From pillar to post

From pillar to post

MASERU – THE government is not shifting an inch in its battle with wool and mohair farmers, thepost heard this week.
Despite the High Court ruling that the Agricultural Marketing Products Regulations of 2018 were null and void almost a month ago, farmers say they have still not been granted permits to export their products.
The farmers said the government keeps on moving the goal posts in terms of the requirements needed to get export permits.
An independent wool and mohair trader, Dr Mohlalefi Moteane, told thepost that his efforts to get an export permit have been in vain.
When he went to the Ministry of Agriculture to apply for the permit, an official at the ministry referred him to the Ministry of Small Business.
“I was being told to go to a ministry whose regulations the courts have declared null and void,” Dr Moteane said.
“It simply means that with those regulations being unlawful we should be using the former ways which included getting permits from the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.
Farmers are also being asked to submit original import permits for every consignment that is to be exported.
“This is despite the fact that we have a master permit from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries that will only expire in July,” according to Khotsang Moshoeshoe, spokesman for the Lesotho Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LMWGA).
He added: “A master permit used to be enough in the past but now they want an original permit for every truck.”
Another requirement is that storage facilities should be certified by a veterinary doctor that they are in good condition.
“They are the first people to know if there is a disease outbreak or a threat in the country so they would have known if there is such,” Dr Moteane said.
“This is just another tactic to frustrate farmers especially because when you go to the ministry the vets are never available,” Dr Moteane said.
There is also an instruction for farmers to submit tax clearance certificates in order to get export permits.
“For traders we understand because they get their books done but for farmers how can they request such when the laws of this country are clear that primary producers are not to be taxed,” Dr Moteane said.
The Principal Veterinary Doctor in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Relebohile Mahloane, told thepost that anyone seeking an export permit is required to submit a tax clearance.
“However, in the case of farmers who belong to a specific association they should bring a constitution of such association and that constitution should be in alignment with the country’s laws on associations,” Dr Mahloane said.
What baffles traders stuck with hundreds of bales of wool and mohair even more is being told that the Livestock Products Marketing Services (LPMS) does not have a receipt book.
“Maybe we should contribute something and buy them a receipt book but we do not believe that story,” Dr Moteane said.
The principal secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture has previously told thepost the first time farmers went to seek export permits that it would not be an easy task to issue permits.
“It is not as easy as they say and they know because they have been in the industry for years,” Malefetsane Nchaka said.
He said before issuing permits the government, which enacted the Agricultural Marketing Products Regulations of 2018 that have been declared null and void by the High Court, is still the same government that has to sit down and come up with means to get back to the former ways of operating.
Nchaka said it is not something that will happen overnight as “we are yet to sit as a ministry with the South African veterinary services management to hear what can be done moving forward”.
“Then we will come back and the government will advise itself on how to proceed,” he said.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

 

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