There has always been a dearth of women leaders in Lesotho and the Southern African region, but this has slowly but surely been changing in recent years. Political firebrand ‘Machere Seutloali is one of those female luminaries that have consistently proved their mettle in the unforgiving patriarchal world of politics. Boasting a strong background in advocacy, it is little of a surprise that she was recently roped in to perform similar duties at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Youth Parliament.
In an interview with theReporters’s Kefiloe Kajane, Seutloali tells us more about this latest exploits, her achievements and future plans.
KK: Congratulations on scoring the ‘big one’ – the SADC role. But first, please tell us about yourself and your background.
MS: ‘Machere Rose Seutloali is a seasoned politician, leader and young Mosotho woman who selflessly betters youth conditions nationally and internationally.
She is a mover, shaker and shaper of history in her lifetime, results-orientated youth activist who was elected first female youth league president of the BNP. A youth councilor elected in 2012 at MMC01 and Maseru District Youth Council Treasurer General. She ratified and adopted the 1st Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) constitution in Sri Lanka. She was a task team member who formulated and developed the National Youth Policy (2017- 2030) and its implementation strategy. In 2017 she represented Lesotho at the International Youth Parade which was held in Moscow, organised by the World Federation of Democratic Youth. I have just been elected last year in Russia to the executive board of Future Team Africa as deputy chairman in charge of Southern African countries.
Besides, I am a regional secretary general of Phenomenal African Women(PAW). I have been awarded at an International Volunteer Forum as a winner of the #IDoCare Challenge where there were young people from more than 150 countries. All this has emanated from the grassroots level where I take care of orphans and less privileged children.
I am a founder of Pelo Tlhomohi Organization that played a pivotal role in assisting exiled compatriots in 2015/2017. I am also a member of the International Youth Democratic Union that advocates for centre right policies.
I am a Certified Accounting Technician, who is hoping to pursue her studies in leadership management with the University of Free State. I am currently in commercial crop farming where I have so far created jobs for young people.
KK: Tell us about your position as youth advocate in SADC. How did you land it and what does it mean to you as a young person in Lesotho?
MS: I applied to the SADC Youth Forum committee in charge of the SADC Youth Parliament through a link that was shared on social media by a comrade from Malawi. Having been in suspense for over a month I received an acceptance letter after a rigorous process. As if that was not enough, I was then nominated for chairmanship.
This actually means the sky is the limit, young people should not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.
As a young people in Lesotho we should look for opportunities even on social media, the energy that we use to defend our leaders should be diverted for our personal development.
KK: From which countries are your colleagues and what have you learnt so far in this new role?
MS: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kingdom of Lesotho are all the participating member states. I have learned that it is very important to acquire knowledge so as to deliberate in developmental issues. We must always read.
KK: You have been an advocate for the youth in politics; what does this mean to you?
MS: It means I am shaking with indignation whenever injustice(s) happen in society, my support for the oppressed/marginalized always propels me to take bold stances beyond self-righteousness in pursuit of justice.
I should be free of bias, consistent and principled against all odds when addressing pertinent issues affecting young people. The situation of youth continues to be very difficult across the world, Basotho youth are not spared. While we shall not lament, as power remain in our hands, we must be aware that challenges remain huge and the call to action is extremely urgent. It is not right that youth resort to informal and peripheral platforms for expression. Youth must push until this is corrected.
KK: The position that you currently hold, how long does it last and what are some of the roles that you are expected to play?
MS: It is going to last for 3 years. I have to coordinate and advocate for establishment of functional SADC Youth Parliaments in 16 countries and thus operating National Youth Councils; plan and organize forums and annual events hosted before SADC heads of states summit deliberate on critical issues affecting young people and proffer sustainable solutions in the region.
It also entails coordinating youth organizations in SADC through country coordinators and respective ministries; collaborating with the SADC Secretariat as we work towards the common future for the region, through regional integration and cooperation; and sharing recommendations to the leadership in government’s and other stakeholders and thus develop an action plan to champion implementation as our primary responsibility.
KK: As a woman who yields so much power, how important would you say it is to have women in leading roles or as leaders?
MS: It is important because naturally we are good at multitasking so we can always respond to simultaneous and different task. We are also flexible.
Besides, women are good communicators which is one of the great components in leadership. In addition, we make great leaders because the odds are against us to lead, so many a time those who emerge on top are extraordinarily strong and capable.
KK: As a youth advocate, do you think Basotho youth are ready to take over or to change Lesotho to become a better place?
MS: I think they are more than ready. They have the ideas, the creativity and great energy to shape a better Lesotho. Young people are full of hope and through innovation and imagination, they are problem solvers and have a great potential to generate a positive social change in this country. Actually, now is their time to plant trees for the upcoming generation.
What can we expect from you while you are still holding this position?
MS: During my tenure in office, skills development initiatives and creation of sustainable self-employment opportunities for poverty reduction through Agricultural projects is going to be my hallmark.
Expect the development of SADC Youth Programme(SYP) to operationalize the SADC declaration on youth empowerment and Development of 2015 as directed by council of ministers.
Approval of the two key blue prints, which are SADC Vision 2050 and new Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2020 – 2030), the issues of youth are amplified in this guiding instruments.