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Land Bill suspicious

by Lesotho Times
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I AM totally distraught by the proposed Lesotho Land Bill 2009 which is currently before parliament.
I think it is important for us as a people to make a serious introspection on the implications of the proposed law.
For the record, let me state that I have voted for the ruling Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) party and have generally supported its policies in the past.
But I wish to publicly oppose the stance of the government on the Land Bill of 2009.
The Bill, in its current state, raises more questions than answers in my mind.
It is a matter of historical record that Basotho lost huge acres of land to the Boers through land encroachment in the 1840s.
This land is currently designated as part of the Free State in South Africa.
As a result of those colonial manoeuvres Basotho were driven to live in less fertile regions of Lesotho with very little arable land.
It is important for us to understand this history about the land to appreciate the implications of the Land Bill. 
Land is a valuable asset to any nation.
The majority of Basotho make their on the land.
The Bill, in its present form, is going to have a serious negative impact on the lives of Basotho farmers who in my opinion were conveniently sidelined during its drafting.
Lesotho has a history of proudly accommodating foreign investors long before the government of this Bill.
The Frasers’ family which came into the country around the 1800s operated freely around the country without this Bill.
The company created vast employment opportunities for Basotho.
They did not need a ‘Land Bill’ to empower them to carry out their business without hindrance.
The Zakhura Brothers also managed to operate in Lesotho for decades without the need for a specific law.
 It would therefore seem as though the government of Lesotho which is pushing the new law is chasing an ephemeral mirage.
In fact, the government appears to be groping in the dark.
Research shows that when foreigners acquire land they do very little to improve the economic well being of the locals.
What has happened in Ethiopia and Madagascar will prove this thesis.
It would appear that foreign land grabbers rely on subterfuge that they want to boost poor African economies when in reality they want to plunder resources and drive the locals into deeper poverty.
In Ethiopia, there is a law allowing foreigners to own land.
But the reality of the situation is that Ethiopians are being ill-treated in their own country.  In October last year, the government of Ethiopia appealed to the international community for emergency food aid for 6.2 million of its people who were facing widespread starvation.
This was scandalous when large tracts of Ethiopian land are in the hands of foreigners.
It would appear the foreigners are only interested in making super profits and do not care a hoot about the plight of the locals.  Surely, should we allow the same thing to happen to Basotho?
I regard the proposed Land Bill 2009 as a new form of colonialism.
The new law will essentially benefit foreigners while giving a semblance of development to Lesotho.
The richer will become richer while the poor will continue to wallow in abject poverty.
There is nothing in the Bill that guarantees fair distribution of resources.
The question that needs an urgent answer is who really has Lesotho’s interests at heart?
Consider the group curiously named the Lesotho People’s Charter Movement.
The movement has for some time now been advocating for the incorporation of Lesotho into South Africa.
In my humble opinion this ‘treasonous’ group does not have the country’s interests at heart.
Lesotho has enough brilliant minds that can help devise strategies that can economically uplift the country out of its current squalid conditions.
Surely we can sit down as a country and come up with strategies to develop the country.
South Africa has enough problems of its own.
Let us put the interests of our country first.

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