DCEO stops Mpilo Boulevard tender

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

THE Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO), Mahlomola Manyokole, has ordered the Maseru City Council (MCC) to stop the processes of awarding the multi-million tender for the improvement of Mpilo Boulevard intersections pending investigations to determine if the tendering process has been above aboard.

Advocate Manyokole also ordered Maseru Town Clerk, Moeko Maboee, to hand over all documents relating to the tender.

The Mpilo Boulevard tender was first advertised in April 2019 and among other things, the successful bidder is expected to construct new road links, flyover bridges for vehicles as well as pedestrian bridges.

It is envisaged that when complete, the new look Mpilo Boulevard will reduce traffic congestion in the city and also reduce carnage on the roads.

But Adv Manyokole this week put the brakes on the lucrative tender, saying the DCEO needed to probe the tendering process.

In a 22 October 2019 letter to Mr Maboee titled: ‘Request for information’, Adv Manyokole states that “the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) is empowered in terms of Section 6, 7 and 8 of the Prevention and Economic Offences Act of 1999 as amended by Act No.8 of 2006 to request information from any person for the purpose of administering the above act”.

“Your good office is therefore requested to furnish this office with certified copies of the information relating to the Mpilo Boulevard Intersections tender on or before 1600hrs today the 22nd of October 2019. Invitation to tender, tender documents, tender opening minutes, the evaluation report, tender board minutes and any other information relating to the tender process should be supplied.

“In terms of Section 6 of Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act, you are also directed to stop the tender and processes with immediate effect and revoke any award of the tender if it has been awarded pending our advice on the on-going investigation,” Adv Manyokole states in the letter.

Yesterday, the DCEO spokesperson, ’Matlhokomelo Senoko, confirmed that the tender had been stopped pending investigations. She however, refused to say what irregularities the DCEO was investigating.

“Without going into the full details of what is being investigated, I can confirm that the Mpilo Boulevard Intersections tender is being investigated and therefore it has been stopped with immediate effect.

“The letter (written by Adv Manyokole) calls for the immediate release of the said documents to the DCEO and this is urgent and needs to be treated as such,” Ms Senoko said.

On his part, Mr Maboee confirmed receipt of Adv Manyokole’s letter. He however, said the letter should have been addressed to the principal secretary in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftainship, Khothatso Tšooana.

“I told the (DCEO’s) messenger that it had been addressed to the wrong person as I am not in a position to fulfil their demands. I told him (messenger) to direct the letter to the Financial Controller of the Ministry of Local Government, Mr Khothatso Tšooana and not me.”

He also refused to speak on allegations of irregularities in the tendering process saying, “My boss Mr Tšooana is best placed to speak to you on issues pertaining to the tender”.

Mr Tšooana’s mobile phone rang unanswered when this publication called for comment on the issue yesterday.

The Mpilo Boulevard tender appears to be one of the issues at the centre of the government’s stand-off with the MCC which saw then Local Government minister, Litšoane Litšoane, disband the MCC tender panel in August 2019 only for it to be reinstated by a High Court order a fortnight ago.

Justice Molefi Makara ruled that Mr Litšoane had no right to dissolve the panel without giving it a chance to defend itself. Mr Litšoane dissolved the panel on the grounds that some councillors sat on the panel and awarded tenders in contravention of the Local Government Act of 1997 which specifically prohibits councillors from being part of the tender panel.

Maseru Mayor, Mpho Moloi, was also booted out by fellow councillors who accused her of disrespecting Mr Litšoane who has since been moved to the Ministry of Agriculture.  Some MCC sources have alleged that Ms Moloi and the tender panel are victims of a fight over the Mpilo Boulevard tender.

In her submissions in a case for her reinstatement, Ms Moloi recently told the court that the tender panel was waiting for the consultant’s evaluation report recommendations on who to award the contract when the minister (Mr Litšoane) “got into the picture”.

She said the minister then dissolved the nine-member panel “without any hearing whatsoever or providing any reasons”.

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