PS Hlalele faces charges over M140 million tender

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Keiso Mohloboli

THE Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO), Borotho Matsoso, says the Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Public Works, Mothabathe Hlalele, will soon face charges of corruption and the abuse of power in connection with the M140 million senate building tender.

Construction of the new senate building, earmarked for the Mpilo Hill in Maseru, was supposed to have started at the end of last year.

However, the Chinese company, Yan Jian, which was awarded the tender in 2016 could not proceed with construction after PS Hlalele ordered the re-evaluation of the senate building tender on the grounds that some of the companies which had applied for the job in 2012 had been unfairly disqualified.

The tender was subsequently awarded to Qing Jian Group, a company that was initially disqualified in 2012 along with Sigma Construction and China Shanxi Construction.

The three companies were disqualified for failing to meet various bidding requirements and in the case of Qing Jian, the company was adjudged to have failed to submit tender documents that were translated into English and authenticated by the Chinese Embassy in Lesotho.

The senate has so far received M40 million for the first phase of construction which is already behind schedule as it did not start at the end of last year after PS Hlalele ordered the re-evaluation of the senate building tender.

But in a new turn of events early this month, the Prime Minister’s Ministries and Departments, Governance, Foreign Relations and Information parliamentary portfolio committee ruled that PS Hlalele was in contempt of court when he ordered the re-evaluation of the M140 million construction tender in 2017.

The committee noted that PS Hlalele defied the High Court which had ruled in 2016 that the tender must not be re-evaluated.

“Contrary to the court order…and without any appeal application lodged before the court challenging the order, the PS Works (Mr Hlalele) made a unilateral decision to order the re-evaluation of the tender.

“This act is tantamount to a bare contempt of court emanating from a chief accounting officer who is expected to respect and observe the rule of law of the land,” the committee said in its report which was tabled before parliament early this month.

Yesterday, the Mr Matsoso said the DCEO had completed its own investigations into the matter and Mr Hlalele would soon appear in court to face charges of “abuse of power and corruption in connection with the awarding of M140 million Senate building tender”.

“We are only waiting for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to go through the findings of the DCEO and advise as to when Mr Hlalele should be taken to court.

“He (Mr Hlalele) is being accused of abuse of power and corruption in connection with the awarding of the M140 million senate building tender,” Mr Matsoso said.

On his part, Mr Hlalele denied any wrongdoing and instead accused Mr Matsoso of using the DCEO to fight his “personal vendetta” against him.

“I have even been reliably informed that he (Mr Matsoso) even speaks about me in the DCEO management meetings. He claims that I am a small disrespectful boy who needs to be fixed. I don’t know why ntate Matsoso is fighting me.

“I previously asked for the re-evaluation of that tender because I had to make sure that everything was done in the proper way. There was no corruption in the awarding of that tender and Ntate Matsoso knows that.

“I have never rebelled against the DCEO because I am genuinely against any form of corruption. I gave them all the documents they requested for their investigations in January 2018,” Mr Hlalele added.

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