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Mohale Dam communities demands 10% royalties share

Keketso Khunonyane

Communities in the Mohale Dam area have defected from the 50 year’s fulfilled compensation.

They now demand a lifetime compensation.

About 500 community members of different villages around the Mohale Dam project slammed the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) with a two-paged hand written letter demanding life-time compensation as opposed to the agreed 50 years which the authority is still implementing.

The Mohale community petitioned the LHDA last week.

Among a litany of their requests, they demand that outstanding payments for their land affected by the construction of the dam be paid immediately.

“The community complained about the issue of 50 year’s compensation which they say in just. They want a life-time compensation because land does not depreciate. They want LHDA to immediately pay pending compensation of people whose land was affected,” Survivors of Lesotho Dams (SOLD) Coordinator Lenka Thamae told Newsday.

He added; “They also want to know the full amount expected to be received for arable land compensation. Sometimes they are paid M500 for a field that is supposed to be paid for a year, so that has sprung confusion.”

“Another complaint was that, their houses and communal playgrounds were destroyed during the construction of Mohale Dam, thus the LHDA should pay like they had previously promised,” Thamae said.

He added that the Mohale Dam communities were demanding that they receive spring harvest.

“Ha-Motlohoang community is also complaining that LHDA did not give them electricity connectivity as promised. They said they used their monies through the government electricity scheme to be connected, thus they want refunds for their monies used. Lastly, they want LHDA to pay for all the damages it has done in the community of Mohale,’’ explained Thamae.

Thamae said these are some of the burning issues that led to the protest mounting pressure on LHDA to implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations of 2003, 2006 and 2010. 

“The family of Sekhebetlele Mojakhomo who is based at Molika-liko was not migrated like other families which were migrated, so they also want to move.”

In their letter the community is demanding 10% of the royalties Lesotho makes from dams.

“As the community of the affected communities we want 10% share of the water royalties,” they said in their petition.

Thamae said the community gave LHDA a period of 31 days to respond to their requests.

Separately this week, the construction of Polihali Dam saw a group of community members attempting to stop the progress of the project.

Their grievances similarly were the 50 years’ compensation verses their demand of a life-time compensation.

 “Another complaint was of the hiring plan being implemented by the companies tasked to implement the project. Since they are the residents of communities around the project, they want to be given first priority when hiring.

“The community also said they have a right to access clean potable water and electricity. They also demanded payment of all already affected areas.”

In an interview with Newsday, LHDA Chief Executive, Refiloe Tlali acknowledged receipt of the petition from the Mohale communities.

“LHDA is committed to open and frank communication with all its stakeholders, including local communities to address matters that are concerning to them.

“We welcome the opportunity to review the matters raised in the petition, and the opportunity to engage with the local community through local community structures to address these matters,” she said.

She added that the authority was aware that SOLD is arranging similar protest marches in other operating areas including the ongoing Polihali Dam.

“The issues raised there together with these that are raised in Mohale will be discussed with the project Authorities,” said Tlali.

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