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Mapesela: bravery or madness?



THIS week I want to focus on the extraordinary courage that has been demonstrated by MP Tefo Mapesela. He might have frequently visited your smartphone through annoying voice clips. He might be seen as a loud mouth who talks a lot in an offensive and stupid way. Some days he can go on a rant. Some of my friends believe his inspiration is usually a few tots of Jameson whisky. Mapesela is not lame nor inspired by tots. He is not imprisoned by habits and political institutions that have not changed with the times. He mocks the restrictive conventions — acting like an MP, being politically correct, being careful about facts and words. Make no mistake: it is his style, not his substance, that has won him his constituency (mkhondo). But, for now, the All Basotho Convention (ABC) should be prepared for a devastatingly ugly split. The party will be lucky to recover from this ugly divorce. I wish to remind you about the day I started respecting Mapesela. It was around March 2020 when the ABC secretary general Lebohang Hlaele announced that the ABC National Executive Committee (ABC NEC) had nominated chairperson, Samuel Rapapa, to succeed Prime Minister Thomas Thabane. Mapesela fought and opposed the ABC NEC nomination saying they will not let the NEC bully them into accepting its nomination. Mapesela said the ABC’s NEC had no right to tell the MPs what to do. Finally the ABC NEC gave in to Mapesela’s demands and the MPs nominated Majoro as the new Prime Minister. Mapesela single-handedly put Majoro in power. Another incident that demonstrated that Mapesela was a man of courage happened around February 2021 when Majoro appointed a new Minister of Defence and National Security Lekhetho Mosito. Mapesela voiced his concerns about this appointment. He described Mosito as a rebel who was previously loyal to ousted former Prime Minister and ABC leader, Thomas Thabane. Mosito was eventually booted out of cabinet. Mapesela won again. Last week I posted on Facebook that “Love or hate him but Tefo Mapesela is one of the few politicians with balls of steel!” Some of my friends said it is not bravery but madness and they concluded the gentleman should see a doctor. As I sat down and had coffee at a local hotel, again some of my friends thought Mapesela had lost it. I am writing this article to remind my friends and all those who say Mapesela is mad that in 1985, Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara described his political philosophy in this fashion, “You cannot carry out fundamental change without a certain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from non-conformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formulas, the courage to invent the future. It took the madmen of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those madmen. We must dare to invent the future.” Mapesela and his madness has done what others have been scared of doing. He took the bull by its horns. He confronted the ABC problem and directly caused a splinter party. People were scared to form a party but it took Mapesela to make that call. When I was a teenager, we used to swim at Victoria Hotel. There was a dangerous habit we developed of throwing people who could not swim into the deep end. We would then watch them attempting to swim then they would drown. Our thinking was simple, throw someone into the deep end time and time again, and with time, they will learn to embrace being out of their comfort zone and learn to swim. Let us be honest no one was brave enough to splinter the ABC but Mapesela has thrown Prof Nqosa Mahao into the deep end. He literally forced him to start doing something very complex as forming a new political movement. Mahao is out of his comfort zone now and will learn how to swim. Mapesela sometimes takes principled and unpopular stands that put him at odds with his leaders. He will do so if he thinks its for the good of the country and his political party. Taking unpopular stands has great potential to jeopardise political party loyalty and the desire to secure re-election. Political establishments have tendencies of punishing political courage to an extent that it is becoming extremely rare. Mapesela knows that courage requires more than words, it requires action. And it requires taking action with the full knowledge that there would probably be consequences, both personal and national. Mahao made a terrible mistake of rebuking Mapesela on Harvest FM lunch hour program. Immediately after the programme Mapesela called off the partnership they had. Again not every man would have done that because it would potentially buttress the allegation that he is mad. However, Mapesela did that because he is a man of convictions. He could be wrong in terminating their relationship but at least he is moved by something he believes is correct. Mapesela cannot be put in a box. You cannot tie him down. You cannot keep him still and you cannot de-motivate him. Mapesela is prepared to sacrifice many things for his conviction. He is prepared to die for his beliefs. Remember a video clip where he wanted to remove Khotsang Moshoeshoe from the wool and mohair shearing shed. I believe and know that he was wrong in his convictions then but he did everything with so much passion. Indeed Mapesela lives by his convictions. He is prepared to give up anything so that he can fulfil his convictions. He gave up a political party that could potentially become a force to be reckoned with. Mahao owes Mapesela for throwing him into the deep end and a new political party was born. Lastly Mapesela is very charismatic. He has a very strong presence. He has self-confidence and amicability. It is his ability to charm and persuade. His audio clips are evidence that he stands out as being charming, persuasive, and committed to his cause. Mahao must swallow his pride and ask Mapesela to re-join him. They both would make a powerful team. Mapesela is different from other politicians who are struggling to reconcile their personal conscience with their political agendas and the national interest. He does not take the easier road. It would indeed be easier to abandon and subdue his conscience hoping to be returned to a ministerial portfolio. We have seen many go silent but my readers will appreciate that Mapesela has followed the path of courage. Ramahooana Matlotsa

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