Matla: a man of many talents

Matla: a man of many talents

MASERU-TJONANE Matla founded and edited the now defunct but once popular Mohala oa Ntsu (Voice of Democrats) newspaper, and used its satirical pages to poke fun and criticise his own party, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), when it was in power.

A fearless voice, Matla was buried in his home village of Malaoaneng, Ha-Seetsa, in Leribe district last Saturday after succumbing to Covid-19 on January 9 following a painfully short illness.
The entrepreneur, farmer, journalist, business consultant and management accountant was 43.

So popular was Matla that the family kept the public in the dark about the date and place of his funeral to keep away crowds in line with Covid-19 regulations.
Funerals are viewed as super spreader events of the virus and the government has limited gatherings at such events to 20 people only.

Otherwise, Matla’s funeral would have been a big event. From politicians to farmers and businessmen, Matla was a man of many admirers.
He founded Mohala oa Ntsu in 2007.
The newspaper, competing for readership with the party’s official mouthpiece, Mololi, kept the Pakalitha Mosisili-led LCD government on its toes.

Son of Khotso Matla, a long-serving Lesotho cooperative movement officer who later became an assistant minister responsible for cooperative societies, Matla was well known among LCD followers.
For years his influence in the party’s youth league was felt throughout its branches even though he held no official position.

He was a self-appointed organiser and was successful at it until he left in 2011 to focus on business.
When the newspaper closed shop due to lack of revenue in 2010 after being in circulation for only two years, Matla changed focus – from party politics to the economics of agriculture.

He started the Silo magazine, which is being edited by his wife ’Madoka from mid last year, as he ventured into the animal feed business.
The Silo is Lesotho’s only publication dedicated to agriculture reporting after Mohoma-Temeng, owned by the Ministry of Agriculture, folded.
Matla, who was also a wool farmer, gained more admirers for his leading role in the fight against the government’s controversial wool and mohair sale policy.

For the past four years Matla had been a self-appointed coordinator of wool and mohair farmers countrywide, helping form a strong lobby group to force the government to change the infamous policy.
The farmers put tremendous pressure on the government until parliament set up a fact-finding mission, which led to the repeal of the much-loathed 2018 Wool and Mohair Regulations.

The lobby group included former MP, Rantelali Shea, a fiery and inquisitive backbencher for the LCD and later the All Basotho Convention (ABC).
It also included heavyweights in the wool farming sector such as former MP Khotsang Moshoeshoe, renowned veterinary doctor Mohlalefi Moteane, several principal chiefs and the now Mining Minister Serialong Qoo.
Shea said he already misses Matla.

“The man was a hard worker and he would ensure that whatever he started would be completed. Surely, we will miss him in the wool and mohair association,” Shea said.
“I first knew him when he was running the Mohala oa Ntsu newspaper and I remember his zeal as a party youth.”

Matla was born on March 27, 1977 at the Maluti Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Mapoteng in Berea.
He was the firstborn son of Khotso Matla and the late ’Malimpho Matla.
He attended primary school at St James in Maseru between 1982 and 1988, before going to Sefika High School in 1989 where he graduated with a Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC) in 1993.

He then joined the Lesotho Institute of Management Accountants (LIBS) from 1995 to 1996 and graduated with a Diploma in Management Accounting.
He furthered his studies at the Botswana Accountancy College from 1997 to 2000, graduating with a Diploma in Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

He helped found the Chartered Management Accountants of Lesotho (CIMA-SOL) and later the Economic Development Foundation (EDF).
Interested in journalism, he wrote for the Sowetan, a South African newspaper, and later Public Eye in Lesotho before shifting his focus to the LCD party.
He contributed to the writing of the Lesotho Evangelical Church of Southern Africa (LECSA)’s history book highlighting the Jubilee of 1833 to 2008.

He is survived by his wife of 15 years, ’Madoka Matla (nee ’Mina Makhetha) and their two sons, Doka and Matla.

Caswell Tlali

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