Lesotho MP demands large parts of South Africa

The Basotho people are divided between those in Lesotho and those in South Africa

Lesotho’s parliament has been debating a proposal to claim vast tracts of land from its much larger neighbor South Africa.

An opposition MP wants to declare the Free State and parts of four other provinces the “Territory of Lesotho”.

The people of Lesotho, called Basotho, lived in these areas until the 19th century when they were confiscated by Afrikaners – white South Africans.

Many Basotho still live in South Africa, especially in the Free State.

The Sesotho language is one of South Africa’s 11 official languages ​​and is spoken by approximately four million people in the country, as well as the two million residents of Lesotho.

“It is time that what is ours is given back to us,” Tshepo Lipholo, the MP behind the motion, told the Lesotho Parliament in Sesotho.

“History has a record of what was taken from our people and people killed in the process. It’s time to put that right,” he said.

Parliament adjourned until Thursday, when debate will resume.

In Mr Lipholo’s vision, Lesotho would grow from 30,000 square kilometers (11,600 sq mi) to around 240,000 square kilometers (93,000 sq mi).

He said that while this is a decades-old problem, he believes it is important to address it today as the country would help bring prosperity to the people of Lesotho.

He is the leader of the Basotho Convention Movement, which campaigned on the issue in last year’s election and won a single seat, which he holds.

The landlocked kingdom of Lesotho is mostly mountainous with limited agricultural land.

The former British protectorate is heavily dependent on the country that completely surrounds it – South Africa.

Over the decades, a lack of job opportunities at home has forced thousands of workers to find work in South African mines.

Lesotho’s government has yet to comment on the issue, but is unlikely to risk angering its much larger neighbor by backing them.

Mr. Lipholo’s motion is based on a 1962 United Nations resolution that recognized the right to self-determination and independence for the people of Basutoland – as Lesotho was then known.

The view of South African officials is that the request for reclaiming areas that some Basotho consider their own stands no chance as it does not enjoy the support of the Lesotho majority.

One of the major stumbling blocks is the 1964 Cairo Declaration by the Organization of African Unity, now the African Union, in which African leaders agreed to recognize the existing borders of their newly independent countries, even if they were Colonial powers were drawn in to avoid them fomenting conflicts across the continent.

Mr Lipholo has previously told Lesotho media that he also hopes the motion will be debated in the UK Parliament “as it was the UK that gave Lesotho its independence in 1966 without rectifying the borders conquered by the Afrikaners”.

This is not the first time that Lesotho’s current borders have been a topic of discussion. In 2018, a civilian group called the Free Basotho Movement wrote to the Lesotho British Embassy to urge the late Queen Elizabeth to abolish the current border – essentially making Lesotho a 10th province of South Africa.

They said this would ensure freedom of movement for the Basotho people in South Africa and the perks enjoyed by South African nationals. This matter is not yet closed.



Source : news.yahoo.com

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