Leading from the front

Leading from the front

…The story of a Mafeteng councillor nurtured by two conflicting political ideologies…….

MAFETENG – GROWING up in a family where heated political debates were a staple, it was only natural that ‘Manthatisi Mosoeunyane would turn out a politician.

The 43-year-old councillor of Mafeteng Urban Council says she was brought up in a family where both her parents were fanatic supporters of competing political movements, turning the home into a political hotbed.

Her father was a staunch supporter of the Basotho National Party (BNP) while her mother was a Congress movement supporter. As children, they would listen as their mother told stories of how the BNP ill-treated supporters of the Congress movement in the 1970 during Lesotho’s political upheaval.

“My mother used to tell us how our uncle lost his life through the gruesome killings instigated by the BNP government of the time,” Mosoeunyane says.
While their mother would passionately narrate how their uncle was brutally killed by the BNP, their father would speak of how caring the BNP government was at the time.

The mother of two says her father used to tell them that the BNP government was very proactive when it came to agriculture and hunger was unheard of at the time. Those bittersweet political stories sparked an intense interest in politics, says Mosoeunyane.

She says she told herself that she needed to forge her own path, different from that of her parents’, in the world of politics.
“It is for this reason that I joined the All Basotho Convention (ABC) when it was formed in 2006. I wanted to take neither side from my parents,” Mosoeunyane says.

She says in 2017, she was encouraged by others to contest the local government elections. “I did not want to contest the election but I was encouraged to stand for Paballong Electoral Division (Ed) under the umbrella of the ABC,” she says.

She won, but before she could even bask in her new-found glory, she was dragged into post- election quarrels.
Mosoeunyane says a Democratic Congress (DC) candidate refused to accept the result, claiming the election was rigged.
“All the processes showed that I was a winner were followed but the DC candidate refused to budge,” she says.
She says one of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) commissioners had to come to the district to solve the quarrel before she was confirmed the winner.
Turning to the challenges in her ED, Mosoeunyane says the killing of business people and house break-ins are rife. She says people who live in her ED are attacked when they walk from work although the attacks have decreased after the installation of streetlights.

She says they have formed a community policing forum to take turns to patrol the village to uproot crime in the area. “We want people who stay in rented homes to bring letters from their chiefs because we have noticed that they are the ones causing problems here,” claims Mosoeunyane.

Unemployment is another serious problem in her ED. Because the budget is too small, local authorities like hers are unable to employ many people to public service jobs such as cleaning the town.

To ease the problem, Mosoeunyane has been encouraging women to venture into agriculture, especially piggery and poultry projects. She leads by example by running her own piggery project. “I have asked women to support each other and to push for development,” she says.

Asked if she would be contesting future elections to defend her seat, Mosoeunyane is non-committal. “I do not volunteer to stand. The ABC supporters in the ED are the ones who have the final say.”
Being married has not affected her vocation as a politician.
“I enjoy a lot of support from my husband. At least he understands the culture of my work. And he supports me quite a lot,” Mosoeunyane says.

Majara Molupe

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