MASERU — A coalition of traders, labour unions and civil society has threatened to orgainse a national demonstration if Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili does not address their grievances by next week.
The coalation told a press conference on Tuesday that they plan to call for a protest next Monday (August 15) to force Mosisili to respond to the petitions they submitted to his office in May.
“It is unfortunate that Mosisili does not want to address our concerns.
He was elected but that does not make him God,” said Manama Letsie, a representative of an organisation called Concerned Youth, which also submitted a list of grievances to the prime minister in May.
“Mosisili has failed to respond to our grievances and only God knows what will follow after Monday.”
The secretary of the coalition, Bokang Ramatšella, said they will stop at nothing to make sure that everyone joins the protest on Monday.
He said they had partnered with taxi operators to ensure that there won’t be any transport to ferry workers to work.
“We will do everything to stop those who do not cooperate. We mean business here. We are ready for anything,” Ramatšella said.
Taxi operators also told the Lesotho Times that they will be joining the protest.
The Maseru Region Taxi Operators representative, Joseph Thakholi, said they were determined to force the government to accept their demand for a 100 percent increase in taxi fares.
Last week the High Court ruled in favour of the taxi operators in their application to take full control of the public transport industry.
The High Court said the Road Transport Board had no business determining taxi fares.
Its task was only to approve fares set by the taxi operators, the judgment said.
The taxi operators also want government to review compensation for victims of road accidents.
They have also called on government to hire their vehicles instead of engaging foreign -owned businesses.
They are also demanding that the government ditch plans to install toll gates on local roads and limit toll gates on highways.
Speaking at the press conference, Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry representative, ’Malitlou Morojele, said they wanted Mosisili to stop Chinese nationals from operating small businesses which she said should be reserved for locals.
“We know that there are many illegal Chinese immigrants. They are running small shops in the villages to sell stale food to our people. Small businesses are not for foreigners,” Morojele said.
She alleged that the Chinese were being allowed to operate with impunity.
“They all have passports that they acquired illegally. We have also learned that they use one license to run several businesses. They also do not pay taxes,” she said.
Morojele added that she had received some death threats for opposing Chinese businesses but this would not deter her from proceeding with the strike action.
“I have been informed that I was going to be murdered if I don’t shut up. I will not shut up. Let them kill us if they will.”
The federations said government must deal with rampant corruption in the civil service.
They said civil servants must be allowed to join trade unions of their choice and government should sponsor all students in institutions of higher learning.
The new M50 million credit guarantee fund must have clear and fair regulations to benefit the needy.
The unions also demanded that government carries out a thorough audit of the block farming scheme and improve service delivery.