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RFP must manage internal wrangles



EXACTLY one year ago, businessman Sam Matekane unveiled his Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) with a clear goal of seizing political power in elections that were due later that year.

It was a bold call coming from a rookie politician who knew little about statecraft and the tricky world of national politics.

Yet against all odd, Matekane’s RFP romped to victory in elections held last October. We therefore do not begrudge the RFP in seeking to celebrate its achievements. There is indeed much to celebrate for the RFP and its supporters.

This is a party that had been written off as a motley collection of the rich in Lesotho who would struggle to connect with the wretchedly poor in the villages.

Matekane’s supposedly lack of charisma in delivering rousing speeches at party rallies was seen as a major handicap. The bulk of its preferred candidates did not have the experience of running successful party campaigns.

Yet despite all these challenges, the RFP romped to victory in stunning fashion, surprising analysts who had thought the much more experienced Democratic Congress (DC) had the election in the bag.

Today, the RFP is the dominant political force in Lesotho and could preside over the affairs of the state for the next decade or so if it manages its internal dynamics well.

The RFP will need greater vigilance to defend its gains. This may be the time for the party to consolidate its grip on power by focusing on service delivery and fulfilling its electoral promises.

When the dust from this week’s celebrations begins to settle next week, the party must channel all its energy on building a resilient political machine that is geared towards improving the lot of Basotho.

We note with trepidation though that trouble is already bubbling behind the scenes for the RFP. Hawkish elements within the RFP are already beating their war drums. If these dynamics are not properly managed, the RFP risks falling into the same old problems that have been the bane of many a political party in Lesotho.

Some constituencies are already demanding that the party go for an elective conference to elect new leaders arguing the current interim leadership’s term in office has expired. They argue that if the RFP is as democratic as it purports itself to be, the leadership of the party must subject itself to the will of the people through a democratic vote.

Matekane has so far batted away their protests, insisting elections would be an unnecessary side-show that would distract the party from its goal of rolling back poverty.

Unless the RFP leadership handles this issue well, the party could be headed towards a costly and damaging legal battle. The hawks appear determined to press on with their demands, with

Matekane himself appearing unwilling to budge.

With no side unwilling to back off, we could see a potentially damaging legal wrangle for a party that is just a year old. It is however not yet clear if the constituencies clamouring for an elective conference represent the feelings of the majority in the RFP. That is why it is critical that the party consults the grassroots to prevent a damaging row.

If the party is to live up to its electoral process in ushering a truly genuine revolution, it must quieten the shrill of protests from its supporters.

That way, it will be able to focus on the key deliverables: creating jobs for Basotho, rolling back poverty, cutting government expenditure and de-politicisation of the civil service.

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