Lawmakers brawl over mohair monopoly granted to China
Lesotho’s parliament descended into chaos with MPs trading blows over its failure to repeal a law that gave a Chinese firm the monopoly to buy the country’s wool and mohair.
Wool and mohair are key exports for farmers in Lesotho, which produces around a fifth of the world’s supply of mohair.
Deputies clashed on Thursday after a government minister failed to present a bill to repeal the contentious regulation.
Footage on state broadcaster Lesotho TV showed some parliamentarians exchanging blows, hurling dustbins at each other and ripping off microphones.
One used his belt to hit a fellow lawmaker.
The leader of the opposition Movement for Economic Change Selibe Mochoboroane and Agriculture Minister Litsoane Litsoane were injured, television reports said.
Lesotho last year introduced regulations that forced farmers to sell their wool and mohair to a Chinese company which is accused of failing to pay for goods, or paying too little.
The government suspended the regulations after farmers’ protests, but a bill was supposed to be presented in parliament on Thursday to formally scrap the regulation.
About 30,000 farmers in Lesotho, which is entirely surrounded by South Africa, rely on wool and mohair exports.
China’s growing presence is a sensitive topic across Africa, with critics accusing the Asian powerhouse of dominating markets and backing despots to source raw materials.