MASERU – THE Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) has hired a high-powered consultancy company to drive its political campaign as it pull all stops to win the October 7 elections.
thepost can reveal that Shikamo Political Advisory and Campaign Services (Shikamo) has been driving the RFP’s campaign for the past few weeks.

Based in South Africa but operating across Africa, Shikamo thrives on data-driven political campaigns to deliver votes and electoral victory to its clients.

It claims to use data to advise candidates and parties on their chances, voter preference, choices and influence them.

Shikamo and the RFP this week denied having any contract.

“Our party has no agreement or contract with any consultancy company,” said the RFP in a written response to questions from thepost.

Dr Delta Ndou, Shikamo’s Communications Director, this week said they had no contract with the Sam Matekane-led party.

Impeccable sources have however confirmed that the two are working together.

Their staunch denials are more likely due to the secretive nature of Shikamo’s work and operations rather than the non-existence of a working arrangement between the two. Shikamo, like all political campaign firms, prefers to operate in the shadows from which it operates like a proverbial invisible hand.

Only a small group of the RFP’s seniors know about the relationship with Shikamo.

The company’s fees are also highly unlikely to be paid through the normal structures of the party. Although the exact fee could not be established at the time of going to print, Shikamo doesn’t come cheap because of the high stakes involved.

Its contract is likely to be based on a monthly retainer and a bonus based on how the RFP performs. A hefty winning bonus is not uncommon in such engagements.

Shikamo’s involvement in this election is critical because it is the first time that a Lesotho political party has engaged a political consultancy firm that uses data analytics to drive a campaign.

Until now, political parties have relied on rallies and ad-hoc engagements with voters to win their hearts and minds.

It is reliably understood that apart from gathering votes, Shikamo’s brief includes fundraising and voter analysis. It will also include running the party’s traditional and social media blitz to influence public perception, shift voters’ attitudes and gain support.

And as per its website, the company will also likely use “polling techniques to develop communication plans, real-time analytics tools, sentiment analysis and discrete influencer targeting to reach the best audiences”.

The firm has worked in Malawi, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa.

thepost could not establish which parties it worked with but understands that it was involved in Malawi’s three last elections.

Shikamo’s influence on the RFP’s campaign appears to be apparent in the party’s aggressive social media campaign.

It also seems to be reflected in the way the party has been combing through the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) voters’ roll.

This week the RFP wrote to the IEC raising concerns about “eligible voters whose personal details do not appear or are erroneously entered in the Provisional Electors’ Roll”.

The party said the errors or omissions related to the capturing of names, surnames, identity numbers, gender and voting stations.

It complained that the list of affected people is “of such magnitude as to negatively impair on the accuracy of the Electors’ Roll”.

The party said it wants the IEC to extend the window period for the inspection of the voters’ roll and to be allowed to submit a list of voters whose errors and omissions are yet to be rectified.

“It is of absolute importance that we indicate to your good selves, that a failure to confirm the correction of a reported error/omission in the Electors’ Register, constitutes a violation of the constitutional right of an affected voter, to participate in the election, as anticipated by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Lesotho.”

The letter written by Nthati Moorosi, the RFP’s secretary general, is also copied to diplomats, the European Union, SADC and the United Nations.

The party did not confirm the letter to the IEC but emphasized the importance of the voters’ role in its response to thepost last night.

“It is our position as a party that an election is a voter’s roll. If you have a voters’ roll you know who is going to be voting, where they are voting and what the numbers are,” the party said.

“As the RFP, our position is that the voters’ roll has to be released and made highly accessible both in print and electronically so that we can verify where our supporters who registered are and their numbers and also to ensure that if there are any anomalies, they are corrected as soon as possible because we are now 44 days away from the elections.”