Why Mayor was fired

Why Mayor was fired

MASERU – MASERU Mayor Mpho Moloi’s troubles could have been a result of a fierce battle to control a M350 million road tender, court documents have revealed.
This is contained in an urgent application Moloi filed in the High Court to block Local Government Minister Litšoane Litšoane from disbanding the Tender Panel that was about to make recommendations on which company should be awarded the contract.

Moloi also wanted to stop Litšoane from suspending and bringing disciplinary proceedings against her.
Now the minister finds himself in a quagmire after the High Court ruled that he had no right to dissolve the board and trying to discipline Moloi.

The judgement, delivered by Justice Molefi Makara on Tuesday night, means the minister will have to reinstate Moloi’s Tender Panel.
It slams brakes on his attempt to appoint a new panel whose members sources said had already been nominated but were waiting for the judgement to take office.

The minister will also have to restore Moloi as mayor but that means he has to remove Chief Hlathe Majara who was elected by councillors to be the new mayor in August.
Legal experts told thepost last night that once armed with the judgement Moloi does not have to wait for a letter from the minister to get back into office.

The minister now has a complex web he has to disentangle at the court’s behest.
It is however Moloi’s revelations about the M350 million Mpilo Boulevard contract that makes for curious reading.
Moloi says the Tender Panel was waiting for the consultant’s evaluation report recommendations on who to award the contract when the minister “got into the picture”.
She says the minister then dissolved the nine-member panel “without any hearing whatsoever or providing any reasons”.

The panel is made up of seven councillors and two ex-officio members who are council employees.
Nine companies had tendered for the contract to upgrade the boulevard with links, flyover bridges, underpass, exclusive pedestrian bridges and signalisation.
The average price was M353 million and eight of the nine companies seem to have complied with the requirements as stipulated in the Maseru City Council’s tender notice on March 31.

The tender notice was however cancelled on April 7 due to what the council said were “errors”.
It was re-advertised on April 25 and the submission deadline was May 31 which was extended to June 14 after companies complained about the timeframe.

Trouble started after the bids were opened. At a press conference on July 29 the Minister announced that he was disbanding the tender panel. He accused the councilors of usurping the powers of the tender panel by awarding tenders despite the fact that theirs was merely an oversight role.
He also alleged that the councillors had looted funds, violated regulations and advanced themselves illegal loans when the council could not pay salaries and fund crucial projects.

On August 5 Moloi received a letter that said the minister had appointed a committee to investigate her for misconduct.
However, the investigations committee was not going to deal with the minister’s initial allegations but what Moloi had said in reaction to the dissolution of the tender board and the minister’s allegations at a press conference.

She was accused of launching “vicious attacks” on the minister at a rally in Mafeteng and walking out of a meeting with a minister.
The letter said Moloi failed to act in the best interest of the council and had held a press conference where she undermined the minister.

Moloi said the minister called the tender panel on August 1 and told them that according to the Local Government Act their role was not to award tenders but to oversee their implementation after the tender.
She says they disagreed with his view but he insisted that his decision to dissolve the tender board was correct. Moloi says the minister’s decision had “far-reaching and dire” consequences.

“The MCC stands susceptible to huge finance loss which cannot be possibly recovered from the Minister even personally,” she says in her affidavit.
She says M300 million was at stake and “the harm that we fear is imminent”.
The mayor alleges unprocedural removal of the tender panel “leaves leeway for corrupt activities against large sums of money which may be up to one billion maloti”.

She claims the minister wants her investigated for holding a different view on how things should be done.
She says they tender panel is being dissolved for the “purpose of usurping our functions on the process (tender)” which it started and should logically complete.

In his judgement Justice Molefi Makara declared the minister’s decision to disband the Tender Panel “null and void”.
He said the minister should not have made the decision without giving the members of the panel a fair hearing.

The judge said the decision to investigate the mayor should be “reviewed, corrected and set aside”.
He also ruled that members of the panel who are councillors should not be denied their benefits.
Having lost the court case, the minister now has to work with a Tender Panel and a mayor he desperately wants to remove.
The frosty relations could affect the city’s projects that require the collaboration of the ministry and the council.

Staff Reporter


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