Girls make up almost half of the 300,000 children involved in wars, according to a report which says they are abducted, raped and often used as currency among fighters. Mr Blair could woo the Bush administration and other rich countries to safeguard imports from poor countries against the unfair Chinese competition.Mr Macaefa, also a member of Parliament, adds: “The Chinese tsunami has created more poverty by extensive job losses. If they want to help us get rid of poverty, then we say to them give us markets, not pounds and euros in loans, accompanied by European experts who draw fat salaries from the same loans.”Manthabiseng Mureki, whose child died after eating a contaminated apple from a dump, seems to have found humour in her suffering since her employers disappeared in January.She has the words “Suffer continue” on her torn T-shirt. The best Mr Blair can do is stop it by vigorously campaigning for the opening of EU markets and having a sound chat with Mr [George] Bush.”The EU has not been willing to open discussions about textiles imports to Europe, he said “They have to open up for us. Attempts will be made to diversify to other markets including Canada and Australia though these might bring only small rewards compared to America.
Mr Mohaleroe sees no light at the end of the tunnel despite four high-level visits to the US to plead with the Bush administration to stop the “Chinese tsunami” by introducing safeguards.He says the only other source of salvation could be Tony Blair’s intervention through his Commission for Africa project. There has been no wage increase in the textile sector for two years Mr Molapi sees still more job losses. “Realising we may lose this sector, our strategy is on salvaging as much as we can,” he said.Consultations have started with the Bush administration to implement safeguards against Chinese exports to the US. We have been badly hit by this Chinese tsunami.”Peter Molapi, chief executive of the government-run Lesotho National Development Co-operation, tasked with finding ways of helping the textiles sector, says the Lesotho government is assessing the financial health of remaining firms. It would no longer allow employers to close shop and vanish without paying workers in a country with no social security system.The government says it is trying to help manufacturers save costs by, among other things, cutting rentals for those operating from government premises and deferring income tax. In Lesotho, where unemployment has reached 40 per cent, the textile job losses are simply unaffordable in a country where textiles account for 90 per cent of all export earnings, Mr Mohaleroe says.The factory closures have had a knock-on effect in other sectors of the economy such as retail, transport, electricity, telecommunications and water.
Billy Macaefa, general secretary of Lesotho’s Factory Workers Union, is furious because out of those remaining in work, a further 10,000 workers have been put on short term. That means they are called in only as and when their labour is needed and paid for the number of days worked.But those such as Mathabiso Mabalela, whose husband died and who has to feed six children, have not been called for any short-term duty since January. They have not had any wages either.Mr Macaefa says: “We do appreciate the problems but we feel this short-term business is a criminal abuse of workers. It’s a linguistic excuse for them not to fire workers and pay benefits. Survival is virtually impossible for anyone on short term.”Last week, at least 700 workers gathered outside the gates of Kingyang Garments, the latest of the garment factories to close. Puleng Choboakane did not know, or care, about the problems of the US dollar and the expiry of the global quota system which have cost her a job.