Brace for fireworks!

Brace for fireworks!

MASERU-FASTEN your seat-belts and brace for fireworks.
That is the simple message from Tefo Makhakhe, the interim leader of the Lesotho Economic Freedom Fighters (LEFF).
Makhakhe’s new political outfit is an extension of Julius Malema’s EFF that has over the last nine years shaken the political structure in South Africa.

The EFF has disrupted parliamentary proceedings and effectively hounded former South African president Jacob Zuma out of office.
The party has called for the seizure of white-owned land for redistribution to landless black South Africans as part of its grand agenda of “radical economic transformation”.
It has also actively supported Zimbabwe-style invasion of white-owned farms by hordes of landless blacks.
The EFF’s critics say Malema’s version of politics is unnecessarily abrasive while pushing all levels of decency.
They say Malema’s tactics sometimes border on the infantile while at the same time pushing what is patently a racist agenda against what the EFF calls “white monopoly capital”.

The critics see Malema as a dangerous demagogue who is out to destabilise South Africa and threaten racial harmony in the country.
Surprisingly though, Malema’s pan-Africanist agenda has found resonance with over a million South Africans who voted for the party in the last elections, making it the third biggest political party in Parliament by seats.

Only the ruling ANC and the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) garnered more votes in that election.
Makhakhe, who was speaking to thepost this week in the company of his close lieutenant, Mohau Mabetha, said Basotho must expect more of the same tactics that we have seen from the parent party in South Africa with slight tweaks here and there.

“Yes, you will see the same tactics in Lesotho but since the challenges are different, the approaches will also be different,” he says.
“But we will never nurse corruption and the exploitation of our people. We will make sure that we push the government to serve our people.”
Makhakhe says what attracted him to the EFF was its pan-Africanist agenda and its total commitment to socialism.

“I loved the ideology of the movement as a party that represents the interests of the black people of Africa.”
He says two decades after independence in South Africa, blacks are still getting a raw deal particularly in the mines.
The pay structures in the mines, which are still controlled by whites, are based on the colour of one’s skin.

Makhakhe says there are thousands of Basotho migrant workers who still bear the brunt of such racist policies.
“Basotho who work in the mines text us and tell us about these issues; they are ready to talk to us.”
Makhakhe says their focus in Lesotho is “to empower Basotho” so that they take charge of their economic destiny.
“The Chinese are taking over all the big tenders and they have effectively captured the State,” he says.
“The (foreign) investors are taking the land because they have the money and the system allows that.”

Makhakhe says the LEFF wants to shake up the system to stop all these shenanigans by empowering Basotho to take charge of their destiny.
He believes the “black people must be able to (drive) change without seeking funding from external sources”.
The key to effecting change in Lesotho is a revamp of the agriculture sector, Makhakhe says.
“We are going to empower cooperatives rather than a single individual,” he says.
“Most of our budget must go into agriculture and we know that Leribe has the potential to feed all of Lesotho if proper programmes are implemented.”
Makhakhe denies that the LEFF is pushing a racist agenda that targets the Chinese and other Asian nationals.

“All we are saying is that a black child must stand (on his own); it is simply not good enough that the Chinese and the Asians are getting rich at the expense of our people.”
Makhakhe says the party’s pan-Africanist ideology has captured the hearts and minds of thousands of Basotho.
“We can feel the reaction on the ground and it gives us confidence and hope that we are going to make it in Lesotho,” he says.
“People are saying they are tired of the Nationalists and Congress ideologies. The people are looking for a new broom, not a product of past political parties that have caused the current misery.”
“The people are looking for something new, untainted by the past. They no longer want people who have been MPs before. The LEFF is a party for the youths and they are telling us that they want something new.”

Makhakhe says the LEFF is “a platform where all youths will bring ideas on how to grow and strengthen Lesotho’s economy”.
What is also making the party attractive is their push towards “opening up of borders just like in Europe”.
Lesotho’s unique geographical position where it is entirely encircled by South Africa makes it imperative for Basotho to have open borders, he says.

“The people want us and we stand ready to contest the next elections,” he said.
Makhakhe’s close friend, Mabetha, says the LEFF will spring a major surprise in the next elections.
Mabetha says a lot of groundwork has already been covered in setting up structures throughout the country.
“We are going to be the next government,” he says. “People are going to be very surprised. The people are tired of corruption which has been taking place since the restoration of democracy in 1993.”

“All the people who have been in government since then, they have been friends who have been practising corruption together. But we are going to shock them.”
At 31 years of age, Makhakhe is relatively young, some would say too young and inexperienced to make it in the cut-throat politics of Lesotho.
His supporters hope that for him, youth will not be a liability but an asset to drive change in Lesotho.
They believe it is time Basotho dump the geriatrics who have run this country into the ground and give youths a chance.
Makhakhe graduated with an Associate Degree in Graphic Design from Limkokwing University in Maseru in 2011. But like thousands of other Basotho youths, Makhakhe never secured a formal job.

He has been a freelancer ever since.
“I never found a full-time job,” he says.
With a new political career on the horizon, Makhakhe says he is no longer interested in getting a formal job as that “might (interfere) with my new political aspirations in life”.
Makhakhe was born on March 6, 1988 to a father who was a school teacher while his mother was a house-wife. His parents however later joined the Lesotho Mounted Police Service in 1991.

With his parents both police officers, politics was never part of the family’s dinner table discussions.
“We did not talk about politics. In fact it was taboo to talk about politics as they were civil servants who were supposed to be apolitical,” he says.
“Even to play political songs (on the radio) was taboo.”

But gradually, Makhakhe found himself gravitating towards the political by working with people in the rural communities in their bid to improve their lot in life.
That is how he found himself joining politics.
“I found myself working with youths in an effort to change the conditions of our people in their communities and in the country.”
He formally joined politics in 2014. He joined the EFF sometime last year.

Staff Reporter

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