MASERU — South Africa and Lesotho should fast-track the opening up of common borders to allow for easier movement of people and commercial goods between the two neighbours, a Cabinet minister has said.
Speaking at South Africa’s 17th independence anniversary celebrations in Maseru yesterday, Foreign Affairs and International Relations Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa said the situation at the borders, where congestion was rife, was untenable.
The two governments agreed to ease border restrictions during South African President Jacob Zuma’s visit to Lesotho in August last year, but progress has been slow.
“It is important therefore that these decisions are implemented in earnest and without further delay. It is common cause that the situation at our common borders has been suffocating and disruptive to essential movement of persons and goods in recent months,” Tsekoa said.
“We are hopeful that efforts being made by the government of South Africa will eventually lead to a more conducive environment for social and commercial interaction between our two countries,” he added.
Most Basotho struggle to cross to South Africa after border concession documents which took six months to expire and temporary travelling documents were phased out in April last year.
The border concession documents were also given to business people, migrant mine workers and students from Lesotho.
Many Basotho depended on the temporary travelling documents to travel to South Africa because of the bottlenecks affecting the home affairs ministry, which is responsible for issuing out passports.
Applicants still have to wait for up to three years before being issued out with passports.