By: Theko Tlebere
No so long ago, a new political party was born in Lesotho led by the Mining magnate Ntsokoane Sam Matekane. Even though to many, Matekane’s stance to form a political party came as a tremor, the reality is that after engaging in so many corporate and social responsibility(CSR) activities he is has now become one of the many political leaders in Lesotho. Today I want us to closely look at the business contour and principles of Matekane, then juxtapose if he can be able to bring the same principles into the politics of Lesotho. Our aim is not to sing praises for Matekane, but rather I want us to focus on only the good things we can get out of the induction of Matekane into our politics. We shall still have time to discuss the Toms and Jerrys that he has tagged along but for this particular piece I want us to unfold the kind of revolution a business man of Matekane’s caliber can bring for us as a nation.
I should confess from the beginning that even though my point of contention is about business principles being brought into the political arena, business principles are not the same as political principles. But that thin line there between the two, which is about what business acumen can be replicated into our politics is what I want us to explore. The problem I am trying too hard to solve in this plethora is what we call outcome based thinking. I have realized that the way we politic since the evolvement of Matekane into politics is that we skip straight to the ending we envisage, we argue for that and everyone who doesn’t want the same must be evil, stupid or both or must be bitter. Hence I want us to start the conversation in a defined conceptualized place.
A simple dictionary meaning for business acumen is that, “it is a combination of knowledge and skill informed by experience: knowledge about key business issues, the skill to apply that knowledge, and the confidence to take action informed by past experiences”. Allow me to further divulge a simplified definition that further unpacks what business acumen translates to. Business acumen according to Elgood, “is the ability to take a ‘big picture’ view of a situation, to weigh it up quickly, make a logical, sound decision confidently, and influence others to agree with you in order to have a positive impact towards achieving the objectives of the organization”. The combination of the above definitions is the line of thinking that I want us to embark on as we dichotomize the mining magnate Matekane. Having listened to the long business profile of Matekane I was actually impressed, and thought to myself can he run his farm or his any other business in the same way he will run this country? Remember I said business principles are different from political principles but can we really apply business acumen in politics? Let alone the politics of Lesotho?
Some of the questions I have asked earlier have answers from many Basotho inclusive of myself, but what is most critical is that bringing a business mogul into politics should be argued even from the point of timing. I don’t know if you have ever thought about how the situation would be if Matekane wanted to come into politics because his businesses have failed like many others have done in Lesotho and across the world. The point I am bringing home is that the timing of Matekane was splendid given the fact that he comes into politics while his business acumen is at its peak. How will Basotho benefit from having a successful business man joining politics? The idea is not to have Matekane finance the government affairs with his own money, but rather we are hoping his ability to ‘take a big picture view of a situation’ will bring change even to the nature and stature of our politics. Furthermore, his presence just when we are a few months away from elections, will come handy to neutralize the arrogance and pompousness of our politicians.
Will six months be enough for Matekane to employ his business acumen in building support for his party, and maneuvering the political setups of Lesotho? The answer to this question can be adequately responded to by Matekane himself, or his cadres who have a full version of where the new baby is going. But what is worrying most about that kind of phenomenon is that I don’t think Matekane has a business that is six months old and has reached its success peak. What I am saying is that in the six months left I don’t see any formidable changes to our political arena, well I can’t say much about in the long run, but my understanding is that if Lesotho was a business, or let me say if Revolution for Prosperity(RFP) was a new business venture Matekane was embarking on, he would know that he needs more time than six months to make it a formidable party to reckon with.
Can the RFP comrades allow Matekane to bring his business acumen in building their party? Yes they can, but will they do that? The vibe amongst Basotho about the formation of RFP is on another level recently, with everyone except me and others leaving their parties to join the Matekanes. While it’s a score to have more people joining your party, it may also pose serious threats’ towards Matekane’s stature of pulling through his business acumen into the politics of his party. The variety that RFP is bestowed with, is one element that should not be taken for granted, especially with the larger portion of the party members being business people. It may or may not be easy for Matekane to employ his business acumen with his fellow business junkies having a full understanding of what RFP stands for.
Let’s conclude by categorically imparting to you that the bottle necks Matekane will face in his new political life will be way beyond his business knowledge and experience. Politics is not rocket science, just like the rest of the politicians who woke up and formed political parties, Matekane is special in his own way because he comes at a time when Basotho were reluctant or some had even decided to boycott elections. But due to his business acumen he will bring a new varied political dimension in Lesotho which I personally think Lesotho needs. Whether Matekane is the Moses of Lesotho is a debate for another day, what is critically essential is having to accept his presence and accommodate his involvement with a clearly manifested hope of political revolution. The future is Now!