The Treaty <<..back
The then foreign ministers of Lesotho (Colonel Thaabe Letsie) and South Africa (Mr Pik Botha) signed the Treaty, a contractual agreement governing the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the Project, as well as the export of water to South Africa, on 24 October 1986, in Maseru, Lesotho.
The Treaty is unique in that it was designed to allow for the disparity in economic development of the countries involved. It was also essential to word the document in such a way that the specific concerns and interests of both countries were all accommodated - no easy task. Finer points dealt with included the volume of water to be delivered to South Africa, as well as a basis for sharing the benefits and a formula for calculating the royalties to be paid to Lesotho.
Importantly, the Treaty also defined the responsibilities of each county as concerns payment for the Project. South Africa was to pay for everything relating to the transfer of the water, including the implementation, operation and maintenance costs of all facilities involved, as well as compensation for the displacement of individuals and communities. Lesotho would finance the hydroelectric power component of the Project.
Over time, six protocols, three of which were envisaged in the Treaty, were added.
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Two teams (one from SA and one from Lesotho) drafted the text. They comprised of legal experts, senior government officials, specialist consultants and engineers. The final product was a handbook for the implementation of the largest bi-national construction project on the African continent.
Since 1986 the treaty has not required any major adjustments, nor has it been necessary to make use of the dispute arbitration mechanism as set out in the document.