MASERU — The Lesotho Youth Leagues Forum has temporarily suspended their legal action to block the implementation of the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. Manama Letsie, the forum’s secretary, told the Sunday Express on Friday that the decision was meant to give the youth time to gather more evidence.
“We have to prepare for this case and that is why we are gathering more evidence and we are looking for this ‘whole truth’ that the minister says we do not know,” Letsie said. “We are not going to allow this government to do something that will work against the Basotho nation,” he said. “Perhaps their lawyers might use some legal technicalities if we have all evidence needed for this case and we want to close all those loopholes.”
The forum threatened to sue after Lesotho ratified a controversial agreement on the construction of Polihali Dam under the LHWP. Their plan is to block the project until the two countries deal with the outstanding issues like the governance of the project, the funding model, the power component and taxes.
The group is worried that the agreement, which was signed between the previous Pakalitha Mosisili administration and South Africa in August 2011, does not serve Lesotho’s interests.
It says the ratification of the agreement runs counter to the agreement between Prime Minister Tom Thabane and President Jacob Zuma to renegotiate the outstanding issues Lesotho wanted cleared before the project starts. Letsie said they made the decision after Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo told him, through an emissary, that the forum did not know the whole truth. Molapo confirmed that he had told the forum that they did not have enough fact sabout the project.
Molapo, an engineer by profession, is a member of the ministerial committee dealing with LHWP issues.
Molapo said the ratification of the 2011 agreement does not mean that the other outstanding issues will not be discussed. He said the government ratified the 2011 agreement to ensure that the funding and other processes of the project are not delayed.
“Those issues are going to be renegotiated and will be included in the agreement by way of protocols,” Molapo said. He said Lesotho and South Africa had agreed that the negotiations on the outstanding issues should not delay the implementation of the project. “The negotiations will still go ahead. The technical team that will deal with those issues is now being briefed,” he said.
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