Mamojalefa Jonase – Qomo Qomong Council COE

Mamojalefa Jonase – Qomo Qomong Council COE

Date: October 23, 2014
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I am a 37 year old woman from Bolahla Village in the District of Quthing. When I decided to contest for the 2011 local government elections, members of my community were impressed and they saw leadership qualities in me. Sadly, there were other people from the party, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD), who felt that I was not fit to represent their electoral division in council. Despite criticisms, I accepted the nomination and pursued my goals.

I am a farmer and a member of a Home Based Care Support group which helps vulnerable people such as orphaned children, the elderly, and people living with HIV and AIDS.

Since the age of 15, I have always wanted to be a leader. I remember how people used to say I was authoritative when I spoke, because I commanded the full attention of a room, and compelled people to listen to me. From then on, I knew that I had some form of potential and joined politics as a young adult. I felt confident that I would win the elections if I got enough support from the community. I encouraged women in particular to come together, take charge of their lives and participate in local politics and other community initiatives.

I faced many challenges in my journey of representing women in local government. On 20 July 2011, I met with men and women in my village and told them about the importance of electing women to represent them in the coming local government elections. I asked for their support and told them that I was not only going to represent women from the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) but every woman regardless of her party, denomination or status. They understood and promised to support me.

On 30 July 2011, I paid one of my neighbours a visit and I found her and her two daughters talking about the upcoming elections. They seemed very understanding about women contesting in elections. While still talking, a rumor came up that was being spread by some community members from other parties. They had said that if I won the election it would be evidence that God did not exist. We were so shocked by those rumors; however I did not despair, because I knew that such sentiment was to be expected. I anticipated difficulties along the road, and was determined to carry on until the end.

The journey was very difficult, and we encountered all manner of challenges. I was encouraged in early September, when women from neighbouring villages wrote a letter to me telling me they would support me all the way. I was very encouraged by this gesture, especially because they wanted development, and they supported women’s rights.

There were also some amazing and perplexing moments along the way. On 18 September 2011 while I was talking to some people about the development of the country, one person made degrading remarks about the event. I happened to hear and recognize that person. What shocked me most was that she was one of the people who had attended the Gender Links’ training workshop in Qomoqomong Council, so I expected her level of awareness to be much higher. I told the people to ignore her, because I felt she had shallow knowledge about politics. She regarded politics as a fight which does not have to be the case. It is a path of exploration, in which we must all work collaboratively for a better future.

Towards the end of the campaign, 21 September 2011, I had begun to wonder if I would ever finish the journey; it was so difficult. After working so hard to convince people to vote for you, others would make degrading and discouraging comments against you, causing people to doubt your capabilities and your integrity. Some even said things like “Are you relieving her from poverty?” and I wondered what my poverty had to do with serving the community, or whether it meant that wealthy people could do a better job in leadership positions.

When I was busy campaigning in the community for local government elections, it was rare that I received good news. Some people were making allegations that I use muti in pursuit of victory. Most of these allegations were from people who supported opposition parties. Some said they would not vote for someone who did not study beyond the Primary School, because I would not be able to go to parliament since I don’t know English. I began to ask myself what parliament has to do with the local government elections. Sometimes, these attacks shook my self confidence, and made me wonder if I was capable. Nonetheless, I stood firm and decided to give it a shot. I was prepared to accept any verdict, and just hoped that the outcomes were best for the development of my community. I prayed every day that God would help me accept both the good and the bad in life. If I lost, I would not despair, but acknowledge that it was not my time.

On 3 October 2011, I was certain that God had his way of performing miracles. I cannot explain the joy that I felt my heart when the proportional allocation of seats was announced. My party had won both seats in Qomoqomong, and I was one of the women who got a seat. I am very happy, and I thank everybody who took part in these tough elections. Above all this, I thank God. God Bless Lesotho, God Bless Basotho.

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