Minister in near fist fight

Minister in near fist fight

MASERU – TRADE Minister Tefo Mapesela and the Chairman of Thabang sheering stud in Mokhotlong Khotsang Moshoeshoe, were in a near fist fight on Monday, as the rift over regulations intensifies. Mapesela was in Thabang, Mokhotlong, as part of a countrywide campaign to forcibly remove wool and mohair farmers opposed to the controversial 2018 Wool and Mohair Regulations out of government-owned shearing studs.

The minister stormed the association’s shearing shed and ordered the shearers to vacate the shed.
But Moshoeshoe, who was shearing sheep with other farmers, would have none of it, arguing that shearing shed belonged to the association and not the government.
Undeterred by the massive manpower accompanying the minister – about 20 police officers and soldiers armed with rifles – Moshoeshoe stood his ground, referring to Mapesela as a “boy”.

“I am telling you, you boy, that you will not close this shed because it is not yours,” Moshoeshoe said as the two men sparred in raised voices.
“Hey, you boy, disrespectful boy, this shed does not belong to the government and I say you are not going to close it as long as I am here,” he said.
Mapesela was not to be outdone.

“You will see that I will close it. Get out so that I close it,” shouted the minister.
Moshoeshoe insisted the shed was built and donated to the Mokhotlong Wool and Mohair Growers Association as indicated on a commemorative plaque at the site.
“Go and read that if you are literate, you boy!” Moshoeshoe said, his voice rising.

In a bid to flex his muscle, Mapesela instructed the security agents to chuck the farmers out but the move was met with more resistance.
Other farmers who had already stepped outside the shed for fear of being arrested or beaten up eventually pleaded with Moshoeshoe to leave the shed.
Moshoeshoe locked the shed, arguing that he has sole authority to lock and unlock the building.
Mapesela and his heavily armed entourage left.

“We plainly refused and after they left we opened the shed and continued with the shearing,” Moshoeshoe later told thepost.
“Even today the shed is open and farmers are shearing,” Moshoeshoe said.
Moshoeshoe stated that only time will tell to bring about a solution.

“Fortunately we have never sought any assistance or donation from the government. We do everything for ourselves,” he said, admonishing Mapesela for the heavy handed approach.
“The minister asked for our votes to be where he is today. He is abusing the same people that put him in power. He visits such people with armed forces. Time will tell and one day he will leave office and become just an ordinary man,” fumed Moshoeshoe.

On the same day, wool and mohair farmers marched in Maseru to petition Prime Minister Thomas Thabane to intervene.
Moshoeshoe said they decided against joining the march, and instead concentrated on working in their shed before Mapesela arrived.
This was not the first shearing stud that Mapesela visited with the intention to close it.

“He disrupted the shearing at Senqu Shearing shed… he kicked everyone out of the shed,” Moshoeshoe said.
Mapesela had also earlier gone to Thaba-Ntšo and Makhapung shearing sheds to enforce the new 2018 Wool and Mohair Regulations.
“This is a recipe for disaster,” Moshoeshoe said, adding: “Some farmers will not allow him to do that and that will lead to unnecessary bloodshed.
The regulations say no wool or mohair shall be exported from Lesotho unless it has been auctioned.

In addition, farmers must have licences to export their wool and mohair. Two weeks ago, Mapesela went to Phahameng Shearing Shed in Mokhotlong where some farmers are said to be against the new regulations. It is alleged that the leaders in the woolshed take wool from the neck, back and tummy of sheep as some kind of levy from farmers.
Mapesela later told thepost: “I stopped the shearing and explained that taking the neck wool, back wool and tummy wool or mohair forcefully and leaving the owner with the side wool is not right. They should stop it.”

“They ask farmers if they abide by the new regulations or not, the regulations that are clear that wool and mohair should be sold here but they want to take it to BKB in South Africa not to Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre,” Mapesela said.
He added that other ministers will also visit different districts to raise awareness among farmers on the regulations.

Staff Reporter

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