MASERU — Businessman Mohau Thakaso on Tuesday launched Lesotho’s 25th political party that he says will fight to empower Basotho-owned businesses.
The Whitehorse Party (WP), which was named after its founder and president, was registered with the Registrar of Societies on February 29.
Thakaso told a press conference on Tuesday that they planned to register with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) this week to take part in the general election scheduled for May 26.
He said he had been encouraged by his Maama constituency in Roma to form a political party adding he had received overwhelming “support from people to do so”.
“Last weekend we were in Likhetlane in Leribe and many people supported the idea of forming a new party,” Thakaso said.
He said the Maama community had pledged to rally behind the party.
Thakaso said their main objective was to grow the local economy through empowering Basotho-owned businesses.
The party’s deputy chairperson, Ramathibeli Mpoko, said there is an urgent need to “deliver Lesotho from the grips of rulers who are trekkers and are not here to do us any good”.
Mpoko said Lesotho’s leaders could have delivered the country out of abject poverty a long time ago but they failed because they are self-centered.
The leaders were pre-occupied with enriching themselves “because they are not here to stay, they are trekkers”.
“It is a pity that our economy is in the hands of foreigners at the permission of our rulers,” Mpoko said.
“Big and small businesses are mostly owned by foreigners and Basotho are not empowered to do business. We are merely cheap labour for small and big foreign companies in our own country.”
The WP’s deputy general secretary, Khethang Mothae, said the party will work in partnership with its trade wing, Whitehorse Holdings, to empower party members.
He said the company will help members to diversify their products and boost exports and not just focus on producing textiles.
“We will not wait to be in government to start doing things,” Mothae said.
“By the time we become government, we will have done the groundwork to change Lesotho’s pathetic economic state,” Mothae said.
“This country has ample chances to get out of the least developed countries status, it is only being mismanaged,” he said.
Mothae called on Basotho youths with university degrees to contribute ideas to haul the country out of poverty.
But an analyst who spoke to the Lesotho Times this week dismissed the new party as an “unknown entity with no history”.
Dr Motlamelle Kapa said it was not clear what the party “stands for or represents”.
“People in Lesotho vote for parties they can relate with, such as those with a history or those in power. The Whitehorse Party does not have a history,” Kapa said.
“That in itself makes it difficult for one to assess the party. We can only do that after elections because then we’ll have something tangible to talk about.”