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Firewood-cooked traditional meals



MASERU – LESOTHO, like other countries across Africa, has seen people abandon their traditional lifestyle for modern trends. This includes feeding patterns.

But for Thapelo Koloko and his partner, Motumi Khoabane, the development has presented itself as an opportunity to draw people back to their roots — and what better way to do it but through food.

Heritage and cultural re-orientation is the hallmark of their restaurant business.

Ba-oroa-tsatsi Firewood Foods restaurant is situated at a busy place next to Sefateng taxi rank at Seapoint, Maseru.

Business set-ups of this nature are rare particularly in urban areas in Lesotho. This particular business prides itself in using firewood for cooking.

For many Basotho entrapped in fast foods, the traditional dishes served by Ba-oroa-tsatsi Firewood Foods have come as a relief.

The idea of forming a restaurant emanated from the abundant proceeds of agricultural produce from their farm at Sehlabeng called Ba-oroa-tsatsi Agri-business project.

“At some point we harvested potatoes in large quantities and resolved to open a restaurant,” said Koloko.

Koloko has used his educational skills as well as his experience of dealing with food processing to run the restaurant.

“The business is managed by us, the co-founders due to our knowledge in product development and marketing.

“The exposure and experience dealing with food and beverages has positioned us as entrepreneurs that are skilled in accelerating the business.

“Our popularity in the space of youth development and youth economic empowerment advocacy and being a regular speaker at local events that are geared towards educating Basotho about the history of foods and herbs has helped us draw a lot of customers,” said Koloko, a trained accountant from Botho University.

The name Ba-oroa-tsatsi traces its origins to the fond affiliations of the founders to promote the black race, particularly Sesotho speaking groups.

History has it that the place where Basotho originate from is termed Ntsoanatsatsi, therefore it had been safe to conclude that the people who originate from there are Ba-oroa-tsasi, according to the founders’ perception.

Koloko strongly upholds the virtues of being a Mosotho and is guided by the adage that one cannot know where they are headed to if they do not know their history.
On their menu is a wide variety of dishes to choose from.

There are provisions for indigenous beverages and foods that are often provided on certain occasions or on order.

“We are a cultural-based restaurant that strives to serve ordinary, unique, occasional fashion food and beverages in town.

“We offer bakery products such as buns, bread and pizza as well as fast foods that include chicken wings, chips, food wraps, braai, stews as well as beverages like slushies, milkshake, khemere, cocktails, wines, ciders and vodka and milkshake.

“Popcorn, candy floss are also part of the fun foods we provide.

“The restaurant doesn’t entirely use gas and electricity to process the cooked meals, instead, firewood is mostly used.

“We cater for mini occasional events such as birthdays, graduation celebrations and business meetings,” he said.

Among the many services that the restaurant provides as a courtesy treat are free Wi-Fi, photoshoot, library and traditional games such as morabaraba.

On request, customers are given access to free streaming of music from online handles.

The restaurant is primarily built with wooden materials that include pallets.

For aesthetics purposes, the wood has also been used to furnish the place and is chipped into different shapes and sizes to make tables, chairs, benches and stools.

The view inside the restaurant is eye catching and evokes one’s spirituality with attachment to Mother Nature.

“Our primary customers are residents of Seapoint and surrounding areas. Also, people who come to do shopping in town pass by this place and enjoy the deliciously cooked meals.

“Ba-oroa-tsatsi serves people who want to feast on healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner while at the same time embracing the traditional atmosphere.

“People also come in groups from different social and business backgrounds and get an opportunity to dine and enjoy in a relaxed environment,” he said.

Running a thriving business hasn’t been a walk in the park, said Koloko.

“Management entails being able to plan, lead and control. This is vital for the smooth running of the business.

“Managers need to use both creativity and problem solving skills in order to create and implement plans to help a business to prosper.

“Managers need to create plans for new product roll-outs or business restructuring.

“Their leadership and communication skills come in handy to interact effectively with the business’s employees and customers.

“They will be confident and respectful while offering employees support when needed.

“Their ability to multitask and manage stress will stand them in good stead as they oversee multiple operations of the business,” said Koloko.

Calvin Motekase

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LEC to switch off households over debts



MASERU – The Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) will from Tuesday next week begin switching off clients who owe it money.

The LEC issued a seven-day ultimatum to all customers who owe it on Tuesday last week. The deadline ends on Monday.

It is expected that the LEC will begin switching off households that have defaulted.

The state-owned power company, however, is not going to touch any government department or business entities that owe it on grounds that they are in payment negotiations.

The LEC move comes barely two weeks after it cut electricity supplies to the Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) thus causing it to fail to pump water to communities countrywide for more than two days.

The LEC says it is owed close to M200 million by government departments, businesses and individuals.

The LEC spokesman, Tšepang Ledia, told thepost that the government and the businesses will not have their electricity cut because they are in negotiations.

“We are in negotiations with the government and businesses and hopefully they will pay,” Ledia said.

“We advise the ordinary people to pay their debts before the 20th of March 2023 or else we cut the services,” he said.

The LEC says it is running short of funds for its daily operations.

In December last year the company increased power tariffs by 7.9 percent on both energy and maximum demand charges across all customer categories for the Financial Year 2022/23.

Last week the LEC boss, Mohato Seleke, said postpaid consumers and sundry debtors owe the company M169.4 million.

He said unless the debtors pay he will be unable to buy electricity from ’Muela Hydropower Project, Eskom in South Africa and Mozambique’s EDM.

This, he said, could cause serious load shedding in the country and could be devastating for businesses.

Seleke said the LEC spends M630 million monthly to buy electricity.

“If postpaid consumers do not settle their debts this could prevent the LEC from being able to buy electricity which can lead the country to encounter load-shedding,” Seleke said.

Seleke said collecting debt from government department ministries was a challenge as there is an understanding that since LEC is a state-owned company, it will continue supplying government agencies with electricity and they will settle their bills when they have funds to do so.

Seleke said the LEC has lost M21 million to vandalism during this financial year.

Relebohile Tšepe

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Bumper payout for former mineworkers



MASERU – AT least 11 316 current as well as former mine workers are set for a bumper payout after Tshiamiso Trust began disbursing the first billion Maloti to workers who are suffering from silicosis and tuberculosis.

The payment comes two years after Tshiamiso Trust began processing claims for the historical M5 billion settlement agreement between mineworkers and six gold mines in South Africa.

Speaking at the payment announcement in Maseru last week, the Trust’s CEO, Lusanda Jiya, said it has been two years since they officially began accepting claims.

“Our people come to work every day with the mission of impacting lives for the better, and the first billion rand paid out to over 11 000 families is just the beginning,” Jiya said.

“We know that there is no compensation that will ever be enough to undo the suffering endured by mine workers and their families,” he said.

“However, we are committed to deliver our mandate and ensure that every family that is eligible for compensation receives it.”

Jiya said the Trust is limited both in terms of the time in which they can operate, and the extent to which they can assist those seeking compensation.

Broadly speaking, the eligibility criteria include among others that the mineworker must have worked at one of the qualifying gold mines between March 12, 1965 and December 10, 2019.

Secondly, living mineworkers must have permanent lung damage from silicosis or TB and deceased mine workers representatives must have evidence that proves that they (the deceased) died from TB or Silicosis.

Tshiamiso Trust has a lifespan of 12 years, ending in February 2031.

Over 111 000 claims have been received to date, through offices in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, eSwatini, and Mozambique.

The Trust is working with stakeholders in these countries and others to mobilise its efforts and expand operations.

The history of silicosis in South Africa goes back to the late 1880’s when the first gold mines began operations.

The gold was stored and locked in quartz, a special rock that contains large amounts of silica.

Crystallised silica particles can cause serious respiratory damage if inhaled.

In the earlier days of gold mining, dust control, health and safety standards and the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) were not as advanced as they are today.

Tshiamiso Trust was established in 2020 to give effect to the settlement agreement reached between six mining companies.

The companies are African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Stillwater and Gold Fields.

The settlement agreement was reached and made after a ruling by the Johannesburg High Court as a result of a historic class action by former and current mineworkers against the six gold mines.

Justice for Miners is a coalition of interested parties in the mining sector launched at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg in 2020.

The Johannesburg High Court approved the setting up of the Tshiamiso Trust to facilitate payment by the companies to affected miners.

Keith Chapatarongo

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Farmers cry over cost of livestock feed



MASERU – Lehlohonolo Mokhethi is a farmer who has been running a successful poultry business, thanks to a small loan he got from a local bank.

He now has 300 chickens.

He says his vision is to rear 5 000 chickens by 2025 and employ 30 youths. But he is now grappling with a new challenge: the ever increasing cost of chicken feed.

That is threatening the viability of his business.

“The biggest challenge is that food prices increase every day, feeding is expensive,” Mokhethi said.

“It is quite difficult to make profit in business if each and every day food prices increase. Today I am buying a bag of food with a certain amount then the next day the price has increased,” he says.

“Our customers fail dismally to understand that food has increased and the Chinese are taking our market because they sell at a low price thus I run at a loss.”

Last week, a top attorney in Maseru who is also a prominent farmer, Tiisetso Sello-Mafatle, called a meeting for farmers to discuss these challenges.

She says the government must regulate the prices of livestock feed.

That is critical if the farming business is to succeed, she says.

Attorney Sello-Mafatle says farmers must come up with a structure for livestock feed prices which they would present to the government for gazetting.

“We should state our regulations and give them to the government to make everything easy for both parties because we cannot wait for the government to make regulations for us,” Sello-Mafatle says.

She adds that “farmers should be bullish about what they want and never have fear endorsing new things”.

“I will not be challenged or cry (because of) what life throws at me but I will cry when things are not happening the right way,” she says.

Mafatle says farmers need to know who they are and know the capabilities they have.

“This will help a farmer in becoming the best in any field they are in once they are confident about themselves,” she says.

Karabo Lijo, another participant, said they have to influence the cost of inputs in agriculture, especially livestock feed.

“We have to go back to cost-price analysis where as farmers we are able to derive the selling price and the break-even point in our production,” Lijo said.

“We can also derive the stable or constant mark-ups on our products,” he said.

“We need to do research to increase the ability to produce byproducts which are likely to have the longest shelve life,” he said.

The meeting urged farmers to diversify their products by introducing such things as mushroom farming. They said mushrooms can grow very well in Lesotho due to its favourable climate.

The farmers also demanded that there should be regulations on how land can be sold or borrowed in Lesotho.

Tholoana Lesenya and Alice Samuel

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