Lesotho committed to peace and security post October elections, SADC hears

542

The efforts of countries in the southern African region to bring at least a modicum of peace and security to the troubled mountain kingdom of Lesotho have been welcomed by Prime Minister Samuel Matekane.

He spoke following a courtesy call from Southern African Development Community (SADC) executive secretary Elias Magosi earlier this month (December). A statement has it Matekane committed Lesotho to SADC governance principles as well as maintaining peace in the landlocked country.

Magosi’s visit came in the wake of successful October National Assembly elections in Lesotho as well as being part of a programme introducing himself to heads of state and government in the 16 member regional bloc.  He was named to replace Stergomena Tax in September 2021. To date Magosi has been to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eswatini, Tanzania, Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The SADC statement has Matekane saying his government is ready to expedite implementation of ongoing national reforms with a view to restoring peace and collaborating with the Lesotho SADC oversight committee. He gave Magosi an overview of inclusive and sustainable economic growth and private sector job creation as well as building enabling infrastructure in renewable energy. This includes hydro-power, wind and solar energy as priority projects.

South Africa’s interest in a stable and prosperous Lesotho was again emphasised early in December when Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu met Lesotho Natural Resources Minister Mohlomi Moleko. The meeting, according to the South African government was an important bilateral around phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

This binational infrastructure project involves construction of a network tunnel and dam network to transfer water from Orange–Senqu River in the Lesotho highlands to South Africa and utilise the water delivery system for hydro-electric power in Lesotho.

The water transfer component of phase 2 comprises a 165m high concrete faced rock fill dam at Polihali downstream of the confluence of the Khubelu and Senqu-Orange rivers and a 38km long concrete-lined gravity tunnel connecting Polihali reservoir to the Katse reservoir.

The completion of Phase 2 of LHWP is anticipated to be in 2028 and will augment water transfer from Lesotho to South Africa with extra 490 million cubic metres a year up from the current 780 million m3/year to make 1 260 million m3/year through the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS). This is biggest system in South Africa comprising 14 dams with catchments in Free State, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and North West.