Africa-Press – Lesotho. LOSING primary elections in her Matala constituency ahead of the 7 October elections did not discourage Movement for Economic Change (MEC) deputy leader, Tsépang Tsíta-Mosena.
As fate would have it, she was thrown a political lifeline recently when she made it to the 11th Parliament on her party’s Proportional Representation (PR) ticket.
She defied the odds on 25 October when she was elected deputy Speaker unopposed, giving hope to aspiring female politicians and her peers that women can also excel at the highest level.
Ms Tsíta-Mosena becomes the fourth female presiding officer of the august house. She comes after Lebohang Ramohlanka who was elected deputy speaker of the 10th Parliament in July 2020.
Before then, there was long-serving Speaker, Ntlhoi Motsamai. The former Hlahloeng constituency MP served under then Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) government in the 5th Parliament between 1999 and 2002.
Ms Motsamai went on to serve in the 6th Parliament (2002-2007) and the 7th Parliament (2007-2012) respectively. She bounced back to preside over the 9th Parliament under Mr Mosisili’s 2015-2017 seven-party coalition government.
She had succeeded the late former Speaker, Teboho Kolane, whom she had deputised from 1996. The new deputy speaker, Ms Tšita-Mosena is a twin sister born in 1977 and bred in Maseru.
She went to Iketsetseng Primary School before proceeding to ‘Mabathoana High School. After that, she enrolled with the National University of Lesotho (NUL) where she did Computer Science and Physics.
She later joined the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) as an intern in 1997. She got an opportunity in 2000 to work for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) for eight years in Paris, France, when she was 23.
That’s when she pursued her Masters in Development Management. After obtaining her post-grad, she resigned and came back home because “I wanted to deepen my roots and help develop the country”.
After returning home, she started a company called BAM Foundation, with her twin sister, Ntšepeng Tšita Tikiso. After years of running the company, she decided to take a break.
That is after she was approached by MEC leader, Selibe Mochoboroane, when he formed the party a few months before the 2017 elections. She became the Communications and Marketing Secretary in the party’s national executive committee (NEC) and went to parliament via a PR ticket.
But she soon discovered that her new chosen field was a different ball game altogether. “I was shocked to learn that politics is nothing compared to business.
It’s a different world. I had a serious culture shock,” she said. “But it all depends on your emotional intelligence and how you deal with different situations.
Besides being in business, I am also a motivational speaker. So, I had to apply all these skills that I acquired over the years to succeed. I have also told myself to be brave and confident.
” Her exposure in business and her travels across the world also helped immensely. She believes it is this background that made Mr Mochoboroane invite her to join MEC after he left LCD.
“I was initially not sure whether to take the plunge because I never really liked politics.
But my passion to drive business and push through legislation aimed at empowering women motivated me to join politics,” she told the Lesotho Times in a recent interview.
Ms Tsíta-Mosena said she has found parliament a totally different environment where one is compelled to learn through reading and extensive research in order to contribute meaningfully.
Her dedication to her role as an MP in the 10th Parliament has not gone unnoticed. She became the vice president of the SADC Parliamentary Forum. “Having been in parliament since June 2017, I can safely say I am now a seasoned MP.
I also appreciate the confidence SADC MPs from other countries in the region had in me by electing me vice -president of the SPF Council. It is an honour,” she said.
She also takes pride in proposing in parliament a motion seeking to protect businesses owned by indigenous Basotho. This resulted in the Business Licensing and Registration Act, 2019.
Her argued that although there were policies already in place stipulating which businesses were reserved for natives, allowing naturalised foreigners to operate businesses that indigenous Basotho are into would be a recipe for disaster.
Ms Tsíta-Mosena also hails the passing of the Land Act of 2010 that allows women to own land without their husbands or male guardians’ approval. They can now also open bank accounts without seeking permission from their spouses.
She further prides herself as one of the female leaders who have defied stereo-types and proven that women can drive the nation in various spheres including business and politics.
She urged Basotho women to realise their potential and understand that they do not need to seek permission from anyone to claim their space in driving the nation.
“Due to social constructs, women are failing to tap into their potential. Existing social structures obstruct women to the extent that some end up believing that they need permission to claim their space in leadership.
“On the other hand, we have this environment where men are seen as the only epitome of leadership. But the time has come for women to claim their space so that young girls can see them as their role models and emulate them.
For instance, when you open a newspaper, the first picture you see is that of a man, their voices are all over adverts and when you talk of leaders, it’s always men in the forefront.
“That on its own discourages women. They believe that the forefront is reserved for men to own. Women have barriers that are rooted, which we need to uproot because we can say we can now claim our space.
That’s why empowerment is still necessary; it is a platform through which women can demonstrate that they have it in them but that they need space to unleash their potential.
We need that balance, which sadly is not there yet,” said Ms Tsíta-Mosena. Although her appointment as deputy speaker has been well received by many, Lesotho still has a long way to go in increasing women’s representation in politics.
The country has in the last three decades ratified important global and regional gender-based protocols. It also came up with policies to address gender inequality and to increase women’s representation in politics.
Despite the country’s 95 percent female literacy rate, the implementation of gender protocols, mainstreaming of national policies, quotas, adoption of political party zipper/zebra list, women earn only 30,9 percent of the national income.
They also make up only 24,2 percent of MPs, while female ministers constitute only 22 percent in the Cabinet. Furthermore, the level of women representation in parliament fails to meet the minimum threshold of 30 percent set by the Beijing Plan of Action and the 50 percent recommended by the African Union.
According to a UN Women report, as of September 19, 2022, women’s share of parliamentary membership worldwide is only an estimated 26 percent, up from 11 percent in 1995.
This is despite that women outnumber men in most countries, including Lesotho. The report further cautions that at the current rate of progress, gender parity in national legislative bodies would not be achieved before 2063 in UN member states.
“Women’s equal participation and leadership in political and public life are essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal by 2030.
However, data shows that women are underrepresented at all levels of decision-making worldwide, and that achieving gender parity in political life is far off,” UN Women says.
Most countries are yet to attain the global agreed quota of 30 percent women representation and Lesotho is no exception. Men still have advantages over women in all socio-economic and political spheres.
Patriarchy, cultural norms, customs, religious practices; and both normative and structural discriminatory practices are some of the factors that perpetuate gender inequality and mitigate empowerment, especially of women and girls, the UN agency says.