He is renowned for his gung-ho approach and never-say-die spirit, which has endeared him to many, and has his detractors quaking in their boots.
Since hitting the campaign trail on the eve of Lesotho’s third poll in five years, Selibe Mochoboroane has galvanised his ever-growing band of supporters with his electric message of hope, reconstruction and development.
His meteoric rise over time has crystallised washroom banter into reality after Moratuoa revealed his ambition to become Lesotho’s Prime Minister one day, formed the Movement for Economic Change (MEC).
Now the youthful politician is sending shock waves in political circles with his brand of politics that speaks to job creation, economic advancement and growth as well as a focussed approach never witnessed before.
He was Minister of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing and a suspended member of the Lesotho Congress of Democracy (LCD).
An MP for Thaba-Morena, Mochoboroane was born in Taung in the district of Mohale’s Hoek but grew up in Malumeng, Thabana-Morena, Mafeteng.
Born 40 years ago, Mochoboroane is a second born child of Michael and ’Maitumeleng Mochoboroane, in a family of seven.
Called Motjoli by his peers from Thabana-Morena for being a wise herd boy, the minister tells Public Eye he demonstrated leadership qualities at a young age in the veld.
“I would direct the others to collect wood during lunch time and they knew that I ate the biggest potatoes than any of them all. At that level I demonstrated leadership skills,” he says recalling his leadership growth.
“I was referred to as Motjoli, the wise shepherd who did not only lead a health rich flock but commanded authority among my peers.”
He recalled how he went to schools only on selected days, exchanging school attendance with his young brother.
“I would swap schooling days with my younger brother to balance both cultural responsibility and education. If I went to school today, the following day it was his turn.”
Mochoboroane started his primary education at Malumeng Primary School, then proceeded to Roulin High School.
With his double life of classroom and veld exposure, he tells Public Eye when in class six, his teacher urged his parents to allow him to focus on his studies.
“I tell you the same year my parents hired a herd boy so that I could go to school fulltime and I excelled in my examinations,” he recalls adding that during the second quarter of the same year he obtained position three and position one at the final examinations.
Mochoboroane recounts how leadership followed his life journey.
“In 1995, I led a group of students to perform outstandingly in that year after 10 years of poor performance of the school, I was elected class monitor and I am proud to have influenced positive change where all students in class passed with flying colours.”
“I spoke English with them as though I was a teacher and they respected the new revolution,” he said.
His efforts gained him popularity for the next year where he was elected school prefect in absentia.
“Both in the veld and at school I could see I had leadership traits,” he says.
He says after graduating with a Diploma in Business Studies from the Institute of Extra Mural Studies, he went into teaching.
“I worked at a private school but later transferred to Sekonyela High School where I was the principal at a tender age of 23 for six years. I left the school in 2006 when I went to the NUL to pursue my studies.”
Mochoboroane further tells Public Eye he used a strategy of ‘go hard on all’ from sports to education.
“Sekonyela has produced renowned athletes like Masilo Matjeane and Temo Rampuku. I knew that good performance in sports would influence the education wing and indeed it did. In our first JC examination in 2003, 80 percent of our students passed with good grades,” he recalled.
He remarked he was viewed as a boy-teacher with no experience but in 2003, he rewrote educational history by surpassing other new schools in the country.
The politician says during his time at the NUL he went full-throttle into politics.
“I was not interested in the internal school politics of the Student Representative Committees but I started being active at my constituency of Thabana Morena and was elected to different committee portfolios, I was a Lesotho Congress of Democracy (LCD) youth,” he said.
“Within the university, I formed the Lesotho Voluntary Students Association LEVOSA and I was the first president. The association still exists but it is now identified as a Democratic Congress (DC) subsidiary,” he added,
From his presidency role with LEVOSA he was elected secretary general of the LCD youth league.
“After LCD broke up in 2012, I then prepared to stand for elections in my constituency. I was 34 years old at the time and the same year I was appointed deputy minister of local government and chieftainship.”
Mochoboroane rose through the ranks, making a name for himself with outstanding public service in the local government ministry.
At the end of 2013 he was reshuffled and made the minister of communications science and technology.
After the snap elections in 2015 he was appointed minister of energy and meteorology until he was reshuffled and made minister of small businesses development, cooperatives and marketing.
While assuming the office of the minister of energy, Mochoboroane gained momentum and garnered following under the project of rural electrification.
He was dubbed, ‘E motšo Moratuoa’.
He was Secretary General of the LCD, one of the ruling parties of the seven-party coalition government until he abandoned the party to form his own Movement for Economic Change (MEC)
The politician tells Public Eye politics runs in his family with his parents being core congress followers.
“Both my parents were religious supporters of congress, they were Basotho Congress Party followers and my father took part in provincial party development. He would narrate struggles and I grew curious every day,” he said adding Thabana-Morena’s first Member of Parliament, Malaisa Mahosi’s passion in serving the Basotho inspired and moved him.
Mochoboroane says he anticipated he would land a role in government at a young age.
“I always wanted to stay informed and inform others. So, with that passion to be on the look-out for political incidents, I anticipated I would identify the right time to assume leadership roles.
Speaking about his political principles, Mochoboroane reveals that serving the public is key to his political existence.
“We made a vow with my colleagues while at the university. We had a mind-set that there is something that needs to happen which is not happening within governance so when I received an opportunity to serve, I remembered that I am an ambassador.
“We had always pushed an adage to love and serve our country first before us,” he says.
Last year many people put his efforts down while others commended him but he never responded to any negativities.
He reveals that his father gave him the relevant guidance which has kept him in focus as a public servant.
“My father sat me down and warned that at my young age I needed to be careful of how I carry myself. He cautioned me that I will be serving people with different desires and that I needed to always have a clear mind when dealing with public interest issues. He made me promise to always stay principled and focused.”
“With his advice, I stand by my word in serving the public. I use look at critics positively because criticism helps one grow. I used criticism to introspect and perfect my ability to serve Basotho irrespective of their religion, colour or partisan interests,” he says.
He emphasised that proper planning and time consciousness has helped him.
Beyond politics, Mochoboroane says he is a farmer at heart.
“Agriculture plays a very important role in poverty reduction but it also has a huge potential in turning around the economic state of the country.
“I always advise Basotho to cultivate land and produce and I practice what I preach.”
He tells Public Eye that even after politics he has his land to cultivate and produce.
Mochoboroane notes there are leaders who fought for the independence of Lesotho but, 50 years down the line, Lesotho is still not economically independent.
“Eighty percent of food we consume is imported and a large number of young people are unemployed. We are economically weak and are likely to be economically colonised by other countries who have bigger muscle,” he said noting there is need for young people to see economic emancipation.
A prayerful man, Mochoboroane says when his political journey toughens, he seeks spiritual guidance from his spiritual leaders.
“I am a member of a male and boys church movement at church and I have a close relationship with my spiritual leaders. I pray a lot and when I need to make pivotal decisions, I always ask that they pray for me for spiritual direction,” he says.
Practicing politics within a vengeance-seeking political culture of Lesotho, Mochoboroane admits that leaders of most big political parties always seem to have anger lingering from the past.
He admits that the nature of the politics affects the quality of service delivery.
“That nature of political discrimination continues to pull back our country because even with the public as well, they choose who they listen to based political affiliation.”
Public Eye/ LERATO MATHEKA