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Matekane must hit the ground running



Businessman Sam Matekane is set to become Lesotho’s next Prime Minister after his Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party romped to a surprise victory in last Friday’s general election.

It was a thumping victory for the seven-month-old party that has torched raucous celebrations across the country.

At the centre of the RFP’s campaign message was a need to radically shake up Lesotho’s economy to create meaningful jobs for Basotho and fight poverty.

It is a message that apparently resonated with Basotho across all corners of Lesotho.

The party’s election victory was also a referendum of sorts for the old political establishment in Lesotho. The emphatic message is that the people of Lesotho have rejected the old regime and want a new start.

The stunning rejection could sound the death knell for some of Lesotho’s old political parties that have been at the centre of the country’s political and economic malaise in the last 56 years.

The Democratic Congress (DC), which was seen as the darling of the masses in rural areas, received a bloody nose at the polls. Its’ supposed grip on rural areas was exposed as a myth.

The Basotho National Party (BNP), which was at one time a behemoth of a political party in Lesotho, did not pick a single contested seat in the polls. This could be the end of the BNP as we know it.

But the biggest loser could be the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) party which was the biggest coalition partner in the last government. The ABC is a victim of its own shenanigans after bitter splits and infighting over the last five years.

The ABC did not win a single seat out of the 80 that were up for grabs. It has however been rewarded with eight seats under the Proportional Representation (PR) system.

While we shall not begrudge Matekane should he decide to have a big celebratory jaunt after his victory, we urge the RFP to hit the ground running once he is inaugurated as Premier.

Winning the election was the easier part. The real challenge begins now: fixing what’s ailing Lesotho so that we have a functional country that provides jobs and opportunities for every Mosotho.

As he walks into office, Matekane will find a huge pile of papers in his in-tray of things he must fix to get Lesotho working again.

Top of these priorities is the creation of jobs. We have a very weak private sector in Lesotho. If the RFP government is to create jobs and ensure Basotho have food on the table, it needs to strengthen the private sector.

The civil service is already blotted. The solution does not lie in thinking that to deal with the joblessness crisis the government needs to parcel jobs to party supporters. The new government will need to think creatively to strengthen key areas such as agriculture and drive our youths into meaningful activities within the sector.

The government must teach our youths that there is no shame in tilling the land.

Matekane must also shake up the tourism sector. Lesotho is endowed with some of the most beautiful terrain in southern Africa. But successive governments in Lesotho have not exploited this low-hanging fruit.

The RFP’s message of economic transformation was at the centre of the party’s thumping victory. The people are now expecting that Matekane delivers. He only has five years to make an impression. He must hit the ground running.

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