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Families threaten to drive livestock into city

By Caswell Tlali

MASERU — Families relocated from Mohale to make way for the construction of Mohale Dam 13 years ago have threatened to drive their livestock into Maseru city.
They are angry that the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) allegedly reneged on promises to compensate them.
The 22 families, who were moved to Ha-Matala in Maseru, told a press conference on Tuesday they had lost patience with the LHDA.
The LHDA, the families said, has repeatedly failed to compensate them for the land and pastures they lost when they were relocated to Maseru.
If the LHDA does not compensate them soon they will have no choice but to bring their cattle, goats and sheep to Maseru, the villagers said.
“When we came to Ha-Matala we left our livestock with relatives in other villages that were not affected by the dam construction on the understanding that there were no pastures in town,” ’Makuena Mohlomi, the villagers’ spokesperson said.
“Now that the LHDA does not want to fulfill its promises we are going to bring our livestock down here, in town, because we do not have any source of income other than our livestock,” Mohlomi said. Mohlomi however did not disclose how much compensation the LHDA had promised them for the loss of their land and pastures.
Mohlomi accused the LHDA of disrupting their lives on false promises of compensation. The agreement, according to Mohlomi, was that LHDA would compensate each family for the loss of their grazing land.
She said the LHDA had also promised to give them money for fuel as they would not have access to firewood at Ha-Matala.
The LHDA had also promised to help them pay water bills in their new city homes because they would no longer get water for free from natural wells as they did when they were in Mohale.
But Mohlomi said, 13 years on, the LHDA is still to deliver on its promises.
She explained that while the LHDA dithered on its promises most of the families have had their water supplies cut after they failed to pay their bills.
Most of the villagers had failed to secure jobs in the city since they were relocated.
Mohlomi warned that if the LHDA does not heed their demands they would soon be taking to their fight for compensation to the streets.
But it is not just against the LHDA that the families want to vent their anger.
Ombudsman ’Matšoana Fanana also came under fierce attack from the families.
They accused Fanana of attempting to reverse a decision by her predecessor Sekara Mafisa who ordered the LHDA to pay the compensation.
“The former ombudsman, Sekara Mafisa, called us to a meeting which was also attended by the LHDA where he, after a thorough investigation of the matter, decided that we should be compensated as had been agreed,” Mohlomi said.
“But now we are surprised that the new ombudsman has stopped the intervention by the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission (LHWC) saying she wanted to study our case first,” she said.
Mohlomi also said they were going to petition the LHWC to act despite Fanana’s attempts to halt the matter because “she does not have powers to reverse the decisions of the former ombudsman”.
’Mamosa Lerotholi, an official in the LHDA’s public affairs office, declined to comment when approached by the Sunday Express on Friday.
She said Mohale Dam manager, Teboho Tlaitlai, was the only one entitled to speak to the press on the matter.
An official from Tlaitlai’s office said it was only the LHDA’s chief executive officer, Masilo Phakoe, who had powers to comment on the matter.
Attempts to speak to the LHDA chief executive officer were also unsuccessful.
So were efforts to get Fanana’s comments.

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