Mapesela  ousts farmer

Mapesela ousts farmer

MASERU-AGRICULTURE Minister Tefo Mapesela has expelled famous farmer, Khotsang Moshoeshoe, from the wool committee after a long-running and ugly quarrel.

Mapesela told thepost on Tuesday that he fired Moshoeshoe, the spokesperson of the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA), for indiscipline.
Moshoeshoe received his marching orders this week.

The committee is made up of farmers’ associations, the Development for Peace Education (DPE), the Lesotho Council of NGOs (LCN), MISA-Lesotho and the Ministries of Agriculture and Trade. It was established to discuss the problems affecting wool and mohair farmers.

“I removed him from the committee because of his lack of discipline,” Mapesela said.
He said what infuriated him is that Moshoeshoe has “a habit of spreading untruths about Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro in regard to wool trade problems”.

“He once said the Prime Minister is the one who stopped the Chinese from buying Lesotho’s wool produce that was stuck in Port Elizabeth.”
The minister was referring to Lesotho wool that has remained at the port waiting export to China for the past six months.

“Moshoeshoe was ruining peace on serious matters of farmers therefore he must step out,” he said. “The committee was established by me, not the cabinet.”

Moshoeshoe said Mapesela is targeting him because he fought against the government’s attempt to impose a monopoly on the sector.
 “He (Mapesela) is ashamed that he was always on the front line of fighting for the wool and mohair to be sold to a government’s hand-picked Chinese man”.

Mapesela was Trade Minister under Thomas Thabane’s administration when the government introduced the 2018 legislation that farmers said was draconian and created a monopoly.
The government appointed Stone Shi as the only broker for Lesotho’s wool and mohair.

That blocked the farmers from selling to BKB, a South African broker, with which they had a 40-year relationship.
The government railroaded the regulations even as the farmers protested that Shi was paying them pittances and was battling to cut them cheques for the fibre he had sold.

As the fight escalated Moshoeshoe became the face of the farmers’ battles against the regulations.
At one time Moshoeshoe was arrested for allegedly subverting the government’s authority after an altercation with Mapesela who was trying to close a shearing shed in retaliation against farmers who were refusing to send their wool to Shi.

Mapesela defended the regulations and accused the farmers of sabotaging government policy to benefit BKB, a company he said was dodging tax.
Even when those tax evasion allegations were debunked, Mapesela did not relent in his attacks.

Moshoeshoe said it is those battles that soured his relations with Mapesela.
He said now that Shi has failed to pay farmers, Mapesela wants to force the farmers to sell their fibre to another broker in Masianokeng.
Moshoeshoe said Mapesela wants him to leave the committee “because he is a friend of the Masianokeng white-man and knows that we will expose them”.

Moshoeshoe has since replied to the dismissal letter, telling the minister that he has no right to fight him because he is in the committee “by right”.
“The committee does not belong to the Minister of Agriculture. It reports directly to the cabinet,” Moshoeshoe said.

He said Mapesela has nothing to do with his appointment into the committee because he was nominated by the LNWMGA.

Nkheli Liphoto

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