Africa-Press – Lesotho. A DAY after it was announced that the Sam Matekane-led Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) had won 56 out of 80 seats in the 7 October general election, its leadership began courting other parties to form a governing coalition.
It needed coalition partners because its 56 seats were five short of the 61 required to form government. One of these parties courted by the RFP was the Socialist Revolutionaries (SR) led by the flamboyant businessman, Teboho Mojapela.
But when a press conference to announce the coalition was held at the RFP’s Mpilo Boutique offices in Maseru, the SR was not among the chosen ones. Instead, it emerged that the RFP had chosen to get into bed with Monyane Moleleki’s Alliance of Democrats (AD) and Selibe Mochoboroane’s Movement for Economic Change (MEC).
This week, the Lesotho Times (LT) Special Projects Editor, Bongiwe Zihlangu, sat down with Adv Mojapela to find out what went wrong. Excerpts: LT: It has been said that your party was supposed to be part of the incoming government led by the RFP, alongside the AD and the MEC but you were left out.
What really happened? TM: When the 7 October election results were being announced by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) at the Manthabiseng Convention Centre, my people gave me Ntate Lebona’s number (Lebona Lephema, the RFP’s incoming MP for Teyateyaneng and leader Sam Matekane’s right-hand man).
They told me that he wanted to talk to me as the RFP wanted the SR in the new government. We made an appointment and met after a few days. We discussed how I could become part of the new government.
Before the meeting, MEC leader, Selibe Mochoboroane, had relayed a message to me that Ntate Matekane would negotiate with him while Ntate Lephema would engage me.
From there, there was a lot of dilly-dallying on their part, but we eventually met at the MGC (Matekane Group of Companies) Park in Maseru. In the meeting were Messrs Lephema, RFP deputy spokesperson, Thabo Maretlane, and chairperson, Teboho Kobeli.
They said they would discuss a package to give to SR, acknowledging that I also brought a constituency to the table. They promised to get back to me and expressed their desire to work with SR.
Ntate Kobeli called me some days later to assure me that everything was going according to plan, that SR would be part of the new government. Then they called me on Monday, and I went to meet Ntate Maretlane and Ntate Kobeli at Avani Lesotho.
That is when they summersaulted and told me that they had nothing to offer me in cabinet. They said they could offer me something in the Senate and “elsewhere” for my people.
I realised that they were playful, so I suggested that we drop everything. I told them that they had been disinterested in us and that it had been apparent from the beginning.
LT: There are allegations that your talks with RFP collapsed after you demanded to be appointed Finance minister and that Revenue Services Lesotho be split into two wings.
What is your response to these claims? TM: It is a lie. The behaviour of these guys (RFP) is no different from that of Kobo-Tata (All Basotho Convention).
When you try to advise them, they create propaganda out of it. They peddle lies. I told them that I did not want to put them under pressure because they had already done a noble thing of reducing the size of the cabinet.
I told them that I could not pester them to appoint me a minister. I could even have settled for a deputy minister’s post. That way, I would feel respected and acknowledged. But my national executive committee (NEC) was against that.
They shot down the idea, saying if the RFP could not treat me the same way they did with Monyane Moleleki’s AD and Selibe Mochoboroane’s MEC, then I might as well abandon the whole thing.
I decided to listen to my NEC. If they didn’t feel comfortable, why would I pursue the matter further? Another lie being peddled was that Lephema went to Matekane to tell him that I turned down their offer to become a minister.
That’s a lie. It is very clear those RFP guys have got an agenda. They never intended to work with SR in the first place. What did they do? They went for the likes of Moleleki and Mochoboroane.
I can assure you now that I am going to show them that Lesotho is not a playground. They are not going to have a smooth ride. I am waiting for them to be sworn in as ministers.
Believe me, they will dump Moleleki and Mochoboroane. Mark my words. They will go and engage parties like Professor Nqosa Mahao’s Basotho Action Party (BAP) because they are not tainted. I don’t care if they don’t look my way.
Do you still recall how Ntate Moleleki publicly said that he had made Matekane a billionaire shortly after RFP was formed? Why would Matekane go for that same person who spoke ill of him? That behaviour shows you that they are turning Lesotho into a playground.
I am not going to allow that. We are going to protest that. Just wait and see. LT: Are you saying that the RFP’s intentions are not noble? TM: That is exactly what I am saying.
You don’t have to put on glasses to see that. Why would they say one thing and do another? Why run to the likes of Moleleki from the word go? They lack manners.
People think that I am either bitter or hate the RFP but that’s not the case. It’s nonsense. Basotho have made it clear that they want to be governed right.
RFP entered the political space with their helicopters and people followed them but now they think that we are stupid. They couldn’t be more wrong. I am still the same Mojapela who abhors corruption.
Look, the Molelekis and Matekanes of this world are birds of the same feather. We compromised saying, okay let’s settle for Matekane rather than working with Mathibeli Mokhothu’s Democratic Congress (DC).
But what does Matekane do? He gravitates towards Moleleki and Mochoboroane from the word go. What does that teach you? You cannot place me in the same category as those two.
This is despite that I am friends with Mochoboroane. I told them that whether they take me on board or not, it makes no difference. As long as I am in parliament, Lesotho shall never be the same again.
I mean business. LT: What are your plans once you get into parliament? TM: I have never been in parliament. I am yet to study how it works but I will make sure that they feel my presence and this will ensure that they (RFP) serve the Basotho nation with dignity.
They are wasting our time with Ntate Moleleki. He must go. He must just quit. LT: If you had become part of the new government, how then would you have co-existed with Ntate Moleleki?
TM: I never really gave it a thought because I am not there anyway. However, what I can tell you is these coalition partners are inviting our wrath. Look, they worked with Ntate Moleleki who was one of the people who enabled Matekane and his associates to loot this country’s monies.
Without equitable distribution of wealth, this country will never progress. This is because only a select few have access to resources while the majority go hungry and wallow in abject poverty.
The RFP want to work with the same team that enriched them before they came into politics. I told my NEC that the least RFP could have done was bring All Basotho Convention (ABC) leader, Nkaku Kabi, on board.
Indeed, Basotho had had enough with ABC’s shenanigans and incompetence but Kabi is still relatively new. It wasn’t under his administration that the party failed.
But Ntate Moleleki has been an active participant in all failed Lesotho governments. We have Prof Mahao who is new in Lesotho’s politics. Why didn’t Matekane take such new people instead of recycling old politicians? These people are so arrogant, stupid and inconsiderate.
I swear I have never met their kind before. How can they bring the change that Basotho voted for and turn this country’s fortunes around with these crooks who have been in every government? We are being taken for a ride. As long as Moleleki is part of the incoming government, I will not allow them to govern peacefully. I will protest until he is gone.