No ceasefire  in wool war

No ceasefire in wool war

MASERU – THERE appears to be no prospects of a “ceasefire” in the wool and mohair war between farmers and the government.
The farmers are adamant that they will continue to export their wool and mohair even though that would be illegal under the new Agricultural Marketing (Wool and Mohair Licensing) Regulations of 2018.
This week a truck was caught in Butha-Buthe trying to get wool and mohair into South Africa. Another truck was also caught last Thursday in Teya-teyaneng.

According to the Butha-Buthe police boss, Superintendent Khesa, the truck was from Mokhotlong and was caught in Butha-Buthe carrying 113 bales of wool and mohair. It was caught at the Butha-Buthe border post around 7pm on Monday.

The one that was caught in Teya-Teyaneng last week Thursday was carrying 60 bales and two bags of wool and mohair.
According to the Ministry of Small Businesses, the truck belonged to a prominent Lesotho veterinary doctor based in Mokhotlong.
Another 9 000kgs of wool and mohair belonging to the same doctor were seized a few weeks ago at the border.
The ministry says the farmer does not have a licence to export.

Lekhooe Makhate, a marketing director with the Ministry of Small Businesses, told thepost that the ministry has taken legal action and filed court cases against the farmers who attempted to export wool and mohair. “The judgement or fine will depend on which section of the regulations they violated,” Makhate said.

“For example, if it is section F they will be faced with a M20 000 fine or a two-year sentence in prison or both,” he said.
He said it is clear that farmers are undermining the new regulations even though “they are fully aware of these regulations”.
“Letters were written, meetings were held to inform them about these new regulations even court cases came through but it looks like they are still not ready to comply with them,” he said.

Khotsang Moshoeshoe, a wool and mohair farmers’ leader in Mokhotlong, said the truck that was impounded by the police in Butha-Buthe is indeed from Mokhotlong. Moshoeshoe said the truck was carrying 16 253 kg in 113 bales of mohair worth M4.2 million.
Moshoeshoe said the truck was wrongfully impounded and they have taken legal measures as farmers to get the truck released.
“The driver of that truck has not been charged to this day because he did not violate any law,” Moshoeshoe said.

“He had all relevant documentation that is requested for exportation,” he said.
He said they had a permit that was issued to them by the Ministry of Agriculture and is a permit in alignment with the International Animal Health Organization (OEI).

He stated that what is happening is that certain ministers want to impose their personal agendas on farmers.
“We have a court order that states that as long as our case is not heard we can export wool or mohair to South Africa or anywhere in the world where we want,” Moshoeshoe said.

“It also states that we should be issued with relevant permits necessary for exportation.”
Moshoeshoe further stated that permits are governed by the old law and the new regulation only speaks about licences.
He said there has been no court order that has annulled the one we have.

“Rather government lawyers only filed a notice of intention to oppose but they are yet to file the opposing papers.”
He said it is unreasonable for the government to tell them not to export wool and mohair based on a case it won against certain individuals.
“Our case as the Lesotho Wool and Mohair Growers Association is yet to be heard so we did not lose the case, those who lost are individuals who had filed against the government, so we should not be judged by someone’s case merits.”

He stated that as long as their case has not been heard and no opposing papers have been filed then they are free under the law to take their wool and mohair wherever they want.  Aaron Moketa, Chairperson of Makhapung Shed and Mokhotlong district and a member of the national committee of the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWGA) of Mokhotlong, said they have not lost any case and their court order that was issued in June is still valid. He said they will continue to export their wool and mohair wherever they want.

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