SA and Lesotho Unite to Combat Illegal Mining and Bolster Bilateral Relations

National News/30 September 2023,08:01am / Staff Writer

Illegal Gold miners engaged in processing activities: image supplied

By Staff Writer: During a meeting held on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Prime Minister Samuel Matekane of Lesotho expressed their commitment to addressing the issue of illegal mining and strengthening the bilateral relations between their neighboring countries.

The joint commitment comes in the wake of the devastating loss of lives of illegal miners at the Harmony Gold Mine in Welkom. “Our respective governments are working with the mining company on the best methods to retrieve the remains of the miners without endangering rescue personnel,” stated Ramaphosa.

This issue holds a high level of sensitivity and emotion for both nations, particularly for Lesotho, and Ramaphosa assured that South Africa “will do everything we can to make sure this whole challenge…is properly handled.”

The joint declaration was made at the inaugural session of the binational commission in Pretoria. The establishment of this commission signifies the mutual commitment to strengthen relations. Ramaphosa warmly received Matekane’s pledge to expedite the comprehensive national reform process.

“Economic relations between our two countries have grown over the years and continue to mutually benefit our respective peoples,” said Ramaphosa.

South African businesses in Lesotho contribute to job creation, and Lesotho’s water resources are instrumental for South Africa. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project, currently in its second phase, is touted as an essential development for enhancing water security in the Gauteng province and other parts of South Africa, while also creating jobs in Lesotho and enabling the construction of new roads.

The two leaders also expressed eagerness to collaborate on four proposed renewable energy projects. Ramaphosa further promised South Africa’s continued support to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) panel of elders and the mediation reference group initiative to assist the Basotho in completing the national reform process.

Prime Minister Matekane hailed the binational commission as a “new beginning” in the relationship between South Africa and Lesotho. He emphasized that the economies of both countries are “not only intertwined but interdependent.”

The commission will focus on enhancing cooperation in areas such as migration, trade, green energy, water resources, infrastructure development, transport, agriculture, mining, digital technologies, defence, and security. Diplomatic consultations will be held to harmonize positions on regional, continental, and international issues of concern and interest.


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