Phamotse breathes fire

Phamotse breathes fire

MASERU – Lesotho’s Minister of Sports, Dr Mahali Phamotse, has hit out at the director of Public Debt Management, Khotso Moleleki, over the cancellation of a deal between the government and South African company, Property 2000. The deal, which was negotiated last October, was due to make Property 2000 the financier of the new sports facilities set to be constructed for the upcoming African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games in Maseru in December.

The construction was scheduled to include an indoor sports complex and a covered 40 000 all-seated stadium in Lepereng.
The building of the facilities as well as a games village to accommodate 3 000 athletes at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Roma campus was to total M2.4 billion.
The cancellation of the deal with Property 2000 has cast doubt over the project but Phamotse insisted construction of the new stadium and sports facilities will go ahead.
She said the Ministry of Finance will finance the project as constructors have already been given assurances to go ahead with the job.

The Public Debt Management wants the minister to give it a study report on Setsoto Stadium to ascertain if the national stadium can be demolished and reconstructed.
However, Phamotse said that will not happen and insisted she would not let go of the only stadium the country has while she is already fighting for a new one to be built in Lepereng.
This week Moleleki accused the ministry of refusing to explore a cheaper option of taking down Setsoto and said the ministry is persisting with more expensive alternatives.
However, in an interview with thepost on Monday, Phamotse insisted Lesotho has no choice but to build a new stadium, not only for the AUSC 2020 Games but for the 2022 African Youth Games also set to be held in the country.

Phamotse stood her ground in her opposition of the demolition of Setsoto saying the implications will be bigger financially and it will also impact the national team, Likuena, as they will have nowhere to play their home games. “I am not going to advise the government to demolish the (Setsoto) stadium; I cannot advise people to take Setsoto stadium down just because they are refusing to build a new one,” Phamotse told thepost.

“I cannot let go of this stadium if we don’t build a new one, we have to build that one (in Lepereng) and say we have two (stadiums). What I will not do is to demolish this one while I am already fighting to build a new one,” she said. “At the moment what we want is to have the ground and the seats (in Lepereng). We do not have a choice, we have to build the stadium because we need natural grass, we need the athletics track because the one at Setsoto doesn’t qualify at all,” Phamotse added.

With the deal with Property 2000 now seemingly off, the minister said she believes the finance ministry may have another financier.
Phamotse also said the sports ministry has a relationship with Property 2000 and the South African company remains ready to fund the AUSC Games project to the tune of M2.4 billion.
She insisted Moleleki’s office was not coerced into anything and instead has been negotiating and holding meetings with Property 2000’s directors for four months but Moleleki is now turning around claiming he has been pressured into the whole deal.

“Who pressurised (sic) him? I don’t get it,” Phamotse said. “(We) took four months working on this. He agreed; he was speaking to the financier, holding meetings. Who was forcing him? What do I have (that can) force people to do work and they fail to say no? The (AUSC) games will continue, they didn’t say they will not finance the project,” she said.

“If there is no way to finance the project, we have relationships with people who say they want to give us M2.4 billion. We signed with the contractors. Lesotho will be in trouble if we plan something and do it, but at the end someone says he was coerced. I thought (Moleleki) was saying something else when he says his office was coerced. There will be litigation against Lesotho even without construction,” Phamotse said.

The minister admitted if there is no financier, the project will be greatly affected. However, Phamotse insisted the Ministry of Finance has made promises to find the money.
“What I can say is the construction will go on. We don’t have a problem if finance (ministry) no longer has a good relationship with the financier,” Phamotse said.
“On the grounds, they have already started with their own money because there is agreement between them and the financiers, they are continuing and the games will continue.”
“The broken relations will affect the project but finance ministry has promised us that they will find the money for the construction of the stadium and if they say that I don’t think there is a problem. Maybe they have another financier that I am not aware of.”

Tlalane Phahla

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