Three youth leaders of Lesotho’s ruling Democratic Congress (DC) and a Lesotho-based fleet management company have accused the country’s finance minister of soliciting a R4 (US$276,254) million bribe for a major government contract, according to a report by the City Press.
Finance Minister Mamphono Khaketla denied the allegation, but said she could not answer questions because the case was before the courts, according to the report.
The DC youths and six directors of Lebelonyane – a Lesotho company and partner of South African logistics giant Super Group – fled to South Africa after being questioned by police at the Maseru Central Police Station. They said they were told their lives were in danger, according to the report.
Speaking from the Free State, Lebelonyane director Letsatsi Mabona said police interrogators wanted to know who had leaked a report by a government evaluation team that recommended his company for a R70 (US$4.83 million) million-a-month contract to manage the government fleet. Despite the recommendation, Lebelonyane did not win the tender.
In July, the government announced that the existing contract, held by another South African company, Bidvest, had been extended for four years, according to the report.
In response, DC Youth League president Thuso Litjobo called a media conference at the party’s offices in Maseru, where they revealed the leaked recommendation and denounced the minister – a senior member of his own party – alleging that she had demanded R4 million from Lebelonyane to ensure it won the contract, according to the City Press Report.
AmaBhungane, an investigative news organization in South Africa, reportedly has seen the report of the evaluation panel, which lists the three bidders – Lebelonyane JV, comprising Lebelonyane and Fleet Services Lesotho, a wholly owned subsidiary of Super Group; Fleetmatics Vehicle Management Solutions Lesotho; and Seahlolo Transport Logistics, in partnership with Avis Fleet Services, according to the City Press Report
It also assesses them according to exacting criteria. The bid panel report concludes:
“The recommendation of the evaluation team is that the government of Lesotho fleet service tender – 7/2015/16 – be awarded to Fleet Services Lebelonyane JV.”
The exact nature of the deal between the Lesotho government and Bidvest remains unclear, according to the City Press Report.