South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is currently spending his second day in troubled Lesotho attempting to restore peace, stability and democracy as the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) facilitator.
One of his challenges is stabilisation of the security situation in the landlocked mountain kingdom which is home to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).
Phase two of the project, a joint undertaking between Lesotho and South Africa, was launched in March this year. Phase one came into operation in 2004.
“South Africa will keep a close watch on its interests in the LHWP,” Jakkie Celliers, executive director of the Pretoria headquartered Institute for Security Studies said.
An indication of how quickly – and well – government could respond when needed he said was this week’s organisation of an mercy mission around the collapse of the Synagogue Church of all Nations in Lagos, Nigeria.
Planning went smoothly and saw an ageing 28 Squadron C-130BZ despatched to Nigeria to bring injured South Africans home for medical and other treatment.
Celliers said it was “within the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) capability” to protect South African interests in Lesotho adding the force’s capability had again been proven with the Nigerian airlift.
“I have no doubt that if the situation demands it the SANDF will be deployed to Lesotho to protect elements of the LHWP,” he said.
Speaking at the launch function of LHWP phase two President Jacob Zuma, currently attending the UN General Assembly in New York, said there were “immense benefits” for South Africa in the project.
These included high quality water transfers, job opportunities, improved infrastructure in particularly Clarens, Fouriesburg, Ficksburg and Ladybrand in the form of new border crossings and improved amenities, community halls, clinics, houses and enhanced rail facilities.