THE Minister of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing, Keketso Sello, last week blasted officials from his ministry who are stationed in Mokhotlong for failing to satisfactorily do their jobs.
Mr Sello said the officials were so inefficient that they had failed to address the challenges that are being faced by small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the district.
The minister was joined by the heads of departments from his ministry, namely the small business development acting director, Sehloho Sole; director of marketing department, Lekhooe Makhate; and commissioner of cooperatives, ‘Maphamoli Lekoetje on the trip.
The trip is part of a nationwide public consultation exercise which started… It started in Berea and has so far also gone to Leribe and Butha-Buthe. The minister will be in Thaba-Tseka today and tomorrow.
Mokhotlong farmers complained that the government was not protecting them from competition posed by imported agricultural produce.
One vegetable farmer said he was struggling to secure a market for his 40 000 heads of cabbage as his target market was importing cabbages.
He therefore asked that the ministry implements mechanisms that protect his and others’ businesses by controlling the issuance of import permits for similar products.
Egg farmers on the other hand lamented that they are forced to wait for over six months to receive layers that they would have ordered from South Africa. They are forced to order from outside the country because Lesotho producers are overwhelmed by the demand.
The farmers said they must also contend with expensive poultry feeds which forces them to charge exorbitant prices for their products.
And in response to the business people, Mr Sello said ministry officials must increase their visibility to assist the business people.
He accused the ministry officials of negligence which has resulted in the business community’s problems. The minister warned the officials that they risk being removed from their positions.
“It is not good that we have a farmer who does not have a market for his 40 000 heads of cabbage yet we continue to issue import permits for the same product,” Mr Sello said.
“I expect our officials here to know about that farmer so that issuance of import permits can be controlled. I wonder if the officials even visit his production farm to learn his challenges. I am not impressed with our work in this district.
“We must go back to the drawing board and assess whether or not we are doing what we must be doing. Our officials must be capacitated to adequately perform their duties. The officials’ presence must be felt in the district.
“Those who are not performing must make way… I am not threatening people but all I want to see is efficiency in service delivery.”
Mr Sello also appealed to the public to report the challenges that they are facing in dealing with the government officials.
He also said they are working on transferring licensing of MSMEs from the Ministry of Trade and Industry to his ministry. This is meant to improve the ministry’s role in their regulation.
“We are working towards separating authorities that will separate large manufacturing businesses from small entrepreneurs in such a way that small businesses will be licensed by our ministry,” Mr Sello said.