Businessmen make better politicians: Tayob


. . . Leribe entrepreneur dismisses critics


LERIBE – Business men and women are also citizens with political rights and responsibilities and, as part of the broader community, they are affected by constraints in service delivery. It is for these reasons that Tommy Ashraf Tayob – a businessman-turned-politician and a Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) candidate for the Moselinyane Constituency in Leribe, vows to turn the tables around in the country’s political space. Tayob, who was born in the Leribe district, describes himself as a successful businessman who emerged from a poor background to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Lesotho. He says he wants to assume civil responsibility because, for the most part, he believes he can make a difference.

“I now want to give back to the community that built me. The fact that I want to give, and not take, means that I am likely to be a better politician. “I want to answer our country’s economy challenges via a productive agricultural system that will ultimately feed all Basotho because people with empty stomachs can easily be manipulated to engage in senseless and regrettable decisions,” he said. Among his various business adventures since 1985, Tayob has been renowned for being a tycoon in supermarkets, transportation, construction and agriculture industries, especially in Leribe and Mokhotlong, his advocacy page states. Now a top member of the RFP, upon his arrival in politics Tayob faced massive criticism from RFP detractors who charged that he is not a Lesotho national, and therefore not eligible for election to the country’s parliament.

Speaking recently at a rally in his home constituency, the businessman who is also a farmer declared that he is not a political opportunist. He further appealed to voters to consider him as a candidate for the countless developmental projects he has brought to the community and do away with racist remarks about his nationality, just because he is a Mosotho of Asian descent.

“I have accepted the call from my people to work with the RFP, which advocates for meritocracy (government or the holding of power by people selected according to merit), under the leadership of Sam Matekane towards rebuilding the economy of Lesotho. “I affirm to you that businessmen who become politicians can bring fresh energy into the public service. They come from an ecosystem that is driven by urgency to produce measurable results. “Business people also bring private sector networks that current politicians are unlikely to have. They can close the gap between the government and the private sector,” he continued.

Tayob argues that politicians often weave these concepts into their speeches to sound clever, but for business people they are a matter of life and death; pointing out that businesses that run without a sense of urgency to produce measurable results fail. “Business people also demand transparency and accountability. For most captains of industry and entrepreneurs these demands become a natural way of doing things. Accountability. They know that every cent counts,” Tayob explained.

If voted into power, the RFP, according to its leader Matekane, commits to centralising the national economy by, among others, constructing more factories to create jobs for Basotho in their own areas so that they will no longer be forced to relocate to the capital city, Maseru, for employment. “What mostly prompted me to follow Ntate Matekane was his concern and desire to change the dire livelihoods of foremost the factory workers. I believe he is a man who lives up to his word because that is one good characteristic of a businessman. “Should he disappoint, I will sadly leave him and return to my daily life of being an entrepreneur,” Tayob told RFP supporters who had gathered in large numbers.

Responding to widespread claims that he is not a Lesotho national but an Indian who has no right contesting elections in the country, Tayob remained adamant that he is a Mosotho by virtue of his birth and his generation family tree. “Let them talk all they want because I definitely know that I am a Mosotho. I was born in Lesotho and schooled in this country. Like any other Mosotho child, I am from the mountain and I herded sheep. I am a concerned citizen who wants a better life for all Basotho. I love my country,” he concluded.

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