Investigate Palace project

Investigate Palace project

The New Royal Palace is by far one of the most expensive houses ever built on the African continent. However, it is being built in the poorest country in the SADC region and one of the poorest states in Africa. Since, Lesotho is an unofficial province in South Africa (10th Province of South Africa), it qualifies as the poorest province in South Africa. As things stand the new Royal Palace risks giving the Royal Family a very bad reputation for turning a blind eye on ballooning costs and having no public opinion or apology on taxpayers’ money.

It now seems as though the Royal Family is using public funds to enrich themselves. This opinion piece is in response to a story I read in thepost newspaper, which was published about two months ago, “Palace to cost M450 million”. I am surprised that the Ministry of Public Works & Transport is trying to downplay an issue that has become nothing short of a national scandal. Spending M450 million of taxpayers’ money on a private facility is not only wrong but highly immoral. If one considers the level of unemployment, under-development and poverty in Lesotho, that figure does not make sense at all.

To put things into perspective, M450 million can build four hundred and fifty (450) houses worth one million maloti each. It can further build one thousand (1000) houses worth M450 000. Which means, that figure can re-build all government houses located in Maseru West. Even better, it can build two thousand (2000) new homes worth M225 000 for the police service. Nkandla raised eyebrows when nearly R250 million of public funds were spent on a private residence. Lesotho spends almost double the amount and the ministry sees nothing wrong with it. Really!

Yes, we love and respect our Royal Family but it is not only wrong to spend M450 million of taxpayers’ money on a private dwelling but highly unethical no matter how one looks at it. We can’t spend hundreds of millions on a new house yet hundreds of thousands of children go to bed on empty stomachs daily. Thousands of young people live in constant anxiety and desperation due to lack of jobs. It would have made perfect sense if the same amount were spent on a new university or development of a new engineering faculty at the National University of Lesotho.

It would have made sense if the amount were spent on a new technical school for unemployed youth in each district. With the same amount, Lesotho can afford to build a new technical school worth M45 million in all ten districts. It would have been ethical to spend the same amount of money on a medical school. I read that the project was started in 2010 and still hasn’t been completed in 2018. Architects changed and a huge part of the building was demolished but the construction company appointed still continued work. I seriously smell a rat on that issue!

This project has corruption written all over its face. I would advise the Parliament of Lesotho to order construction to be stopped and intense investigations have to be conducted to investigate the reasons why taxpayers’ money has been wasted. We need parliament to give taxpayers’ concrete answers otherwise that new Palace will forever be seen as an eyesore that will never be accepted by the Basotho nation. The parliament of Lesotho also needs to investigate the reasons as to why the project has dragged on for eight years.

I understand that the project is about 80 percent complete which means that the final figure will be well over M550 million maloti. The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) should also consider investigating this project. There are serious discrepancies that have left Basotho with unanswered questions concerning funds. I strongly believe that there is a case of corruption taking place in the project.

In conclusion, the government needs to be extremely sensitive when it comes to handling public funds. We want our taxes to be used responsibly in order to develop the country for the greater good. We as the public also want our taxes to benefit future generations. If our hard earned taxes are misused on projects that do not come to an end, then what’s the point of paying tax?

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