Lawyers haggle over fleet tender deal

Lawyers haggle over fleet tender deal

MASERU – THE Commercial Court’s Justice Lebohang Molete this week heard that the government is in a hurry to sign a M100 million fleet tender contract with a joint venture whose authenticity is being challenged.
Fleeters Holdings is suing to block the government from signing the contract with a joint venture of Fleet Service Lesotho and Silverstone Fleet Solutions.
During the hearing, the joint venture’s lawyer, Chris Lephuthing, told Justice Molete that the government has to sign the contract urgently because it is desperate to save money.
“They have to sign the contract as soon as possible,” Advocate Lephuthing said.
“We should all remember that the government of Lesotho has no money, so the government cannot waste time on the case which is not even urgent.”
“Besides, it has to save the money hence has to sign the contract as soon as possible.”

He said the contract worth M100 million over five years was supposed to be signed last week were it not for Fleeters Holdings’ court case.
“And after the end of the June, the company which signed the contract should immediately proceed (with the government fleet management),” he said.
In its court papers, Fleeters Holdings insists that the contract should not be signed.
“Fleet Africa/Silverstone” does not meet the basic requirements for the tender “because it is not a Lesotho registered company”.

The joint venture however says these allegations are false.
It insists that Fleet Service Lesotho is legally registered in Lesotho and its joint venture with Silverstone was properly registered.
It says Fleeters Holdings should have verified the registration records to avoid “abusing court process and unwarranted clowning”.
An independent verification by thepost shows that both Fleet Service Lesotho and Silverstone Fleet Solutions are legally registered.

It however appears that Fleeters Holdings is referring to Fleet Africa, a company “struck off” but not remotely linked to the joint venture.
It also seems that Fleeters Holdings is taking issue with Silverstone Trading and not Silverstone Fleet Solutions. Silverstone Trading was registered in 2010 and its activities are recorded as “unknown”.
The joint venture argues that Fleeters Holdings does not have the right to sue and has not exhausted local remedies before approaching the court.
Fleeters Holdings is asking Justice Molete to declare that it is the rightful winner of the tender although it scored 70 percent against the joint venture’s 82 percent.
In court, Attorney Khotso Nthontho, lawyer for Fleeters Holdings, argued the contract is about to be awarded to a company that does not exist.

This allegation is denied by Bruce McDonald Watson, the director of Fleet Service Lesotho, who says there is clear evidence that both Fleet Service Lesotho and Silverstone Fleet Solutions are Lesotho registered companies.
“The joint venture called Fleet Service Lesotho and Silverstone Fleet Solutions tendered under tender notice 2/2018/19 for fleet service and it is the joint venture that was awarded the tender,” Watson said in an affidavit.
“Fleet Africa did not tender for and has not been awarded this tender,” he said.
Justice Molete postponed the case to Friday next week, saying he has to decide if it is urgent as the applicants claim.
He said Nthontho had not filed replying affidavits despite claiming that the case is urgent.
Nthontho requested two days to file his heads of argument.
He said the case is urgent because the government is about to sign the contract.

Itumeleng Khoete

 

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