MASERU – Lesotho millionaire, Sam Matekane, has launched a political party – Revolution for Prosperity – that he says will save the country from becoming a failed state.
The 64 year old businessman and philanthropist, who was awarded the Forbes Best of Africa Award last year, says he never intended to be a politician, but he realises that if he doesn’t, his success will be like “…a sailor cleaning the inside of a sinking boat”.
The motto of the party is “the economy is life”.
“Indeed the economy is life. We sincerely believe that our main and paramount responsibility as Basotho is to grow the economy of our country. No one can dispute that our country is quickly heading for an abyss where it will be completely destroyed. If we don’t take action now, our country will become a failed state. Revolution means a great turning point in the history of our country” says Matekane.
Lesotho has been on the troubled list of the Southern African Development Community, SADC and the African Union, AU due to unending instability that led to the killing of two army commanders in 2015 and 2017.
No party has won an outright majority since 2012, leading to coalition governments in 2012, 2015 and 2017.
The first two collapsed and never completed a full constitutional 5-year term. While the last one is barely surviving as the leading party in the coalition, All Basotho Convention suffers from leadership conflicts.
On Tuesday prime minister Moeketsi Majoro survived another motion of no confidence, a bid by the new ABC party leader Nkaku Kabi to take over after he was elected party leader in February.
For these and other reasons, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa became SADC Facilitator in 2015 to oversee constitutional reforms intended to restore stability.
He has now appointed retired Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke to watch Lesotho on his behalf since he became President.
Among the heavyweights that Matekane has brought on board are a former governor of the Central Bank of Lesotho, Dr Ret’selisitsoe Matlanyane and former Chief Justice, Nthomeng Majara.
Another name attracting different attention is that of former foreign affairs minister Tlohang Sekhamane, who many Basotho say will be Matekane’s downfall as he is associated with past political upheavals that have plagued the country.
Matekane will have to convince Basotho that his businesses, that have been awarded tenders by government and government owned companies in civil works, mining and property, will not unfairly benefit should he become prime minister.
But Sekhamane says the party believes that everyone, including public office bearers, should be allowed be in business so that they can create employment and not desperately stay in office when they don’t have other means of income.
However he didn’t say if they should be allowed to do business with the state while in office.
Matekane did say in his statement that one of the key principles that the party will espouse, is procurement by merit.
Matekane is also a major contractor at the country’s biggest diamond mine, Let’seng, owned 30% by the government. The headquarters of the Independent Electoral Commission is in one of his properties.
One of the roads that his company built in its early days has been dilapidated, but he says it’s the fault of the government for not maintaining it.
Matekane denies that his recent donations of uniforms to the army and the police were intended to ease his way into public office or sway them in his favour.
He says if his party is elected it will instil good governance, the rule of law and equal opportunities for all Basotho.
In the capital Maseru scores descended on the venue of the launch, a boutique hotel owned by the businessman, that was closed during the height of covid19.
Many more gathered outside the venue to sign-up, while others pleaded with him on social media to change the country.
Many Basotho on social media believe that Matekane will garner enough support to form a one-party government, but political analyst Dr Victor Shale says while it’s clear that the country needs to turn the corner, voters will require a lot of sensitisation.
“The hype is a natural reaction of people who are looking for something to give them hope. The question is if it will translate into votes. The voters are not only people in Maseru and social media. The party will have to use its resources to traverse the country as quickly as possible in the time remaining before elections. They have the possibility to win votes because people are discouraged, but it’s not likely that one party can take all seats required to form a one-party government this year.” Says Shale
The party says it is now in the process of registering with Independent Electoral commission and intends to contest all 80 constituencies in the country.