By Seabata Makoae
A week ago Lesotho politics witnessed what many regard as a monumental development in the political history of Lesotho and most notably of the Basotho National Party (BNP) and the liberal feminist movement.
Machere’s decision to contest for the leadership position of BNP, is beyond reduction to just that.
I intent to use this article to reflect on the developments subsequent to her appearance as an aspiring leader, of not just a political party but one that has been in existence for decades also reflecting on what gender and socio-political intersectionality may have a direct impact on her participation in the campaign and the eminent election results.
Her electoral victory or loss in this contest will spell either the stagnation or the revival of BNP as a political party and a force to reckon with, for far more many years to come.
In this quest I intent to explore briefly the intersectionality of her gender, age and our cultural background, all of which can conspired together for and against her.
In an Ideal world one would assume that she stands a fair or equal chance to win the election. The reality of being a woman in this heteropatriachal country is something that cannot be ignored, she will have to work thrice as hard, to prove her abilities harder than her male and older rivals, be more “masculine” and brave enough to take on the likes of chauvinistic characters that have even been accused of sexual assaults within the same party.
The test is not for BNP alone but for our society to challenge the status quo of both economic and power distribution that currently favours men. The social media frenzy around her much ululated campaign has already recorded insults and slander hurled against her.
Sexist comments posted against her are typical of the society that sees women merely for their vote and daring women like here as a threat, much to the ideology of the subjection of women.
As a woman and a young woman for that matter, she is taking on figures that have a stronger financial muscle, better access to government resources, and the latitude that comes with male privileges amongst others.
She is contesting in a hostile cultural environment laced with violent rhetoric and misogyny of rivals amongst others who hold a record of insulting and threatening violence. She will have to brave up to the reality that she is not just a contestant but one with little if not almost nothing economically compared to others to equitably contest.
While I personally wish for her to win, at the risk of intersectional failure, it is only prudent that I don’t expect her to win. Victory for her will need the support of all, men and women, young and old. She will not do it alone.
Is BNP ready for a female leader, a young liberal feminist? NW