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I have the best administrative experience to be PM: Mahao

… ‘no one in Lesotho matches me on that front’

BASOTHO Action Party (BAP) leader, Nqosa Mahao, has a long list of accomplishments under his belt.

Among others, the law expert has worked in academia as executive dean at various universities in neighbouring South Africa. He reached the academic pinnacle when he was appointed Vice Chancellor of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) in 2014. He however, did not seek the renewal of his contract when it expired in 2019. His mind had already been set on a political career.

Many would have been content with such an impressive record of service, taken their well-deserved benefits, purchased a horse and ridden off into the sunset. But not Professor Mahao.  Even before leaving NUL, he had already joined the cut-throat world of politics. Among others, he beat seasoned politicians like Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and former Defence and National Security Minister Prince Maliehe to land the post of deputy leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC). His victory was all the more remarkable because it was achieved in spite of then Prime Minister and ABC leader, Thomas Thabane’s opposition to his candidature. Derided as a “rag” and political greenhorn by Mr Thabane, Prof Mahao nonetheless soldiered on and won the right to be the ABC’s second in command at the party’s February 2019 electoral conference. He subsequently played a starring role in toppling Mr Thabane from the premiership in May 2020 and the subsequent establishment of the current governing coalition anchored by the ABC and the Democratic Congress (DC). He served as Law and Justice Minister under the Majoro-led coalition until his sacking in April 2020. He was fired after forming the BAP. Last week, he was officially confirmed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as the BAP candidate for the Koro-Koro constituency. He was confirmed alongside candidates for other parties. The Lesotho Times (LT)’s Special Projects Editor Bongiwe Zihlangu was on hand to witness the event. She interviewed Prof Mahao on the sidelines of the event about his prospects come the 7 October 2022 elections.


Mahao: I’m well satisfied. This satisfaction comes from the fact that the BAP has done very well to attract support since its formation. You’ll recall that the BAP was formed in April 2021. In just a year and four months, it has attracted a lot of support not only in Koro-Koro but throughout Lesotho. I’m convinced that Basotho have heard and embraced our message.

As the BAP, we are confident of winning the (Koro-Koro) constituency. Not only that, we are confident of winning the elections. We’ll emerge victorious and I’ll be the first prime minister from Koro-Koro.

LT: Koro-Koro is seemingly one of Lesotho’s neglected constituencies. There is hardly any development taking place and the roads are particularly bad. It looks desolate. What do you intend to do about that in the event that you win the elections?   

Mahao: You are absolutely right. Koro-Koro has been completely neglected. I would liken it to the biblical place where the devil took Jesus and tried to tempt him with promises of power and wealth if he (Jesus) betrayed God and worshipped him (devil) instead.

Koro-Koro could have been the agricultural hub of the country if we had a government that had its priorities right. With its fertile soils and abundant waters sources, it could easily feed the whole of Lesotho. There is no other explanation as to why this constituency is in such bad shape, save to say that it is a victim of chronic deficiency in leadership. But things are certainly going to change because Lesotho now has the BAP. We’ll provide the kind of strategic leadership needed to transform this place and the lives of Koro-Koro natives.

LT: We live in an era where none of the political parties have been able to achieve outright victories in the elections. Coalition governments have been the order of the day since 2012. Have you identified and engaged potential coalition partners to work with in the event that the 7 October polls fail to yield an outright winner? 

Mahao: No. We have deliberately decided to focus on our own election campaign for now. Soon after the polls, if there’s a hung parliament, we’ll begin our assessment of political parties to identify potential coalition partners. These must be parties whose guiding principles and visions match our own. Our guiding principles are fostering clean and good governance, the rule of law as well as an equitable and an inclusive economy.

Ours would then be to identify political parties that share this vision and we’ll begin negotiations with them for the formation of a coalition government.

LT: You have already boldly and unequivocally stated that you’ll be Lesotho’s next prime minister. What will top  your priority list in the event that you win power?

Mahao: The first thing would be ensuring proper administration. This is sorely lacking at the present moment. There is no good governance. Governance has collapsed. The public service has collapsed. The utilisation of the country’s resources is so bad. What the country needs is a person like me who has vast experience in administration to restore order.

No such person currently exists in Lesotho except me.

You’ll recall that I’ve been at the helm of administration at several institutions of higher learning. That experience is needed in government. I have led academics in different capacities. It has been said that ruling nations is like ruling wild cats. But academics are even worse wild cats. I have run and stabilised several institutions.

I have served as Executive Dean at the Mafikeng Campus of the North-West University and I later served as Executive Dean of the College of Law at the University of South Africa (Unisa).

I served as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at the Witwatersrand University. I also served as Pro-Vice Chancellor and later Vice Chancellor at the National University of Lesotho (NUL). Therefore, I have experience in administration and I can proudly state that no one measures up to me.

As I’ve already said, administration has been the weakest link in the development chain of Lesotho. I want to bring my experience to bear on governance. I will achieve good governance.

LT: By comparison, the BAP crowd which turned up to witness your official confirmation as the party candidate appeared bigger than that of the other parties’ candidates. What would you say to BAP members who turned up to support you?

Mahao: My message to them is that the day of reckoning is almost upon us. Victory is close. Let’s continue working very hard. Every man and woman must pull up their socks and put the remaining period to good use. I urge BAP supporters to go on door-to-door campaigns. We must continue drumming our message to the people because ours is the only political outfit which is capable of rescuing Lesotho. We are a nation that has lost its values. We need to rebuild Lesotho into a nation that upholds good values.

LT: What is your recipe for successful leadership?

Mahao: Working with people. I’ve developed the flair for it and it is one of the things that make my heart overflow with joy. I easily relate with people from all walks of life and that is why the BAP is growing in leaps and bounds.

My style of leadership is about being open, accessible and fair while sticking to the truth. I say it as it is and that is how it ought to be.

LT: Any parting remarks? 

Mahao: I want to congratulate fellow candidates from other political parties for earning the right to represent their followers in the upcoming elections. They should always bear in mind that this is democracy at play; it is a game. It is not a fight. We are not enemies. We are only competing against each other and eventually one of us must represent all of us in parliament.