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SA leader side-steps border issue

Caswell Tlali

 MASERU — President Jacob Zuma was non-committal on whether or not South Africa will lift the stringent border controls it imposed in June.

South Africa has banned Basotho using temporary one-page travel documents to cross its borders, a move that has hit thousands of Basotho who have spent years waiting for their passports.

South Africa has also suspended the issuance of the “six months permit”, an arrangement that allowed Basotho to cross the borders without going through the immigration procedures.

Zuma was largely expected to deal with this issue when he touched down on Thursday for a two-day state visit to the Mountain Kingdom.

But instead he skirted the issue when he was pressed for a response.

All he could say was: “There are measures in place to address the situation.”

Zuma’s response on the issue was long on justification and short on solution.

So was the response of his host, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, on the issue.

“We had information that some people wanted to abuse that arrangement and enter South Africa to commit crimes during the World Cup,” Zuma said. 

Mosisili sang from the same hymn book.

“Perhaps what happened in Kampala, Uganda, where terrorists killed 76 people who were watching a World Cup football match could have happened in South Africa if security was not tightened,” Mosisili said.

But Zuma had some good news for Lesotho on other issues.

The South African president pledged M60 million for infrastructure development around Lesotho’s Metolong Dam which will supply water to Teyateyaneng, Mazenod, Morija and Roma.

He also promised M40 million for the Sani Pass road that will link Mokhotlong to KwaZulu-Natal province.

Meanwhile, Zuma used his visit to lobby Lesotho to support South Africa’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

“We are hopeful that our candidature will be able to receive the support of many countries including Lesotho,” Zuma told Lesotho’s parliament on Thursday.

“South Africa intends to use this seat once more to raise the issues of mutual interest to the continent and the developing world.

“In this regard, we still maintain our position on the reform of the UN Security Council.”

He said a transformed UN system would be more efficient and more accountable to all its member states.

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