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Mokhothu slams 4x4 government for Frazer Solar bungle

Leader of DC Mathibeli Mokhothu during the party rally in Tele on Saturday


June 13, 2021 4 min read

4 min read


LEADER of the Democratic Congress (DC) Mathibeli Mokhothu has taken a swipe at the former 4x4 government, accusing it of bungling the M967.14 million contract it had entered into with a German solar company, Fraser Solar in 2018.

Mokhothu who is also the Deputy Prime Minister told his supporters during the party rally that was held in the Tele Constituency in Quthing on Saturday that former premier, Motsoahae Thabane should be held accountable for the deal that went sour.

Frazer Solar has reportedly started confiscating Lesotho’s assets abroad in order to enforce M967.14 million in contractual damages.

The company is said to have already taken control of royalties that Lesotho earns on water and power supplies to South Africa, after a US court gave it the go-ahead last month to employ tactics similar to those used by creditors to chase countries that have defaulted on their debts.

Lesotho reneged on an “outstanding opportunity” to acquire renewable energy assets, including a 20-megawatt solar plant, when it abandoned a deal to finance the project in 2018, Frazer Solar has shown.

This was despite sign-off by the office of the then-Prime Minister Thabane, the company also noted.

A South African arbitrator this year said the company should have about half of the €100m in damages it sought.

But Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro said he did not know about Frazer Solar’s damages claim until it was reported in South African newspapers.

The arbitration concluded that the deal collapsed because Majoro, then Lesotho’s finance minister, favoured a rival renewable project backed by Chinese investors.

The case “has been left unanswered by the government of Lesotho”, which failed to attend proceedings, it added. The Prime Minister did not respond to a request for comment.

“Frazer Solar began suing the government during the 4x4 administration but the authorities simply ignored the case and never attended to it.  They were given court papers more about 20 times but did not bother to deal with it.  

“The company demands over M900million from the Lesotho Government. It contends that we should be denied access to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) royalties and that the country be denied access to its foreign assets while the matter is being dealt with. But we cannot allow Frazer Solar to capture this country.

“How could the Minister in the Prime Minister’s office sign such a massive deal when there were relevant ministers including the Finance Minister, the Energy Minister, the Trade and Industry Minister as well as the Foreign Affairs Minister to do perform such a task? It means the 4x4 government was very disorganized and incompetent.  

“As the current government, we are dealing with this matter sensitively and our lawyers are working hard to handle the case,” Mokhothu also said.

The DC, he said along with the current coalition government through the Minister of Mining Serialong Qoo has resolved to allow Basotho to mine diamonds and sell them to the government.

“Basotho should benefit from their own minerals. After the 2022 elections, DC will work hard to ensure that the government owns 51 percent shares in the mining industry and foreigners hold 49 percent. The issue of government owing only 30 percent shares and foreigners holding 70 percent should come to a gentle stop.”

Mokhothu said the government has also resolved the wool and mohair crisis and refunded farmers a sum of M10 million for their late 2019 wool payments.

“The government has also resolved that the farmers will sell their wool and mohair wherever they prefer,” he also said.

The government he said further buys Basotho agricultural produce in supporting local farmers to enhance the economy.

He refuted claims that the DC is behind the ongoing crisis in the textile industry where factory workers are fighting for salary increase.

“The factories crisis is actually a government issue, not a certain party crisis. The Ministry of Labour is not even held by the DC.

DC supporters during the party rally in Tele on Saturday


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“The issue of pensioners not getting their monies on time is caused by a system failure in the relevant ministry and that should come to an end because it reflects badly on the government,” he said.

Mokhothu noted that by-elections should be held because they are an emergency.

“By-elections are not budgeted for but are organised using contingency funds. We do not understand this issue of the Finance Ministry’s budget controller saying there is no money for by-elections.  The DC supports that the by-elections be held this year.”  

Welcoming the visitors in his area, the area chief of Tele, Chief Caswell Moshoeshoe took the opportunity to inform the Deputy Prime Minister of his subjects’ needs.

“We do not have a sheering facility in Tele and our farmers use the one in the neighbouring constituency, which is very far. We also have a serious water crisis and most of the villages here are without electricity, so I kindly ask that you intervene,” he told the DC leader.

During the same event, Mokhothu welcomed about 300 new supporters who had defected from the Alliance of Democrats (AD) and the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC).  He also donated food parcels to 200 elderly people who had attended the rally.

 

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