LESOTHO has failed to take full advantage of international economic opportunities that would have otherwise contributed massively to the growth of the country, says Sam Matekane, leader of the newly formed political party, Revolution for Prosperity.
March 25, 2022
3 min read
Lesotho has failed - Matekane
Leader of Revolution for Prosperity, Sam Matekane
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During the launch of his political party on Tuesday, Mr Matekane told a media briefing that some of the main challenges facing Lesotho included the poor performance of the textile and clothing industry and heavy reliance by government on outside sources of income.
Lesotho exports clothing and textiles mainly to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) agreement and receives a huge chunk of its budget from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) pool comprising Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia and Eswatini.
Mr Matekane said it was difficult to understand why the country’s currency, loti, was still pegged to the South African rand almost 60 years after independence.
“These are some of the things that the party will be looking at to transform if voted into power in the upcoming general elections later this year,” he said.
“With more than 20 years since the AGOA agreement with the US, we still have only one Mosotho business man who is able to exploit that market in the textile industry while all the benefits are enjoyed by foreigners.
“There are similar opportunities also in the European Union (EU), which allow us to export products duty free, but we are failing. That means we are a country that fails to take advantage of opportunities.”
AGOA is a United States (US) Trade Act enacted in 2000. The legislation significantly enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African countries.
The main attraction of AGOA is the duty-free and quota free access to the US market that least developed countries like Lesotho currently enjoy.
Only one local textile company, Afri-Expo textiles has taken a bold step to venture into the textile industry competing with other foreign companies.
Also, Mr Matekane said there were challenges surrounding diamond, water, wool and mohair industries in the country.
“If we can utilise these resources good enough, we can win the fight against hunger and poverty and improve our economy,” he added.
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He said his party would ensure good governance, rule of law, transparency and declaration of assets, adding that inclusiveness and equal opportunities to all would be priorities during his tenure.
Born 64 years ago in Mantšonyane in the rural district of Thaba-Tseka, Mr Matekane is a well-known business mogul in Lesotho rising to fame in the early 1990s when he registered the Matekane Group of Companies (MGC).
From there he went on to become one of the most successful business leaders in the country with investments in South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and India amongst others.
His business interests include property, aviation, mining and cannabis. He has won several local and international awards including Forbes.
Members of the newly formed Revolution for Prosperity include former Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) Governor, Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, former Minister of Finance, Tlohang Sekhamane, former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara, businessman Thabo Maretlane and communications specialist Nthati Moorosi among others.