Connect with us


’Mamathe park project gathers momentum



ROMA – A FEW weeks ago, the residents of Ha-’Mamathe in the Berea District woke up to a carefully planned siege.
Their place had been invaded in the early hours of the morning by National University of Lesotho (NUL) Economics students, the Foot Soldiers of the Roma Valley (FSRVs).
The disciplined troops demanded to know a thing or two about a mega-tourist project planned in the area, dubbed ’Mamathe Wonderland.

“We wanted to know the villagers’ thoughts and feelings about the proposed biopark,” says Refiloe Mona, NUL Economics student who along with ’Malehloa Majoro, ’Moelo Ntšekhe and Renang Mokeki led the rest of the foot soldiers.  The expedition was funded by the NUL and Lesotho Funeral Services (LFS), and the offensive was part of a feasibility study being done to determine the potential of the incredibly beautiful place as an exceptional tourist destination in Lesotho.
NUL has been called to assist.

If we walk down the memory lane and stop right on the 14th day of July 2016 on this page, we are greeted with this statement:
,.“’Mamathe Wonderland will first emerge as a nature park. Then it will metamorphose into something of a mini-Disneyland. Then the organic city will materialise around and beyond it.”
You can be sure of this one thing. Nothing good happening in this country will escape the attention of the NUL.
That is why whereas the project was long conceived by ’Mamathe and Khalahali residents, it has now been joined by the school in the Roma Valley and “we wanted to find out the residents’ expectations of the park,” ‘Malehloa Majoro says.

“Ha-’Mamathe and Khalahali residents own trees and agricultural fields in the area, so the sooner we engage them, the greater the likelihood that they will support this project fully,” she says.
But, you may ask, why is there so much noise about this project? Is it not just one of the tourist projects we are well too familiar with?
Nope! This is different! That the NUL is already part of it is enough to raise the eyebrows of even the most unsuspecting of souls.
NUL likes good things. Here is why this is as good as it can be: You see, an average tourist place in Lesotho is about seeing!
Yes it is!

You go, you see, and you leave, never to come back again—because you saw what you wanted to see.
’Mamathe Wonderland is on a different lane.  It’s about activity!
What activity? Let’s take the 14th day of July 2016 memory lane, again, “In this park, you will stop over and hike and camp and parachute and celebrate and balloon ride and eat and drink and dance as if there is no tomorrow.”

“Then, as the park expands, there will be zoos and aquariums and gardens and play parks, and theme parks, to school and to educate, whilst entertaining.”
The park targets the local just as the international tourists. It will be a place for playing—by the young and the old alike.
Do you recall the last time you went playing by the way?

It is true that the project is the brainchild of the ’Mamathe residents themselves.
But “if you really want the same residents to support the project, you need to respect them by first learning about their perceptions of it,” ’Moelo Nt’seke says.
“That is the only way you can make them feel part of it—a major ingredient for its success.”
So what are the perceptions of the FSRVs so far?  The analyses of the results of the study have not yet been completed, “however, we can surely tell you that the people of Ha-’Mamathe just like it,” Renang Mokeki says.  “Some people even suggested that they would be happy to work in the project without pay (they will be paid, of course),” says Majoro as she revealed the enthusiasm she witnessed among the villagers.

But the villagers had a clear warning as well.  You see, this is the 21st century and our communities can no longer be taken for granted.
Listen to this, “they said they hoped the project better be a real deal because they were tired of being promised this and that,” Mona says.
Well, the FSRVs are working hard to ensure this project doesn’t fail. You bet!  But, lo and behold! The FSRVs themselves could not escape the magic of the place.
Of course they went there to interview the residents, but they ended up being lost in the charm of the moment, as they explored the place that would soon be called ’Mamathe Wonderland.
From the horse’s mouth:

“The most stunning place I have ever seen,” Ntšekhe uttered. “The cave is magnificent, so is the history behind it,” a bewildered Mokeki adds.
“I was taken aback by the abundance of indigenous medicinal plants in the area,” says Majoro.  That is, even as Mona elegantly summarised, “The place offers the epitome of community based tourism.”  If you were them, you, surely, wouldn’t have said it any better!

Own Correspondent

Continue Reading


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

Continue Reading


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

Continue Reading


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

Continue Reading