‘We will push for real change’

‘We will push for real change’

Maseru-SINCE her husband died some 11 years ago ’Malichaba Lekhoaba has dedicated her life to growing Harvest FM, her radio station, and helping the poor. In that time Lekhoaba had to battle with authorities who she accused of trying to close her radio station. At one time the station was closed for weeks for allegedly violating broadcasting regulations.

Yet she has soldiered on despite the tribulations. Now Lekhoaba says it’s time for her to participate in Lesotho’s congested political sphere. She leads the recently formed United for Change (UC) that promises to be a political party with a difference. thepost talked to Lekhoaba about the party. Below are excerpts from the interview:

Why have you decided to form a political party instead of just a charity organisation?
I decided to join politics because I am patriotic. Things happening in the country make one to want to take part. Things I make are limited even resources are so limited. I have so many ideas and I have very little to achieve them. Some of the things make you just wish you were part of the government so that you can do them.

You were doing well as a radio personality, owner and businesswoman. What do you think party politics hold for you?
I was doing very well and I’m looking forward to upgrading my level of performance at the national level. I was working among the community at a lower level. I want to raise my potential to the national level. For example, I want to empower the kids with the leadership initiative I launched at Harvest FM.

I wanted it to work at national level but the resources were a big challenge. I raise funds to run some of the projects but the resources will determine the levels they will reach.
Harvest FM has a limited footprint, covering Maseru only. I want to teach every child to be patriotic so that they can have a desire to work for the country from an early age.

I wish to teach this generation so that it does not imitate us who are unpatriotic. The children imitate you. You will be surprised that they are learning a lot from what we are doing and by the time they grow up they do exactly what they saw you doing. It’s my passion to break from the usual way parties are established and run.

That’s the reason why I think I can do much better in things I am doing, like old age and herd’s men projects which I want to grow to a national level.

How is the United for Change different from the 35 registered political parties in the country?
United for Change will be different in that many parties want to tell what they are going to do for Basotho but as for us we want Basotho to tell us what they need so that we can commit ourselves to what they say they want. We need to consult different sectors so that we can take leadership as they solve their own problems.

We want to work with the people to solve problems in a way the people want not to solve what we perceive to be people’s problems in a way chosen by us. If we enter empty-headed, that is, without knowledge of what people need, we will repeat the same mistakes of others who did not consult the people.

MPs will have to ask the people what they want the government to do for them and the people will be the ones taking the lead in identifying their own needs. For example, the people will say we need water here or electricity. That will be their need instead of us thinking they need a road rather than water.

We can’t sit in the offices planning people’s needs without involving them. MPs will work like civil servants who work every day of their term. We will stop the current practice where MPs take the winter break like they are not under contract to work for the full five years. We will have to correct that.

Do you think Basotho really need so many parties, including the UC?
We don’t need many parties. Parties that do not win even one constituency or a proportional representation seat should be removed. If a party contests twice and does not win anything it should be disqualified.

It should never be allowed to stand for elections again. Now there are only 10 effective parties and yet the IEC has registered about 35. New parties should be registered but the IEC should say those that fail to have a seat in parliament for two consecutive elections should be disqualified. Parliament must enact such a law.

Were you a member of a political party before founding the UC, and what is that party?

It would not be easy for me to join an existing party whose manifesto did not benefit the people. If existing ones do not have a vision I would have no reason to join them. If new ones are given a chance, then people could decide whether to join them or not. I don’t want to be like possessing an old TV when there are new models that have all things needed for today’s viewer.

Change the old ones. If they don’t change and don’t adopt new things, there is no reason for me to join them.

What do you say to allegations on social media that you sourced donations to help the poor but used the money to form your party?
Such allegations are baseless. They are meant to defame me. Funds were not collected by the party but the radio station. It bought food packages and distributed them. They can’t shake me because they are baseless.

I know my goal. I saw the allegations on social media and got shocked as to why people have the nerve to say such things about me. Yes I collected the funds as manager of the station and took food parcels to where they were destined to. I wonder why they associate those funds with the party.

What do you want to achieve in 10 years?
You are talking about 10 years! My target is to be in office for five years only. There is one Arab leader who in an interview said he did not need a long term to change a country.

He said something very fascinating: There is no reason for a long term plan because you must work now to transform the country as quickly as possible. Instead of saying after 10 years, when you have a chance to do that in five years, rather talk about a five-year plan.

There can be change in five years. To me it is a long time enough to work for the nation. If the United for Change is given a chance, in five years Lesotho would be a new country.

I plan to be in politics for five years only and then the people will carry forward what I have started. From day one I will work hard so that after five years this will be a new Lesotho. Lesotho will not be the same after five years if Basotho vote us into power. That’s my heart’s desire.

Staff Reporter

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