Ministers clash

Ministers clash

……….Indian businessman, community in row over land…….

MASERU-TWO ministers have clashed in a land dispute that is pitting the Hlotse community against a businessman of Indian descent.
One minister is alleged to have the community’s side while the other is accused of throwing his lot with the businessman.
Mining Minister Keketso Sello, who is also the Hlotse MP, says he is standing with the community and has helped fund its legal battle for the land.

The community told this paper that Sello contributed M17 000 so that they can challenge the businessman’s claim to the land in court.
Minister of Agriculture Mahala Molapo, the MP for a neighbouring Thaba-Phatšoa constituency, is alleged to be supporting the Indian businessman.

He has since told the community that he is unable to help them in their battle against the businessman. The community says Molapo has sold out to the businessman.
Molapo said he advised the community to negotiate with the businessman “so that he could allow them to use part of the property for their street vending”.
The property in dispute is the main market centre for street vendors.

The businessman says he owns the land and has been trying to evict the vendors.
Last week he brought a court order barring the vendors from using the plot.
When they complained and marched to the District Administrator last Friday they were roughly dispersed by the police.

That was when Sello intervened and the community applied for a rescission of the court’s order.
Sello told thepost that “the government mistreats Hlotse street vendors and community by dismissing them from their work place”.
Sello explained that the street vendors deserve to be on the land.

He said he does not understand why “government allowed an Indian to build his business yet there are Basotho who are already running their businesses at the very same place”.
“They were denied that place as a market place but when an Indian came in to purchase the place they agreed yet he is still going to build a warehouse which is still a business for market,” Sello argued.
“How did he get that site?”
“Truly they are being unfair to those vendors,” he said.

Sello said he paid half of the vendors’ initial legal fees.
The vendors believe that Agriculture Minister Molapo is siding with the Indian businessman.
He said at a meeting he told the vendors that there was nothing he could do because the Indian had documents signed in 2017 in the previous government.
Molapo said the street vendors wanted the documents giving the Indian the property cancelled but he refused, telling them that would create a legal dispute.

“The Indian would have to be compensated if the land was to be taken from him,” Molapo said.
“If we could bow down to their pressure it would be the government that is going to pay for the expenses incurred by the Indians.”
“I do not have power to do that since I do not know the agreement between the previous government and the Indian.”

“I do not know how to cancel the contract. I told them to communicate with that Indian to give them a small space where they could still carry out their businesses but they refused,” Molapo said.
“And I have nothing to do with that. All they have to do now is to talk to their lawyer to pay for the court expenses incurred by the Indian,” he said.
The Thaba-Phatšoa MP said the place the street vendors are fighting for is not clean and they have littered it everywhere.
Instead Molapo shifted blame to the Land Administration Authority (LAA) as is the ones that granted the lease for the land in dispute.

However, according to the law the LAA does not allocate land but merely confirms what the allocating authorities did by issuing the lease.
The Land Act says local government councils have the authority to allocate land. But the Leribe District Council chairperson, Bothata Makhetha, said he did not know who owned the disputed land.
District council secretary, Lemohang Mohau, also said she could not say anything about the land since she is clueless about who actually owns it.

“I have heard it belonged to the Ministry of Agriculture,” Mohau said.
But Agriculture Minister Molapo said the land “is said to belong to a certain society that produced fruit trees a long time ago”.
He however said he does not know the society.
The street vendors were kicked out of the land through a court order last week where they were informed that the land belongs to the Indian who has a contract to build at the site.

Khotso Maleka, a street vendor, said they were told by the District Administrator to leave because the Indian man wants to build a warehouse.
“The DA did not warn us that we were about to leave,” Maleka said.
“It was only last week when we were forced to evacuate the place through a court order and when we asked for the reasons, the Indian told us that he was given the site by the government.”

“About 15 families have been affected by this dislocation. Had they warned us in the first place we could have found a way to relocate ourselves but they did not say anything to us.”
He however said that they are not willing to leave until they understand how the businessman bought the land.

Itumeleng Khoete

Previous Bantu in battle cry
Next Chaos at the border

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/thepostc/public_html/wp-content/themes/trendyblog-theme/includes/single/post-tags-categories.php on line 7

About author

You might also like

News

MKM’s head-cracking options

MASERU – SOON after taking over MKM’s assets the liquidators started exploring ways to repay the investors who had lost their monies in the Ponzi scheme. They knew they were

Muckracker

When harlots hit the streets

It was good to see opposition leaders clad in tattered blankets march with the wool farmers. But even as the opposition leaders were mingling and bum-jiving with the farmers Muckraker

News

MP attacks ‘Chinafication’ of Lesotho

MASERU – FIREBRAND leader of the Movement for Economic Change (MEC), Selibe Mochoboroane, wants China’s role in Lesotho clipped. Mochoboroane’s comments could indicate a discomfort among politicians with China’s growing role