TALKS aimed at resolving a “misunderstanding” between Letšeng Diamond Mine and the Maluti Community Development Forum (MCDF) over the proposed establishment of an abattoir in Mokhotlong, begin this afternoon at Senqu Hotel.
Last month, the mine indicated its intention to establish a slaughterhouse for the Mokhotlong community, where it is located, drawing the ire of the MCDF, which says the idea was its brainchild.
In a notice published in the media last month, Letšeng Mine sought a consultant to research the viability of financing or operating an abattoir in Mokhotlong.
The mine, which is 70 percent owned by London-based Gem Diamonds while the remaining shares belong to the Lesotho government, expected the consultant to engage various stakeholders, among them ministries of agriculture and trade, and local farmers, in the feasibility study.
With the initiative, Letšeng Diamonds said it sought to foster social and economic development that would sustain the Mokhotlong community well beyond the mine’s lifespan.
“As a committed corporate citizen of Lesotho, the company whole-heartedly adopts and embraces the notion of corporate social responsibility and investment, and addressing the company’s overall response to economic, social and environmental considerations,” the mine noted in the gazette.
However, on 4 August 2014, the MCDF wrote to Letšeng Chief Executive Officer, Mazvivamba Maharasoa, pointing out it was already in the final stages of establishing an abattoir in Mokhotlong, hence the mine’s initiative would be a duplication.
The MCDF letter reads: “Following your recent advert, the MCDF compliments your coming forward to show interest in developing and funding the construction of such a noble project. Notably, however, the MCDF would like to bring to your attention, the following facts:
“The construction of an abattoir has been a dream of the Mokhotlong people for a very long time, and the dream was never realised due to various reasons. The same proposal was re-ignited, thanks to the inception of the MCDF, which became a number one priority area as an economic drive for the farmers of Mokhotlong.
“Preparations for the development of the abattoir started two years ago, where the MCDF went into deep research and consulted several success stories, such as the Botswana Meat Commission, private feedlots and embryo implants centres, the ministries of agriculture of Botswana and Lesotho, especially for the allocation of a suitable site and veterinary advise, local farmers for conditions and supply of animals, transport logistics companies, the ministry of health, Lesotho Revenue Authority and partially conducted a market research.
“Above all these achievements, the MCDF has already concluded an agreement with a competent consultant with information in technical, economic and structural proposals for the Mokhotlong scenario. Preparations are at an advanced stage for bilateral corporation between Lesotho and Botswana to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which will subsequently allow the MCDF to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the Botswana Meat Commission by the end of August 2014.
“Notwithstanding the fact that the request for proposals is already running, the MCDF requests Letšeng Diamond Mine to consider discussing this matter with a view to integrating efforts to make this project a success. And we hereby propose an urgent meeting with your good office to look into this matter and plan the way forward together.”
In her response, Ms Maharasoa proposed that the two parties meet on 21 August, which is today, at 2pm.
“We have taken note of efforts you have made towards the development of this important project, which, unfortunately, had not been communicated/shared with us.
“In an effort to avoid duplication of efforts and resources, we welcome the proposal to meet and discuss the project in depth and possibly plan the way forward. The project was tabled by yourself to us as one which the community is seeking.
“We therefore propose to hold the above-mentioned meeting on 21 August at Senqu Hotel in Mokhotlong at 14:00hrs. Key stakeholders to the project in Mokhotlong, namely the District Administrator, principal chiefs, district council chairperson, district agricultural officers, Ministry of Trade and Mokhotlong Wool and Mohair Growers Association, will be invited to this meeting.”