SOME people in Lesotho are completely opposed to the idea of Jason Shao, a Chinese-born businessman, who is a naturalised Mosotho running for Parliament in the country’s general elections scheduled for October 7.
Sept. 22, 2022
3 min read
Basotho not keen to see Shao as lawmaker
Chinese businessman, Jason Shao
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The Chinaman has promised to create numerous job opportunities in Lesotho if he is elected as a lawmaker.
Shao who is contesting as an independent candidate has been a naturalised citizen of Lesotho since 2006.
The foreign national is representing Basotho Pele, a development organisation whose main objective is to bring change to Basotho.
The organisation is based in Maseru, but promises wide-ranging changes in sectors across the nation, including sports and agriculture.
Shao is hoping, therefore, that his policies – and not his background – will do the talking for him during this election campaign.
But the disgruntled members of the public contend that it is inappropriate for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to have allowed Shao to register as an elections candidate.
They contend that the Constitution of Lesotho clearly stipulates that anyone contesting for elections should know how to read and write Sesotho and English as the two official languages in the country.
They further argue that although he is now a citizen of Lesotho, he is however, not a fully-fledged Mosotho and can therefore not participate in serious issues of the country such as the general elections.
They reason that similar behavior would not be tolerated in Shao’s own country of origin, China.
“If Mr Shao stands for elections, Lesotho would be opening a can of worms for other Chinese people to own everything they want and eventually take over the country,” one of the people said on condition of anonymity.
Another man, Lehlohonolo Ramokoatsi charged that Lesotho had turned into a Banana State where there are no laws and people do as they please, adding that was why Shao had the audacity to stand for the country’s polls.
“The IEC should not have let him register in the first place, after all, his own country cannot allow any naturalised citizen to run for the presidency,” he said.
Sharing similar sentiments was Libuseng Thokoa, who argued that because Lesotho is a democratic country does not mean that 'foreigners' should get equal privileges to Basotho.
“Otherwise we are going to turn this country into a mini-China,” she said.
Unveiling his manifesto last week at a rally in Ha Tsolo on the outskirts of Maseru, Shao said he is looking to achieve something no other overseas national has ever managed in Lesotho before.
The Chinese businessman decided to try his hand at politics – in a bid to become the country’s first foreigner elected as an MP.
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What previously seemed like a tall order for Shao has started to look more achievable in the past few weeks.
What’s more, Shao wants the people of Lesotho to ‘produce and manufacture’ more of their own goods – and he believes that an advancement in local technology is needed to create a more sustainable future.
His message, it seems, is starting to cut through.
He has given several campaign speeches within the past few weeks, and he has until October 7 to convince Basotho that they can trust him with their vote.
The road ahead is not straightforward for the blossoming politician, though: There are a total of 65 political parties that are contesting 120 Parliamentary seats.
In all, 80 are delegated as constituency seats, and 40 are delegated to ‘Proportional Representation’ votes.
He has also brought the very Republic of South Africa into the mix. On more than one occasion, Shao has spoken about reducing Lesotho’s reliance on South Africa – despite the nation being completely enclaved by the RSA. – LeNA/The South African/Metro