The Free Movement of Basotho wants Lesotho to be incorporated into South Africa, its leader Letsema Morolong said on Wednesday.
“Our lawyers have wrote [a letter] to SADC [Southern African Development Community] calling for Lesotho to have a referendum where Basotho will vote whether they want to be part of South Africa,” he told supporters in Rustenburg.
He said the majority of Basotho regarded themselves as South Africa citizens.
Morolong said the Free Movement of Basotho was not a political party, but a civil organisation fighting for the free movement of Basotho.
Secretary of the Free Basotho Movement Mokhobo Mokhobo said they also wanted Basotho to have dual citizenship.
“In terms of Section 41 [of Lesotho Constitution], Basotho are allowed only to have Lesotho citizenship, this is not fair.”
He said the merger of the two countries would improve the economy and benefit citizens.
But Lesotho national Katleho Nkalai, who disagreed with the Free Basotho Movement notion, was manhandled and kicked out a meeting held under a tree at the Ben Marais hall. He had heckled Morolong, saying there was no way Lesotho could merge with South Africa.
Traffic officers saved him from an angry mob.
“There is no way that Lesotho can be part of South Africa. There are investors who had invested in Lesotho for the past 50 years – who is going to pay them? There is a motive behind this merger,” he told reporters after he was booted from the Free Basotho Movement meeting.
He later went inside the hall to listen to home affairs officials speaking about the special Lesotho permits being granted to Basotho.
Speaking to a fully packed hall, Lesotho Home Affairs Minister Lekhetho Rakuoane said those who had not yet applied for special permits should do so before the end-September deadline.
He said applications could be done without passports, but that applicants had until the end of December 2016 to present their valid passports.
“There are those who have South African ID issued to them by some means, we are saying: ‘come forward, do not be afraid, no one will be arrested or deported’.”
He said Lesotho had proposed to South Africa that Basotho who crossed into South Africa on a daily basis to study or do business, should be allowed to cross without passports.
“We are proposing a biometric system in which they will have only to scan their fingers.”
Rakuoane told journalists after his address that he was worried many Basotho were working in South Africa instead of working in their home country.
“We are worried that Basotho are working in South Africa instead of developing the economy of their country. It is a colonial legacy that remained, although Lesotho had freedom 50 years ago, the reserve labour still remain. We are are trying hard to reverse the injustice of the past.”
The South African government has urged Basotho who work, study or do business in South Africa to apply for special permits, to regularise their stay in South Africa before the end of September.
– African News Agency (ANA)