parties that have led this country but have done nothing to steer Lesotho in the direction of prosperity. It is on that basis that we say Basotho should stand up and be counted,” she said.
For his part, Mr Matlosa said Majalefa would only register after receiving a clear mandate to do so.
“We are not a political party but our constituents would be the ones to give us a clear direction on whether to be a political party or remain an interest group or just a political movement,” he said.