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Mokeki’s road to stardom



MASERU – OFTEN, rookie actors feel anxious and sometimes even freeze at auditions early in their careers. But not Rantsatsi Mokeki. The 27-year old Roma-based ambitious actor says he aced it when he first appeared for auditions as a novice about five years ago.

“The problem was the actual acting,” he recalled. ” After my impressive tryouts, I was given roles that required me to flirt or to be intimate with beautiful women,” said Mokeki, himself a good looking young man.

“My heart rate would go up and I would start sweating and shaking to an extent that I would forget my instructions and lines on the script. A romantic role that involved dancing with a gorgeous woman almost made me want to call it quits,” Mokeki said.

This phenomenon is called caligynephobia or venustraphobia. It is the fear of beautiful women beyond the normal level of fear and an affected individual can have full-blown panic attacks or may embarrass themselves at the mere thought of meeting or talking to good-looking women.

Mokeki recalls a role to dance with Lineo Matlole, a model and an aspiring actress in a film titled “Thoughts” that was never released.

The dance required him to embrace the beautiful woman, chest to chest, and looking at each other closely in the eyes in a near kiss position.

Mokeki recalls being afraid to embrace Matlole during the dance.

“My hands were flying away from her body while she was confidently hugging me. I totally embarrassed myself on that day.”

“I was shaking and my knees were knocking against each other. I sweated profusely to an extent that my shirt had to be changed because I couldn’t use it for the next shoot. The shirt was dripping sweat,” Mokeki reminisced with a chuckle.

The director ended up giving him a lesser role because he could not cope with flirting with Matlole, the raving beauty of the cast.

However, Mokeki outgrew the fear of beautiful women with time and got roles in several other films locally and later had some stints with Rhythm City as an extra.

He is now directing a series running on Lesotho Television titled “Mali a Borena”.

Mokeki, a social worker by qualification from the National University of Lesotho (NUL), reckons he fell in love with acting at a very young age.

He said he started acting in small dramas at primary school and continued with the journey throughout his high school days.

After graduating from high school, he expressed his desire to pursue an acting career to his parents.

“They didn’t want to hear any of it. They viewed acting as an unstable job that would land me into poverty,” he recalled.

That was not a surprise given Mokeki’s upbringing. He grew up in a poor family where his parents could not afford to buy him new clothes and he had to rely on handouts from relatives and friends.

“Their fear that an acting career would keep the cycle of poverty marching unabated in the family, generation after generation, was justified. They wanted their son to go to university and find a job that would earn him a lot of money,” said Mokeki, who went on to study social work.

But the actor in him refused to die.

In his third year at university, Mokeki started sniffing for acting opportunities and he attended auditions for Our Times, a soap opera that ran on Lesotho Television for a short time but stopped because of lack of funds.
Mokeki did not succeed.

“But I knew that all I had to do was to audition a lot because doing one audition is not enough. I was only grateful that I got to experience what the auditions are.”

The next auditions, in which he impressed the directors were for Thoughts where he was to play a role of a boy from a wealthy family but had to switch roles because he could not cope with the role of flirting with beautiful young women.

“That was when I realised that an actor only celebrates when starting another new project not after shooting a first one.”

After graduating from university, Mokeki decided to give his all to the acting and film industry. “It has not been easy but I strived because I realised that I would’nt manage to balance formal work and doing film. So I chose not to look for any other job but to focus on film.”

It was at this time in 2020 when he went to South Africa to try his luck, and fortunately directors of Rhythm City spotted him and he was picked for minor roles.

Unfortunately Covid-19 struck and lockdowns were imposed, leaving him with no other means of survival.

Three months later he returned to Lesotho. Back home, Mokeki had to face another challenge.

A lot of people had seen him acting, albeit as an extra, in the Rhythm City soapie and they looked at him in high regard. They did not know that he was broke and had no idea of where or how to start to re-knit his life.

“I went to a rural village, hid there where people did not know me and could not associate me with anyone they saw on television,” he said.

He landed a job there looking after chickens.

“I knew I couldn’t hide forever, I had to face the challenges so I gave myself a timeline.”

A few months later when he went back to his home someone introduced him to Aubrey Silinyana, a South African film producer who spearheads the annual Moshoeshoe I Film Festival.

Silinyana gave him a job as a coordinator for the festival and a host for workshops about film making.

“This is when I revived my passion for film and acting.”

Silinyana took him to various places in South Africa, including an annual film festival in Rustenburg.

“I learned more about acting, directing, and cinematography,” he said of the experience.

It is during this time when he was still working with the Moshoeshoe Film Festival crew that he was approached by ’Mateboho Production to direct Season Two of Mali a Borena.
He is currently filming Season Three of the same project.
“The fact that I am working with people who are older than me was a bit of a challenge at first but I am happy that they respect me as their director,” he said.

“I am enjoying the process because at the end of the day we see progress.”

His film coordinating jobs, he says, exposed him to many things and gave him experience despite his young age.

He also worked on a project in eSwatini as a producer and has rubbed shoulders with industry gurus such as Jerry Mofokeng.

At the Eswatini Project, he also got a gig as a cast coordinator for the day-to-day filming.

“I learned so much from them because it was one of the biggest production companies around and I cherished the opportunity.”

With his recently founded Bert Films company, Mokeki believes he is now “in a position where I can start producing movies of my own”.

“I want something greater, that is why I am hoping that in the next few years my company will be up and running in collaboration with my fellow filmmakers,” he said.

He admits that acting comes with a fair share of challenges “but with dedication and support from others one can make it in the industry”.

“It requires patience and dedication,” he said.

Mokeki believes Lesotho’s topography is so good that given enough attention and investment “we can equal the Hollywood scenario”.

Mpolai Makhetha

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MP defies party, backs opposition



MOHLOMINYANE Tota, the only MP for the United for Change (UFC), has defied the party’s order to stop voting with the opposition in parliament.
Tota, the UFC’s deputy leader, told thepost this week that he will vote, guided by his own conscience, and not the party’s instructions.

His defiance comes after the party publicly chastised him for voting with the opposition in parliament.
A fightnight ago, Tota angered his party when he sided with the opposition to vote against the government’s motion to continue discussing the reforms’ Omnibus Bill despite that it was being challenged in the Constitutional Court.

The government however won with 57 votes against the opposition’s 50.
The UFC issued a statement reprimanding Tota for defying its decision to always vote with the government.
But Tota told thepost this week that he was unfazed by the party’s warning.

“I will continue to vote with the opposition where need be, and I will also vote with the government where need be,” Tota said.
He said he respects the party’s position but “I also have a right to follow my conscience”.

This, he added, is because “it is not mandatory for an MP to toe the party line even when his conscience does not allow it”.
He said whether he will vote with the government or the opposition will depend “on the issue on the table”.
He said his conscience would not allow him to vote with the government on the Omnibus Bill motion.

“It was wrong,” Tota said.
“I will do the same again given another chance.”

Tota’s response comes three days after the UFC issued a statement distancing itself from his stance in parliament.
The party said its national executive committee had an urgent meeting over the weekend to discuss Tota’s behaviour.
It said its position is to always support Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s coalition government.

“‘The issue has caused a lot of confusion in the party and among Basotho at large,” the statement reads.

The party also said Tota did not bother to inform the national executive committee about his decision so that he could get a new mandate.

“He did not even inform the committee before voting,” the statement reads.
“The national executive committee held an intensive meeting with Tota about the matter because the purpose of the party is to support the government,” it reads.
The UFC said where the government goes wrong “the party will continue to confront it with peace and not with a fight” (sic).

“We have confidence in the current government because it was voted in by Basotho.”
The UFC’s statement makes it clear that the party “will not support anything against the government”.

Nkheli Liphoto

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Inside plot to oust Matekane



THE plot to topple Prime Minister Sam Matekane thickened this week amid allegations of brazen vote-buying ahead of the opposition’s planned vote of no-confidence.

The opposition is said to be ready to push out Matekane when parliament reopens sometime in September. They accuse Matekane’s government of incompetence, nepotism, corruption and using the security forces to harass opposition MPs.

But as the lobbying and touting of MPs reaches fever pitch, there are now allegations of each side using bribes to secure votes crucial in the vote to remove the government.
Democratic Congress leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, this week accused the government of bribing its MPs to defeat the motion against Matekane.

Mokhothu, who made the allegations at the opposition’s press conference yesterdday, did not give further details or names of those bribed and those bribing.
But on Monday, the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) MP, Puseletso Lejone, told thepost that Mokhothu offered him a M2.2 million bribe to support the opposition’s motion to upend the government.

Lejone said Mokhothu made the offer at a secret meeting, attended by almost all opposition leaders on August 14, at Monyane Moleleki’s house in Qoatsaneng.
The Thaba Moea MP said the leaders claimed that 60 MPs were supporting the motion against Matekane and wanted his vote to make it 61.

“The money was to come directly from Mokhothu,” Lejone said.
“They asked me to provide them with my bank account so that they could transfer the money.”
Mokhuthu denied the allegations, saying he wondered if Lejone “was smoking socks”.

Lejone repeated the same allegations on the sidelines of yesterday’s press conference where Matekane assured Basotho that his government has enough numbers to fend off the opposition’s attempt to push him out.
He said apart from Moleleki and Mokhothu, other political leaders who attended the meeting were Lekhetho Rakuoane, Machesetsa Mofomobe, Nkaku Kabi, Professor Nqosa Mahao, Teboho Mojapela, Tefo Mapesela and Tšepo Lipholo.

He said the leaders gave him a document showing that six RFP MPs had pledged to support the vote of no confidence. Lejone however refused to name the RFP MPs, saying he still wants them to remain in the ruling party.
He said four MPs from parties in the RFP-led coalition had signed.

They are Mohlominyane Tota (UFC), Reverend Paul Masiu (BAENA), Mokoto Hloaele (AD) and Motlalepula Khahloe (MEC).
The deal, Lejone said, was that Mokhutho would become prime minister and be deputised by Dr Mahali Phamotse.
He said the RFP’s faction was going to be rewarded with 10 ministerial seats for their role in toppling Matekane.
Nearly all the political leaders mentioned by Lejone denied attending the meeting at Moleleki’s house.

“By the living God, I have never been in a meeting with that man (Lejone),” Mokhothu said, adding that Lejone’s allegations are “defamatory”.

Mahao said he last visited Moleleki’s house, which is up the road from his, 22 years ago. Mofomobe said Lejone is lying about the meeting because he wants to curry favour with Matekane, whom he had been criticising for months.
Mofomobe said all his meetings with Lejone were at the BNP Centre and their agenda was toppling Matekane.

“We were discussing his (Matekane) incapability to rule this country,” Mofomobe said.

Rakuoane and Mapesela said they have never been to Moleleki’s house.
So did Kabi who implied that Lejone could have smoked something intoxicating “to talk about a meeting that never happened”.
Lipholo, Rev Masiu, and Tota said they were not at that meeting while Moleleki said he had “no comment”.

Staff Reporter

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Matekane abusing state agencies, says opposition



THE opposition has accused the government of weaponising security agencies to harass and intimidate their MPs.
The accusations come as the opposition plots to push a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Sam Matekane when parliament re-opens in September.

Opposition leaders told a press conference yesterday that the government has resorted to using the army and the police against its MPs because it is afraid of the motion.
Democratic Congress (DC) leader, Mathibeli Mokhothu, said the security bosses have been willing tools for the government because their bosses are desperate for Matekane to renew their employment contracts.

He was talking about Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli, army boss Lieutenant General Mojalefa Letsoela and National Security Service (NSS) boss Pheello Ralenkoane.

“Employment contracts for the security agencies’ bosses are the ones causing these problems because the commanders end up working towards pleasing the government for their contract extension,” Mokhothu said.

He said the army has also started setting up roadblocks closer to parliament to search MPs. Mokhothu said the army searched Nkaku Kabi and Advocate Lebohang Maema KC at the parliament premises last week.

“The government is now bringing back the security agencies into party politics,” Mokhothu said.
“This was the first time the army entered the parliament premises to search members and other people there. It is an embarrassment.”
“The responsibility of our soldiers is to guard the borders and ensure security, not to enter politics or set up roadblocks on the parliament roads.”
“They are now running the country like a shop or a company.”

Basotho National Party leader, Machesetsa Mofomobe, alleged that Matekane had a meeting with the security bosses in Teya-teyaneng to discuss how they could use their institutions to clip the opposition’s wings.

“The LDF, LMPS and NSS boss’s contracts have expired, and now they are using the institution to get extensions,” Mofomobe said.
“The LDF and LMPS are doing this deliberately to protect the government.”
thepost could not independently verify this allegation.

Tefo Mapesela, the Basotho Progressive Party leader, said Matekane’s government is taking Lesotho back to 2014 when the army was wooed into politics.
He warned that officers who allow themselves to be used as pawns in political fights might find themselves in jail while their political handlers enjoy freedom.
He referred to Lieutenant General Tlali Kamoli who has been in remand prison for seven years as he faces charges of murder, attempted murder and treason.
Mapesela however said the opposition will not be intimidated because it is their democratic right to bring a motion of no confidence against the government.

“When there is time to enter a motion of no confidence it is time, it is written in the law, there is nothing wrong there,” Mapesela said.
“I once launched a motion of no confidence in the previous parliament, but I was never arrested or threatened.”

“We do not owe Matekane anything. When the time has come he has to go. We will lobby others as it is not a crime.”

The Basotho Action Party’s Nqosa Mahao criticised the police for issuing a press statement with political undertones.

In a controversial statement last week, Commissioner Molibeli said the police were aware that some MPs were coercing their colleagues to support their plot to topple the government.
Molibeli also said they were aware that such MPs were surrounding themselves with armed groups.

“Police warn those perpetrating these acts to stop immediately to avoid action that could be taken to protect the country,” Molibeli said.

Matekane made the same allegations at his press conference yesterday.
Professor Mahao said the statement shows that the police have now been entangled in politics.

“Every time parties experience internal problems the leaders conspire with the security agencies,” he said.
“The opposition leaders are now being harassed because the government wants to stop them from exercising their rights.”

The opposition’s charge sheet against Matekane

  •  Filling of statutory positions despite the reforms aiming to change the system.
  • Corruption
  • Nepotism
  • Using security agencies to deter MPs from ousting Matekane.
  • Job losses.
  • Lack of job creation.
  • Failure to fulfil campaign promises.
  • Protecting mining companies’ interests at the expense of Basotho.
  • Incompetence and lack of communication skills.
  • Arrest of MPs by the police.
  • Cherry-picking reforms that insulate his government.

Staff Reporter

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