Africa-Press – Lesotho. FROM an early age, ’Matiisetso Matsie served people at the chief’s place in her Taung constituency without any remuneration. “The chief would always assign me to sign some documents and letters for the people in my village of Linareng, Taung.
I just did it voluntarily and wholeheartedly,” reminisced Matsie. Little did she know that the service was paving a way for a life of future public service.
Years down the line, Matsie was elected as a community councillor in the Taung constituency on a Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party ticket. That was way back in 2005 when local government elections were first introduced in the country.
“I won uncontested,” she recalled, adding that she wanted to break barriers that women could not lead.
But it was her interaction with Gender Links Lesotho that opened her eyes to the evils of Gender Based Violence (GBV). “Gender Links trained me about women’s rights.
I shared the knowledge I got from the training with other women in my area to enlighten them about the scourge,” she said. Narrating her journey into politics, Matsie says it was a cumbersome one filled with serious difficulties.
As a youth, she was a loyal supporter of the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) under the leadership of the late Dr Ntsu Mokhehle. This means she grew up in “Congress Movement” politics.
At that time, only the BCP and the Basotho National Party (BNP) were the major political parties. “My parents were staunch supporters of the congress movement so I followed them,” Matsie said.
With teary eyes and her voice drowning out during the interview, Matsie recalled how her father used to flee their home to hide in South Africa because of persecution by his political opponents.
“His BNP rivals were the ones targeting him. They wanted to see him dead. But he always escaped death from his blood-thirsty opponents,” recalled Matsie.
Matsie says she used to hide with her father in remote areas in the country and sometimes they would skip the country’s borders. “This frustrated my efforts to further my studies because I was always on the run.
I skipped classes and joined my father on the run. I could not separate with my father as I always wanted to be in his company,” she recalled. She recalls attending political rallies with her father where they would dance to the BCP’s songs with no shame or fear of judgment as a young girl.
“I could dance triumphantly like a warrior in a war. At the time, I was dancing to BCP songs with the likes of Mootsi Lehata. Lehata was still young at the time. We were both BCP youths,” Matsie says.
As a public representative now, Matsie is dedicated to serving her community. But she had to be persuaded to contest elections. Because of her massive contribution to developmental projects in her constituency, Matsie was approached by various political parties to join them.
But she declined the offers, until 2020 when the Democratic Congress (DC) approached her and she accepted the offer. “I was approached by the bigwigs in the DC,” Matsie said, putting on her new party regalia red colour.
However, she cannot tell why she joined the DC. One thing she is sure about is her mission to advance the cause of women. “Women are the ones who go to the polls in large numbers, yet they do not vote for other women.
It is difficult to understand why they elect men, instead of fellow women into power. ” She says this is the issue that women have to take into consideration so that laws and policies that are made in parliament can suit them.
Matsie said most women in Lesotho are not aware of the laws that affect them and as a result they miss out. “Some women do not even know that some laws have been amended and they can get loans from the banks unassisted by men,” said Matsie, who was elected MP for Taung in the 7 October general elections on the ticket of the DC.
Previously, the constituency was won by the All Basotho Convention (ABC). She said the victory will help her intensify her fight against GBV, adding that she wants to dismantle a cultural norm in Lesotho that views men as better leaders than women.
To achieve this, Matsie said she is not going to be confined to her Electoral Division (ED) of Linareng. “I am going to push for women and girl rights across the whole constituency,” Matsie said.
The energetic MP has also contributed a lot in empowering women to be financially stable by helping them establish piggery projects in the area. “They need to generate income that could at least ease their financial stress.
Women should strive to be financially independent and be able to fight for their rights,” said Matsie. Taung is one of the poorest constituencies in the country.
The road network is bad and water supply is very limited. Only a few homes have been electrified in the constituency. Matsie said there have been cases of people being swept away by raging rivers because there are no bridges in the area.
High unemployment and poverty in the area also have to be addressed, she said. “What makes me popular in the area is that I understand everybody and I give them time to tell their story,” she said.
Of the memories from her youth that still remains in her mind is how the late Dr Ntsu Mokhehle used to visit her home in Linareng to discuss politics with her father.
“Whenever Dr Mokhehle came to Taung for political issues, he was received by my father. My father and Dr Mokhehle had strong political ties,” said Matsie. Matsie said she is “deeply in love” with agriculture.
She produces various crops for consumption, and also donates to the needy in her area, including those living with disability. To bring people together, she organises sports events in the area where all sections of the community would come together to celebrate.
She also loves horse racing, a sport that is associated with males. Because of the importance she attaches to education, Matsie helps some needy children in her area to further their studies.
“Some of the children I helped have made it to university,” said the mother of six, adding that she views education as a key to success and poverty alleviation.
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