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None of the parties share the RFP’s revolutionary ideology: Matekane

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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REVOLUTION for Prosperity (RFP) leader, Sam Matekane, will be contesting elections for the first time ever. Not only is he aiming to be the next Mantšonyane member of parliament, he has set his sights on the even bigger prize of becoming Lesotho’s next prime minister. Of all the parties numbering more than 60, it is widely believed that his biggest challenges will come from the Mathibeli Mokhothu-led Democratic Congress (DC), the Nkaku Kabi-led All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Nqosa Mahao-led Basotho Action Party (BAP).

This week, the Lesotho Times (LT) Editor, Herbert Moyo, caught up with Mr Matekane to find out about his readiness for tomorrow’s crunch polls.

Excerpts:

LT: You are a renowned business person and philanthropist. Why the plunge into politics? Why now specifically?

Matekane: My decision to venture into politics was not only influenced by my passion for my country and countrymen, but also the need to see the country do better and be better. The rich natural resources we have as a country are not being utilised to benefit the people and I feel it is time for change. We have a lot of untapped potential as a country and it is my hope that the country allows me to serve them in a capacity where I can bring my vast experience in the business industry to running the country and make it the success I know it can be.

LT: There has been a lot of talk that you previously funded some of the major political parties and in the process got rewarded with government tenders. What is your response to that?

Matekane: When a black person is successful, it is always unimaginable that it is due to the person’s success. It is always thought that a person got a kickback or they are leveraging on other people. This is not always the case and it was not the case with me. I have supported some causes in the past, including political campaigns and I am proud of the contribution that I have made to date to building a better Lesotho.

LT: You have ventured into politics. The question on many people’s lips is why you decided to form your own party instead of joining one of the established parties?

Matekane: True, I could have joined one of the more established parties. However, I realised that the parties that are currently in existence do not have the same ideology as the one I have. I and the others in the party are advancing meritocracy, which is an ideology none of the existing parties are advancing. So, my motivation to form a new party was based more on ideology, beliefs and a clear plan of action to see Lesotho advance than anything else.

LT: What makes the RFP different from other parties?

Matekane: The RFP has identified that a leadership crisis is at the centre of the challenges that the country is experiencing. What the RFP brings to the table is a leadership based on merit and one which will work to improve the country.

LT: By now many people would be aware of your pledges to boost economic development, to boost agriculture, to boost rural livelihoods, to tackle corruption and fight rampant crime. Your programme or wish-list is clear but the main question is how will all this be achieved?

Matekane: The RFP has put in place a clear plan of action on how to tackle the challenges the country is facing. We have also started to draft policies and laws to ensure that we have an enabling environment to achieve the things that we have set out to do. Moreover, we have a team of researchers working on how we can adopt innovations in agriculture to boost production in the country.

LT: The courts rejected your meritocracy system and ordered you to allow people who had won primaries to represent your party. This means you are stuck with candidates you would rather not be representing the party. What are the implications for you? How are you relating with such people? Will you be able to appoint them to cabinet if you win and will you trust them to implement your policies?

Matekane: The RFP is a party that respects the court of law. We respect the decision by the courts that those who won primaries should proceed to represent the party in the elections. We cannot say we are stuck with them. These are members of the party and we are willing to work with them for the good of the country. It is a task that cannot be left to a small group of individuals. We will make use of our diversity to steer the country forward. As for appointment to cabinet, if any of these RFP members have the requisite qualifications to hold cabinet positions, we will definitely consider them in the same way that we will consider others with similar qualifications. They have shown that RFP is their home and while we might have disagreed on a matter of process, our love for Lesotho binds us together and it is stronger than what we disagreed over.

LT: There are fears that now that the constitutional amendments have not been passed to stop floor crossing, you will use your vast financial resources to lure MPs from other parties to cross the floor to the RFP. Are such fears reasonable? Would you welcome floor crossers from other parties?

Matekane: These fears are unreasonable. We have no intention of luring MPs to our party with our financial resources. If, however, they are looking for a new home in a revolutionary party, we are open to conversations with them. There are no guarantees though.

LT: In your view, what are the RFP’s chances of winning the polls?

Matekane: The RFP’s chances of winning these elections are very high. We have done extensive work since our formation to engage Basotho and to have a common understanding of who we are and what we stand for. We are in agreement with the majority of people that there is need for a revolution for prosperity in the country. Come 7 October, the RFP team will be provided with an opportunity to turn things around for the country.

LT: Are you satisfied with playing field or do you have any concerns about the voters’ roll still? If so, what needs to be addressed?

Matekane: We still have concerns about the voters’ roll. We requested an electronic copy, specifically an excel version which would allow us to carry out an audit of the roll. Contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act, we were asked to pay to access the roll. We were then provided with a PDF version which was difficult to audit. We were, however, able to analyse a sample of it and we found a number of challenges including the same person being registered twice with different registration numbers, people with the same name and different dates of birth, incomplete registration numbers for some electors and the same names appearing at different polling stations. The IEC informed us that they were still in the process of cleaning up the roll but three days before the election, we still do not have access to the voters’ roll which will be used on election day.

LT: Would you consider a governing coalition? Has any party approached you about a coalition?

Matekane: We don’t get into an election to form a coalition. We do it to get a mandate to govern and implement your manifesto. However, if the results from our bosses, who are the people, are for us to go into a coalition, we will go into a coalition for the sake of the people of Lesotho.