Mokoenehi Thinyane(right) – National Chairman
presenting the fibre crises in Lesotho upper House
with Mothebeli Makhetha (letf)LNWMGA
Writes; ‘Makarabo Matšumunyane
The wool and mohair saga has taken longer than we all possibly imagined. Not even court rulings could bring it to an end and time after time we hear of forums and sittings where this issue is being discussed. How long is it going to take for a solution to be reached for the satisfaction of all parties engaged in the wool and mohair trade? This is a question we are probably all asking.
There have been attempts made to try to bring an end to this conflict. As we have previously published in one of our issues, the Upper House of the Parliament of Lesotho through the Legislative Committee, in its various attempts to bring a reconciliation and to investigate the wool and mohair regulations of 2018 whether they are legally founded has also been summoning different role players in the wool and mohair industry. The previous broker of the Basotho wool and mohair growers, BKB was summoned, the Lesotho National Wool and Mohair Growers Association (LNWMGA), the only and current broker Maseru Dawning, as well as the involved Ministries were all summoned, each to give a stance on the business itself and the newly formulated regulations.
LNWMGA when presenting its stance in the Upper House of the Parliament (commonly known as Senate House), started first by giving a background on how they have been operating with their South African brokers for the past years (close to 50 years). In addition, they gave a background of their relationship with Maseru Dawning and they said that truly the regulations came as a shock to them as well as the farmers since they never knew of any shortcomings in the system that they have been following.
Furthermore, the Chairman of LNWMGA Mr. Mokoenihi Thinyane while presenting also explained how the National Committee of the Association is formed. He stated that their operation as an Association starts at shearing shed level where every member is allowed to participate and free to give their opinion. He further stated that their National Committee consists of members elected from shearing shed level at district level, therefore each decision taken is representative of the farmers.
Moreover, members of LNWMGA also told the Legislative Committee that from the moment they had the thought of establishing the Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre, it was always their desire to build themselves a well-equipped and complete centre that would enable them to store, prepare and sell all fibre here in Lesotho with expertise assistance of the very same South African brokers that they have been working with. This plan, they said, was hijacked by the government by implementing the Regulation No. 65 of 2018. In vain, they tried to approach the government to discuss the pros and cons of hastening such an operation without proper preparation and a transitional period. They furthermore said they were met with so much fury and zeal by some of the Ministers who perhaps already had certain determinations.
In the courts of law
Ever since the implementation of the 2018 regulations, LNWMGA has filed several cases against the Ministry of Small Business, Cooperatives and Marketing as well as Maseru Dawning whose Managing Director is Stone Shi. For a long time the dates of these hearings have been postponed but finally at the beginning of April 2019, LNWMGA won the case against the government of Lesotho in front of Judge Moroke Mokhesi who dismissed the “Agricultural Marketing (Wool and Mohir) (Ammendment) Regulation No. 65 of 2018 as unreasonable, vague and ultra vires of the Agricultural Marketing Act No. 26 of 1967.”
While the Court had made its ruling, the Ministry of Small Business, Cooperatives and Marketing filed an application for appeal against the ruling of which we believe shall be on the roll when the court of appeal sits. The Ministry furthermore lost on the stay of execution. The case was under Justice Mokhesi.
The major concern of the farmers is that the government is not abiding by the rulings of the court to issue export permits since the Minister of Small Businesses, Cooperatives and Marketing applied for an appeal against the ruling of High Court where LNWMGA is a respondent. The judgement made by the High Court on the 18th April, 2019 implies that fibre trading should be conducted according to the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1967 under which farmers are free to trade their fibre wherever they please.
On the contrary, while the Government seeks to defend its ground on Regulation No. 65, the farmers have already experienced catastrophic consequences due to the fact that up to this point, not all farmers have received their due payments. These farmers who live only by taking care of Merino and Angora for a major part of their lives, though uneducated as they may seem in terms of formal education, understand and treasure their source of income more than we by-standers can ever imagine. Therefore not to consult and take into consideration the opinion of any person involved in any kind of business when making decisions for them is normally not a wise move at all.
Some allegations point out that a South African company named Stunken and Company (Pty) Ltd has bought all the mohair from Thaba-Bosiu Wool Centre at very low prices. In addition, in some of the media, it has been stated that the Minister of Small business said all the fibre that was sent to Thaba-Bosiu had been sold. Why then have farmers not received all their income as yet? Or if they did get the income, is it a satisfactory income in comparison to what they have been getting in the past? Has the change really formulated to suit and improve the well-being of Basotho.
Smallsotck farmers waiting for their payment in Mokhotlong
Standard Lesotho Bank