By Thoboloko Ntšonyane
MASERU – The recent local elections had seen a significant youth participation not only as voters but as contestants in the race to be elected as Councilors.
Youth are now actively taking leadership roles and participating to be counted in to lead from the front marking a shift from the past when they had disengaged from electoral processes in large numbers.
Despite recording a low voter turnout of 26.4 percent, these elections have borne youth leaders who have emerged as the next councilors that will be serving their immediate communities. Tumelo Leboto is one young leader who boldly stepped into the fiercely contested local government elections and emerged victorious.
His political journey can be traced back to his high school days, and during his tertiary education outside the country when he was studying at the University of Johannesburg, he actively engaged in various capacities, shaping him for leadership.
In a recent interview with this publication Leboto said he has fought numerous battles for the youth, and had come to realise he had been advocating the course for the youth from an external perspective and now aspires to advocate from within the ‘system’.
“I decided to step away from civil society and enter politics. The motivation behind this move was that we consistently lacked a full voice; whenever we went to different offices we would get asked ‘who are you’. I joined politics to advocate and fight from within the system,” he said. He said he has always been an active and involved member of the community saying this could be the reason why people did not think twice about electing him to run their affairs during the course of five years.
He had contested the elections under the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and will soon become a sworn-in councilor at Electoral Division (ED) D08/04 Kanana 04 in Maqhaka in the Berea district.
The 27-year-old said he plans to create employment opportunities for the people within his council; he contends that high crime rates stem largely from high unemployment in communities.
Leboto pledged to facilitate the implementation of a lotion production project within a five month period for his community saying he has joined hands with other people and the Koma-koma have already undergone some training.
Asked how he is going to ensure these projects see the light of the day, he said in Maqhaka there is already an ongoing project from selling of wood and offering tent and chairs rentals committing to overseeing responsible spending of proceeds for the benefit of the community.
The upcoming councilor said he aims to play a role in enhancing football in his community adding that he will build toilets at the grounds that he promised the community team. The second promise that he vowed to follow through is that of bringing electricity to a village within his council and says he is already inside this project to ensure it materializes saying he will leverage the connection and proximity he has with his leader Hon Selibe Mochoboroane who is one of the coalition partners in the present day administration of three parties.
The Maqhaka community has no access to potable water and to this effect he promised to facilitate water connection saying he has already activated the engagements with the relevant authorities to supply them with water.
As for the future of his leadership journey, he expressed his intention to step into national politics, aspiring to become the next Member of Parliament.