LHDA advised to review compensation policy

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a month ago

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By Neo Kolane

The portfolio committee on natural resources, tourism and land cluster has advised the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) to review its compensation policy to avoid never-ending run-ins with communities affected by implementation of the Lesotho Highlands Water Projects.

Section 11.5 of the LHDA Compensation Policy of 1997 states that all communal assets will be compensated in the form of lump sum or annual cash payments to communities as a whole.

These funds shall be for development purposes within the communities. Also, funds provided under communal assets should be calculated on the number of households resettled or relocated.

The chairperson of the portfolio committee on natural resources, tourism and land cluster, Moeketsi Motṥoane, this week urged the LHDA to change its compensation policy because it is skewed, resulting in the organisation failing to ensure compensation is not mismanaged but that it achieves its intended goals.

Motṥoane said the policy should be revisited because it affects many people, and this tends to lead to disagreements between the affected committees and the LHDA, which take a long time to resolve.

“This hinges from LHDA wanting to start cooperatives and wanting them to be successful, yet it is unable to do so due to lack of capacity.

“I therefore, recommend that all affected people be given money individually for them to spend as they wish so that life goes on,” he said.

Motṥoane’s remarks come after the chief of Ha Makhalanyane told the committee this week that some communities have been relocated from Katse to Ha Makhalanyane without compensated, and this has negatively affected their livelihoods.

The Ha Makhalanyane community wants the M3 604 218. 59 compensation for loss of fields and pastures affected by Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) to be shared amongst themselves.

LHDA resettlement and development branch manager, Morake Rakhoba explained that in 2022 the organisation received a letter from the 16 villagers who were to be relocated, saying they preferred to be given the money by hand and not for it to be used for development purposes.

Rakhobe said LHDA responded by telling the villagers that it was against the authority’s compensation policy to give money to individual villagers.

One of the affected villagers, Mohato Morobole, claimed the process of developing the compensation policy in 1997 was done without consultation with the community.

Morobole insisted that consultation was imperative since the policy was for the benefit of the community.

“We have never been part of that and other policies formulated by since LHDA in 1997,” he said.

The villagers insist that it was too much of a coincidence that service providers contracted by the LHDA to implement development projects were charging them figures equal to the funds at the community’s disposal. 

They claim that LHDA secretly gave out this information to the service providers to ensure that they were left with nothing.

The disgruntled villagers recalled an incident when they wanted a borehole and they had M62,000 in the bank. They said LHDA appointed a contractor who told the community that this would cost M62,000.

“We became suspicious when he (contractor) charged us an amount exactly equal to the money we had in the bank.

“When we did our own digging, we established that constructing a borehole would not cost that much,” the community said.

However, Rakhoba denied the allegation, insisting LHDA does not disclose compensation amounts of individuals affected by the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

A member of the portfolio committee natural resources, tourism and land, Mootsi Lehata, advised that the community should seek quotations from different service providers and pass them on to LHDA to implement the service.

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