’Maseribane  under investigation

’Maseribane under investigation

MASERU – BASOTHO National Party (BNP) leader, Thesele ’Maseribane, is being investigated for alleged corruption that happened when he was the Minister of Gender and Sports some two years ago.

thepost can reveal that senior officials in the ministry’s procurement section are also under probe over a M7 million tender awarded to a local company.
Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) spokeswoman ’Matlhokomelo Senoko confirmed that there is an investigation but refused to give further details. Yesterday ’Maseribane told thepost that he is aware of the investigation but is not worried.

“I am aware that they are investigating me but there is nothing they are going to get,” ’Maseribane said.
“It is just a political game. They are playing politics.”

“I couldn’t allow Mosisili’s son to be involved in that project and that is why I am the target of their wrath,” he said.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s son, Rethabile Mosisili, was the deputy principal secretary for the ministry when ’Maseribane was the minister.
“I chose to use the Principal Secretary Ntate Majara (Molapo) instead,” he said.

’Maseribane, the late Molapo and other senior officials at the ministry are suspected to have given a job worth over M7 million to a local logistics company without following procurement procedure.

Notz Freight Logistics which trades as Sech-Notz Investment got the contract to deliver equipment to vocational schools around the country.
The equipment had been bought from India through a company called Apollo International Logistics which investigators also suspect didn’t get the contract through a transparent tender process.
Documents seen by thepost show that in September 2014 Notz Freight claimed over M4 million from the ministry after distributing the equipment.
It had fetched the equipment from Durban. The company was claiming M3 900 for documentation and clearance, M410 473 for shipping line’s release (Safmarine), M140 471 for other dues (not clear on the document), M2.1 million for shipping line’s demurrage/storage, M289 515 for another storage, M67 194 for another storage and M5 500 for communication.

The company also claimed M634 500 for distributing the equipment to Thaba-Tseka, M84 500 to Thabana-li-’Mele, M42 500 to Quthing, M17 500 to Maseru and M10 500 for returning to Durban. Other claims included M153 000 for offloading and loading on site and on destination. It also claimed M112 566 for other charges. The total was over M4 million.

A government document titled Consolidated Suppliers Activity for the Period 01 April 2012 to 08 May 2017 shows that Notz should be paid over M7.7 million. The deal however went sour when the new government allegedly refused to pay the company the balance. Notz sued the government over the payment.
And Last Friday it obtained a default judgment from the Commercial Court ordering the government to pay it.

The DCEO also suspects that the ministry did not follow procurement processes when it gave Apollo International job to supply vocational schools equipment.
The suspicion was triggered by a letter from a discontented competitor, Mohan Exports (India) Pvt Ltd, which complained to Molapo. The letter had been copied to the DCEO.
In the letter Mohan Exports general manager, Maresh Kumar Dua, said the tender had been awarded to his company in October 2011.
That was before the tripartite coalition government that made ’Maseribane a minister and Molapo principal secretary came to power.

At the time the ruling party was the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and the Sports Minister was ’Mathabiso Lepono.
Dua said the letter of award of contract stated that “under the Government’s Cooling Off period in respect of contract award, all those who tendered for this requirement have been given opportunity to object to award of contract to” Mohan Exports.
The cooling off period is 15 days.

Due asked why Apollo International was then awarded the contract in February 2013, over two years after Mohan Exports was selected as the favourable bidder.
He also wanted Molapo to tell him any reasons for rejecting Mohan Exports’ bid.

He complained that Molapo only wrote to Mohan Exports on March 25, 2013 when the contract was awarded to Apollo International on February 21.
Dua argued that there was no reason for the ministry to reject Mohan Exports’ bid because “the technical specifications of the equipment proposed by us comply 100% with tender technical specifications”.

Dua also told Molapo that the required equipment, wool scouring equipment and Hank scouring machines that were covered under the tender were “manufactured in India only by one reputed company, M/S Dhali Exports” and “they have authorised us exclusively for this bid”.
He also said their proposal included after-sales services and local technical support during warranty and post warranty period.
“In view of above, we are unable to comprehend the Ministry’s decision and reasons for award of the tender to Apollo International,” Dua said in the letter.
“We request you to kindly inform us the procedure and criteria adopted for evaluation of the bids, the reasons for the rejection of our bid, justification for not giving 15 Days Cooling Off period.”

The DCEO wrote Molapo in October 2013 asking for information on all documents relating to the advertising of the tender.
The anti-corruption body also wanted to see all tenders submitted, evaluation reports, and tender panel minutes, contract of engagement and proof of payment.

  Staff Reporter

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