SMALL Business, Cooperatives and Marketing minister, Chalane Phori, and South African wool and mohair brokers, BKB, will tomorrow hold talks that sources say are aimed at resolving disputes between the two sides over the wool and mohair industry.
Although Mr Phori refused to disclose the agenda, sources close to both sides however, told the Sunday Express that BKB had requested as part of efforts to reach a compromise after the 2018 government decision to ban the sale of Lesotho’s wool and mohair in South Africa.
For the past four decades until last year, Basotho farmers have been selling their fabric from South Africa through BKB until the promulgation of the Wool and Mohair Regulations of 2018.
The regulations forbid anyone from trading in wool and mohair without a licence from the Ministry of Small Business, Cooperatives and Marketing and they further state that all the transactions should be done from Lesotho.
Mr Phori and his counterpart, Agriculture minister Mahala Molapo, are on record saying they have nothing against BKB who lost their monopoly over the wool and mohair market after the promulgation of the regulations which were drawn up by Mr Molapo.
The two ministers said the regulations were crafted to ensure that Lesotho fully benefits from tax and other revenues accruing from the sale of its produce. They further said that BKB and other foreign brokers were free to come and operate from Lesotho like other retail outlets so that they can employ Basotho.
Yesterday, Mr Phori confirmed that he would be meeting BKB general manager, Isaak Staats. He however, said he would only comment further after the meeting.
“BKB has requested a meeting and we agreed to meet tomorrow but it would be premature for me to say what the discussion will be about. It is something I can only talk about after the meeting.
“I have made it clear since I assumed this portfolio that my door is open to anyone who wishes to engage in business in this country and that it is why I accepted BKB’s request for a meeting.
“The (wool and mohair) regulations of 2018 permit anyone to operate a business within the wool and mohair industry in this country as long as they abide by the rules,” Mr Phori said.
On his part, Mr Staats also confirmed that he would be meeting Mr Phori and just like the latter, he refused to give details about the planned meeting.
“Yes, we have an appointment for Monday but it would be inconvenient to reveal our agenda before the actual meeting. We will reveal details once with have met with the minister,” Mr Staats said.
BKB has been selling wool and mohair on behalf of 40 000 local wool and mohair farmers through an auction in Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It had been working with Basotho farmers for more than 40 years until last year when the Ministry of Small Businesses, Cooperatives and Marketing gazetted the Agricultural Marketing (Wool and Mohair Licensing) Regulations 2018 which prohibit wool and mohair sales from being done outside the country.