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BREAKING NEWS: A total of 74 MPs out of 120 has just voted for a motion of no confidence in Lesotho Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili. The controversial Bidvest contract started it all.
More to follow
– Weekly Xposé Team
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been accused of abusing his position as Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator to Lesotho to further his own business interests in the country.
The accusations relate to a multi-billion rand contract that was allegedly irregularly awarded to Ramaphosa-linked company, Bidvest Limited, by the Lesotho government last year. Weekly Xposé understands that Bidvest had originally been awarded a six-month contract to run the government fleet from October 2015 to end-March 2016, after the expiry of the government’s fleet-management contract with Avis.
It is alleged the Lesotho government had promised to exclude Bidvest from any new tender to find a new fleet management firm to replace Avis. However, the government cancelled the tender process, preferring instead to enter a new long-term deal with Bidvest, which allegedly did not bid for the tender as earlier agreed, considering the six-month contract it already had. Under the deal, Bidvest is supplying government with vehicles and maintaining the fleet.
A joint-venture company shortlisted for the tender is challenging the contract in court.
The controversial four-year deal has split Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s party, the Democratic Congress (DP). Several high-ranking members of the DP and cabinet ministers have condemned the contract, saying the process was corrupt, and demanded it be terminated while others put the blame squarely on Ramaphosa.
Following the controversy sparked by the contract, Mosisili sacked four ministers and suspended his party deputy, the country’s longest-serving Cabinet Minister Monyane Moleleki, and nine other DP national executive committee members. Moleleki went on to form his own party, the Alliance of Democrats (AD) which is now pushing for Mosisili’s ouster.
Moleleki, who is also Mosisili’s long-time friend, told Weekly Xposé that the Bidvest deal “effectively collapsed the Lesotho government”. He added: “That corrupt process is the immediate cause of the collapse of our government.” Asked if Ramaphosa had any influence on the awarding of contract to Bidvest, Moleleki declined to comment, only saying “Mr Ramaphosa is still the SADC facilitator. It would be very unprincipled and undiplomatic of me to cast aspersions on his integrity.”
However, Moleleki’s former cabinet colleague, who preferred to remain anonymous, was less diplomatic, accusing Ramaphosa of abusing his SADC status to “advance his business interests”. “There is no doubt that Mr Ramaphosa had a huge influence on who was awarded the contract. His links to Bidvest are well documented. We find it highly troubling that a man of his stature can abandon his mandate of stabilising the country, and instead be so ruthless in pursuing his selfish business interests.”Instead of working for peace and stability in Lesotho as his SADC mandate dictates, Mr Ramaphosa, has to the contrary brought down the Lesotho government,” said the former cabinet minister.
Not only has the Bidvest contract destabilised the Lesotho government, it has also earned the wrath of the National University of Lesotho’s (NUL) Student Representative Council (SRC) who demanded Ramaphosa’s resignation as SADC facilitator. They accused him of being “compromised by business interests” in Lesotho.
In its letter addressed to the regional bloc’s Oversight Committee a few weeks ago, the NUL SRC accused Ramaphosa of having vested interests in the Bidvest contract. “Is there any third force behind Lesotho’s problems? It is believed that Mr Ramaphosa is pushing his business agenda with the Bidvest here in Lesotho, as most Basotho believe that Mr Ramaphosa played a very prominent role in ensuring that Bidvest gets the government fleet tender under the very dubious conditions in 2016,” reads part of the letter which Weekly Xposé is in possession of.
“We stand to suffer the most as currently students who depend on the National Manpower Development Secretariat (NMDS) bursaries are not sponsored in the middle of their education programmes despite them having passed in their academic years.
“This we are told that government has no money to fund education. It appears there is only money for Bidvest and elections as for our future and right to education there is no money,” the students said.
“We opine that this country is under siege by a few individuals who clearly seek to protect their interests which adversely affect students’ right to education by all means,” the letter stated.
Contacted for a comment, Ramaphosa’s spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said: “Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has no shareholding in Bidvest. It is a matter of public record that the Deputy President resigned as a director of Bidvest in November 2013 and divested from his shareholding in the company in November 2014. The allegations by the students’ representative council are therefore completely unfounded.”
Weekly Xposé also sent a list of questions via email to a Bidvest spokesperson, who responded via email with a response from Mkhuseli Setuse, Bidvest Bank’s Executive: Fleet and Asset Finance: “Bidvest Bank can confirm that in July 2016 it was awarded the Government of Lesotho Fleet contract by Lesotho’s former Minister of Finance, Dr Mamphono Khaketla. The awarding of the contract was endorsed by the Cabinet. At all times, Bidvest Bank has complied with all legal requirements, including the submission of competitive pricing terms. Bidvest Bank rejects any accusation that it has acted improperly.”