Despite delays, Lesotho water project to be completed by 2025
Mokonyane said the delay was caused by a three things: unrest following the national elections in Lesotho, time taken to brief the incoming government on the project’s particulars and the relevant treaties, protocols and policies that had to be followed.
Mokonyane informed the committee that the South African and Lesotho governments had finalised and agreed on a new governance structure to the project and that a new procurement policy, in line with the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment principles were embraced by the Lesotho government for this project.
She also assured the committee that both countries were working hard to ensure the project would be completed by 2025, and that it would help South Africa be better equipped to deal with the effects of climate change.
“We can confirm that the project is on course,” she said. “We had to ensure that there is mutual respect between the two countries and also take into consideration the plans of Lesotho’s new government, bring them on board and ensure that they buy in on the plan.
“We don’t want to be seen as dominating the Basotho but be equal. The plan on Phase II is to invest in inclusive growth for Lesotho and South Africa,” she added.
SA’s current drought unrelated to LHWP delay
Mokonyane said “it will be gravely misleading to suggest that the current water challenges facing the country (South Africa) is caused by the delay in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project”.
She explained that the severity of the drought was due to current “unfavourable climatic conditions” and the intensity of the El Nino phenomenon.
Mokonyane urged people to acknowledge that South Africa and Lesotho “immensely benefitted” from the completion of the LWHP Phase I through a clean water supply which South Africans enjoy.
She did however point out the minimal benefit regarding economic empowerment and skills and social development for the people of both countries.
Mokonyane emphasised that it would have been irresponsible for South Africa to push for the project during such a time in Lesotho and that it was important that the South African government allow them to focus on putting their government in place.