Youth leader attacks ministers

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MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) youth league secretary general, Lebaka Bulane, has accused four government ministries of “plundering Lesotho into further poverty”.

In a press statement on Tuesday Bulane criticised the finance, home affairs, natural resources and trade ministries for making decisions that “leave much to question”.

But Bulane could find himself in hot water after it emerged that he had written the damning press statement without approval from the LCD youth league.

Three ministers have also rubbished Bulane’s allegations and described his attacks as “unjustified”.

Bulane cited the takeover of the Lesotho Pharmaceutical Company (LPC) in Mafeteng, which he said was handed to a company owned by a Chinese national, Yan Xie.

“There were seven or eight Basotho youths with skills to run the LPC and appealed to government to be given the opportunity to run the company,” Bulane told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday night.

“But the company was instead given to the Chinese, thus marginalising Basotho.”

According to Bulane, the finance ministry also erred when a building at the Industrial Area in Maseru which used to house the now defunct Raytex Garments  to Jackpot Wholesales which is also owned by Xie.

Bulane also accused Thahane of being reluctant to sign up for over M6 billion in donor funds meant to transform Lesotho’s education sector.

“We hope that owing to the recent strikes at these institutions, Minister Thahane and his principal secretary (Mosito Khethisa) will revisit this matter and review their stance,” Bulane said in the statement.

Bulane further questioned the M35 428 380 agreement between the Ministry of Finance and CIVA Innovation Management (Pty) Limited, a company specialising in the processing of wool and mohair.

“I have looked at the contract and I must say that there’s nothing in it justifying why it should be worth this much. It also does not show how wool and mohair farmers will benefit,” he alleged.

“Some of the decisions made by the finance ministry are surprising to say the least, it doesn’t seem like they have provided mechanisms towards fighting poverty.”

The youth leader also accused the ministry of home affairs of allowing the “the influx of people of Chinese descent who are being smuggled into Lesotho”.

“This ministry is one of the most embarrassing and one doesn’t even know where to start. According to investigations carried out, the foreigners we see in large numbers are being smuggled into the country.”

Bulane however does not say who conducted the investigation.

He also alleged that top home affairs officials were said to be involved in the illegal sale of passports to foreigners.

“We’re all witnesses to the fact that the retail industry is in the hands of foreigners. The main fear is that if this is not sorted out speedily Basotho businessmen will end up being enslaved by foreigners.”

“Even the local government minister (Pontšo Sekatle) once said there are Chinese all over the place taking over Basotho businesses. This is an indication that even cabinet realises the dangers,” he added.

The Lesotho Times could not verify where and when Sekatle made these remarks. Neither could it verify if she indeed made those remarks.

Bulane blasted home affairs principal secretary, Retšelisitsoe Khetsi, for recommending that a company which had scored lowest in a passport tender be awarded the tender.

“But luckily cabinet acted against his recommendation,” he said.

He urged that the Natural Resources Ministry should ensure that agreements reached between the government and mine owners are reviewed to provide for Basotho.

“We need to realise the Sesotho idiom that a boy’s legacy should not be lost to those who don’t deserve it’ tsa habo moshemane ha li jeoe.”

Bulane also attacked Trade and Industry Minister, Leketekete Ketso, for delaying  the disbursement  of the M50 million grant allocated in the 2011/2012 budget estimates “for the development of the business sector”.

“We’re now into the third quarter of the year but there seems to be reluctance in seeing through this initially brilliant project,” Bulane says.

Asked whether he wanted the four ministers fired Bulane said “having them fired is far from my mind”.

“I’m not calling for the ministers to be fired. I’m just saying it’s time to stop marginalising Basotho when decisions affecting their lives are made,” he said.

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