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Lesotho wool farmers call for regime change in spat over exports, payments

Lesotho wool and mohair farmers say they were forced by the government to export through a Chinese-owned broker, Maseru Dawning, last year but many are still queuing at banks waiting to get their money.

Farmers belonging to the Lesotho Wool and Mohair Association at a factory. Picture: Supplied.

MASERU – Lesotho wool and mohair farmers say they want a regime change as 40,000 growers desperate to get paid accuse the government of conniving with a Chinese-owned broker to allegedly defraud them.

A representative of the farmers, Khotsang Moshoeshoe, is in South Africa to call on buyers to declare Lesotho wool and mohair “blood wool” and to appeal to the farmers to boycott exporting food and other commodities to the land-locked kingdom.

Moshoeshoe, who was arrested for refusing to close a woolshed when a minister of trade ordered him to, says he is confident their revolution is democratic and not a coup d’état.

The farmers say they have won court applications for their rights to be respected but the government ignores rulings while members of parliament are powerless.

Lesotho wool and mohair farmers say they were forced by the government to export through a Chinese-owned broker, Maseru Dawning, last year but many are still queuing at banks waiting to get their money.

Moshoeshoe has become the face of their struggle after he was arrested for blatantly refusing to close a woolshed as per the orders of the minister of trade.

He says they initially thought going to court would make the government see reason but their court orders are ignored.

“We are not going to stage a coup d'etat. As a citizen of the country, as a voter, I have a right to air my views. Government is failing. I am more than happy to face the consequences.”

Moshoeshoe wants international buyers to boycott Lesotho wool and mohair and South African farmers to stop exporting food and other commodities to the land-locked kingdom.

But the broker’s chief executive, Stone Shi, says the payments are going well, and those complaining want his business.

“Some opposition and competitors of mine want to have people to pretend to be farmers to get this business into some politicians but I don’t think we have any problem here in Lesotho, even now I’m with the farmers [sic].”

The Central Bank of Lesotho issued a statement on Wednesday disputing claims by the broker and some government ministers that payments are delayed by their foreign exchange.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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