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Lesotho, SA agree to establish cross-border benefit pact

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa

June 17, 2020 3 min read

3 min read

MASERU – Lesotho and South Africa could soon come out with a template that might resolve Africa’s long awaited vision of free movement of people across the continent’s borders.

This follows a recent outburst between local imports and exports traders and their South African counterparts at Maseru Border gate, where strict border controls because of the Covid-19 outbreak as well as feelings and accusations of imbalances in cross-border preferences were themed to some controversy of altercations.

The two countries have since agreed to resolve their bilateral and trade issues almost immediately and this was penned during the official visit of Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and his deputy, Mathibeli Mokhothu to Pretoria last Friday.

Both countries have agreed to task their ministers to come up with solutions with regard to the cross border challenges. The two leaders agreed that the movement of people and labour between the two countries meant a greater economic benefit. 

Dr Majoro said following his official visit to South Africa last week Friday, both parties have resolved to address cross border challenges as well as begin to work on strengthening ties between the two nations.

“We are determined to work harder towards improving bilateral relations with other nations. You have already heard of our official visit to South Africa where we agreed that cross border issues should be addressed when we start working on many other bilateral issues,” Majoro said on Monday when addressing the nation.

For his part, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa welcomed the visit, saying it marks the beginning of the process of improving and deepening relations between the two countries.

“We are very pleased with his visit as it gives us updates on both the Covid-19 as well as political development sides. We were delighted to hear that stability has returned to Lesotho and that there is a renewed commitment to embark on the reforms process that we have been a facilitator in.

“This visit also marks an important milestone of the beginning of the process of improving and deepening our relations at all levels that touch on the movement of people between us and how we should find ways of supporting each other’s economies particularly in relation to post Covid-19,” Ramaphosa said following the visit.

He said among others, the two countries will also deal with issues of cross border crimes especially human trafficking.

“We are going to be getting our ministers to begin the process dealing with all these matters through formalised meetings as they meet with all relevant divisions to map a way forward,” Ramaphosa showed.   

Chaos continued at Maseru Border on Monday despite the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) intervention over the cross border restrictions recently imposed by South Africa.

Import and export traders staged a protest, blocking movement of delivery trucks from entering and leaving the country.

They were arguing that South African trucks easily come into Lesotho without any unnecessary pressures while local trucks on the other hand are now struggling to cross into South Africa.

Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro

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Two weeks ago, South African border authorities at the Maseru Bridge took a unilateral decision to impose strict measures on movement of goods across the South African borders as part of enforcement of lockdown level three regulations.

The reason for imposing the strict measures, according to South African authorities, was due to abuse of procedures by some Basotho who pose as traders in order to go shopping in South Africa in violation of the South Africa level three measures.

The decision resulted in trucks from Lesotho being barred from crossing the border and thus causing a huge uproar.

As a result, the LRA requested a meeting with South African authorities to discuss the matter and come up with an amicable solution.

“It was then agreed that the requirements be relaxed and that only registered logistics companies delivering goods in South Africa or Lesotho may be allowed movement.

“These companies should produce the import/exporter code as required by South African Revenue Services, certified copy of the Traders License, another copy of the Tax Clearance Certificate as well as a copy of the quotation or order manifest for the goods to be collected,” the LRA revealed in a statement last week.

Essential services providers on the other hand are allowed movement provided they produce business documents, business permits and a letter from an employer to perform essential services.

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