Thabane bows to pressure

Thabane bows to pressure


PRIME Minister Thomas Thabane has buckled under pressure after he lifted a controversial ban that blocked Lesotho’s wool and mohair farmers from selling their products outside the country.
Thabane told a press conference yesterday that the government was giving the farmers a grace period of three months to sell their wool and mohair to any market of their choice.
The statement was a major climb-down for the government that had since September last year fought a bruising battle with farmers after it introduced a new set of regulations for the sector.
“The government will allow any Mosotho farmer to sell their wool and mohair products anywhere whether it is in the country or outside the country for a period of three months,” he said.

The Wool and Mohair Regulations 2018 banned local farmers from exporting their products outside Lesotho. Instead farmers were ordered to sell their products to the Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre.
The Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre, run by a Chinese national, Stone Shi, has however struggled to pay the farmers, triggering an outcry from Basotho. The government has however fiercely defended Shi arguing farmers will get better value if they sell their products locally.

Thabane yesterday assured the farmers that they will all be paid the monies they are owed by the Wool Centre.
“The government will ensure that all the farmers who have not been paid get their money,” Thabane said.
He said they have allowed the farmers to sell their wool and mohair wherever they want while they are trying to deal with the problems in the industry.
He said they hope to have resolved these problems within the next three months.
Thabane said the government is expecting to receive applications from brokers who will be willing to sell Basotho’s wool and mohair.

In a bid to placate an angry populace, Thabane also promised to resolve problems within the police who were threatening to embark on a strike.
The Lesotho Police Staff Association (Leposa) was supposed to have gone on strike on Tuesday but suspended the industrial action to give dialogue a chance.
Thabane told the press conference that the government had paid all outstanding arrears owed to the police adding the ball was now in Police Commissioner Holomo Molibeli’s court.
“If he does not pay, then I will not get any reason why he is still the commissioner? Why is he still there?” Thabane said.

The Acting Police Minister Prince Maliehe said the police were owed M71 million in salary arrears by the government but only M12 million was paid in March this year.
This means the government is saddled with a M59 million debt to the police.
But Thabane insisted that the government had already disbursed M50 million to settle the debt.
Thabane said Molibeli must account why the outstanding arrears have still not been paid.
Maliehe said to the best of his knowledge, the police are only owed just M9 million after M50 million was paid after former Minister of Police ’Mampho Mokhele brought the matter to Parliament.
Maliehe said he has, since his deployment to the ministry, been pushing to see to it that the money is given to police officers.

The minister said the M9 million should be disbursed to the police within the next six weeks.
He said when the M12 million was paid, there was a grave mistake that was committed where people who were not supposed to be paid were paid and those who deserved to be paid were not.
“Now, at this time around we are going to rectify the mistakes,” Maliehe said.
Thabane also spoke about the lack of jobs for the youths.

He said 77 investors were set to invest M20 billion in Lesotho to help grow the economy while 143 investors have shown interest to come and invest in the country.
The Prime Minister said the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) has already issued 50 licenses for dagga farmers.
“Each licensed dagga farmer is expected to create 3 000 jobs and some are expected to start now,” he said.
He said by 2022, 30 000 jobs would have been created through marijuana.

Majara Molupe




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