Litjobo challenges top cop
OUTSPOKEN Democratic Congress (DC) youth league boss, Thuso Litjobo, has fired another salvo at Finance Minister Dr ’Mamphono Khaketla, accusing her and “some ministers and parliamentarians” of owning Bidvest Fleet Company, which was awarded a lucrative fleet management contract.
Mr Litjobo has also challenged Maseru Urban District Police Commissioner, Senior Superintendent Motlatsi Mapola, whom he accuses of being instructed by cabinet to “arrest and torture us until death” to come get him since he was the one who leaked the evaluation report that recommended joint venture company, Lebelonyane, as the recipients of the tender.
Addressing scores of DC supporters welcoming home the DC youth league executive members and Lebelonyane directors following their return in Maseru on Monday, Mr Litjobo alleged Dr Khaketla had instructed the police to “arrest and torture us to death.”
Three DC youth league officials and six Lebelonyane directors skipped the country a fortnight ago fearing for their lives after alleging massive corruption in the handling of the lucrative government fleet contract.
The DC youth league executive members who were welcomed back on Monday were Letuka Chafotsa, Lekhotla Matšaba and Maliehe Lemphane, while the Lebelonyane directors were ’Matlikane Khali, Teboho Mothebesoane, Moorosi Ramoipone, Kereke Moteletsane, Thamae Rapitso and Letsatsi Mabona.
The nine returned after a three-member task team, comprising the DC National Executive Committee (NEC) chairperson ’Maboiketlo Maliehe, her deputy Kose Makoa and committee member Ndiwudlile Ndlomose, fetched them from South Africa.
Ms Maliehe said the task team had been tasked by the NEC to collect them.
“We looked for them, and after finding them, we were forthright that we could not guarantee their safety in Lesotho. But we said whatever poses a threat to them shall first have to come to us and eat us first. We are going to hand them over to the NEC where talks will also begin,” she said.
In his remarks, Mr Litjobo said the DC was losing ground during elections because of a perception by the electorate the party was corrupt.
“The DC has continued to lose constituencies in every election. One of the reasons we have continually lost constituencies is because of allegations our government was corrupt. That was not true, then. Ahead of the 2012 and 2015 general elections, the public was made to believe our party comprised of thieves. That also was not true,” he said.
“But today, I am appealing to all DC members to condemn corruption and prove to everyone that indeed we are not the party of thieves. Each one of you should deal with anyone among us who seems to be corrupt to protect the image of our party and its leader.
“I am saying this because it is clearly stipulated in the DC constitution that the party should act against corruption. The constitution is clear that we shall condemn corruption in our government. Therefore, it is mandated to every one of us in the DC to fight corruption in every manner possible.”
Mr Litjobo said the DC youth league was unflinching in fighting corruption “in all its forms” within the government.
“That is our responsibility, and we are proud to say we have started it perfectly well by fighting corruption in the public sector,” he said.
“We should not be seen to be fighting corruption only when the government in power is not ours, but we should do so even with our own government.”
The DC youth league boss remained firm in his allegations against Dr Khaketla.
“There was a tender invitation from the Ministry of Finance. Different companies made bids for this tender and there was one winner at the end of the tender process,” he said referring to the joint venture company, which consists of Fleet Service Lesotho (Pty) Ltd and Lebelonyane (Pty) Ltd (Fleet Services).
“Quite unfortunately, there was one minister who, together with her ‘right hand’ person, invited the winner to her place and requested a ‘very expensive drink’ from this company which won the tender,” Mr Litjobo said cheekily, referring to a man he has previously described as the minister’s “personal friend”, Thabo Napo.
Mr Napo has since threatened to sue the DC unless it reins-in the youth league while Dr Khaketla had demanded M6 million in defamatory compensation from Mr Litjobo and his colleagues.
“The minister and ‘her right hand’ demanded at least M4 million from this company to be awarded the tender. But this company failed to provide the bribe. The company I am referring to is called Lebelonyane, whose owners were on the run alongside our youth league members. “Members of Lebelonyane were then told by the minister and her ‘right hand’ to forget about this tender if they failed to pay the minimum of M4 million bribe despite being number one.”
Mr Litjobo added: “This issue dragged from as far back as between March and April this year, with one party continually requesting for the bribe and the other party refusing to comply. The tender was eventually awarded to a certain company (Bidvest) which didn’t even bid for the particular tender. We have established that this company belongs to some ministers and parliamentarians in our government. I repeat, this company which has been awarded the tender belongs to some parliamentarians and ministers in government.
“We are tired of being named thieves because of some few people. We didn’t vote for people to be corrupt. We refuse to let the image of our government be tainted by a few corrupt individuals. It is very difficult to campaign for elections, yet after winning and forming government some people quickly forget that and disappoint the voters.”
Turning to the gathered DC youths, he said: “A lot of you don’t have jobs, but somebody who has a job has the audacity to demand a M4 million bribe from a company which could have employed many of you had it been awarded the tender it deserves. This company would even pay taxes for economy of this country.
“Again, if this tender was going to be awarded to Lebelonyane, the government was only going to pay it around M34 million per month. But with the company contracted by the Ministry of Finance now, the government is going to pay a minimum of M64 million a month. This justifies why we are saying some ministers and parliamentarians are beneficiaries of this company, and want us not to make noise about corruption as obvious as this one.”
Mr Litjobo said he was the one who leaked the tender evaluation report to the joint venture firm. The report revealed that of the two final shortlisted companies – the evaluation team recommended the tender to be awarded to Lebelonyane which scored 81.85 points against 68.21 points for its competitor.
Lebelonyane has since said it would soon file a fresh application in the Commercial Court to block the Bidvest contract in light of revelations it was the preferred bidder.
“We found the evaluation document which clearly showed Lebelonyane had been recommended as the preferred bidder after outcompeting other companies. The authorities had hidden this document away from Lebelonyane so the company did not have proof it won the tender,” said Mr Litjobo.
“Go and tell Ntate Mapola that we used our investigative skills to get that document. Tell Ntate Mapola if he continues to harass Lebelonyane and DC youth league members, demanding where they got the document, tell him to come to me. Tell him I am the one who gave them the document.
“We know that Ntate Mapola was instructed by cabinet to arrest and torture us until death. The cabinet whose ministers were elected by us reached a decision to instruct the Maseru Urban police commissioner to arrest and torture us until we die. That’s the reason why these fellow youths fled the country.”
He added: “What is also strange is that after such a cabinet decision you would expect the Minister of Police (Monyane Moleleki) to be the one executing the decision by instructing the police to effect it. But in this case, the Minister of Finance is the one who issued the instruction to Ntate Mapola. And because Ntate Mapola is a rabble-rouser, he followed the instruction and chased us.”
Repeated efforts to secure Snr Supt Mapola’s comment proved unsuccessful yesterday as the Maseru Urban district police commissioner twice inviting this reporter to his office, only to find him out of office with his whereabouts unknown by his subordinates.
For her part, Dr Khaketla asked this reporter to stop contacting her over this matter in the past.