For the longest time the notion of politics has seemed to be a game wherein the feeble-minded yet brave enough to take on the bold step of actually taking up the position of leading an entire country’s affairs at the expense of those practically plating in the economic game.
It has been a case of those with an apparent know-how and means to navigate the economic maze entrusting the nation into the hands of those who only have a dream to lead. In other words, players in the economic game rely on those with a dare-devil mentality to craft and chart their way by creating laws and actually assuming the leadership role.
However, this week saw a different route being taken by those with means taking a bold step to say that it is time that they did things themselves and stop being gullible followers. This was epitomised when business tycoon and multi-millionaire Sam Matekane and a host of other affluent personnel inclusive of former technocrats unveiled a new political initiative to participate in the elections race ahead of the 2022 General elections.
Flanked by a hoard of fellow richmen and professionals in high places, Matekane announced the new political movement the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) in move to bring to the fore practical solutions to challenges that have bedevilled the country for so long. It challenges the notion of whether money can or will henceforth be the answer.
Analysts posit that it could be a repeat of the same script with players in higher places.
Political scholar and analyst, Thuso Mosabala feels that the new initiative will likely test the structures already at play for integrity.
“For me I think we cannot so much worry about whether Matekane’s wealth brings in unfair competition or not. The only unfair competition we should be worried about is whether or not parties in government will not misuse state resources for advancing their own campaign,” Mosabala said.
“Note that elections are nearing and we have an established bad tendency where a party and or parties in government misuse state resources for campaign, a tendency that is a major corruptive force in the electoral process, as it introduces or exacerbates power inequalities and gives unfair electoral advantage to incumbents,” he continued.
He said the trendy unbecoming tendency of political parties in government to using state resources for campaign can vastly compromise the integrity of an election, and reduce public trust in the legitimacy of the process and its outcomes.
“It drains limited funds available for development, infrastructure, or social welfare projects; let alone, conversely, that these projects may be launched around the campaign period to influence voters rather than being initiated when they are needed. That is what we should be worried about as tax payers,” he said.
“So Matekane’s wealth should not be a cause for concern in that regard. If anything, the National Assembly Electoral Act, 2011 has some sort of a containment measure to comfort those who may be worried. The Act provides for three types of political party funding, namely Political Party funding and Political Party Campaign Funding from Section 70 of the Act. The other type of funding can be considered as a party’s own initiative financing.
“With regard to its own financing, the law provides that Political parties are by law able to raise funding for their campaign. Section 70 (1) provides that for the purpose of financing its campaign, a political party registered with the Commission may raise donations from any person or organisation in or outside Lesotho,” he posits.
But the aforementioned right is not without regulations. The regulations of this particular funding are prescribed by Subsections 2 and 3 of Section 70. As the law dictates, Section 70 (2) provides that a source of funds or donations exceeding M200,000.00 or such amount as the Commission may, by notice published in the Gazette, determine, shall, within a period of 7 days of its receipt, be disclosed to the Commission by the Treasurer of the political party concerned.
He continued that Section 70 (3) states that Funds and donations shall be deposited into and elections expenses paid from the election account contemplated in section (24) (6) (k).
“Especially, there is nothing that prevents other parties to legally raise funding and compete with Matekane if they see him as a threat due to his wealth. They are at liberty to do that within the confines of the law,” he said, adding that it is still premature to say whether or not his venture into the political sphere is likely to mitigate corruption, nepotism and other political ills of the country.
He continued that although he has not seen the prominent characters in his party and the structure of his party, he believes the social ills in the country cannot be solved instantly as some are deeply rooted.
“I’m not aware of its actual structure. But some of the ills bedevilling the country are structural and cannot be solved overnight. In fact, almost all political parties have campaigned against corruption and all other ills you can think of, but it hasn’t been easy if not that there hasn’t been willingness to address them.
“Yes he is a very successful business person, but he enters into another environment that has very resistant systems. We will hear from his manifesto how he intends to address some of the things you mentioned, but it won’t be easy as some of these things are very deep rooted,” he says.
On the other hand, the Director of Development for Peace Education (DPE), Sofonea Shale says that the premise that the new guys are coming with millions and resources into the field is a bit shaky “… because we don’t know how committed they are going to utilise their resources in the new venture.”
He said the quick assumption would be that they would be using their resources to amass the support, if so; using the resources to reach out to the people is unfair as it may be deemed so.
“I think the biggest question wouldn’t be about fairness but what kind of contribution they are bringing, are they bringing any ideological, and when I say ideological I don’t mean in a conventional sense where it is Capitalists or Socialists Communist kind of understanding but a particular set of ideas of how Lesotho can be helped.
“But also a simplistic way of wanting to control power of how things are done could be seen as lack of ideology, so my critical question to override the fairness point is about the significance they are bringing and if they are bringing something that can be helpful to the people then it means even if they may outsmart other players it will then be subjective and relative.
“So the point of fairness will be based on whether unfair to other players then the answer is yes, but would it still be unfair if what they are bringing is for the benefit of the public, then I contest that it may not,” he said.
He continued that he would not put his cart before the horse when asked to comment on the point of whether his (Matekane) initiative may salvage the dwindling economy of the country he said it would be too early to say since in his first speech he had not touched on their manifesto and what they are going to do differently to bring different results.
He said the same sentiments in regard to the issue of corruption as almost all the political formations echo the same ideas.
“…It has taken things simplistically to the level where all of us can see the problems but have not given itself time to why are things this way, the ideological, conceptual and theoretical explanation of what we see.
“If we are to take the maiden speech of ntate Matekane, he does not say anything as to what the problem is. He is in the ordinary rhetoric of corruption, poor service delivery and self-centeredness,” he says, adding that up to now what he has said is simply what has been said by the other political parties that we have had.
Asked whether it would not be Matekane’s strategy to help himself and his clique to the public purse, he said “…I don’t know whether it would need him to go there directly or he could have done it through other ways.”
“I have heard through other responses that maybe he thinks his time is over and that he has been getting things unfairly and wrongly, well I don’t want to buy those stories.
“They are suggesting that there would be time when he wouldn’t get opportunities and they are also saying he has got opportunities because he has been linked somehow to previous political parties, may be people speak from experience and that wouldn’t be contested.
“I haven’t heard people talking about the support that he has been making because clearly like it or not his contribution has been distinct. His support has been very outstanding and if we could only define his coming into politics only in that way may be that would be inadequate.