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All set for Matekane’s big day

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa.

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…Ramaphosa, other world leaders and dignitaries jet in

Hopolang Mokhopi

All roads will tomorrow lead to Setsoto Stadium for the inauguration of incoming Prime Minister, Sam Matekane.

Outgoing Government Secretary, Lerotholi Pheko, did not respond to inquiries from the Lesotho Times regarding the foreign guests who will be attending tomorrow’s inauguration yesterday. However, this publication has established that South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, will attend the ceremony.

In a statement this week, South African Presidential Spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya said, “Attending the inauguration will provide President Ramaphosa with the opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister-elect on his electoral success and the people of the Kingdom for conducting successful elections. The visit to Lesotho will also cement relations with the Kingdom Lesotho and its new leadership”.

The United States government also released a statement, saying its President Joe Biden will be represented at the event by a team led by the CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Alice Albright.

Others on the US team are US Ambassador to Lesotho, Maria Brewer; Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, Loyce Pace and Paula Tufro, the Special Assistant to the President. Ms Tufro also serves as Senior Director for Development, Global Health and Humanitarian Response.

The choice of Ms Albright to head the US delegation is a show of confidence in Lesotho which only signed a lucrative US$300 million deal with the US in May this year for a second compact under the MCC to fund various economic projects. This after a long wait from 2015 when the US refused to approve a second compact due to concerns about human rights abuses under the then Pakalitha Mosisili-led government. Lesotho got the first compact grant worth US$362, 6 million (about M3 billion) back in 2007. It was used to fund various projects to reduce poverty and spur economic growth.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be represented by his Foreign Affairs Minister, Frederick Shava, and the Ambassador to South Africa and Lesotho, David Hamadziripi.

Rwandan Prime Minister, Edouard Ngirente, is another leader who is expected to attend.

Mr Matekane’s daughter-in-law, Mamotake Matekane, said on social media that Botswana’s President, Mokgweetsi Masisi, will be at the event.

Ms Matekane said some of Africa’s richest business people, namely, Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote and South Africa’s Patrice Motsepe, would also be in attendance.

Meanwhile, Mr Matekane this week said in a brief interview with the Lesotho Times that his government would hit the ground running to tackle various socio-economic challenges confronting the country.

“On Friday (tomorrow), we are going to announce what we are going to do in our first 100 days,” Mr Matekane said.

“But let us get into the office first and see how broke the government is. We all know that it is broke but to what extent, we don’t know yet. That is what we will have to find out. We will have to cut on our expenditure. When we get in, we will examine everything to see where we can cut but definitely there will be a lot of cuts in many places so that we can start afresh,” he added.