MASERU – The tabulation of the agricultural marketing wool and mohair license amendment regulations of 2018 tabled by Minister of Small Businesses, Chalane Phori, has caused chaos in Parliament, while throwing wool and mohair growers in a quandary over who to trust.
The tabulation came a day after the Minister of Agriculture, Mahala Molapo, had withdrawn an earlier summary introduced in May which some growers and operators had contested.
Chagrined growers took the ministry to court demanding revision of the tabulation claiming it was discriminatory and favoured foreign businesses over local producers and wool and mohair traders.
The withdrawn regulations spelt out the new modus operandi of the marketing of wool and mohair, a sector which many felt had immense potential to boost the national economy, but has been left in the hands of foreign middlemen for decades.
Under that regulations, it is illegal for anyone to engage in the business of wool and mohair: shearing shed; brokering; testing; trading and auctioning; processing; and exporting “unless the person has obtained a license to do so from the Minister responsible”.
The regulations cobbled by the Minister of Agriculture which came into effect on May 4, 2018 also note the license is not transferable.
“The minister may amend, suspend or cancel the license in the event that an operation closes its business, or the license is not used appropriately or is used in fraudulent activities, or the holder allows another party to use the license,” the regulation reads.
Since the regulations kicked in, the decades old practice of auctioning local wool and mohair in South Africa ceased, causing a commotion, especially amongst those directly involved in the trade.
Locals felt their businesses were being sent into bankruptcy, especially as issuing of export permits had been suspended.
They also felt the law was creating a new monopoly where the Chinese owner of the Lesotho Wool Centre was now the government’s anointed sole buyer of local wool and mohair.