Millionaire businessman Sam Matekane has been sworn in as Lesotho’s prime minister.
He took the oath of office in front of thousands of Basotho and presidents from southern Africa in the capital, Maseru.
The events including an air show are being live-streamed by the state broadcaster in neighbouring South Africa:
The 64-year-old is a well-regarded businessman in Lesotho but a novice to politics.
His six-month-old political party won the recent elections with a huge margin but fell short of the majority. He’ll now lead Lesotho after forming a coalition with two smaller parties.
Political analysts see his victory as a sign that the people of Lesotho want a new kind of leadership.
Some hope his business acumen will translate to good governance and service delivery in the economically embattled country.
For a decade, none of Lesotho’s political parties has garnered enough votes to form a government on its own. The country has, as a result, been run by coalition governments that have proved fractious, and no prime minister has served a full five-year term.
The small southern African kingdom has experienced political instability since 2012, including a coup in 2014 and three national elections in five years.
There’s been a jubilant atmosphere as Lesotho’s new prime minister addresses cheering crowds at his inauguration in the capital, Maseru.
Bible verses and soothing church hymnals peppered his speech. But there was also serious business – Prime Minister Sam Matekane’s tone taking on that of CEO addressing a boardroom, in a sign perhaps of how he intends to run things.
“We have to uproot corruption and stop the rampant embezzlement of public funds,” Prime Minister Matekane said, adding “these things need to be done in order to restore the hope of our people and to solicit their buy-in as we prepare to launch the country into new horizons”.
Mr Matekane also said Lesotho’s wage bill was too big compared to investment in the country’s infrastructure.
He also talked about righting “historical wrongs to make Lesotho great again”, in a country where politics has been fractious for at least a decade, with a series of fraught coalitions and numerous leaders ousted for alleged corruption and bad governance.
By contrast, Mr Matekane promised his government would work towards peace, accountability and transparency, tackling these key areas in the first 100 days:
- Inclusive and sustainable growth
- Strengthening human capital
- Enabling infrastructure
- Strengthening national government to improve service delivery
- Climate change adaption
- Strengthening public sector management