ABC vows to con­fis­cate Bid­vest cars

Lesotho Times - - News - Bereng Mpaki

THE All Ba­sotho Con­ven­tion (ABC) has vowed to con­fis­cate ve­hi­cles be­long­ing to Bid­vest Bank Lim­ited if it forms gov­ern­ment af­ter the 3 June 2017 to re­coup the money the South African firm “fleeced” from Ba­sotho.

In turn, com­muter trans­port op­er­a­tors say they have shunned the gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy of hir­ing Ba­sotho-owned ve­hi­cles since there were no guar­an­tees the next gov­ern­ment would con­tinue with the ar­range­ment.

This comes amid rev­e­la­tions the gov­ern­ment is still us­ing cars hired from Bid­vest Bank Lim­ited de­spite say­ing it can­celled the con­tro­ver­sial ve­hi­cle fleet ser­vices con­tract with the South African firm with ef­fect from 1 April 2017.

It has emerged that the Bid­vest cars are still be­ing used be­cause the gov­ern­ment had so far only man­aged to ac­quire 193 Ba­sotho-owned ve­hi­cles of the 1 060 needed to ser­vice 26 gov­ern­ment min­istries as well as paras­tatals.

ABC spokesper­son, Tefo Mape­sela, said they were not sur­prised by the rev­e­la­tion that Bid­vest was still in the coun­try.

“Bid­vest is a part­ner in crime with the gov­ern­ment in fleec­ing tax­pay­ers’ funds,” he said.

“This is a con­tin­u­a­tion of the shady re­la­tion­ship that the gov- ern­ment of Le­sotho has with Bid­vest. It started with the com­pany be­ing awarded the con­tract with­out even ten­der­ing for it.”

Mr Mape­sela said if the ABC were to form gov­ern­ment af­ter next month’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tion, they would con­fis­cate all the re­main­ing Bid­vest ve­hi­cles “to re­cover the money fleeced from Ba­sotho”.

“We would com­pel them to pay the out­stand­ing taxes they have not been pay­ing since com­ing to Le­sotho in 2015,” he added.

Pub­lic trans­port op­er­a­tors from the cen­tral, north and south re­gions of the coun­try have also voiced their “dis­ap­point­ment” with the gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of the ve­hi­cle fleet is­sue.

Makama Monese, who is the deputy spokesper­son for the op­er­a­tors yes­ter­day told this pub­li­ca­tion they had de­cided not to lease out their ve­hi­cles to the gov­ern­ment “un­til the process is prop­erly han­dled”.

“We are not sat­is­fied with the way the is­sue has been dealt with by the gov­ern­ment, hence our de­ci­sion not to as­so­ciate with it un­til it has been re­viewed,” he said.

Mr Monese, who is also the spokesper­son for the Maseru Re­gion Trans­port Op­er­a­tors (MRTO) also said the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to hire ve­hi­cles from in­di­vid­u­als was ill-ad­vised since they would have to ad­dress all the in­di­vid­ual prob­lems that would arise.

He said the gov­ern­ment was not inclusive in draft­ing the pol­icy of hir­ing Ba­sotho-owned ve­hi­cles.

“We ex­pected to be in­cluded in the for­mu­la­tion of the pro­cure­ment sys­tem as ma­jor stake­hold­ers in the trans­port in­dus­try. Now they have de­cided to source ve­hi­cles from in­di­vid­u­als, which we know that has its fair share of prob­lems.”

Mr Monese said the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce the pol­icy of hir­ing Ba­sotho-owned ve­hi­cles ahead of the 3 June 2017 was “sus­pi­cious”.

He also warned of a po­ten­tial debt trap for Ba­sotho who take loans to buy ve­hi­cles for leas­ing to the gov­ern­ment since the con­tracts would only be for one year.

“We were not pre­pared to take that risk since no one knows what the next gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion will be with re­gards to this pol­icy. We have al­ready seen peo­ple find­ing them­selves in sim­i­lar predica­ments in the past.”

He said the pub­lic trans­port op­er­a­tors had the ca­pac­ity to pro­vide all types of ve­hi­cles the gov­ern­ment needed if “the process is done right”.

“We can sup­ply such ve­hi­cles right away it the gov­ern­ment needs them in the event the process is done right,” Mr Monese added.

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