by Staff Writers
Maseru, Nov 7 (The Night’s Watch) – The Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship Affairs Mahala Molapo has asked the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to speed up investigations into the awarding of the M340 million tender for the upgrading of Mpilo Boulevard Intersections.
Last month the Principal Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Local Government, Khothatso Tšooana, sensationally claimed that he was ordered to award the tender to a controversial Chinese businessman Yan Xie’s UNIK Construction Engineering company.
Yan Xie is friends with Prime Minister Thomas Thabane.
Tšooana told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the order came from First Lady ’Maesaiah Thabane and Small Business Minister Chalane Phori at a meeting held at the State House on October 15.
The tender was supposed to be awarded on October 18.
Tšooana said Thabane was present in the meeting when he was instructed to give the contract to Unik Construction.
He said Molapo and Maseru Town Clerk Moeko Maboee were also in the meeting.
Tšooana said it was Thabane who called them to the meeting.
“We found the Minister of Small Businesses Chalane Phori, ’Maesaiah and Thabane who himself was chairing the meeting,” he said.
Tšooana’s damning revelations came only a few days after the Director General of the DCEO Mahlomola Manyokole, ordered Maseru City Council (MCC) to stop the processes of awarding the multi-million tender pending investigations to determine if the tendering process had been above the board.
Manyokole also ordered Maboee, to “stop the tender process with immediate effect and revoke any awarding of the tender if it has been awarded pending our advice on the ongoing investigation”.
But now it seems Molapo is afraid that any further delay in the awarding of the tender might cause the funder – Road Fund – “to withdraw or reallocate funds to other endeavours”.
“Following your directive, compliance is assured pending investigation on the same matter,” Molapo wrote in his letter titled Directive to Stop the Signing of Contract to Any Contractor On Upgrade of Mpilo Boulevard Intersections, and dated November 7.
“… it should be borne in mind that we are left with only four months before the financial year ends. Therefore, my humble request is that your office should fast track investigations,” he added.
The DCEO’s investigation of the Mpilo tender is probably only the tip of the iceberg: ‘Maesaiah and Phori are facing a dizzying array of other claims of corruption that they may not be able to out-run forever. NW