Moleleki reveals deep-seated fear of Matekane
- despite talk of friendship, Moleleki fears Matekane’s RFP could decimate AD, other parties,
- ex-DPM scared that an RFP govt will award its members lucrative tenders, shut others out.
DESPITE leaving the door open for a possible coalition agreement, former Deputy Prime Minister and Alliance of Democrats (AD) leader, Monyane Moleleki, is just as fearful as other leaders of established political parties of business mogul, Sam Matekane’s entry into mainstream politics.
Last week he addressed a closed session of his party’s youth and women’s leagues wherein he cautioned party members against attacking Mr Matekane’s new Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party because this would breed animosity which would prevent the two parties from forging a governing coalition after the elections which are due anytime from October this year.
He even described Mr Matekane and his RFP colleagues as his “friends whom I love and frequently in touch with”.
Despite all this, Mr Moleleki is just as fearful that the cash-rich RFP is decimating more established political parties including his own AD.
He says members of other parties are defecting en masse to the newly-formed outfit because it is fronted by wealthy individuals such as Mr Matekane himself. Mr Moleleki also fears that if elected, an RFP government “could connive to divide lucrative tenders and economic opportunities amongst themselves, thus blocking new people from venturing into and consolidating themselves in business”.
His fears are contained in his 31 March 2022 so-called “letter of guidance” to AD supporters.
The Sunday Express has seen a copy of the letter wherein Mr Moleleki charges that Mr Matekane’s new party “has shaken the country’s political landscape” and resulted in mass defections of members from “existing parties big or small to the RFP”.
Mr Matekane launched his party a fortnight ago at his Mpilo Boutique Hotel in Maseru. Some of the senior officials in the new party are prominent personalities who have tended to shy away from politics over the years.
These include former Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) governor, Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane; former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara and Moshoeshoe Walk organiser, Thabo Maretlane. Former Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) head of investment promotion, Mokhethi Shelile, prominent businessman Lephema Lebona and former Accountant General, Sam Mphaka, are the other prominent names associated with the new party.
Most established parties are said to be panicking after the launch of the RFP. Some are said to be worried that they will lose the funding which Mr Matekane had been pouring into their coffers over the years. Logic dictates that now that he is a political player, Mr Matekane cannot continue funding other parties to strengthen them to compete against him.
Some of the political leaders like the Basotho Action Party (BAP)’s Professor Nqosa Mahao- himself a relative political newcomer- took a swipe at Mr Matekane and other members of his party. Prof Mahao called them “thieves” for allegedly stealing the BAP’s manifesto on promoting good governance, rule of law and an inclusive economy.
Outspoken Basotho National Party (BNP) leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, has also criticised Mr Matekane and his colleagues for venturing into politics, saying they were “greedy and insatiable” despite the huge wealth they had accumulated over the years as beneficiaries of government tenders.
But Mr Moleleki had appeared to be bucking the trend of criticising the RFP.
As reported by the Lesotho Times in its latest edition, Mr Moleleki recently addressed a closed session of his party’s youth and women’s leagues, wherein he welcomed the formation of Mr Matekane’s RFP a fortnight ago.
He said unlike other established parties who are said to be in a state of panic following the launch of the RFP, he was in fact happy that Mr Matekane had entered the political fray. He even hinted at forming a governing coalition with the RFP after the elections. He described the RFP as a party formed by his friends with whom he was in constant communication.
In his weekend letter of guidance to AD members, Mr Moleleki even restated his love for Mr Matekane and other RFP officials who he said are “all my friends with whom I enjoyed close and loving relations when I was a cabinet minister”.
He also repeated his call for the RFP to consider forming a governing coalition with the AD after the elections which are due anytime from October this year.
“I know them all and I can tell you they respect the nation they serve through their businesses. I wish they would come and work with us to deliver quality services to Basotho if they succeed at the polls and are mandated to manage the public purse,” Mr Moleleki says in his weekend “letter of guidance” to AD supporters.
But despite his positive sentiments and willingness to work with the RFP, Mr Moleleki’s letter shows that like all other political leaders, he is deeply disturbed and fearful of the new party.
He says that Mr Matekane “has shaken the country’s political landscape” and resulted in mass defections of members from “existing parties big or small to the RFP”.
He says he has been forced to write to his followers “because the old Sesotho adage says that the sun forces the mighty crocodile to emerge from the deep waters”.
“After intense introspection following talks with the AD leadership and much worry on my part, I have decided to issue this letter as my way of reaching out to you. In recent weeks, both small and big political parties in Lesotho have been terribly shaken by the formation of RFP, a party of a different nature.
“This party sets itself apart from the rest because it is the brainchild of Lesotho’s most prominent businessman, Mr Sam Matekane, a native of Mantsónyane,” Mr Moleleki says.
The former deputy prime minister says the RFP will “no doubt field only businessmen” and he wonders “how a parliament comprising only businessmen will operate”.
“It has become apparent that it (RFP) will field Lesotho’s prominent businessmen as its candidates to represent them in parliament. It is not known how a parliament comprising mainly businessmen-cum-MPs will operate and utilise public funds in order to deliver services. We have not had a government with such a make-up since Lesotho gained independence from the colonial masters (in 1966). As such, as AD members, we must be vigilant.”
The wary Mr Moleleki warns that because the RFP is full of business people who could abuse their power to award themselves lucrative government tenders and shut out all other aspiring business people.
“If elected, it might happen that these business people, who would have become MPs, could connive to divide lucrative tenders and economic opportunities amongst themselves, thus blocking new people from venturing into and consolidating themselves in business. That would be unfortunate.
“Again, it is not known if a government comprised of only of businesspeople would deliver satisfactory services to the people. If they could do it, then Basotho and Lesotho would be immensely fortunate. On the other hand, it could happen that these wealthy businessmen would neglect their mandate to serve poverty-stricken Basotho, but instead focus on further enriching themselves once they have assumed government power,” Mr Moleleki states.
The AD leader further says that he felt compelled to reach out to his supporters after observing that Lesotho’s more established political parties were experiencing mass defections to Mr Matekane’s new party. “Hence the need to caution you,” Mr Moleleki says to his supporters.
“In recent weeks we have seen an exodus of people abandoning their political parties and streaming in droves into the RFP. It is for that reason that I feel the need to caution you.
“As I said earlier, it might happen that when these prominent businessmen assume government power, they could opt to shut out young people from making a mark in business, all in the name of protecting their own interests.”
Mr Moleleki then warns AD members contemplating jumping ship for financial gain that they will not suddenly wake up wealthy merely by joining Mr Matekane’s party and associating with rich people.
“This statement is aimed at AD members, particularly individuals who find the RFP appealing enough to leave their own party.
“It is a fallacy that you, a wretchedly poor AD member who lives from hand to mouth, will automatically become wealthy or successful in business simply by joining a politically party that is predominantly supported by business people.
“Even if your fortunes change after leaving the AD for the RFP, we will not be envious of you. However, you should always bear in mind that if you encounter challenges in your new party and decide to return home, we will gladly welcome you back. After all, he who goes is bound to come back,” said Mr Moleleki.