A Lesotho millionaire businessman launched a party Tuesday ahead of elections later this year, marking a transformation of the political landscape in the tiny kingdom long dominated by career politicians.

Sam Matekane, 64, who was awarded the Forbes Best of Africa Award last year, said he wants to save the picturesque mountainous kingdom from turning into a “failed state”.

“No one can dispute that our country is quickly heading for an abyss where it will be completely destroyed. If we don’t take action now, our country will become a failed state,” said Matekane during the launch of the party named Revolution for Prosperity.

Matekane, present in aviation, property, mining and farming, said he never intended to be a politician, but that if he did not make the switch, his business success would be akin to “a sailor cleaning the inside of a sinking boat”.

Lesotho has a long history of political turmoil.

It has been on the regional Southern African Development Community’s watchlist over incessant instability that also led to the killing of two army commanders in 2015 and 2017.

No party has won an outright majority since 2012, leading to coalition governments in 2012, 2015 and 2017.

The first two collapsed, and no premier has served a full five-year term over the past decade in the kingdom of 2.2 million people.

Lesotho is one of the poorest countries in southern Africa, but politicians are constantly vying for control of the tiny country, which is completely surrounded by South Africa.

Matekane’s announcement has been met with excitement.

“The hype is a natural reaction of people who are looking for something to give them hope,”

said political analyst Victor Shale, of Shalestone Elections and Governance Consultants.

It is as yet unclear if the clamour will translate into enough votes to form a one-party government, Shale added.


© Agence France-Presse