Maliba Lodge rubbishes racism claims

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Maliba Lodge

By Seleoe Nonyane

The Lesotho Council for Tourism (LCT) chairman Makhetha Motṧoari says the council is aware of racism allegations levelled against Maliba Lodge which have been making rounds on various social media platforms.

One social media user had posted that she had visited the establishment recently and claimed that she was not treated fairly and felt discriminated.

In her post she claimed that white and black visitors were seated in different places and that whites received better services such as receiving their food on time while it was different for the black ones.

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Motṧoari said that no action was taken in order to intervene on the matter for the fact that while they were still in the process of contacting the Maliba Lodge management as to gather facts surrounding the issue, the Lesotho Tourism for Development Corporation (LTDC) released a letter claiming to have contacted the facility barring the council to pursue the matter.

The letter indicated that cases of such a manner are unacceptable and it does not condone them.

The LTDC said that to embark on a fact finding mission in order to address the issue together with relevant authorities, a meeting has been scheduled with the Maliba Lodge management.

The letter further states that the wish to acknowledge that similar alleged concerns were raised few years back and were addressed with the Maliba Lodge and as such are deeply concerned about the alleged recurrence.

Motṧoari said that first and foremost, it is the council’s duty to find whether stories on both sides and determine how truthful the allegations are before jumping into any conclusions.

He said that the work of the council is to be a mediator in the issue and then find a way forward to how this issue can be dealt with.

He said that people need to understand the how different businesses operate so that they do not find themselves in such incidents.

“Before visiting a certain establishment one must conduct a thorough investigation of the place they intend to visit to learn how they do their business in order to avoid getting such treatments, especially when the establishment is out of town to avoid disappointment.

“Also as the council we have to do some awareness campaigns in order to make people aware and this will make work easy for everyone. And never to encounter such claims in future,” he said.

He also stated that he is aware that the Maliba Lodge management released an audio statement revealing that it has never been contacted by LTDC and therefore, that was false.

He said that if that is the case, the council will have to pursue the matter and find a solid ground where the two parties involved can find a common ground.

However, he said that he cannot confirm as to when” it will be dealt with because the council is still out resources at the moment.”

Commenting on the allegations Maliba managing director Stephen Phakisi indicated that the racism allegations are false and that they treat all their customers equally without any discrimination.

However, he mentioned that the facility has a model of how they work and carry out their day to day activities.

He said that bookings are made in advance as they have clients from all over the world coming to visit them and bookings are sometimes made a year in advance.

He encouraged visitors to call and secure a meal beforehand in order for them to experience the exceptional services they offer.

“Our model is we cook to order meaning that each order is cooked for the time scheduled.

“Our lunch is served at the deck and at the same time dinner orders are already being made. Therefore, by dinner time tables have been allocated and scheduled for each room”, he said.

Phakisi said that the problem arises where some clients just do walk-ins without any bookings and are expected to be helped immediately although that is not how the lodge operates.

He said that between 3:00pm to 6:00 pm they are closed and will open again at 7:00 pm as they are preparing dinner for their guests. However, he said that some clients do arrive at 4:00 pm and agree to wait to be served as he cannot turn them away.

He added that in an effort to address the issue of walk-ins, he opened another restaurant in 2017 that operated for eight hours but the received a complaint that he opened two restaurants one for people of colour and one for white people so he had to shut it down.