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Farmers shun minister’s meetings

Minister of small business Keketso Sello

Oct. 20, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

MASERU – The Minister of Small Business, Cooperatives and Marketing Keketso Sello’s doomed district public gatherings are largely blamed on lack of agenda, local wool and mohair farmers have shown.

The minister seeks to gather public opinion, especially the farmers’, in respect of formulating a law that would satisfy both parties.

But farmers show that they are only interested in receiving their monies for the mohair they have sold through government channels.

“You cannot invite people that you owe a lot of money to come from far-away places for a mere dialogue when they are actually starving and desperate for their delayed payments.

“What they want to hear now is when you are planning to pay them. It’s not surprising that the minister’s gatherings are always a flop,” said Lehlohonolo Tšehlana, a farmer and a politician from Mokhotlong.  

Few farmers showed up at Mr Sello’s organised meetings in Mokhotlong and Leribe, a situation that did not go well with him, forcing him to note that he will consider going his own way with the amendment of the Wool and Mohair Law, if farmers show no interest in his invitations meant to share opinions. 

The law, the farmers say was imposed on them, adding that it previously forced them to trade their merchandise through the government-supported Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre.

The farmers further show that some of them received their payments while others are still being owed a lot of money by the centre.

The delay in payments was attributed to the Lesotho’s wool and mohair worth millions of maloti that was allegedly stuck in South Africa as the country’s fibre was not allowed into any market abroad due to restrictions imposed after the outbreak of the Foot and Mouth Disease between November 2019 and January 2020.

However, the issue was later resolved with Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu further announcing that China had agreed to buy the goods which were in Port Elizabeth.

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Even though the previous regime had suspended the new law, giving farmers the green light to sell their merchandise anywhere they wished, the farmers still complained that they were meeting hardships from the regulations recently created by the ministry in charge.

“Just last week we sent without any hurdle two trucks fully-packed with the merchandise to SA to be auctioned in the markets. To our surprise, a day after, we sent anther truck that was prohibited from crossing into SA, with the ministry’s officials citing there were new regulations in place with other ‘unfamiliar’ procedures that needed to be followed. We don’t understand why the government is always becoming an obstacle to us,” complained Fusi Selati from Leribe.

However, the wool and mohair farmers have expressed relief after five companies were last year awarded brokering licenses to operate in the country.

The companies include BKB, Maluti Wool and Mohair Centre, OVK (CMW), Frasers and Highlands Veterinary Services.

This came after the farmers mulled to once again petition the parliament to get a response on the grievances they submitted earlier on. Among others, they preferred to trade with BKB (a SA based company).


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