Set up a Ministry of Environment, Water & Forestry

Set up a Ministry of Environment, Water & Forestry

WELL, let me put this categorically.
I don’t read my articles
but do enjoy those written by my
friend Ramahooana Matlosa and of
course, Muckraker.

I have been trying to convince
one of my friends named ‘Moea
Makhakahe to start writing but
he seems to have some sort of a
stage fright like one doctor that I
won’t name on this platform. Ka
molisana, re mathateng!

‘Moea is one of the best writers
that I have come across. I always
pray that he gets rid of the stage
fright so that we enjoy some of the
jokes he posts on Facebook.

Anyway, I read a rather hilarious
suggestion made by Muckraker to
split ministries in order to satisfy
all the disgruntled members of the
ABC that feel entitled to be Cabinet
ministers. Just so as the noise from
the empty vessels (makopo-kopo)
dies down.

One of the suggestions was to
split the Ministry of Education into
the ministry of crèches, ministry
of primary schools, ministry high
schools and ministry of teachers,
principals and so on.

However, I feel that we might
have to work in reverse order on
three of the current ministries that
we have and merge them into one
super ministry named the Ministry
of Environment, Water and Forestry.
In my line of work as a property
developer, I am forced to interact
with environmentalists every now
and then, mainly because of a requirement
to conduct an Environmental
Impact Assessment (EIA),
before any building process can
take place.

The EIA report is usually submitted
to a tiny department made up of
very hard working and disciplined
public servants within the Ministry
of Tourism.

I have a problem with that. The
problem is that tiny department
plays one of the most important and
pivotal roles in our day-to-day lives
yet it has been neglected and placed
under a ministry that is seen as an
under-dog ministry.

My take is that the tiny department
should be elevated to a full-on
ministry to oversee all environmental
affairs such as water, forestry
and range management. We might
as well throw in the meteorology in
the mix.

I still don’t understand the correlation
between meteorology and
energy to function as a ministry.
If we are really serious about cost
cutting measures, we might as well
start merging ministries such as
sports & tourism into one ministry.

As well as mining and energy.
And of course, not negating small
business into trade and industry.
The Ministry of Small Businesses
has proven to be more of a headache
than anything else.

However, I still believe that the
Ministry of Development planning

needs to be converted to a Ministry of Economic
Development and Planning. That’s
if Dr. Majoro will have the courage to swim
against the tide that wants to be overnight

Of the many functions that I need to do
as a property developer, is to analyse satellite
maps (Google maps) almost on a daily
basis to an extent where I know the geography
of Lesotho like the back of my hand.
I get a bird’s eye view of the country.
A design of a building usually starts
with a site analysis stage which involves
an intense analysis of satellite maps in
order to assess roads / entrances (in/out),
topography (slope), area, environmental
affairs (ground water & vegetation), surroundings
(buildings & landmarks) and
land use (zoning).

There are however very worrying
trends and tendencies that one picks up
every time I go onto Google maps (satellite
maps). The fi rst one is that Lesotho
is slowly becoming a desert. Why do I say

As one observes Google maps on zoom
out, the border between Lesotho and South
Africa is clearly defi ned. Not by a line demarcating
the border-line but because of a
sudden change in vegetation between the
two countries. There are also visible satellite
images shown on the weather forecast.

The sudden change in vegetation means
there is severe over-grazing on the side
of the Lesotho border as compared to the
South African side. As a result of the overgrazing,
the Lesotho side of the border is
yellow sometimes orange because of the
exposed ground. That means there is no
vegetation. The environment is deeply disturbed.
Not only that, but the way we built our
houses impacts negatively towards the

vegetation and trees more especially in the
urban areas such as Ha Tsolo, Masowe, Ha
Mabote and Sekamaneng (Scotland).
This means the layout of our sites is so sporadic
and takes no consideration for access
roads, schools, burial sites, sanitation (VIP
toilets), the ground water system and future
expansion of roads and housing.

My friend always comments that our urban
areas are so disorganised, so much that
it looks as if one vomited the houses onto the
fi elds (I’m sorry to those that may be eating
whilst reading the paper).

Those are but a few of the worrying things
I see on a daily basis. Not forgetting a worrying
trend of deforestation and contamination
of the wetlands.
Our people need to learn that there’s really
no substitute for water. Once it goes dry, you
are dead. What I fi nd strange is that Lesotho
is blessed over-abundantly with clean water
and streams crisscrossing the country.

However, our management of water affairs
and water resources is simply appalling. The
preservation and protection of our wetlands
is a disaster. Lesotho has some of the biggest
wetlands in Southern Africa but they are constantly
contaminated and disturbed by herd
boys or villagers in the rural areas.

One of the trends is to overgraze within the

proximity of the wetlands and sometimes to
fl atten the wetlands in order to build solid
structures. This should be seen as a gross
violation of the environmental affairs of the
country and the future generations.

This is where the component of water comes
into play. But the most worrying part is the
contamination of the ground water system by
the unplanned use of ventilated pit latrine
toilets (VIP) and graveyards especially at this
time of the Covid-19 pandemic. I will try to be
as sensitive as possible when addressing the
issue of graveyards.

It is very common to see houses built adjacent
to graveyards in our villages and urban
areas of Lesotho and I never understand the
logic behind that. In most cases, one will see a
ventilated pit latrine toilet as well as a borehole
pump (pompi) for domestic use.

The way we construct our VIP toilet systems
in particular, is one of the contributing
factors that contaminates the ground water
system because of the lack of lining that prevents
the waste to seep into the water system
underground. This is worsened at a time when
there are heavy rains and the water table goes
up or recharges.

That means there’s often severe contamination
to boreholes or springs that may be
in the vicinity of pit latrine toilets or graveyards.
This is unfortunately a problem when
it comes to planning, especially when it comes
to residential sites.

So, this super-ministry can really encompass
all activities and functions run by all
three ministries being tourism (environment),
water and forestry. But, having said all this,
I know that our politicians are just too greedy
to even think of merging all three functions.

They would rather split the Ministry of Forestry
into trees and range.
By the way, I still fi nd it strange that twenty
years later, there hasn’t been an initiative
to forest the mountain side of Katse Dam near
the dam wall or the Afri-ski resort. Our mountains
are usually barren and depressing.

What I fi nd most disappointing is that
Morija and Roma are going through a massive
massacre of historic trees yet no one is saying
anything about that. Where are our environmentalists?
Why are they keeping quiet?

Ke botsitse potso. Do we need to go back to
being managed “well” by Makhooa in order for
us to start doing the right things?

‘Mako Bohloa

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