3 November 2022, 10:00:00
Lesotho has a new Prime Minister, the country’s richest man and a cannabis entrepreneur to boot. Sam Matekane says his priority is to root out corruption, but he’s also going to have to take on Lesotho’s diminishing reputation as Africa’s cannabis leader.
Lesotho's new Prime Minister, diamond magnate and cannabis entrepreneur Sam Matekane, is cracking the mould of African patronage politics.
His newly formed party Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) won the most seats in the recent elections but fell short of an overall majority. It has formed a coaltion with the has formed a coalition government with two other opposition parties, the Alliance of Democrats (AD) and the Movement for Economic Change (MEC).
"We are taking over a bankrupt government and we will be using our personal cars and staying in our homes until things have gone back to normalcy" he told Reuters on 10 October 2022.
"One thing for sure of the many things that we are going to do is to downsize the cabinet, and all our members will declare their assets, including myself,"
Matekane, who is Lesotho’s richest man, is the founder of the country’s first cannabis company, Verve, is obviously committed to developing the cannabis economy in Lesotho.
However, the mountain kingdom, which pioneered the development of legal cannabis in Africa, is in danger of being marginalized as a leading player.
Lesotho has three main cannabis challenges right now:
There are ongoing corruption issues in the cannabis industry, and the
Battle for Bophelo has tarnished the country’s reputation as a cannabis investment destination;
There are issues around the country’s medicinal cannabis quality.
Cannabiz Africa understands that Cape-based CloneLabs pulled out of its intended expansion into Lesotho earlier this year because of concerns over “local partner expectations”.
Nasdaq-listed Akanda, had its local subsidiary Bophelo Bioscience and Wellness, “stolen” from under its nose by founder Louise Mojela. While it is taking legal steps to recover the company which Mojela put into liquidation, Akanda has revised its Africa policy completely and will now source from Portugal.
Akanda CEO Tej Virk told Cannabiz Africa that the whole saga had tarnished Lesotho’s reputation as a reliable cannabis investment destination.
Can Maketane halt Lesotho’s slide into global cannabis marginalization? He has already pulled off a political miracle and so it’s not an impossible ask. However, his priority, he says, is to tackle corription.
Wikipedia reports that in March 2022 Matekane held a press conference at his boutique hotel, and declared he would pivot from business to politics and formed the Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) party. The RFP shocked the political system in the country. Matekane self-funded a state-of-the-art political campaign with heavy social media presence went on to win the 2022 Lesotho General Election, amid a long period of political dissatisfaction from government instability in country. Matekane's win is considered to have been heavily influenced by his his social media campaign. His campaign's financial advantage on the ground, along with his social media reach and presence was unmatched by the other 63 parties that contested the election.
Through MGC, Matekane has funded several social projects in the country. Matekane has funded the construction of a football stadium, a school, and a convention center and a cost-sharing owner-farmer scheme farm in his village of Mantšonyane. During the Covid-19 pandemic, bought testing equipment, vaccines and other medical necessities and donated them. He has made many generous donations in the amount of M8 million in forms to the Police, and many millions on an ambulance, ICU beds,
stretchers, wheelchairs, laundry machine and dryer and 1000 military uniforms donated to the Lesotho Defence Force.