Villagers turn against TRC

Villagers turn against TRC

MASERU – A GROUP of villagers around Kao Mine has turned against the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC), an ecumenical organisation that has been claiming to be assisting them in their dispute against the diamond mining company. Now the villagers say instead of helping to solve problems the TRC is brewing trouble between the community and the mine.

Made up of mostly villagers from Ha-Shishila, the group says the TRC is has been instigating the community to fight the mine.
They recently wrote to the District Administrator, Lehlonolo Qhasho, asking him to help them get rid of the TRC. The letter dated November 26, 2018 was stamped by Chieftainess ’Malisebo Mokone of Ha-Shishila.

The group tells the DA that the TRC’s interference has sabotaged development in the area.
They say the TRC is using a few individuals to destroy relations between the mine and community.
The result, the villagers say, is that there is not much dialogue between the mine and the community.
The group accuses the TRC of inciting violence.

The villagers also say the TRC is working with a small group of people to block public meetings to discuss community issues. They say the organisation is also fanning divisions in the community by influencing some villagers to undermine the chief. The villagers also say the TRC has been threatening to sue those who refuse to work with the liaison committee it helped elect.
“The letter was written by the majority of the villagers, more than 100 people agreed with that letter and there is a list of names of everyone who agrees with the letter,” Chieftainess Mokone told thepost.

She said “only a group of not more than five individuals is against the letter as they are being used by the TRC to confuse the people”.
“These are the people who are cutting off the water supply to the mine and blocking roads to the mine. They are the ones who insult the mine, the chief and the government,” Chieftainess Mokone said.

Tseko Ratiea, the chairperson of the Community Liaison Committee, said he was not aware of the letter.
“We do not know when the letter was written, or who wrote it because we do not remember a public gathering where the letter was discussed,” Ratiea said.
Ratiea and the majority of the committee members are accused of being TRC pawns.

The Deputy Chairperson, ’Manalane Molefi, added that what surprised them even more is the fact that the letter has been stamped yet there is no one who has signed on behalf of the villagers.
“Our suspicions are that the letter was written by a few that are benefiting from the mine, the few that want to continue benefiting while the majority suffers,” Molefi said.
She indicated that they are yet to call a public gathering to discuss the letter.

“We do not have any problems with the TRC. They have been with us from the beginning when no one was. We are very much okay with working with it hence our shock when we saw the letter.”
Hlalele Hlalele, the Socio-Economic Rights Officer at the TRC, said he was aware of the letter but did not agree with its contents because they were working well with the liaison committee.
The Butha-Buthe District Administrator, Lehlohonolo Qhasho, said he received the letter but raised concern that it was not signed.

“I received the letter but there were things that had to be corrected, like the fact that no one had signed for the letter,” Qhasho said.
He said Chieftainess Mokone explained that due to transportation challenges the list with the names of those who wrote the letter was left behind.
“I have already contacted the Ministry of Mining to see how we can help them,” he said.

Staff Reporter

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