Majoro, Mochoboroane fight latest:

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…emails ‘back up’ minister’s claims about Majoro’s involvement in the govt fleet tender

’Marafaele Mohloboli

NEW evidence, in the form of emails have surfaced, suggesting that there could be truth to Development Planning Minister Selibe Mochoboroane’s claims that Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro influenced the awarding of the government fleet tender to a Maseru-based taxi association in 2019.

As reported by the Sunday Express a fortnight ago, an explosive fight broke out between Dr Majoro and Mr Mochoboroane, who is also leader of the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) party.

This after the premier and deputy leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), had accused the MEC leader and his Lesotho Congress of Democracy (LCD) counterpart, Mothetjoa Metsing, of attempting to blackmail the government into stopping their treason and murder trial. Dr Majoro made the comments while addressing a public gathering in Mount Moorosi, Quthing, on 8 December 2021.

Mr Mochoboroane reacted angrily to Dr Majoro’s allegations by making sensational claims of his own, accusing Dr Majoro of brazen corruption in several instances including the awarding of the government fleet tender to a local taxi organisation in 2019.

“Majoro is not at all holy and he knows very well that he is corrupt,” a fuming Mr Mochoboroane said in a no-holds-barred interview with the Sunday Express.

Ntate Majoro is corrupt and I have evidence in that regard. He has his own case of corruption that was presented to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP Hlalefang Motinyane) by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) boss, Mahlomola Manyokole. This is in connection with the awarding of the government fleet tender. The tender was awarded while Majoro was still the minister of finance. He has therefore moved to have Manyokole fired to stop the case because he (Majoro) has power and influence.

“While I was chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), I even called him (Majoro) to testify and he refused to come until I heard his testimony in camera. I told him to his face that he was directly involved in corruptly awarding the fleet tender to the Maseru Star Taxi Association.

“I even told him that he had directed the Lesotho Post Bank manager to give loans to the taxi association’s members to enable them to buy taxis and then rent them out to the government. This is absolute corruption,” Mr Mochoboroane said.

His allegations were subsequently dismissed as baseless by Dr Majoro’s press attaché, Buta Moseme, and Maseru Star Taxi Association chairperson, Sekhonyana Mosenene. Lesotho Post Bank Managing Director, Molefi Leqhaoe, also said Mr Mochoboroane’s allegations that he had been pressured by Dr Majoro to give the taxi association loans to procure vehicles were “mere lies” meant to discredit the banking institution.

In the wake of the denials, this publication then asked Mr Mochoboroane to back his allegations but the latter refused, saying he did not have to prove anything to the Lesotho Times.

Nevertheless, this publication has been favoured by other sources with two separate emails suggesting that the premier could have influenced the awarding of the tender while he was still finance minister in 2019. The emails were sent from what appears to be the premier’s personal Hotmail account. At the time of going to print, both Dr Majoro and Mr Moseme had not responded to this publication’s request for comment on the matter.

But it appears that in January 2019, Dr Majoro sent an email to one of the officials in the finance ministry titled, Resolution of the first fleet tender.

In the email, Dr Majoro wrote, “I have received reports on how the first fleet tender worked out and clearly there is some additional actions that we need to take”.

“We were not able to procure 116 vehicles as planned and the groups that we targeted, namely the taxi industry, women groups, and youth groups performed poorly on the tender. I am happy that the groups for the disabled over-performed.

“I would like to give direction as follows:

(a) Issue an offer of 100 vehicles to the taxi industry, represented by Maseru Star association; (b) Issue an offer of 8 vehicles for women groups; (c) Issue an offer of 8 vehicles for youth groups.

“This tender is a developmental initiative of the Government of Lesotho… Thus, proceed to engage with these groups more closely to understand their limitations and how these can be mitigated now and in future tenders.

“It is also clear that some of the people who received offers are unable to honour them due to lack of funding and steep bank requirements. We need to also understand their plight and determine how we can extend a hand,” Dr Majoro states in the email.

He apparently wrote another email to the same official in March 2019, this time titled ‘Fleet procurement’.

“Regarding the transfer of funds to the Postbank to enable it to lend to our supplies (sic), please proceed to authorize such transfer. Also, as we find new accounts that can be transferred, let’s do so until the transaction is complete. This said, it is clear that we need to watch the Bank closely as it is tittering on the brink of recklessness,” Dr Majoro seemingly wrote to the official.

While the emails themselves are not conclusive proof of corruption by the premier, they nevertheless still suggest that he influenced the awarding of the fleet tender to certain groups against procurement laws which require the government to award contracts to the most competitive and deserving tenderers.

Moseme could not be reached to comment on this matter as his phone was not available.

Motena Tšolo, who was principal secretary in the Ministry of Finance at the time, said she had been given directives regarding the fleet tender by her then boss, Dr Majoro.

“I was even summoned to appear before the Public Accounts Committee (then chaired by Mochoboroane) and the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) regarding the same matter,” Ms Tšolo said in an interview with this publication.

However, she refused to say what directives she had been given or what she had told the PAC and DCEO regarding the fleet tender. Suspended DCEO Director General, Mahlomola Manyokole, has said the premier has a case to answer in connection with the awarding of the fleet tender.

On his part, Mr Mochoboroane yesterday said, “the emails you are referring to speak and affirm my claims”.

“When I made the allegations, I was referring to them and a few others which I am still not ready to share with you.  The time is coming when he (Majoro) will rue the day he dragged my name into his political gimmicks. By now most people should know that I don’t make threats nor politick cheaply. I don’t fabricate issues. I speak facts because I don’t have time to play for the audience,” Mr Mochoboroane said.

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