Connect with us


RFP: a big party with a poor communicator



In April 2013, the then President of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) at the National University of Lesotho (NUL), Caston Thahanyane, was forced to run for his dear life after striking students turned on him for failing to lead their demonstration. Thahanyane was voted into office to lead students’ demonstrations at NUL, no wonder students threatened him when he did not want to associate himself with that particular protest.

Thahanyane was a tiny student leader with a huge following in student politics at the NUL but never had anything important to say. Here was an undeserving leader who lacked leadership competencies and the ability to communicate. But the students had voted for him altogether.

In this week’s article I wish to draw similarities between Thahanyane and RFP leader Sam Matekane. He is quite the Thahanyane of the RFP, a fellow who people have bestowed a task too heavy for him, a task that he cannot fathom or even express.

Prior to the students attack I admired Thahanyane from a distance, knowing that he commanded respect in NUL student politics. I had heard about him even though I had never met him. Having been a youth activist myself, I was interested in knowing what happens in different tertiary institutions.

Then one day I attended one of his students’ demonstrations and he had to address the students. I was shocked that university students had voted for a person who was such a poor communicator. In my view, Thahanyane did not appear as a leader.

In fact his behaviour was not acceptable; it was unworthy of anyone who wanted to be known as a leader. Nevertheless I introduced myself to him later and found him to be humble and down to earth, maybe that is another factor that contributed to his ascension to the helm of the NUL’s student leadership.

Today I hear there is a revolution in town. My problem with this revolution is that it does not seem to be producing either an ideology, demands, or leaders to the extent that sometimes I wish leadership and communication skills were transferrable, just so I could have a clearer picture of this one playing out.

I wish I could go to Roma and plead with Ntate Pakalitha Mosisili to lend us a few set of skills and transport them to Lower Thetsane, just so we hear what is going on. Indeed RFP is a big party that has seen dramatic growth in its infancy and it deserves to have a leader with ability to communicate its vision.

All these people that have gone on a leap to support this new baby, need to have a clear message of where they are going and why. It is interesting to watch them gather at rallies, and then when the moment for the leader to address the people comes, it’s a big shame. I don’t know, maybe we are in a new age of leaderless revolutions.

In an ideal political world, every leader of a political party is expected to be an effective communicator. Being able to address the masses is something that is mandatory. In my opinion it should be a leadership requirement when party conferences elect leaders, but at time leaders delegate their communication responsibilities to others to handle and they can for a time get away with lacking the ability to translate their vision to the masses.

I listened to Matekane’s speech when he launched the party, and having worked with Tlohang Sekhamane I could tell he had written a wonderful speech for him, but he cannot always delegate that responsibility to Sekhamane. Matekane’s lack of skills were bound to catch up with him.

Leadership is not merely about telling others what to do, but rather maximising the full potential of people by being intently engaged. This requires a leader who can feel comfortable communicating seamlessly with different types and stripes of people, regardless of hierarchy, rank or cultural influence.

With Matekane, when he opens his mouth he is so much removed from the requirements of the politics that it became obvious he feels vulnerable and insecure. He does not seem confident enough to engage and looks like his authority is being undermined as his insight and contribution does not add value to the issues he attempts to relay.

Before coming into politics it did not matter but when he decided to form a political party this weakness became extremely glaring.

No one had to listen to Matekane when he was in business. He would never have to look like he is vulnerable. However, politics are a whole different ball game. It has exposed his vulnerability, and it has been rather apparent through his poor communication skills. Matekane could afford to remain quiet in many situations when he was running his business than say anything that would expose his lack of knowledge, understanding and self-trust.

He could hire the best professionals to do the work of expressing his company’s vision and its programmes for the public. Instead of revealing his vulnerabilities in business he could play it safe and delegate. The downside though was that it would never have given him a chance to work to improve his leadership and communications skills.

He could have perfected these but he didn’t have to and he chose not to. But unfortunately politics is a whole different ball game, you can only go so far in delegating your duties as a leader of the political party and you definitely cannot hire professionals to do the job for you.

Matekane is a very inconsistent communicator. The problem is that when a leader of a big party like the RFP is an inconsistent communicator, it makes it difficult for followers to rely upon his leadership and take action.

But I know his blind followers will connote on his business achievements and say they do not care for being sweet-talked, as I’ve seen them often say on social media in response to critisms of his speeches. Yet I wonder if these people ever take time to listen to his speeches.

Another thing I have noticed is that he seems uninterested in politics. His lack of rigor when addressing the public makes me question whether he even wants to be here. You can see someone that lacks skills but is trying, he on the other hand seem not only overwhelmed but also unmotivated.

Matekane lacks subject matter expertise. He does not know where his points of view fit in the solution-set and how he can communicate those views. It has become clear even to a small child that Matekane has been thrown into the deep end. He is like a fish that has been thrown out of water, he is failing to swim.

In business he could afford to be silent but in politics he must communicate with the people, about where he wants to take the country. The problem is he lacks subject matter expertise, and he that is failing to develop the wisdom to communicate effectively.

I do not blame Matekane though. He never prepared for this game at all. It is evident during the RFP rallies that when he speaks he is failing to provide objective opinions and constructive input. His lack of communication is a major weakness for the RFP. It is clear the RFP’s failure to prepare makes him the weakest link in the party.

We know practice makes the perfect but Maketane lacks preparation, which is leading to the practice of poor communication. Matekane did not give himself time to learn and practice the art of communication. It is a fact that the most successful leaders are the best communicators.

The RFP is a huge party with a poor communicator. In my opinion the ability to communicate clearly and effectively is among the most vital qualities of a strong and successful leader. Lack of clarity from Matekane will kill the RFP message. Somebody close to Matekane please make him understand that failure to communicate could be fatal for the party.

Maketane had leaders in his businesses who were able to communicate what was expected in those organisations, that is why most of his businesses were successful. The irony is that for the leadership of the country he wants to lead yet for his companies he hired the best leaders.

When I go to a political rally I want to listen to my leader to get inspiration and motivation. Strong, effective communication skills are essential to inspiring and motivating followers. The RFP supporters are overlooking this critical ability.

They assume that Basotho who come to their rallies already understand what the RFP and its leader want to do for Lesotho. However, this is of course not the case and as most people likely know first-hand, making assumptions rarely turns out well.

As I conclude allow me to state that the RFP has a lot of potential. However their leader’s poor communication skills will keep the party from reaching its full potential. Matekane is a poor communicator and this has serious long-term consequences that can wreak havoc on the future of this country.

If Matekane knew he would be a leader of a political party in 2017 he should have developed himself as a leader. Unfortunately they planned the party at the last minute. He would have known that then it is vital to cultivate his communication skills.

What kind of a leader fails to communicate his vision for his country? But I cannot blame those who will vote for him, like Thahanyane, for reasons known to Basotho voters, Matekane will also be voted. Such a leader does not deserve my vote.

Ramahooana Matlosa

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Copyright © 2022. The Post Newspaper. All Rights Reserved