By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – Last week, Lesotho witnessed the launch of the ISUZU automotive dealership at Thetsane Industrial Area with a fanfare of influential figures, Thetsane residents and captains of industry in attendance.

Speaking at the groundbreaking event, the Acting LNDC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Advocate Molise Ramaili reiterated their mandate of facilitating investment across many sectors for the country’s economic growth.

He said the establishment of the dealership advances their mandate.

“Today’s sod-turning is particularly striking to us as LNDC because it demonstrates the theme of our new five year strategic plan which is re batlalatsa mabala a khoebo e hlokileng bakeng sa bohle, ‘we are leveling the playing field for fair trade for all,” he said.

Advocate Ramaili highlighted that the dealership will bring employment to the country.

The building of the dealership is a culmination of the tender process that was facilitated by the LNDC to manage and operate an ISUZU bakkie and truck dealership in June 2022 and the Mafeteng based ZMG won that bid.

LNDC is charged with promoting Lesotho as an attractive destination of choice for both local and foreign investors.

It was established through the parliament act, to “initiate, facilitate, and promote the development of manufacturing and processing industries, mining and commerce in a manner calculated to raise the level of income and employment in Lesotho”.

The ZMG Director of Sales, Cassim Zakhura said the sod-turning of the ISUZU Dealership marks “groundbreaking achievement” in line with the Lesotho’s private initiative programme in empowering Basotho. “Employment of youth and women plays a critical role in the sustainability and driving of the business, and this can only be achieved by aligning our objectives with that of LNDC,” he said.

He said when complete, the dealership is expected to absorb about 40 to 60 employees. 

Zakhura said the expected completion date for the dealership is the end of January 2024.

 Craig Uren, Senior Vice President, Revenue Generation at ISUZU, described the sod-turning event as a significant milestone for the people of Lesotho and for ISUZU Motors South Africa, LNDC and ZMG.

“Trade between African countries has the greatest potential for building sustainable economic development and integration. The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a game changer for stimulating intra-African trade.

“At ISUZU Motors South Africa, we are constantly seeking growth opportunities and Lesotho was the only country within the SACU (Southern African Customs Union) where we did not have presence, making this a significant step to bringing ISUZU closer to our customers in Lesotho who have been loyal supporters of our brand and products,” he said.

For his part, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Business Development and Tourism, Hon Mokhethi Shelile hailed the initiative for the establishment of ISUZU Dealership saying it aligns his Ministry’s vision.

“The Ministry draws on the extended NSDP (national strategic development plan) II and one of the key performance areas is growth progression. The goal here is to achieve inclusive, sustainable and equitable growth and create private sector led employment for Basotho.

“The aim is to transform the country from a consumer-based economy to a producer and export-driven economy. We can take note of on-going manufacturing activity in the automotive sector, and the establishment of a dealership in Lesotho is perhaps a precursor to manufacturing of other elements in the automotive industry,” he said.