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Government Plans to Forge Ahead with Water Expo

Parliament’s Natural Resources Committee finds MoU between government and Metsi ke Bophelo grossly flawed, recommends postponement of linked Water Expo pencilled for 12-13 October 2023.  

6 October 2023 by Pascalinah Kabi

Natural Resources Minister Mohlomi Moleko says his ministerial team will meet on Monday to decide the future of Water Expo. Credit: Pascalinah Kabi

Government has set in motion plans to push through with the upcoming Water and Hydrogen Conference and Expo on modalities to harness Lesotho’s abundant water and to develop green hydrogen energy.   

This after parliament’s Natural Resources Committee on Thursday recommended cancellation of a ‘grossly flawed’ Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between government and Metsi ke Bophelo. The flawed MoU sought to facilitating the water project.

The committee further recommended that the conference be postponed to give way for government and Metsing ke Bophelo to sign a new MoU. But government has other plans, which include legalising the MoU with Metsi ke Bophelo Advocacy – a private entity engaged to organise and hold the Water and Hydrogen in a Digital Future Conference and Expo.

According to Attorney General Advocate Rapelang Motsieloa, the date that appears on the MoU renders it legally flawed.

“An issue that the memorandum was signed before the entity was registered has been raised and if that is true, that is wrong in the eyes of everyone,” Advocate Motsieloa said.

He recommended that the conference be postponed. Natural Resources Committee, which interrogated the relationship between government and Metsi ke Bophelo, discovered how the MoU was signed almost a month before the 21 September 2023 registration of the company.

The current MoU, signed on 25 August, 2023, bears signatures of Minister of Natural Resources, Mohlomi Moleko, and Metsi ke Bophelo director Tlhalefo Moloi.  

Minister Moleko says his ministerial team will meet on Monday to discuss on how best to address unsavoury issues around the relationship between government and Metsi ke Bophelo ahead of the conference.

“I am going to sit down with my team on Monday and propose that we go ahead with the conference,” Minister Moleko told Uncensored News on 6 October 2023.

“We cannot write to the people at this late stage. What we should be doing now is to correct the memorandum, correct all the things that did not sit well with the nation.”

LISTEN: Minister Moleko’s 06 October Interview with Uncensored News.

On the other hand, Nthakoana Ngatane from Metsi ke Bophelo says the conference has not been postponed in line with the recommendation of the natural resources committee.

“The chair recommended that we normalise the relationship by ensuring that procedures are followed and fulfilled before the conference or we postpone,” Ngatane said, adding that both government and Metsi ke Bophelo are exploring ways at which the relationship can be normalised before next week’s expo.

Only last month the African Development Bank (AfDB), the largest development bank in Africa, threw its weight behind the water and hydrogen initiative, confirming participation and sponsorship to the tune of US$15 000 (more than M285 000) towards the cost of the conference and expo.

In a letter confirming the AfDB’s participation in the conference AfDB president, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, described the imminent conference as an innovative and ground-breaking event, adding that the AfDB supported Lesotho’s efforts to leverage its water resources, particularly the development of clean energy, and hydrogen in particular.  

Adesina noted that the AfDB “believes that the question of what Lesotho can do with its water endowment is an important one, given that, despite this abundance, and the progress made so far to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6 targets for water and sanitation for all by 2030, there is still more to be done to achieve these objectives.”  

This initiative has, however, been lambasted by several sectors of society as a self-enrichment scheme and a conduit to siphon state monies.

An alliance of opposition youth leaguers also came out guns blazing tearing into the water and initiative, they also question the credentials of the South African companies roped-in to facilitate the water and hydrogen conference.

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1 Comment

  1. Ramano is a career RSA BEE contracts chaser, with a stint at the Airports authority. He says he has 15 years in the hydrogen space, let him prove this.

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