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We are neglected: villagers

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Ntsebeng Motsoeli

BUTHA-BUTHE — It was a meeting that was supposed to promote dialogue between MPs and their constituencies.

But by the end of the four-hour meeting on Thursday all that had dominated the indaba were moans from villagers who were clearly unhappy with the pace of development in their area.

Among those who spoke eloquently about their problems was Leboneng Rapheko, from Setlakalleng, a village not very far from the ’Muela Hydro Power Station.

Rapheko is a frustrated man. His village does not have adequate electricity and water supply despite its proximity to the giant power-generating utility.

“The power station and water are next to us but the people here do not have enough of them.

“Government won’t assist us even when we have raised our own monies to pay for the services,” Rapheko said.

He said villagers had so far collected about M102 000 under a seven-year scheme meant to raise funds to draw electricity from ’Muela.

Their spirited efforts have however so far come to naught, Rapheko said.

“We have been in and out of offices seeking help but without any success,” he said.

Rapheko was speaking during a meeting facilitated by Action Aid Lesotho, a non-governmental organisation that fights poverty.

The meeting sought to bring together representatives from communities around ’Moteng, a village in Butha-Buthe and their Members of Parliament.

Village representatives complained that too little was being done by their councillors to develop their areas.

“There has not been any significant development in the communities for a very long time,” was the message that most villagers repeated at the meeting.

Also high on the agenda was the lack of schools in the area.

Pupils, some as young as seven, have to walk long distances to get to school.

“We have a serious shortage of schools in our communities. Children have to walk long distances to get to St Peters from as far as ’Muela.

“The roads are not safe and children have to cross rivers since there are no proper bridges,” said one representative only identified as Paseka.

He added that there was no public transport because roads in the area were in a poor state.

“This makes it extremely difficult for us to access vital services like health centres.

“Sometimes we have to carry our sick family members on our backs for hours to get to the nearest clinic, which is not well equipped and which sometimes experiences shortages of medicines,”  Paseka said adding that some patients had died on the way to clinic due to lack of transport.

He said the bad roads had also contributed to late reporting of crimes to the police.

“Communication between the police and the public is very slow,” he said.

Another  villager, ’Mamotheba Mahloeng, appealed to the government to lower the prices of agricultural inputs.

“We cannot have good harvests because we do not have enough farming inputs. We therefore appeal to the government to subsidise inputs so that we can do better,” Mahloeng said.

Speaking on behalf of the Butha-Buthe MPs, National Independent Party’s (NIP) Serame Khampepe assured the community representatives that they were going to follow up with government departments to improve service delivery.

“Government has set the Millennium Development Goalsto help develop strategies of helping the people to fight poverty and ensure people have better lives.

“There are budgets to ensure the goals are reached. It is the government’s duty to help people improve their lives,” Serame said.

He was the only MP out of the six from Butha Buthe district who attended the meeting.

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