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Retired worker’s projects hit snag

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — When 50-year-old Ntsékhe Thakaso lost his job at Impala Platinum Mine in Rustenburg in 2006 he was devastated.

Thakaso was deemed excess to requirements at Impala after he suffered severe back injuries.

After 27 years of back-breaking work at Impala Thakaso found himself stuck at his rural home in Roma about 35km south of Maseru.

Thakaso joined Impala as a youthful 20-year-old in 1979.

When he retired in 2006 he vowed that he was not going to surrender and become destitute.

In an interview with the Lesotho Times this week Thakaso said he had a vision that would not only change his life but the lives of people in Mahlanyeng and neighbouring villages in Roma.

He said he decided to build a small dam for the community in Roma.

Thakaso said he had also succeeded in convincing fellow villagers to help build the dam, extract granite stones and sell the stones to stone carving companies.

He claimed that he was granted approval by the Ministry of Forestry for the project sometime last year.

Thakaso claimed that the project was brought to a screeching halt in January after Oupa Phatsóane, the chairman of the Roma community council ordered him to stop.

“We were just about to begin on some of the projects when we were ordered to stop by the chairperson of the community council,” Thakaso said.

He said this was in spite of the approval that he had been granted by the forestry ministry.

Thakaso said the project ran into problems following allegations that he was seeking to contest for the chairmanship of the Roma council, a charge he denied.

“We wanted to create our own jobs. Tourists come here every year for motor racing and quad biking. The tourists come and go but the Roma community does not benefit at all.

“We were hoping the chalets would attract more tourists and create more jobs for our community. But our community council will not hear of our dreams,” he said.

Thakaso said he had tried to speak to Phatsóane about the problems but the chairman was in no mood to entertain his concerns.

Thakaso said he had asked for the Ombudsman, Sekara Mafisa, to intervene in the dispute.

Efforts to contact Phatsóane yesterday were in vain as he was said to be out of the office.

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