Ultimatum for Thabane

Ultimatum for Thabane

MASERU – WOOL and mohair farmers have given Prime Minister Thomas Thabane a week to intervene in their squabble with the government or face unspecified action. Hundreds of farmers from across the country marched to protest the government’s new regulations on the sale of wool and mohair on Monday.
The regulations, adopted by parliament this week, prohibit farmers from exporting their wool and mohair without licences. The farmers say the regulations are meant to favour an Australian-Chinese man who has opened a wool and mohair centre in Thaba-Bosiu.

Their petition was received by Agriculture Minister Mahala Molapo and Development Planning Minister Tlohelang Aumane because Thabane is in the United States for United Nations meeting.
Reading the petition, Rantelali Shea, a farmer from Semonkong, said they had to approach the Thabane because they have “exhausted all other remedies”.
The farmers said they are worried that the government ignored court orders allowing them to export wool and mohair. The police are still arresting farmers who try to export their wool and mohair. They said Thabane is yet to respond to a letter they wrote to him last month.

Around the same time the farmers asked the SADC oversight committee in Lesotho to intervene but they did not get any joy.
The farmers, Shea said, have run out of patience.

“This is the last time that we march in this way against the Prime Minister,” Shea said. “We urge you to respond to us within seven days or else we will take further actions.”
But as they were protesting government was prodding ahead with implementing the new wool and mohair regulations. Parliament this week adopted the controversial regulations that have angered farmers across the country and stalled trade in wool and mohair.

Trade Minister Tefo Mapesela, who has become the government’s face of the contentious regulations, said government is not going to back down.
Mapesela has visited several government shearing sheds to warn farmers against violating the regulations. Mapesela told thepost that he is going round the country “teaching the law to farmers because it seems a lot of them don’t understand it”.

“They must understand the new Agricultural Wool and Mohair Regulations of 2018,” he said. He said farmers “must not use shearing sheds belonging to the government if they do not want to abide by the law”. “We will get them out of the shearing sheds and they will not use them,” he said, adding: “Those who break the law will be arrested.”

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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