Mapesela breathes fire

Mapesela breathes fire

MASERU – NEVER one to shy away from a brawl, Trade Minister Tefo Mapesela this week took off the gloves for a bare knuckle fight with two principal chiefs.
The target of his wrath were Prince Seeiso of Matsieng and Lesaoana Peete of Kueneng. Their ‘crime’, according to the minister, is that they accepted an invitation from BKB to attend a wool and mohair auction in Port Elizabeth in South Africa last week.

BKB is at the centre of the tug-of-war between government and farmers over the sale of wool and mohair.
Government set new rules that make it illegal for farmers to sell their wool and mohair without licence.

BKB is in the crossfire because it has been buying Lesotho’s wool and mohair for over 40 years.
The government says the regulations are meant to benefit farmers but the farmers say they were contrived to benefit a company owned by a Stone Shi, an Australian-Chinese man alleged to be hobnobbing with ministers.

Mapesela seems to have interpreted the chiefs’ trip to the BKB facility as an endorsement of the South African company and an attempt to undermine government policy.
Local journalists and farmers from the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA), Shi’s nemesis, also attended the auction.
The minister alleged that the chiefs were ‘bribed’ with drinks that “were too nice and it seems like they are confusing them”.
He also referred to the chiefs as marenanyana (little chiefs).

He said there is one principal chief who thinks he is the King.
“We have been elected into power by the people,” Mapesela said.
The chiefs, he alleged, had been bribed to influence Basotho.
He also unleashed his fury at Thabana-Morena MP, Selibe Mochoboroane, who is also the chairman of parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), for being on the entourage to Port Elizabeth.

Mochoboroane is also leader of the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) party while Mapesela is the spokesman for the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC), for which he represents Mokhotlong constituency in parliament.

His rage was also directed at Lekhetho Rakuooane, an MP and leader of Popular Front for Democracy (PFD).
He also accused LNWMGA chairman, Mokoenehi Thinyane, of “dragging a stampede of people to BKB to feed them with lies”.
Some media houses, including thepost, also attended the tour.

Mapesela said there are some principal chiefs who are “after politics and who plainly pronounce themselves as the congress party members”.
“What kind of chiefs are those?” he quipped.
The minister said chiefs who feel scorned when he says they should stop dabbling in politics welcome do as they wish.
“I also have a chief in Mokhotlong,” he said.

Mapesela said chiefs should be “well-behaved or be called to order”.
In a press statement, the LNWMGA appealed to the government to avoid deliberately misinterpreting the Port Elizabeth trip.
Thinyane said the government should also stop waging war against the Senators (Chiefs) and politicians who joined the association to Port Elizabeth.
He said the purpose of the trip was meant to sensitize the whole entourage how the wool and mohair are auctioned.
He said what Mapesela has done is a blatant attack on the Senators and politicians.#

Mapesela, who is also a sheep farmer in Mokhotlong district, said Mochoboroane should know his place because “he does not have even a mere cat or dog”.
Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki and Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Mahala Molapo were invited for the trip but did not attend.
Government spokesperson Nthakeng Selinyane said Moleleki and Molapo could not be part of the entourage because the invitation did not come on time.
Selinyane also pointed out that the government still has some unresolved issues with the BKB and therefore it could not be possible to honour the invitation.
Thinyane said it is surprising to hear the government only talking about the BKB when the trip involved seven companies. .
He said the BKB is not the only one dealing with Basotho farmers.

Mapesela said BKB does not pay tax in Lesotho but in South Africa.
He said BKB fraudulently opened bank account in Lesotho, an allegation BKB has refuted.
The minister said Thinyane wants to run LNWMGA like a family entity.

He said before being the MP and minister he was the member of LNWMGA and, therefore, Thinyane could not lecture him how to run the association.
He also accused Thinyane of squandering the association’s funds on the trip to Port Elizabeth.
Prince Seeiso said it is unfortunate that the issue of wool and mohair has “now taken a wrong turn”.
He said this now involves gossip and insults that he does not entertain.

He said every person should benefit from the sale of his wool and mohair whether it is sold at Thaba-Bosiu or anywhere else.
“Are we talking a business argument or economic argument or something else,” Prince Seeiso said.

Staff reporter

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