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SA, Lesotho to strengthen bilateral relations

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Old 07-28-2014, 01:09 PM   #1
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Post SA, Lesotho to strengthen bilateral relations

South Africa and Lesotho are expected to strengthen bilateral relations when President Jacob Zuma kicks off his working visit to Lesotho, on Tuesday.

During the visit, President Zuma is expected to discuss bilateral cooperation and regional and multilateral matters with the government of Lesotho.

They are further expected to share and exchange views on political developments in the region, especially the fragile coalition government in Lesotho, following reports of fears of a coup.

The main political parties in Lesotho have agreed to continue working together after emergency talks mediated by the Christian Council of Lesotho.

Coalition partners had been angered by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane's perceived aloofness, accusing him of operating unilaterally, without consulting other partners. This prompted a junior coalition partner, the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, who vowed to forge a new governing alliance to oust the Prime Minister.

In response, the premier suspended parliament - with the blessing of the king - allowing him to dodge a vote of no confidence.

South Africa, which has been monitoring the situation, has recently expressed concern about the situation, while it commended the parties for vowing to continue to work together for peace and stability of the country.

Lesotho Highlands Water Project

The leaders are also likely to discuss the progress of the Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

The project started in 1986 as a joint venture to supply water to South Africa, especially the rapidly growing urban population of Gauteng, and to meet Lesotho's electricity needs.

The project delivers about 780 million m3 of water to South Africa per year. It is regarded as Africa's largest transfer project as well as the largest ongoing bi-national construction project.

Phase two of the project, which will be completed by mid-2023, is estimated to cost around R11.2 billion and will see the construction of Polihali Dam, a tunnel and several developments around it.

Lesotho and South Africa share tight bilateral and economic relations. The two are also members of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) which allows for a free flow of trade between the two countries. It is also the world's largest producer of diamonds and the trade has transformed it into a middle-income nation. -
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