New nasty fight over wool

New nasty fight over wool

MASERU – A fresh battle is looming between wool farmers and the government.
This follows a High Court ruling that struck down the regulations that prohibited farmers from exporting their wool and mohair without licences.
That ruling has however triggered a fresh fight as government is allegedly refusing to give farmers export permits to send their wool to South Africa.

The Ministry of Agriculture is allegedly reluctant to issue the permits.
So nasty is the battle that Small Business Minister, Chalane Phori, recently told a local radio station that “I rather be castrated” instead of allowing farmers to export their wool.
Phori said the government will not grant permits because it has appealed against the judgement and has applied for a stay of execution of the High Court ruling.
Now one local company is suing the government to issue export permits.

Mahloenyeng Trading, a wool and mohair broking company, has filed an urgent application in the High Court seeking to compel Ministry of Agriculture to issue the export permit.
The ministry has until May 2 to give reasons why it cannot issue the permit.
David Telford, Managing Director of Mahloenyeng, told thepost he believes ministry officials are reluctant to issue the permits because they are afraid of being fired.
This, he said, is worrying because the High Court ruled that the regulations are null and void.

Rethabile Mahloane, Principal Veterinary Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, said the ministry is not issuing permits because it is waiting for the High Court’s ruling on the application for stay of execution.
“Until then our hands are tied, we cannot issue any permits,” Mahloane said.
Meanwhile, an independent wool and mohair trader and veterinary doctor Mohlalefi Moteane told thepost that his efforts to get an export permit have been frustrated.
“This is just another tactic by the government to oppress the already suffering farmers,” Moteane said, adding that there is no respect for rule of law.
“The judgment is clear but we cannot proceed because it does not please the government,” he said.

Khotsang Moshoeshoe, the spokesperson of Lesotho Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LMWGA), said farmers are shocked that the government is refusing to issue permits.
“I heard that several minsters on the wool and mohair subcommittee threatened to fire anyone from the Ministry of Agriculture for issuing a permit until the courts have granted or denied the government the stay of execution,” Moshoeshoe said.
“This came as a shock to us as farmers because usually, the stay of execution applies in situations where the other party is owed and fears that by the time the appeal is granted what is owed would not be available.”

“In our case we owe the government nothing, not wool or mohair or even money.”
He said the farmers cannot collect their wool from the Thaba-Bosiu Wool because the records are not in order.
“The quality and quantity is different from what the farmers have submitted for sale due to their selling and handling strategy.”

Advocate Qhalehang Letsika, attorney for the farmers, said the government’s application for a stay of execution does not stop farmers from exporting their wool and mohair.
As the mohair shearing season opens, some farmers are still waiting for the centre to pay their for last year’s deliveries.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

 

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