Fleet firm fights Bid­vest deal

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

THE joint ven­ture com­pany seek­ing to block South African firm, Bid­vest Fleet Com­pany’s con­tract with gov­ern­ment will to­day file a fresh ap­pli­ca­tion in the Com­mer­cial Court in light of rev­e­la­tions it was the pre­ferred bid­der.

Six of the com­pany’s direc­tors last week skipped the coun­try along with Demo­cratic Congress (DC) youth league of­fi­cials fear­ing for their lives af­ter al­leg­ing mas­sive cor­rup­tion in the han­dling of the lu­cra­tive gov­ern­ment fleet con­tract.

How­ever, one of the direc­tors, Let­satsi Mabona, yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times from his hide­out in South Africa they “would not rest un­til we get that con­tract be­cause we de­serve it”.

The com­pany’s lawyer, At­tor­ney Tu­misang Mosotho, also con­firmed they would be fil­ing a re­vised ap­pli­ca­tion to­day, but would not be drawn to elab­o­rate.

The joint ven­ture com­pany, which con­sists of Fleet Ser­vice Le­sotho (Pty) Ltd and Le­be­lonyane (Pty) Ltd (Fleet Ser­vices), had been short­listed and rec­om­mended for the mul­ti­mil­lion-mal­oti ten­der to pro­vide ve­hi­cles and re­lated ser­vices to the gov­ern­ment by an eval­u­a­tion board.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment de­cided to can­cel the ten­der process in June this year, and signed a new con­tract with Bid­vest. An­nounc­ing the new deal with Bid­vest, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Dr ’Mam­phono Khaketla said the gov­ern­ment could no longer af­ford to fi­nance the deal un­der the pa­ram­e­ters en­vis­aged un­der that ten­der, adding Bid­vest would pro­vide com­put­erised fleet manage­ment ser­vices for the next four years.

Un­der the new con­tract, the min­is­ter said, the gov­ern­ment would buy 600 ve­hi­cles and hire another 600 from or­di­nary Basotho, with Bid­vest only man­ag­ing the fleet.

The joint ven­ture com­pany then filed an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion in the Com­mer­cial Court seek­ing to block the con­tract, only to with- draw it af­ter get­ting hold of a re­vised ten­der eval­u­a­tion report that rec­om­mended them as the re­cip­i­ents of the ten­der.

The report re­vealed that of the two final short­listed com­pa­nies — Fleet Ser­vices and Seahlolo Trans­port Lo­gis­tics (Pty) Lim­ited trad­ing as Avis Fleet Ser­vices (Seahlolo) — the eval­u­a­tion team rec­om­mended the ten­der to be awarded to Fleet Ser­vices which scored 81.85 points against 68.21 points for Seahlolo.

How­ever, DC youth league Pres­i­dent Thu- so Litjobo and Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Le­tuka Chafotsa, last month made sen­sa­tional al­le­ga­tions Dr Khaketla had at­tempted to so­licit a M4 mil­lion bribe from the joint ven­ture com­pany. The al­le­ga­tion was echoed by the joint ven­ture firm which also al­leged the min­is­ter used a proxy to make her de­mand.

Dr Khaketla has since de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, and de­manded M6 mil­lion from Messrs Litjobo and Chafotsa as com­pen­sa­tion for the “defam­a­tory state­ments”.

The joint ven­ture com­pany’s direc­tors and DC youth league of­fi­cials last week cited death threats they were re­ceiv­ing and a tip off po­lice had been given “strict” in­struc­tions to tor­ture them into dis­clos­ing who gave them the con­fi­den­tial eval­u­a­tion report of the orig­i­nal fleet ten­der as the rea­sons for flee­ing the coun­try.

The DC youth wing of­fi­cials now in ex­ile in­clude Mr Chafotsa, Chair­man Lekhotla Matsaba, and youth league spokesper­son Maliehe Lem­phane.

Mr Mabona told this pa­per he was per­plexed the au­thor­i­ties were “more con­cerned” about the leaked doc­u­ment than the al­leged cor­rup­tion.

“We find it quite strange and sus­pi­cious that af­ter whistle­blow­ing about the cor­rup­tion that ex­ists in the gov­ern­ment, we are the ones be­ing chased by the po­lice as if we are crim­i­nals,” he said.

“We are cer­tain the po­lice were in­structed to not only hunt us down, but as­sault us un­til we re­vealed how we got the report. This is very dis­turb­ing.”

Mr Mabona was quick to in­di­cate they were not go­ing to be in­tim­i­dated.

“We will fight this to the end. We are in­no­cent here, but we are be­ing treated like crim­i­nals. In fact, we are the vic­tims of cor­rup­tion since we re­ported to the law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties in Le­sotho.”

Asked about the con­di­tions of their ex­ile, he said: “To tell you the truth, we wish we could be back home soon­est. It is not easy at all be­ing here. “Our lives are stag­nant as long as we are still here. Our fam­i­lies back home are frus­trated and mis­er­able. We are ap­peal­ing to the gov­ern­ment to ur­gently ad­dress this sit­u­a­tion be­cause it is re­ally get­ting out of hand.”

Mean­while, po­lice spokesper­son, Su­per­in­ten­dent Clif­ford Molefe has con­sis­tently de­nied the DC youth lead­ers and joint ven­ture of­fi­cials’ al­le­ga­tions, say­ing only one per­son was de­tained in con­nec­tion with a crim­i­nal of­fence.

Joint ven­ture com­pany di­rec­tor Let­satsi Mabona.

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