UK steps up co­op­er­a­tion with Le­sotho

Lesotho Times - - News - Lim­pho Sello

THE Bri­tish gov­ern­ment says it is com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing co­op­er­a­tion with Le­sotho in var­i­ous so­cial and eco­nomic spheres to strengthen bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

The pledge was made by Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner to South Africa and Le­sotho, Dame Ju­dith Mac­gre­gor (pic­tured), this week dur­ing her visit to the Moun­tain King­dom.

High Com­mis­sioner Mac­gre­gor, who is based in Pre­to­ria, was in the coun­try to con­grat­u­late Le­sotho on its 50th Independence an­niver­sary and hand over a full-size replica of a Spit­fire plane in grat­i­tude for the as­sis­tance the Moun­tain King­dom ren­dered the for­mer col­o­nizer dur­ing World War II.

How­ever, the han­dover was post­poned to today be­cause King Let­sie III was at­tend­ing the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence of Par­ties 22 in Mar­rakech, Morocco.

High Com­mis­sioner Mac­gre­gor said Bri­tish of­fi­cials vis­ited Le­sotho reg­u­larly to con­sol­i­date re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries.

“We visit reg­u­larly to meet with King Let­sie III and mem­bers of the gov­ern­ment to raise aware­ness on the op­er­a­tions of Bri­tish non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions and var­i­ous busi­ness in­ter­ests in Le­sotho,” she said.

Var­i­ous ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties, the en­voy said, were avail­able for Ba­sotho to ex­ploit, in­clud­ing Chevening and Commonwealth schol­ar­ships. Chevening is a UK gov­ern­ment-funded schol­ar­ship pro­gramme aimed at de­vel­op­ing fu­ture lead­ers. The scheme draws stu­dents from over 160 coun­tries.

“In 2016, six im­pres­sive Ba­sotho young peo­ple are be­ing funded by our Chevening Pro­gramme to un­der­take one-year post-grad­u­ate cour­ses in the UK,” said High Com­mis­sioner Mac­gre­gor.

“This year’s Ba­sotho schol­ars join the six from Le­sotho in 2015 who have ben­e­fited from Chevening net­works, ex­pe­ri­enced UK cul­ture, and built last­ing and pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ships with the UK, and most im­por­tantly they have come back to work and con­trib­ute to the pros­per­ity of Le­sotho through their Chevening ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said.

“Added to that, in 2016 a young Ba­sotho woman, Maletšabisa Mo­lapo, was se­lected as a Queen’s Young Leader in 2016. Maletšabisa led the team that founded the ‘Her Chance to be’ foun­da­tion, an or­ga­ni­za­tion com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing the lives of women and girls in Le­sotho.”

The high com­mis­sioner also in­di­cated that the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment sup­ported the work of Bri­tish char­i­ties and or­gan­i­sa­tions in Le­sotho.

Some of the char­i­ties in­clude Sen­te­bale which was founded in 2006 by Prince Henry of Wales and Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso to as­sist the coun­try’s needy chil­dren, Kick­4life, Dolen Cymru, the Durham-le­sotho Link and Skill­share In­ter­na­tional.

High Com­mis­sioner Mac­gre­gor also re­vealed the UK gov­ern­ment contributed M97 mil­lion to the hu­man­i­tar­ian drought re­sponse through the United Na­tions (UN) ear­lier this year.

“Our De­part­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment (DFID) will pro­vide clean drink­ing wa­ter to over 50 000 vil­lagers, hospi­tal pa­tients and stu­dents,” she said.

“Ahead of the up­com­ing plant­ing sea­son, DFID’S part­ners are cur­rently pro­vid­ing seeds for sta­ple foods and veg­eta­bles to close to 100 000 peo­ple, and at the peak of the hun­gry sea­son, cash-trans­fers for buy­ing food will be pro­vided to 50 000 peo­ple.”

The en­voy said the DFID also sup­ported re­gional pro­grammes that ben­e­fit Le­sotho, in­clud­ing an in­te­grated ap­proach across the re­gion on cli­mate change and health.

“DFID’S ‘Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis (TB) in the Mines Ini­tia­tive’, for ex­am­ple, is en­sur­ing ac­cess to health care and so­cial pro­tec­tion ben­e­fits for Le­sotho min­ers and their de­pen­dents work- ing in South Africa.

“We also sup­port the Vol­un­tary Ser­vices Over­seas and the Over­seas De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute, both of which pro­vide pro­fes­sion­als and prac­ti­tion­ers to in­crease tech­ni­cal ca­pac­ity in the pub­lic and vol­un­tary sec­tors. And we con­trib­ute of course to de­vel­op­ment projects run by in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the UN, World Bank and EU.”

On the busi­ness front, High Com­mis­sioner Mac­gre­gor said the UK gov­ern­ment was com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing Bri­tish in­vest­ment and bi­lat­eral trade with Le­sotho.

“Our trade re­la­tions are val­ued at ap­prox­i­mately M160 mil­lion per an­num. Within the di­a­mond min­ing in­dus­try, key in­vestors are the Bri­tish-reg­is­tered busi­nesses, Letšeng Di­a­monds and Fire­stone Di­a­monds,” she said.

“Our re­gional De­part­ment for In­ter­na­tional Trade of­fice and the South­ern African-bri­tish Cham­ber of Com­merce in Jo­han­nes­burg are both keen and avail­able to help fa­cil­i­tate fur­ther com­mer­cial links be­tween the UK and the King­dom of Le­sotho.”

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