By virtue of being called a crisis, the effect on people’s welfare of a situation is bad. The same applies to the water situation in Lesotho. Ironic isn’t it? Lesotho?...having a water crisis? Absolutely unbelievable, do you know why? It is because courtesy of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, Lesotho exports water to South Africa [i hear Botswana is in line too] at an LHWP Treaty’s stipulated rate of 70 cubic meters per second which literally translates to 4, 2 million litres of water per minute.
Do you see what the irony here is? While all this water is being delivered from the LHWP into the Vaal Dam, more than seventy percent of all taps in the Kingdom are dry simply because we have not had good rains in about twelve months.
But alas the seeming irrationality of it all, it is a reality we are grappling with and guess what? There is a perfectly rational explanation of this. Quoted verbatim, paragraph 8 of Article 6 of the LHWP Treaty states that ‘Neither of the Parties shall cause or permit under any circumstance nor for any reason whatsoever any unilateral interference with the delivery of water to the Designated Outlet Point’’. What could ever explain the irony more than this paragraph? I bet nothing.
The unfortunate implication of this is that regardless of how long the so called El Niño may last, regardless of how often and worse its gets, there is no way in which Lesotho can momentarily reduce let alone stop the out flow of its water into the Vaal Dam solely to ensure that domestic demand is first met. That would be a gross violation of the LHWP Treaty to which the government of South Africa may find itself with no other option but to possibly respond with an economic blockade similar to that which it imposed on the 1st of January 1986 culminating in the Water Coup of the 26th January 1986.
What then is the beauty of the crisis? You may wonder...can there possibly be a link between this kind of suffering and beauty especially when the suffering is utterly uncalled for? Being a citizen of this Kingdom and grossly fatigued by its seemingly aimless but definitely fruitless wandering about the development landscape, i see it.
Let me begin like this, Basotho are a seriously divided nation with the source of this division being politics. Unlike with other issues that have not had a direct impact on the life of the general population like the much publicised, alleged coup of August 30, 2015 and the political instability for which SADC eventually commissioned an inquiry in the previous year, the water crisis has a direct impact on the life of the general population. We are all at the receiving end regardless of our usually petty and polarising politics. It would then be wise to take the opportunity presented by this crisis to once in our life as a people realise that before being patrons of our respective political parties, we are first and foremost Basotho and that is very important.
Important in a sense that it can, in fact it ought to unite us as a nation. It is an opportunity to speak to the government with one voice demanding a rectification of the injustice of the LHWP Treaty. After all, paragraph 1 of Article 16 of the treaty titled Procedure for Review and Revision states that ‘‘The provisions of this Treaty shall be reviewed at intervals of twelve years, calculated from the date of signature hereof or at such other intervals as the Parties may agree upon’’. The third of such intervals would be the year 2022.
That unity would mark the beginning of a new era for our country where people realise that the destiny of their nation is in their hands. This would force our politicians to act patriotically knowing damn well that the people would unite against them. Obviously, Basotho would in time cease to be a burden to the South African economy. On the contrary, the patriotic actions of their governments would lead to the creation of an economy in their homeland. Let us get free.