Mining sector accused of sidelining Basotho suppliers

NEO SENOKO

Maseru -The Lesotho Mines and Minerals Act requires mining companies in the country to give preference to local goods and services, however the local business community has been struggling to supply these products. In fact, foreign companies continue to dominate the industry despite efforts made by locals to turn things around.

The 2015 minerals and mining policy also calls for domestic empowerment and integration of the mining sector into the national economy to foster the development of a mining sector that is integrated with other sectors in order to contribute to the economic empowerment of Basotho by generating opportunities for local businesses. The local business community have so far struggled to breakthrough into the industry to supply food and beverages as well as tap into other areas that Basotho can afford.

According to the representative of the local business community Bokang Khekhe, locals have been struggling because the mines have been running a monopoly, accusing the local businesses of lack of consistency, lack of capacity or providing poor quality goods. “The mines have been running a monopoly yet these are things Basotho can be able to provide. They have been talking about standards and in Lesotho we do not have a bureau of standards so I do not understand the basis of the quality they are talking about.

“The problem is that they go back to their native countries where they give some of these tenders to their own friends so that they all benefit at the expense of Basotho. Such behaviour should come to an end because Basotho really deserve these opportunities and we will continue working hand in hand with government towards the right direction,” Khekhe said in an interview with Public Eye on Wednesday this week.

Mines minister Keketso Sello aknowledged his ministry is responsible for ensuring that the guiding principles and legal requirements are implemented and that participation by locals increases in the mining sector. “The primary focus of the government is to eliminate poverty and create more jobs, so if we can have more local businesses participating in the provision of goods and services to the mining sector, more jobs will be created and this will have positive impact to our economy,” Sello said.

Currently the mining sector employs more than 3000 Basotho. On the same note, the Ministry of Mining has decided to host a two-day forum, Mining Khotla in a continued effort to bring together all relevant stakeholders to map a better way forward on how best can Basotho businesses can benefit from commercial mining companies which will go a long way in contributing to the country’s GDP.

“We found it befitting to level the ground by opening dialogue for the business as a means to expand the business linkages. So the Mining Khotla is another strategy through which the ministry, in collaboration with the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce, is driving the mandate to achieve its objectives and live up to its promises as set in the 2015 minerals and mining policy,” “It would be my greatest pleasure to see indigenous, locally owned Basotho companies playing a leading role in this endeavour,” Minister Sello added.

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