A NUMBER of high profile figures from the world of business, media, sport and academia have thrown their hats in the political ring by contesting in the 28 February 2015 general elections, making this one of the most eagerly anticipated polls in Lesotho’s history.
The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) has managed to haul the most high profile figures, with others contesting under the banners of the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC), All Basotho Convention (ABC) and the Basotho National Party (BNP).
Former Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) Chief Executive Officer, Joshua Setipa, Mafube Investment Holdings founder, Lebohang Thotanyane, MKM Burial Society proprietor, Simon Thebe-ea-Khale, Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) spokesperson Thabo Maretlane, former Matlama FC spokesperson Lesolle Phalatse, former Matlama FC Secretary-General Thabo Nkhahle and Mafeteng Golden Hotel owner Hlalele Letšaba, are among the high profile figures who have joined the political fray.
Former LNDC boss, Mr Setipa, who will be contesting the election on an LCD ticket in the Maseru Central constituency, ran the country’s investment and trade promotion showcase for only two of his five-year contract. The LNDC subsequently fired Mr Setipa over allegations that he had misused the corporation’s funds, charges that Mr Setipa vehemently denied.
Prior to his stint at the LNDC, Mr Setipa served as a senior advisor to the director general of the World Trade Organisation from 2005 to December 2011. He brings a wealth of experience gained at national, regional and international levels, working on economic and developmental issues.
He has also held various high-level positions in trade relations, capacity building, strategic relationship building and global economic policy.
Also contesting under the LCD banner in the Teya-Teyaneng constituency is academic, businessman and sports administrator, Lebohang Thotanyana.
A native of Berea, Mr Thotanyana assumed the presidency of Lioli Football Club, in 2008.
The former Lefa vice-president, who stepped down from the post early last year, is also the current chairman of the premier league, having taken over from Tlholo Letete in 2011.
On the business front, Mr Thotanyana is the founder and majority shareholder of Mafube Investment Holdings (PTY) Ltd, a holding company for various companies operating in the mining, civil works, transport, logistics, financial services, consulting and professional services sectors, as well as bulk fuel distribution.
He holds the positions of chairman and managing director in the group, which operates in the Southern African region.
Mr Thotanyana also holds various directorships outside his group across the region and internationally. He is the chairman of the Lesotho Flour Mills, Lesotho State Oil Company, and director at Standard Lesotho Bank, Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority among other positions.
The companies include, but are not limited to banks, pension funds, energy funds, professional bodies, consulting firms and charities.
He holds a Bachelor of Commerce Honours Degree from the University of Cape Town and a Chartered Accountancy qualification as well as being a member of various professional bodies including the Institute of Directors.
Mr Thotanyana has been awarded the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award at the 6th World Summit of Young Entrepreneurs by the Institute of Leadership Development and UNCTAD. He has also been awarded the Recognition of Service Award by International Federation of Accountants and a Platinum Award for outstanding service in the Accountancy Profession by the Lesotho Institute of Accountants and Madison Who’s Who.
Another football administrator, Mr Maretlane, who is also the LCD’s constituency chairman in Thaba-Phatšoa in Leribe, is eyeing a parliamentary seat.
Mr Maretlane, who has been Lefa spokesperson since 2012 and has previously worked in the premier league, will go toe to toe with the DC’s Hlonepho Ntšekhe, and the ABC’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Mahala Molapo.
Former Matlama public relations officer and marketing manager, Mr Phalatse, will also contest in next month’s elections.
Mr Phalatse, who was ousted from the soccer club’s committee in 2013, and has been LCD leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mothetjoa Metsing’s publicist, will contest in the Lithabaneng constituency, taking on Social Development Minister and ABC cadre, ‘Matebatso Doti.
Former MoAfrika FM presenter and writer for the radio station’s now defunct MoAfrika Newspaper, ‘Mantolo Mohale, will also contest in the Berea constituency under the LCD.
Ms Mohale gained repute at MoAfrika FM for the witchcraft-inspired stories she wrote for the paper.
Mr Thebe-ea-Khale’s candidature on an ABC ticket, however, has caused controversy. This is because his sudden foray into active politics comes in the middle of a legal showdown over MKM, which the courts ruled in 2011 should be liquidated because it was insolvent.
The MKM Group — comprising MKM Marketing Ltd, Star Lion Group Ltd, Star Lion Insurance Ltd and Star Lion Gold Coin Investment (Pty) Ltd — was shut down in 2007 by the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) for operating illegal banking and insurance businesses.
A CBL-commissioned investigation conducted by South Africa’s PricewaterhouseCoopers, also revealed that of the M400 million invested by depositors, the company could only account for M100 million in assets that included buildings and vehicles.
MKM’s six buildings in Maseru were set to go under the hammer at Lesotho Sun on 17 November 2014, but the auction was disrupted by an angry mob which stormed the hotel and beat-up the coordinator of the sale, Stefan Carl Buys.
However, in a new twist to the saga, the High Court on 26 November 2014 cancelled the auction, effectively nullifying the 17 November sale pending the finalisation of a new application by 11 depositors who had filed before the court.
Mr Thebe-ea-Khale will be pitted against former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ntlhoi Motsamai, of the DC for the rural Hloahloeng constituency in Mohale’s Hoek district.
Matlama Football Club Secretary-General, Thabo Nkhahle, announced his resignation from the club last Tuesday to contest as a DC candidate in the Stadium Area constituency.
Mr Nkhahle also played for Matlama between 1990 and1994, having also served in different capacities at the club.
Also contesting on a DC ticket is the popular businessman Mr Letšaba in the southern district.
Meanwhile, the BNP will field Limpho Tau who owns an IT company and another IT business owner, Phihlela Liphoto.
Both Mr Liphoto and Mr Tau will be contesting in the Lithabaneng and Teyateyaneng constituencies respectively.