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Mokhothu must continue to think big



Lately some Basotho in the urban areas seem to enjoy mocking and criticising the Democratic Congress (DC) party and its leader Mathibeli Mokhothu. Two weeks ago the DC had a very successful rally in Maseru. When there was nothing negative they could say about the rally, they chose to talk about Mokhothu’s speech. They labelled him a dreamer.

This week I wish to congratulate Mokhothu for not putting limits on himself and the party he leads. I understand that it is not every dream that will come true, but truth be told, before dreams can come true, one has got to have those dreams.

Joseph was a dreamer. God gave him dreams and the ability to interpret dreams. So what might Joseph say to us if he listened to those who mocked Mokhothu as the dreamer today?

“Dreams are conceived long before they are achieved… between the birth of a dream and its realization is always a process. The period is filled with doubts, adversity, changes and surprises. During the process, you will experience good days and bad… frequently you will be faced with a dilemma: Do you give up, or go on? Without hesitation, I can give you the answer. Don’t give up on your dreams.” (John Maxwell).

Joseph’s dreams came early. He was just 17 (Genesis 37:2-5). Joseph’s dreams generated more enthusiasm than wisdom. His family did not react well to his dreams because of the way he shared them. God tells us that his father responded:

“What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” (Genesis 37:10)

And his brothers’ response was hardly supportive, “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:19-20)

It does not shock me today when Mokhothu is criticised for dreaming big for this country. A “presupposition” is something you think is true, even though you are not certain and cannot prove it. In other words, things you take for granted and believe to be true, even though they might not be.

For example, the extreme western point of the south coast of Portugal was once known as “the end of the world”, because most people thought the world was flat, and that if anyone sailed any further west they would fall over the edge, until Christopher Columbus and a few others, tried it, and discovered America.

Some Basotho in urban areas saw and heard Mokhothu during the DC’s rallies and understood him according to the ‘baggage’ they brought with them, according to their preconceived ideas about him and life in general, according to their own particular needs and expectations, according to their personal presuppositions.

And it’s the same today, people criticise Mokhothu for failing to implement the proposed DC’s 2022 manifesto in the current government. The DC did not get into this current government to fulfil the 2017 manifesto nor the 2022 manifesto.

They came into this government to protect the wool and mohair industry that was snatched by the rich from poor farmers. They came into this government to stabilise the government till the 2022 elections.

The DC agreed to be part of the current government in order to ensure the reform process was successful. They agreed to be part of this government in order to restore the country’s dignity in foreign policies such as Morocco vs Western Sahara.

The DC has achieved all these things and done more. They have hired more judges to ensure justice for Basotho. They have implemented a digitally centralised traffic lights system. They have hired IEC commissioners and the Director of Elections to protect our democracy.

The most important achievement is managing to convince the international community that Lesotho is back on track. That is why the US agreed to give this country a grant. Last week this government signed the MCC Compact II.

This government secured a M5 billion MCC grant to improve health outcomes through better primary healthcare delivery, increase incomes in rural communities through the provision of irrigated land for high-value crops, and boost profits and formal employment for women and youth-owned enterprises.

Catherine Pulsifer once argued that “everything that has ever been accomplished, every skyscraper, every bridge, every invention, every medical breakthrough, all started with a dream!” Therefore, there is nothing wrong with Mokhothu having a dream of a Lesotho the DC wants.

Mokhothu thinks big. By thinking big he is setting trends rather than follow them and that he is willing to question and upset the status quo. This isn’t easy for people in positions of authority, and it is unfortunately rare in top leaders. After all, those in top leadership positions feel tremendous pressure to avoid mistakes because so much rides on their decisions.

Stability and consistency often seem to be the most logical path. Basotho would have thought John F. Kennedy’s 1961 vision of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade was madness. People tend to quash even their own massive visions, let alone share them, but the intelligent leader is willing to take the risks. I thank Mokhothu for willing to take the risk.

The late Steve Jobs of Apple was an iconic example of thinking big and thinking differently. Jobs consistently questioned the status quo and viewed technology through the eyes of the technology user – a viewpoint competitors downplayed or ignored.

Big thinkers are also interested in the long game. They develop a long-term strategy, pursue it, and stick with it. It sounds so simple, yet so few leaders do it. Mokhothu is communicating his long game yet those who are short-sighted mock him as a dreamer.

Jeff Bezos is a prime example of a leader with a long-term goal who was willing to plow ahead despite critics.

As I conclude, it is important in this coming elections for voters to choose a leader who can think big and differently. Good leaders have the courage to think big and think differently. They know it isn’t easy, because if it was easy, everyone would do it.

They also know that thinking big and thinking differently make up only one dimension of being a great leader.Yet it is a fundamental dimension, and something on which all the other dimensions of leadership depend. Mokhothu must continue thinking big and differently for the sake of the masses of our people.

Ramahooana Matlosa

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