Lesotho’s richest man gets political

The arrival of new political parties in Lesotho is commonplace — the country of about two million people has 53 of them. But Sam Matekane’s Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) may have more of a shot at reshaping the political landscape than most.

Matekane, reputed to be Lesotho’s richest man, is known for his extensive business and philanthropic endeavours, which may well propel Matekane’s RFP to the upper echelons of Lesotho’s politics this year.

The general elections in September were always going to be a watershed, considering Pakalitha Mosisili and Tom Thabane, the two men who served as prime minister from 2002 to 2020, have both retired. 

In January the race opened up even more with the splintering of the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC) into two factions. The sitting prime minister, Moeketsi Majoro, lost the ABC leadership battle to Nkaku Kabi, leaving the biggest party irrevocably split. 

The Lesotho populace has been souring on electoral politics over the past decade of political turmoil. Only 47% of the electorate voted in 2017 and fewer than half of Basotho surveyed in 2019 thought elections were the best way to choose leaders.

Matekane made his money in transport, construction, property and mining. He has built public visibility through charitable giving, ranging from new schools and sports fields to leading a private-sector effort to increase the supply of Covid-19 vaccines in Lesotho.

His party will soon show whether it has the organisational chops and staying power to win elections, but his reputation likely makes his new party an attractive option come September, to an electorate disillusioned by “politics as usual”.  

This article first appeared in The Continent, the pan-African weekly newspaper produced in partnership with the Mail & Guardian and designed to be read and shared on WhatsApp. Download your free copy here.

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John Aerni-Flessner
John Aerni-flessner
African History Michigan State U, RCAH. "Dreams for Lesotho." http://undpress.nd.edu/books/P03435 Tweet Lesotho, Southern Africa, development, borders, running
The Continent
The Continent is a free weekly newspaper published by the Adamela Trust in partnership with the Mail & Guardian.

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