Anthony Kirsten-Chairman SAWAMBA
From left to right: Isak Staats, Seelan Pillay,
Tumahole Lerafa, Mathebeli Mokhothu, at the
Mohair display section at BKB.
Writes; Tshepo Heqoa
Basotho’s blood toiled mohair has been snatched by Stucken and Company (Pty) Ltd from South Africa, a company directed by South African Wool and Mohair buyers Association’s (SAWAMBA) chairperson Anthony Kirsten. This
could be perceived by some as having been through ‘fraudulent dealings’ as he betrayed the cautions he shared in the letter cited 4th July 2018 which he authored as SAWAMBA’s chairman to Lesotho’s Prime Minister Dr Motsoahae Thomas Thabane. In this letter Antreprimanded and cautioned the government not to breach of principles of trade long followed without being fully aware of and mitigating the negative implications involved.
On the 16th of January 2019 in Maseru, at the LNWMGA’s offices at Moshoeshoe II, in a meeting Anthony presented himself as SAWAMBA Chairman and also as a Managing Director of Stucken and Company (Pty) Ltd, a company that was at the time very desperate for mohair and could not update its re-order levels due to the situation in Lesotho at that time. In that meeting Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association’s (LNWMGA) chairperson Mr Mokoenihi Thinyane and his technical team consisting of Dr. Mohlalefi Moteane, Mr Rantelali Shea and Mr Tjonane Matla requested that the chairman of SAWAMBA, having made good contact with the Ministry of Small Business should organize the Wool Exchange to arrange an auction in Lesotho as at the time fibre was not allowed to be sold without being auctioned in Lesotho. Anthony convinced the assembly as an expert in that field that mohair did not absolutely need Wool Testing Bureau (WTB) and therefore could still be sold without testing protocols.
Furthermore, Anthony insisted on buying mohair for a blanket price of M 60.00 or M 40.00 a kilogram, a situation that the assembly further rejected and even resulted in souring the meeting. It will be well to take note that in the beginning of the summer season 2018, the average market indicator of kid mohair increased with 0.8% to close on M509.04/kg while the average market indicator of young goat mohair remained unchanged at M365.15/kg. The average market indicator of fine adult mohair remained unchanged at M283.77/kg while the average market indicator of strong adult mohair closed 2.1% cheaper on M242.14/kg.
Apart the pickle that has fallen upon the fibre industry, the Government and Maseru Dawning through the Lesotho Wool Centre sold wool to Stucken and Company for M118 per kg. This amount falls far and most ridiculously beneath half the average of the lowest prices at The Exchange in Port Elizabeth this summer leaving Anthony Kirsten to generate super-profits from the wool that neither the Ministry of Small Business, Cooperatives and Marketing, The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security nor Stone Shi scarcely know the pains of producing. This all being at the expense of the poor farmers who have trusted SAWAMBA for her services in Port Elizabeth for years.
On the 08th May 2019, the chairperson of LNWMGA wrote a letter to Anthony to declare Stucken and Company (Pty) Ltd to SAWAMBA, the IWTO members and the entire world, as a company that bought the “blood mohair” from Lesotho being assisted by the current Government that has violated the human rights of the Basotho Wool and Mohair Growers, and also ignored the rule of Law which LNWMGA has been perpetually following in a democratic state as per Lesotho Constitution. Anthony ignored the principles he presented to the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Lesotho on the 4th of July 2018, as he found advantage in not only the confusion in the country but also lack of intelligence of the Government Officials he met. Also having found that the mohair was in the hands of an organisation that has not incurred costs in growing mohair and desperate to get rid of the produce at any price, he took that route for selfish reasons despite being aware that the farmers are suppressed on this issue by the Government of Lesotho as they are not consulted and neither is their hope that they shall ever be consulted.
In his letter to the Hon Prime Minister, Anthony wrote; “To be globally competitive, it is essential that international buyers can be presented with a reliable and orderly system that facilitates the change of ownership of wool and mohair. SAWAMBA rent the premises known as “The Exchange” in Port Elizabeth to facilitate this process for South African wool and mohair and for many years has offered the same possibility to the growers of wool and mohair in Lesotho. That offer remains open today. The Exchange is recognized and trusted by international wool and mohair community as a reliable facilitator of change of ownership. The system of open-cry auctions operated at The Exchange ensures the best possible competition and, by implication, results in the growers obtaining the best possible price for their wool and mohair”.
In the same letter, he concludes; “We would submit that there is currently no more practical nor efficient alternative to the orderly marketing of Lesotho wool and mohair than that offered in SAWAMBA at The Exchange in Port Elizabeth. As a result, we strongly encourage that the status quo is maintained until robust consultations and debate with all interested and affected parties surrounding alternative methods are exhausted. The final objective must be to obtain the best possible price and return for the more than 50,000 small stock wool and mohair growers in Lesotho and to ensure the stability and longevity of the wool and mohair industry in your country.”
Notwithstanding the recommendation in the letter, Anthony Kirsten for selfish ambitions further betrayed both his trust from Basotho and as well as his position at SAWAMBA by buying mohair at ridiculous low prices through the help of the current Government.
The latest reports from the minister in the Prime minister’s office – Temeki Tšolo pronounced Lesotho to be in need of about R200m for food aid for almost half a million people. The Government needs money to buy 25 255 tonnes of grain, the minister said in a statement read on the national broadcaster, Radio Lesotho. Crop production has declined by 21% and the sale of livestock products dropped by 70% due to drought while the number of people who will need food will increase to about 640 000 from July until June next year unless production is boosted by intensive agriculture practices,Tšolo said.