LEFF warns ministers to renew LEP or else . . .


. . . threatens lawsuit if 3-day ultimatum passes


MASERU – Ministers of Home and Foreign Affairs have been asked to urgently negotiate extension of Lesotho Exemption permit (LEP) set to expire next month or risk a lawsuit. Lesotho Economic Freedom Fighters (LEFF) says Lesotho and South Africa must meet to negotiate and discuss the matter failing which a constitutional case will be launched to compel the two governments to hold open negotiations on renewal of the said permit. LEFF makes the demands in a letter of demand to the two ministries through their lawyers, Golman Mustard Inc.

The LEP authorises Basotho to work and study in the neighbouring South Africa without the burden of having to come back home to renew the days in their passports at the end of every month as the 30 days lapse. Basotho qualify for only 30 days stay upon entering SA and are to renew their days if they wish to stay further but the introduction of the special permits sought to curb the challenge. The scheme was initially launched as Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) project in March 2016 to regularise the status of Basotho living in South Africa.

LEFF claims that about 50 000 of its members study and work in South Africa. In their letter, the party says their members are facing imminent deportation from South Africa following Minister of Home Affairs failure to renew Basotho’s exemption permit. They contend that while Former Home Affairs Minister, Lekhetho Rakuoane negotiated with his South African counterpart sometime in 2015, the current government has not done anything about LEP which is set to expire on December 31.

LEFF says the government’s failure to negotiate for an extension is unreasonable and has violated Basotho’s vested fundamental rights acquired from the continued holding of permits. “These rights range, among others, from freedom of movement into and out of Lesotho and South Africa, freedom against arrest or incarceration resulting from expired permits, freedom to trade and practice their professions, indignity that comes with deportations and other incidental rights.”

According to the party, SA had given Basotho procedural and substantive hope as well as a legitimate expectation that their permits would be renewed going forward.  They argue that the arbitrary withdrawal of LEP renewal without allowing Lesotho government, civil societies, economic movements and the exemption permit holders and others to partake in the negotiation for renewal is unlawful, invalid and unconstitutional.

LEFF cites a court decision in SA where the court ruled that there should be consultations before a decision is made. The party is therefore calling on the government to make a public pronouncement within three days of receipt of the letter on steps it is about to take to meet SA government and negotiate on renewal of Lesotho Exemption permit (LEP).

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