Mammoth task awaits Mokhothu

Mammoth task awaits Mokhothu

In last week’s column, I lamented on the sad state of our politics that have been turned into a retirement home for public servants. As I wrote that article, the Democratic Congress was at their leadership elective conference and I was waiting with bated breath to see how the delegates would swing their votes.

The main question that kept running in my mind was whether the DC members would vote for the less experienced and younger Mathibeli Mokhothu (who had a short stint as a high school teacher) or whether they would go for the more experienced (in the public service) Tlohang Sekhamane who has served this country at almost all levels of the public service from a school teacher, Government Secretary right through to being a Minister to mention just a few.

The reason I was asking myself this question, even though I am not a member of the DC, is because the party remains a significant player on Lesotho’s political scene even though it is now in opposition. Knowing that the opposition is government-in-waiting and being very much aware of the stormy nature of our political landscape, the DC is likely to be part of the government come the next elections.

As such who the DC members decide to put as their leader very much affects all of us, not just its card-carrying members. The recent DC elective conference, which saw former Premier Pakalitha Mosisili voluntarily deciding to retire from active politics, was reported as a success and one of the rare occasions in the political sphere in Lesotho.
Mosisili’s successor, Mathibeli Mokhothu, won convincingly against the other contender Tlohang Sekhamane who managed to get a measly 86 votes while Mokhuthu soared high with more than 1 600 votes.

Now that the elections are gone and forgotten, it is time for the real work to begin for the new leader. It is now a well-known fact that in Lesotho during campaigns in the run-up to elective conferences, a lot of toe stepping occurs between the contestants. Name calling becomes the order of the day. Shaming and to some extent hot and disruptive utterings that even border on defamation of character if not a complete character assassination of the other contestant are quite common.

It is now upon the incumbent to ensure that there is peace-building, conflict resolution and cajoling of those that had been insulted, ridiculed and heckled during the campaigns. This should happen so that all should feel at home and not find political solace elsewhere.

The voting into office of the young Mokhothu also gives hope to the youth and young people, not just members of the DC. This is because people believe or are hopeful that Mokhothu, by virtue of being young himself, will come up with policies and strategies that will change the lives and livelihoods of the young people.

I believe with the help of his secretary general, a friend and cadre since their college years at the Lesotho College of Education, Mokhothu will strive towards making education not just free but also relevant to the needs of the country and its people.

As a development studies graduate, Mokhothu needs now more than ever to put into practice the skills he learned in school for the betterment of his party and the country as he is the leader of the opposition.
Mokhothu is inheriting a very troubled party that has been through turbulent times. We are talking about a party that has since its inception faced an exodus of high profile and high ranking members. It is upon him now to learn from the mistakes of his predecessor and not repeat the same mistakes if the party is to be a success.

Mokhothu should also note that in Africa, we are still a bit sceptical to be led by youngsters as they commit so many mistakes, maybe due to too much pressure brought by expectations that people have on them. This lack of trust in young leaders is prevalent despite the youth and young people complaining about the older generation and how it is not in touch with their needs.

I noticed that during the handover ceremony held at Ha Foso. Mosisili handed over to his successor a Bible, the party constitution and flag. I never heard him mention any collection of their policies that is if they have written policies. This lack of handing over of policies made me a bit worried because as far back as 2005 a study conducted by Khabele Matlosa and Caleb Sello discovered that political parties in Lesotho do not have policies, what they have are just constitutions and manifestos (developed during elections).

It really troubled me that in 2019, almost 14 years after the study was published, political parties as big as the DC still do not have written policies. I fervently hope that the fresh-minded and young Mokhothu and his committee will ensure that this status quo is changed.

Mokhothu should now begin to push his own political brand. The era of Mosisili that was characterised by fighting for democracy is gone. We are in a new era of fighting for economic freedom and emancipation.
As Julius Malema of the EFF would put it, our economy must be in our hands and it should benefit us without any discrimination. Having said this, I wish to congratulate Mokhothu on his appointment and hope he will be a game-changer in our politics.

Kelello Rakolobe

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