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Lesotho diamond mines under spotlight

Oct. 3, 2019 3 min read

MASERU - Lesotho diamond mines have come under spotlight that they are part of mines which do not execute standards of good governance corporate conduct. This was unpacked in a report launched last week Thursday in countries that are members of the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition a body which Lesotho is a part of.

The Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition is a coalition of NGOs united in raising the voices and visibility of communities affected by diamond mining and in seeking to align the diamond sector with standards of good governance and responsible corporate conduct. Members of Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition come from Africa which is the world’s principle diamond producing continent.The member states include Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Lesotho, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe. 

Maluti Community Development Forum, a local lobby group from Mokhotlong which fights for the rights of villagers affected by the mines launched the report in Lesotho. According to the report, to date, brutal human rights abuses, including killings, torture and sexual violence, continue to occur in certain diamond mining areas on the African continent and beyond, affecting both artisanal and industrial production.

The reports shows that some corporate miners are alleged to be harming local community livelihoods as a result of unmitigated environmental damage coming from their operations, including water, air and noise pollution.

With this report, the Kimberly Process Civil Society Coalition calls upon both Kimberley Process member states and all actors in the wider diamond industry to provide the caring collaboration required to address the systemic issues of harm still plaguing certain key segments of the diamond supply chain.

In the context of Lesotho, Advocate Thabo Lerotholi who is the president of the Maluti Community Development Forum cited a case in Mokhotlong where one mine used to give the locals recycled water which is unhealthy for public consumption. Adv Lerotholi said this happened after water sources were damaged by the slimes from the mine operations. “So the mine resorted to giving the locals the recycled water,” he also said. 

He further showed that the mine brought the water to the community once within two weeks and despite being unhealthy, the water was also not enough. As another option, he said the mine pumped the unclean water into the river to be later consumed by both the community and its animals.He argued that the water was further contaminated by the animals which drunk from the same source with the people. 


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“Besides, some people also relieve themselves upstream and the waste is carried by water to where water for public consumption is sourced.  “The affected families would rather be relocated than being subjected to these health hazards,” he said.The report shows that the affected communities allege that water contamination from the mine has increasingly forced them to compete with one another for access to clean water, with some reporting severe sickness from the recycled water provided by the mine in an attempt to address the water stresses.

Adv Lerotholi said some people lost their lives after being embroiled in a quarrel with the police at a mine in Butha-Buthe for the simple reason that those people wanted to benefit directly from the mines. He said mines were usually supported by the governments to supress human rights and to cause pollution. He further said when mines were constructed; they conducted Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) which clearly showed how the communities would be affected by operations of the mines in question.

He urged that there should be a certification that the exported diamonds did not come from the mines where communities’ rights had been infringed by the investors. Adv Lerotholi said diamonds that were from conflict-ridden mines should be treated as ‘blood diamonds’. In Lesotho, a producer of some of the highest quality diamonds on the international market, is alleged to be undermining the livelihoods of local communities in Mokhotlong. 

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