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Tough new law for mines

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MASERU – The government is set to introduce a tough law what will compel mining companies to do more to help communities in which they operate. Mining Minister Keketso Sello unveiled the Minerals and Mining Bill 2017 at a workshop last week.
Cabinet will soon discuss the Bill before it is brought to parliament, according to Sello. The Bill seeks to impose penalties on mining companies that neglect their corporate social responsibility programmes.

“Every holder of mineral rights shall set aside one percent of the gross income for corporate social responsibility purposes,” the Bill reads.
The Bill proposes that companies that fail “to implement corporate social responsibility obligations” shall be fined an equivalent of 50 percent of the amount which was to be remitted as part of its corporate social responsibility obligations plus the principal sum.
If a company repeats the offence “the Mining Authority shall forfeit the licence”.

If the company does not pay the fine, the Authority shall confiscate its assets to pay for the unpaid fines and outstanding fees.
Under the Bill the Mining Authority “shall be the chief regulator of the mining industry”.

The Authority shall oversee the implementation of the provisions of the Act and all regulations and guidelines.
It will also consider applications for mineral rights and grant mineral rights by issuing licences.

The Bill says a mining company that fails to hire locals will be fined the equivalent of 30 percent of the value of money that was to be paid to the local employees. If it repeats the offence twice its licence will be forfeited and its assets confiscated in the case of its failure to pay the fines.
The Bill proposes that a mining company shall “prepare an employment plan indicating the managerial, technical, and support positions which shall be filled in by expatriates and those which shall be filled in by the people of Lesotho”.

It proposes that a mining company must “give preference to the people of Lesotho who possess the required managerial and technical qualifications for all managerial and technical functions”.
Such company must “give employment only to the people of Lesotho for all support functions”.
The Bill also says companies must “draw and implement a systematic plan of on-job training and exposure to managerial skills for Basotho as part of a succession plan”.
Companies are forced to organise on-job technical training programmes for Basotho relating to the running and operating of machineries, tools and other equipment used in mining activities.
They are also required to organise training opportunities, seminars, or study tours for Basotho within or outside the country on all skills relevant to mining with the purpose to build skills.

The bill says a holder of mineral rights shall “procure products and equipment manufactured or produced in Lesotho from companies in Lesotho, and preference shall be given to companies in which people of Lesotho hold at least 20 percent of shares”.
Speaking at the legal framework workshop, Sello bemoaned the reliance of the ministry on outdated pieces of legislation such as the Precious Stones Order 1970, Precious Stones Order Regulations 1970, Diamond Dealers Licence 2004, Kimberly Process Regulations 2003, Mine Safety Act 1981 and Minerals Act 2005.

“There is need to review the mining legislation as the mentioned pieces of legislation are outdated and do not contain provisions relating to the responsibilities and obligations of government, mine investors and other key actors,” Sello said.
“The lack of statutes in vital areas such as safety and occupational health, anti-hoarding measures, corporate social responsibility, legality of artisanal and small scale mining activities and illegal trade compounded by inadequate regulations for implementing the Mines and Minerals Act lead to uncertainty and unpredictability in the sector,” he said.

“Consents and the associated prolonged procedures for securing them in investment transactions requiring mining title transfers are a hindrance to the flow of mining investment into the sector.” Sello said as a result “the existing legal regulatory framework is fragmented and does not meet today’s societal and industrial needs”. “There is need to overhaul all the above legislation in order to improve our monitoring of the mining operations with a view to providing lasting and equitable socio-economic benefits to the country,” he said.

Staff Reporter

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Short courses for ex-mineworkers

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THE Lesotho Diamond Academy has introduced mining short courses, particularly to ex-mineworkers, to help them re-enter the mining sector.
The Essential Introductory Courses, which will run for two weeks, will start from June this year. The courses are meant particularly for people who worked in mines in South Africa.

The Academy’s CEO, Relebohile Molefe, unveiled the new courses during the graduation of 18 students last week, four of whom are now armed with Cutting and Polishing certificates while 14 graduated with Rough Diamond Evaluation certificates.

The new courses include the Essential Certificate in Diamond Grading and the Essential Certificate in Diamond Evaluation.

“The decision to offer these courses aligns with the Academy’s dedication to bridge the gap and ensure that individuals with valuable experience can seamlessly reintegrate into the diamond and jewelry industry,” Molefe said.

“By providing short courses, the academy does not only impart essential skills but also contributes to the sector’s growth by reactivating experienced individuals who had lost access to the industry due to no formal documents showing their experience in the industry,’’ she said.

During the graduation celebration, Molefe also unveiled a new sponsorship programme for various courses.

One outstanding student previously sponsored, who demonstrated exceptional proficiency in Rough Diamond Evaluation, was granted a fully funded bursary to further his studies into Advanced Certificate in Round Diamond Brilliantering.

In pursuit of its multifaceted objectives, one of which is to serve as a catalyst for employers in the diamond and jewelry sector to devise skills development strategies, the Academy is set to sponsor four additional students in the upcoming intake starting from February 15.

Two of these bursaries will afford a 30 percent discount on overall fees for two students progressing from Cutting and Polishing to advanced studies in Rough Diamond Evaluation.

Two will be fully funded bursaries to study for a Certificate in Diamond Cutting and Polishing.

Additionally, the institution will extend two fully funded bursaries to the public, fostering inclusivity and expanding opportunities.

The Academy says it plans to announce the search for two deserving Basotho individuals on its social media pages and website.

“Importantly, the bursary programme bears no age restrictions, reflecting a commitment to fairness and inclusiveness, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of age,” it says in a statement.

The Academy says it seeks “to be a dynamic force in shaping the industry, not just within national borders, but also on regional and international platforms”.

“The emphasis on competitiveness within these markets underscores the institution’s commitment to producing graduates who are not only proficient but also globally competitive,” the statement reads.

“The recent graduation ceremony symbolises a milestone in the Academy’s journey. The success of its students is a testament to the quality of education and the foresight embedded in the curriculum.”

The Academy says its decision to sponsor further education for outstanding performers reflects a belief in nurturing talent and contributing to the continuous improvement of the diamond industry.

The Lesotho Diamond Academy was founded by the late Mpalipali Molefe, a prominent educator, diamond trader and an MP, who recognised the imperative to elevate professionalism in the diamond industry.

Staff Reporter

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Bank hands over uniforms to students

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THE Lesotho Post Bank donated uniforms to students at Leqele High School worth a staggering M60 000 as part of its Back-To-School campaign.
The bank said it did this “to keep needy children in school and to promote their education”.

A teacher at the school, Tšepo Semethe, said the uniforms will likely motivate the students to work harder in their studies.

Semethe insisted on giving the bank the names of the students so that it could check their performance at the end of the year.

“At Leqele High School, we work very hard because what we want is excellence above all. To us, hard work pays,” he said.

The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Molefi Khama, said they are getting old, they will soon retire and Lesotho Post Bank will be in the hands of these children.

He pleaded with the students to work harder.

“This is why we decided to come here to support the students in their education so that when coming to school, they should be confident,” Khama said.

“We are watching you and waiting on you,” he said.

The school’s head prefect, Tholoana Monatsi, said from now on, “no student will be identified by what they wear”.

“(Lesotho) Post Bank made us one and we thank them for that because what we wear cannot stand before our education. We indeed thank you and forever you will hold special places in our hearts,” she said.

A parent, ’Marorisang Latela, said they were very grateful for the gift from Lesotho Post Bank adding that they must also donate to other schools.

Minister of Trade, Mokethi Shelile, promised to go back to the school to discuss how the children could learn in comfortable surroundings.

Relebohile Tšepe

 

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Mamello School of Special Needs wins prize

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MAMELLO School of Special Needs is the first-place winner of Standard Lesotho Bank’s Scaled-Up Pitching Den held at Maseru Avani on Tuesday.
The school has secured a grand prize for an all-expenses-paid trip to Kenya to participate as a finalist representing Lesotho at the Standard Bank Africa Awards.

The school, pioneered in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic through Zoom classes, deals with children who live with conditions such as autism, attachment disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) dyslexia, Down syndrome and slow learners.


STKTM Solutions claimed the second-place spot, receiving a commendable M10 000, while Masia Farms secured third place and a M5 000 prize.


Pheello Masia of Masia Farms, thanked Standard Lesotho Bank for backing their vision and that of other Basotho entrepreneurs.


He acknowledged that the bank’s faith in their endeavours serves as a source of inspiration, propelling them to work harder and foster growth within the community.


The event, aimed at fortifying support and fostering regional integration for Basotho entrepreneurs across the African continent, showcased the bank’s commitment to driving the growth of Lesotho.


Malatola Phothane, Head of Enterprise Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, set the tone in his welcoming remarks.


“As Standard Lesotho Bank, through business and commercial banking, we strive to turn possibilities into opportunities,” Phothane said.


“Lesotho is our home, and we drive her growth,” he said.


His words resonated with the bank’s dedication to nurturing local talent and fostering economic development.


Phothane acknowledged the eight finalists, commending them for their resilience and passion for their businesses.


He emphasised how each entrepreneur had stood their ground, displaying knowledge and unwavering commitment.


The recognition not only highlighted the achievements of the finalists but also underscored the bank’s role in recognising and uplifting the entrepreneurial spirit within the community.


Aliciah Motšoane, founder of Prestige Furnitures and Sentebale Gap Funeral Services, played a significant role at the event as a motivational speaker, sharing her entrepreneurial journey filled with challenges and triumphs.


She recounted her humble beginnings when she was selling bread in high school, leading to the establishment of Prestige Furnitures in 1998.


Despite facing a significant setback after her shop was burnt down during the riots and incurring a loss of M5 million, Motšoane never gave up.


She said business is always a demanding endeavour adding that it needs hard work and a unique mindset.


She urged entrepreneurs to embrace their roots, seek inspiration, and persevere through challenges.


The keynote speaker, the bank’s Head of Business and Commercial Clients, Keketso Makara, said the bank is committed to foster a thriving business environment, highlighting the pivotal role of youth collaboration across diverse economic sectors.


Makara said their mandate aims to empower youths in steering the private sector towards growth, contributing to economic diversification.


Makara urged the eight finalists to actively involve bankers in refining their proposals for maximum impact on economic stimulation and sustainable development.


The bank said the Scaled-Up Pitching Den not only served as a stage for entrepreneurs to present their ventures but also acted as a driving force for networking, collaboration, and collective empowerment.

Staff Reporter

 

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