Come get me, please!

Come get me, please!

MASERU – “WHY not? I am a politician.”
That was ‘Matebatso Doti’s playful but dead serious response when asked if she was interested in replacing Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
“That is exactly why I became a politician in the first place,” Doti says.
The former social development minister says she was thrilled to be nominated by the national executive committee and is “up to the task”.
She however says she will not actively campaign because “the people and the MPs know my history and work”.
“I will not be knocking on doors to ask people to vote for me.”

Doti, the daughter of a policeman, joined politics when Thabane formed the ABC in 2006 after spending 32 years in the civil service.
Her forte was human resources management which took her around several ministries like finance, trade, agriculture, education, health and public service. She also worked at Parliament and the Public Service Com

“My credentials speak for themselves.”
Doti’s father was a Basotho National Party (BNP) supporter and her soldier husband was part of the military regime in the 1980s.
As a young woman she spent a few months at a political school in Cuba where she says she began to understand “the importance of being grounded in political concepts”.
She says her mature age of 67 means that she will not stay long as Prime Minister if elected.

It could be until 2022 or just one more full term after that, she says.
Doti prides herself as a champion of the vulnerable and wants to make their welfare a priority of her government.
It hurts me, she says, that there are still people who go to bed without food.
“Our economy is a disaster. Our agriculture is dead. We need to work on our mining, tourism and water sectors”.

Last year Doti was a victim of the brutal factional fights in the ABC.
She was fired as social development minister a few weeks after her camp won the national executive committee elections whose results were disputed.
Although a court eventually declared that her camp had won fairly Doti is still smarting at the damage caused by the fights.
She believes the issue could have been resolved internally to avoid the long-drawn battle that threatened to upend the coalition government and ruin the ABC.
The camps have closed ranks in recent weeks but it is unclear if this uneasy peace will survive the leadership battle about to ensue.

Doti regrets that the ABC’s internal squabbles put government projects on a backburner.
She is one of the two candidates nominated by the executive committee but the door has not been shut for supporters and MPs to sneak their own horses into the race.
To win she will have to prevail over six men and another woman.

Doti is not under any illusion about what it will take for her to garner the support of the majority of MPs.
The main hurdle, she says, is that Lesotho’s politics is dominated by men.
“It will take years for men to understand the concept of gender equality. They are still uncomfortable with strong female leaders,” she says.

“I am up against a culture and a system that remains patriarchal to the core”.
But she says she will not be throwing in the towel anytime soon.
Doti says she will surround herself with people of integrity.
‘‘One of the biggest problems with the government is the calibre of some ministers Thabane appointed,’’ she explains.
“Some of them lack experience.”

She puts that down to the fact that “age has caught up with our leader and he has not been able to control some of the ministers”.
“It could be that he did not appoint a political adviser to help him make decisions on the appointments.”
“The country needs a strong leader who can control ministers and hold then to account. I believe I can do that.”

Staff Reporter

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