No case against Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary: DPP

Sunday Express - - NEWS - Keiso Mohloboli

THE Act­ing Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) Hlale­fang Motinyane says there is no ev­i­dence of cor­rup­tion against the Min­istry of Pub­lic Works Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary, Motha­bathe Hlalele in con­nec­tion with the award­ing of the M140 mil­lion Senate build­ing ten­der.

This flies in the face of re­cent claims by the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Direc­torate on Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Of­fences (DCEO), Borotho Mat­soso, who told the Sun­day Ex­press’ sis­ter Le­sotho Times pub­li­ca­tion that Mr Hlalele will soon face charges of cor­rup­tion and abuse of power.

Con­struc­tion of the new senate build­ing, ear­marked for the Mpilo Hill in Maseru, was sup­posed to have started at the end of last year.

How­ever, the Chi­nese com­pany, Yan Jian, which was awarded the ten­der in 2016 could not pro­ceed with con­struc­tion af­ter PS Hlalele or­dered the re-eval­u­a­tion of the senate build­ing ten­der on the grounds that some of the com­pa­nies which had ap­plied for the job in 2012 had been un­fairly dis­qual­i­fied.

The ten­der was sub­se­quently awarded to Qing Jian Group, a com­pany that was ini­tially dis­qual­i­fied in 2012 along with Sigma Con­struc­tion and China Shanxi Con­struc­tion.

The three com­pa­nies were dis­qual­i­fied for fail­ing to meet var­i­ous bid­ding re­quire­ments and in the case of Qing Jian, the com­pany was ad­judged to have failed to sub­mit ten­der doc­u­ments that were trans­lated into English and au­then­ti­cated by the Chi­nese Em­bassy in Le­sotho.

The senate has so far re­ceived M40 mil­lion for the first phase of con­struc­tion which is al­ready be­hind sched­ule as it did not start at the end of last year af­ter PS Hlalele or­dered the re-eval­u­a­tion of the senate build­ing ten­der.

Early last month, the Prime Min­is­ter’s Ministries and De­part­ments, Gov­er­nance, For­eign Re­la­tions and In­for­ma­tion par­lia­men­tary port­fo­lio com­mit­tee ruled that PS Hlalele was in con­tempt of court when he or­dered the re-eval­u­a­tion of the M140 mil­lion con­struc­tion ten­der in 2017.

The com­mit­tee noted that PS Hlalele de­fied the High Court which had ruled in 2016 that the ten­der must not be re-eval­u­ated.

“Con­trary to the court or­der…and with­out any ap­peal ap­pli­ca­tion lodged be­fore the court chal­leng­ing the or­der, the PS Works (Mr Hlalele) made a uni­lat­eral de­ci­sion to or­der the re-eval­u­a­tion of the ten­der.

“This act is tan­ta­mount to a bare con­tempt of court em­a­nat­ing from a chief ac­count­ing of­fi­cer who is ex­pected to re­spect and ob­serve the rule of law of the land,” the com­mit­tee said in its re­port which was tabled be­fore par­lia­ment early this month.

And on Wed­nes­day, Mr Mat­soso said the DCEO had com­pleted its own in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the mat­ter and Mr Hlalele would soon ap­pear in court to face charges of “abuse of power and cor­rup­tion in con­nec­tion with the award­ing of M140 mil­lion Senate build­ing ten­der”.

“We are only wait­ing for the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) to go through the find­ings of the DCEO and ad­vise as to when Mr Hlalele should be taken to court.

“He (Mr Hlalele) is be­ing ac­cused of abuse of power and cor­rup­tion in con­nec­tion with the award­ing of the M140 mil­lion senate build­ing ten­der,” Mr Mat­soso said.

How­ever, a re­cent sav­in­gram writ­ten by Ms Motinyane and ad­dressed to Mr Mat­soso in­di­cates that there is no ev­i­dence of cor­rup­tion against Mr Hlalele.

“Fol­low­ing our brief dis­cus­sion on the above mat­ter, I care­fully pe­rused the docket and ap­plied my mind on the ev­i­dence con­tained therein,” Ms Motinyane says in the sav­in­gram ti­tled ‘Sus­pected cor­rup­tion in the award of the senate build­ing’.

“This seems to be rather com­plex mat­ter cen­tring on the pow­ers of the chief ac­count­ing of­fi­cer in the per­for­mance of their du­ties, par­tic­u­larly as heads of the ten­der pan­els and ac­count­ing of­fi­cers. It seems to me, from our dis­cus­sions and the ev­i­dence in the docket, that there is no ev­i­dence that the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary (Mr Hlalele) per­son­ally ben­e­fited from the act he is sus­pected to have com­mit­ted … in terms of Sec­tion 21(3)(b) of the Pre­ven­tion of Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Of­fences Act.”

Ms Motinyane fur­ther ex­plained that the case against Mr Hlalele back dates to 2012 when he (Mr Hlalele) was not the prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary. Ms Motinyane also noted there were many ir­reg­u­lari- ties with the senate ten­der when it was first opened for bids in 2012.

“The 2012 ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties ended up in court and a de­ci­sion was made. It should be noted that the sus­pect was not in­volved,” Ms Motinyane said.

Ms Motinyane fur­ther said that fol­low­ing Mr Hlalele’s ap­point­ment as prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary in 2017, he or­dered that the ten­der be re­viewed.

“He (Mr Hlalele) ac­tu­ally or­dered ev­ery­thing to start afresh and that all the com­pa­nies which have pre­vi­ously dis­qual­i­fied be al­lowed back to com­pete again.

“Clearly from the ev­i­dence, in di­rect­ing com­pe­ti­tion, there is no ev­i­dence that he was ear­mark­ing or pre­fer­ring a spe­cific com­pany or that his pur­pose was to ob­tain an un­due ad­van­tage for a spe­cific per­son… In the fi­nal anal­y­sis, the ev­i­dence col­lected thus far does not fall within the re­quire­ments for the pre­ferred charge (of cor­rup­tion),” Ms Motinyane said, adding, “I am how­ever, con­sid­er­ing a sec­ond opin­ion in the mat­ter”.

The DPP’s de­ci­sion was wel­comed by Mr Hlalele who ac­cused Mr Mat­soso of hav­ing a per­sonal vendetta against him.

“It is so un­fair for Ntate Mat­soso to use the DCEO for his smear cam­paign against me es­pe­cially when he knows that there is ab­so­lutely no case here.

“He (Mr Mat­soso) spoke to you for the Thurs­day ( Le­sotho Times) pub­li­ca­tion when he al­ready knew that there was no case be­cause he al­ready had the com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the DPP.

“There are former prin­ci­pal sec­re­taries such as Messrs Le­bo­hang Phooko, Ma­jakathata Mokuena and Tlo­he­lang Au­mane who dealt with the ten­der be­fore my ap­point­ment and th­ese were never ac­cused of cor­rup­tion or abuse of power for do­ing their job.

On his part, Mr Mat­soso re­futed Mr Hlalele’s claims that he had a vendetta against him, say­ing he only acted within his man­date to in­ves­ti­gate sus­pected cases of cor­rup­tion.

“I can­not have a vendetta against some­one I don’t re­ally know. My only con­cern is to fight cor­rup­tion and noth­ing else. What I know is if you fight cor­rup­tion, cor­rup­tion also fights you.

“We are still wait­ing for the DPP to de­cide on the way for­ward af­ter the sec­ond opin­ion that she said she wanted,” Mr Mat­soso said.

MIN­ISTRY of Pub­lic Works Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary Motha­bathe Hlalele.

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