US envoy meets ABC youth leader

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MASERU — United States ambassador to Lesotho Robert Nolan on Monday met All Basotho Convention (ABC) youth league president, Libe Moremoholo, to discuss the opposition’s concerns over the controversial Land Bill.
Moremoholo was appointed leader of the Political Parties Youth Leagues Forum that is fiercely opposed to the proposed Land Bill which is currently before parliament.
The youths have accused the US’ Millennium Challenge Corporation of masterminding the Bill, a charge the Americans deny.
Stung by the fierce negative sentiments against the US, Nolan called Moremoholo for talks to clear the air.
The meeting came hardly a week after seven opposition youth leagues told a press conference that the MCC, a US government agency, funding water, health and land reform projects in Lesotho, had spearheaded the crafting of the Bill.
The youth accused the MCC of setting the Bill as a prerequisite for aid in cash totalling US$362.5 million for development projects in Lesotho.
The youths want the Bill withdrawn before parliament.
The MCC has however denied that it was behind the drafting of the Bill saying it only funded projects proposed by the government of Lesotho.
Moremoholo told the Lesotho Times yesterday that he told Nolan at the meeting that the opposition youth were not going to shift an inch from their stance that it was the “MCC’s idea that Lesotho should make a land law unfavourable to the poor.”
“I told him that we will not shift from our belief until we are otherwise convinced that this was not the MCC’s idea that the government of Lesotho should make this kind of law,” Moremoholo said.
“I showed him section 3.4 of the grant agreement for compact development which displays the Lesotho government’s only role as to only affirm the proposals made.”
“The section says our government only affirmed that the list of proposed reforms were true.
“I told him that in our understanding this means that someone or a certain body other than the government of Lesotho made proposals and our government’s role was just to affirm,” he said.
Moremoholo said he understood that affirmation in the context of the agreement meant that the government of Lesotho was merely confirming that the proposed reforms were part of its needs but the actual writer of the proposals was another body.
“I still believe that MCC is the one which wrote the proposals and made them appear as if they were written by the government of Lesotho.
“However, the ambassador advised us to approach the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Millennium Challenge Authority (MCA) for further explanation of the compact agreement.
“We are preparing to meet the two bodies soon,” he said.
MCA was established in law by the Lesotho government to implement the compact agreement.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times yesterday, Nolan said he did not discuss every section of the compact agreement with Moremoholo because he understood that the best people to do so were experts from the MCC and the MCA.
He said the 17 activities proposed by the government of Lesotho under the programme grant, including the land reform, were directly put forward by the government of Lesotho.
“The proposals were not written by the MCC,” Nolan said.
“All the 17 activities were proposed by the government of Lesotho.”
He said the US government believed that all the 17 activities, including the land reform were “an important element in the economic development of Lesotho.”
Nolan said he told Moremoholo that it is up to Basotho to decide what they want to do with the land reform programme.

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