By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU- The Maputsoe based Ace Apparel International has resumed its operations under the new owners saving about 1 500 jobs.

This is according to the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) Corporate Communication Manager Tiisetso Moremoholo.

She said the new owner is Vishan Clothing.

It will be recalled that last year in December this publication reported that the owners of that textile factory had disappeared leaving their workers high and dry. They have reportedly fled to the Netherlands and efforts are underway to extradite them back to the country, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Business Development Hon Mokethi Shelile has said.

The Minister reported that the new owner has paid the workers December salaries and leave days.

The acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the LNDC Advocate Molise Ramaili had previously  announced in December last year that they are engaged in talks with the new investor who would take over the operations of Ace Apparel International.

Moremoholo said LNDC delegation which included the officials from the Ministry of Employment and Labour had an audience with the buyers in Durban, South Africa and had accordingly shown interest in working with the incoming owners of Ace Apparel International.

These developments brought cheer to the workers who were unsure about their future with their employer who had vanished into thin air.

Ace Apparel International produces garments and exports them outside the country.

The owners of this factory are reportedly hiding in the Netherlands.

Shelile said despite the long extradition processes, these owners who had abandoned their workers will still have to come back to the country and face the might of the law.

With about 17 years at LNDC, the Minister said this is about the fifth time an investor ‘runs away’ and leaves their employees stranded.

Meanwhile acting LNDC CEO indicated that the owners do not owe them rent, he further said they did not owe water and electricity. Sometimes owners close shops when they are on the brink of liquidity.

Lesotho has seen a rise in the establishment of textiles, and footwear manufacturing industry following the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) which was introduced by the United States in the 2000s.

The World Bank reports that textile and apparel sector is also a key employer of women, accounting for 80% of textile workers in Lesotho.

The textile industry is one of the largest employers in Lesotho employing thousands of Basotho.