MASERU – Vodacom Lesotho CEO, Mohale Ralebitso, says he will talk to a few people to invest in buying Aranda textiles, the makers of the Basotho blanket, or open factories to make blankets and seshoeshoe fabric.
Ralebitso was part of a panel that was debating Brand Lesotho to mark Independence Day, organised by the Mamoth Citrus group and Brand Africa’s Thebe Ikalafeng.
The blanket and the seshoeshoe are worn as symbols of Basotho and Lesotho culture. But the current and only manufacturers of the blanket, Aranda textiles, are based in Randfontein, Gauteng, while the makers of the famous Three Cats fabric that is used to make the traditional seshoeshoe dress are based in Port Elizabeth, also in South Africa.
Ralebitso was challenged by Lesotho Express News founder, Nthakoana Ngatane, who said “I hate wearing blankets because Lesotho doesn’t benefit in anyway from the business” as well as Ikalafeng who while wearing a blanket, reminded Basotho that they are still made in South Africa, and the Basotho culture and people are a mere marketing tool for that business.
Ralebitso and Ikalafeng made key note addresses on the need for Lesotho to define its unique brand through infrastructure development, mobilising the private sector to take charge of the economy and bolstering law enforcement to fight corruption and the high rates of murder and femicide in particular.
In his presentation Ralebitso made the example of India’s Tata that bought Jaguar and Land Rover for $2.3 billion from Ford in June 2008.
He then made a bold vow saying “I’m going to talk to a few people to see if we can’t buy Aranda and have it come to Lesotho”
To the head of Investment Climate Reform at LNDC, Reboneng Makoa, Ralebitso said “and he will give me a factory shell, and include a mechanism that allows for broad ownership of the business”
However Makoa believes the owners of Aranda will never sell the business or part of it, instead he challenged Ralebitso to establish a different entity.
“I don’t think we should buy Aranda, in fact those Italians won’t allow us to, but we can build our own brands” said Makoa
Ralebitso’s pledge received a huge applause in the audience and was welcomed online where the event was live streamed.