With the people!

With the people!

LERIBE – FOR years, ‘Manthati Letuka has been active in the world of politics, but only as a supporter of male candidates whenever elections were held in her Ramapepe Community Council.
But in 2017, the 53-year-old told herself that “enough is enough”. She decided to enter the ring and contest for a post in the council.

“It pained me to see women going out in large numbers to vote but not voting for other women. They were voting for men,” Letuka said of her decision to transform herself from a supporter to a candidate.
What also worried her was the low number of women in the local government structures and the National Assembly despite their important role in society.

“Women play a strategic role in working the mechanics of building a healthy nation. Women are always at the helm when tough times come calling,” Letuka said, insisting that no country can progress without involving women in governance matters.

She says women are powerful, citing the fact that women hold forte when many Basotho men migrate to South Africa to work in mines, and only return home intermittently.
“During the course of the year, the women have to play the double role of being mothers and fathers to the children,” she said.

For Letuka, being a councillor is a calling to respond to the interests of the people.
Like all of other councils in the country, Ramapepe struggles to deliver efficient services to the people amid acute unemployment and abject poverty.

Letuka said this drives her to find ways to help destitute families put bread on the table on a daily basis.
What frustrates her is the low priority given to councils in the national budget allocations.
“This is really bad because voters expect us to change their lives for the better,” Letuka complained.

To improve her skills in governance, Letuka engaged Gender Links for brainstorming sessions on how female politicians could better tackle societal challenges.
“Confidence is top of the list. Women must have a positive mindset,” she said, adding that the biggest challenge is getting funds to implement her ideas.

The sessions included training on financial literary and interventions needed to help women in distress.
After attending the Gender Links training sessions, Letuka says she was able to visit every family in her Electoral Division (ED) of Lekhanya to sensitise them on Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

“There are no funds to start small income generating projects,” Letuka lamented.
From her small savings, Letuka is planning to establish piggery projects for jobless youths.
“There is ample market for pork,” she said, noting that unemployment was pushing youths into vices such as crime, drugs and alcohol.

Majara Molupe

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