Fresh fight over wool and mohair

Fresh fight over wool and mohair

MASERU – Lesotho’s farmers have filed an urgent application in the High Court seeking to block the export of their wool and mohair which was auctioned at the Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre a fortnight ago. In court papers filed yesterday, the chairman of Liphamola Wool and Mohair Growers Association, Khotsang Moshoeshoe, argues that “there should not be any wool and mohair that was purportedly auctioned at Thaba-Bosiu that should leave the borders of Lesotho”.

The farmers are also seeking an order interdicting the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) from clearing wool and mohair for export purposes unless the money for the auctioned wool and mohair in Thaba-Bosiu “reflects in the respective bank accounts of the individual owners or association’s members who are the real wool and mohair owners”.

They also want the court to declare that they did not authorise the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA) “to enter into an agreement with anybody for the auction of wool and mohair at Thaba-Bosiu”.

Their lawyer Advocate Letuka Molati told the court in papers that the auction in Thaba-Bosiu was unlawful.

The auction was held on November 20 in Thaba-Bosiu.

In his founding affidavit, Moshoeshoe told the court that their application concerns Basotho who include members of his association who own wool and mohair worth more than M400 million.

Moshoeshoe said out of the total wool and mohair produced in Lesotho, Mokhotlong district produces 38 percent of the wool and mohair.

He told the court that for more than 40 years, the farmers in Mokhotlong have been involved in wool and mohair production undisturbed.

“I aver that in the year 2017, the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association entered into an agreement with Maseru Dawning (Pty) Ltd owned by Stone Shi, that ended up before the courts of law due to disagreements that arose between them,” Moshoeshoe said.

He argued that there have also been a number of cases that were filed to attack the decision of the Lesotho government that deterred the wool and mohair farmers from exporting their product to South Africa for auction purposes.

Moshoeshoe told the court that the Lesotho government through unacceptable acts assisted Maseru Dawning through the use of public funds to have unlawful access to Basotho wool and mohair.

He told the court that the first wool and mohair regulations which were withdrawn were promulgated after Maseru Dawning had lost a court battle in order to try and coerce Basotho to have their wool and mohair be taken for nothing under the pretext of auction conducted by the Chinese-owned company.

In short, the battles of the Chinese company were fought by the Lesotho government using public funds, Moshoeshoe argued.

He told the court that they and other wool and mohair growers in Lesotho, some of whom are members of the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association, took their wool for storage at Thaba-Bosiu.

“I submit that the government did the acts in order to assist Maseru Dawning and Shi to access the applicants’ wool and mohair unlawfully and forcefully through an unlawful and corrupt act of self-help,” Moshoeshoe said.

“I submit that the applicants and the members of the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association have not authorised the said National Association to enter into any agreement with the Lesotho government, Maseru Dawning, Stone or anybody for the auction of their wool and mohair.”

He said there was no one who bought any wool or mohair at the “bogus auction”.

He told the court that the government is involved in a dodgy relationship with the Chinese-owned company.

“Everything is cloak and dagger. There is no disclosure as to all that is going to be done,” Moshoeshoe told the court.

“I submit that due to the urgency herein, the applicants could not comply with the rigours of the rules regarding ordinary modes of filing and of service,” he said.

He said together with his co-applicants, they accordingly pray for coordination in respect of any non-compliance with the rules that may be involved herein.

Majara Molupe

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