CABINENT’s Chief Legal Officer this week implicated former Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane’s personal aide and a secretary to the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Temeki Tšolo as witnesses to the signature of the controversial agreement between the German company Frazer Solar and the Lesotho government.
June 23, 2021
4 min read
Frazer Solar stench points to Cabinet office
Former Minister in the Prime Minister's office, Temeki Tšolo
Metro Audio Articles
Catch our weekly audio news daily only on Metro Radio Podcast News.listen now
Advocate Seeng Matsosa fingered the personal aide, Hlophe Matla, as well as the secretary ’Masentle Ntobaki as accomplices in the saga surrounding the Frazer Solar project deal during parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing on Tuesday.
In her testimony, Adv Matsosa told the PAC that both Mr Matla and Mrs Ntobaki were the two witnesses during the signing of the agreement between former Minister Tšolo and Frazer Solar which has plummeted the government into a legal court battle that will be heard next week Tuesday in Johannesburg, South Africa.
She said the government has since the emergence of this soured deal challenged the Johannesburg High Court that ruled in favour of Frazer Solar by filing prayers for stay of execution against Lesotho's assets to be seized by Frazer Solar as compensation to the company for breach of contract.
She further revealed that the government was served with the court papers to attend hearings on the matter in South Africa but that ''the court papers were sent to the wrong office of the then Government Secretary, Moahloli Mphaka, and not the office of the Attorney General, hence failure to attend the hearing.''
However, Adv Matsosa failed to provide the PAC with relevant documents supporting her evidence but promised to do so at a later stage.
For his part, the Oversight Management Director Development Planning, Mothobi Letooane, revealed during the same sitting that he was among the officers who attended a Frazer Solar briefing held at the Durham Link office around 2017/18.
He said they suspected foul play in the manner that the project was being handled and decided to distance themselves from it.
He tabulated the proper procedure for any project to be considered and approved
Mr Letooane said in this particular project, the Ministry of Energy should have been the one that came up with the project concept and that the Ministry of Finance ought to have been notified for the feasibility study to be conducted to evaluate the viability of the project.
He submitted that it was unusual that the former Minister in the Prime Minister's Office was the one spearheading the project and that not even Principal Secretaries as chief accounting officers were part of the Durham Link meeting.
He conceded that no Cabinet meeting ever discussed the project according to the information he has at his disposal.
He said even though the project was meant to reduce electricity consumption on all government offices and houses, it would not be easy and cheap to maintain.
Enjoy our daily newsletter from today
Access exclusive newsletters, along with previews of new media releases.
He said the project was too expensive as it was estimated to cost around €100 million, adding that the money would be a loan the government of Lesotho was supposed to settle later.
“The project was not viable considering that Lesotho is not even able to maintain traffic lights or street lights,” he said.
He said such projects, in which proper procedures are not followed, end up costing the country millions of money.
Mr Letooane said the former Finance Minister, who is now Prime Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro, also chaired one of Frazer Solar meetings in which he instructed officers to look at the project to see how it could benefit the country.
He said since the Ministry of Energy, as the implementing body, did not support the project, it eventually fell through.
He, however, said he was shocked to learn recently that Frazer Solar was suing the government for breach of the agreement.
Furthermore, two Principal Secretaries of Cabinet, Messrs Thabo Motoko, who is Administration Principal Secretary and Kabelo Lehora, PS on Economic Issues, also claimed not to know anything connected to the project.
The PAC is chaired by Mr. Teboho Sekata while Kimetso Mathaba chairs the Economic Cluster – the two held a joint sitting to hear testimony of the Frazer Solar deal.
Tailored for you
by NEO SENOKO
Low credit scores put customer financial freedom in jeopardy - financial expert