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Government fears Frazer Solar counter

Mohloai Mpesi

The government of Lesotho is in terror of the German business mogul, Robert Frazer’s counter attack in the on-going court battle.  

According to a press statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office last weekend that Frazer, who owns solar company, Frazer Solar GMHB has filed answering affidavits and is planning to use information from proceedings that took place before the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) against them.

The accounts committee quizzed Thabane’s Personal Aid Hlophe Matla during the probing of Frazer Solar’s contractual agreement. This was when it came down to a point where the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s office, Temeki Tšolo was fingered for inking the contract.

The Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro previously tried to hurdle the proceedings of the accounts committee on the grounds that the matter is sub judice. The Attorney General on the same note, successfully halted the proceedings, but was however too late as the German mogul snooped on some testimonies laid before the committee.

The country ostensibly got in a contract agreement with Frazer Solar in 2018 where the company was to provide over 40, 000 solar water-heating systems, 20 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity, 1 million LED lights and 350, 000 solar lanterns. 

Frazer Solar GMBH is reported to have applied for the arbitration award in different jurisdictions including Republic of South Africa, Mauritius, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

Under a global enforcement order, following the award of 50 million euros ($61million) in damages in an arbitration case in South Africa, Frazer said in a statement issued in May this year that it has taken legal action to seize royalties that would be paid to Lesotho’s government by the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority and payments for power from Eskom.

The enforcement order also indicated that Lesotho shares in the Mauritius-based West Indian Ocean Cable Co. are provisionally seized.     

“The nation will recall that on the 18 June, 2021, the Office of the Prime Minister issued a media alert that was meant to keep it abreast of the developments regarding Frazer Solar GMBH versus the Kingdom of Lesotho court case (CIV2020/33700). The Basotho nation will also recall that in the same statement, the Rt Hon the Prime Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro indicated that Frazer Solar GMBH has applied for enforcement of the arbitration award in different jurisdictions being the Republic of South Africa, Mauritius, the United State of America and the United Kingdom,” the statement reads.

“Starting with South Africa, initially the matter was supposed to be heard in the week beginning the 19th to the 23rd July, 2021 for two days. However, that did not happen as the parties could not agree on the dates. Meanwhile, Frazer Solar GMBH lodged an application for leave of court to file further answering affidavit to the Kingdom of Lesotho’s founding affidavit.

“The nation may further recall that the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee launched investigations into the events surrounding the Frazer Solar GMBH saga. The PAC was advised by the office of the Attorney General to hold the proceedings in abeyance pending finalisation of the court case for fear that Frazer Solar GMBH may pounce on the testimony being tendered before the PAC and the media, and use it to its advantage and to the prejudice of the Kingdom’s case. This latest affidavit by Frazer Solar GMBH is based mainly on the testimony before the PAC, meaning our worst fears have been realised. 

“The Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA), who is also a party to the proceedings before court, filed a counter application. These applications required other parties to respond, thereby postponing the hearing even further,” it reads further.

The statement further divulges that the matter has been postponed to November 09 and 10, 2021, earmarked as nearest available dates agreed upon by all parties. It further clarifies that Frazer Solar GMBH has undertaken to take no further steps to execute the order granted by the High Court of South Africa (Gauteng Local Division, Johannesburg) on May 03, 2021 and any writ of execution or notice of attachment issued pursuant to that order, pending finalisation of Lesotho’s application for stay.

“There is a consent draft order of court to that effect,” the statement reads. 

“Moving on to the United Kingdom, there is also a consent order similar to the one granted in South Africa. In the United States, Frazer Solar GMBH has only filed a petition, not an actual application. That petition is just a preliminary step to which the Kingdom of Lesotho does not have to react or respond. The Kingdom of Lesotho will only respond to the actual application as and when it has been filed in court and served upon the Kingdom. Last, regarding Mauritius, the Kingdom of Lesotho was only served with the court papers in mid-June 2021, and must answer in mid- August 2021, which the Kingdom will definitely do. 

“The government of the Kingdom of Lesotho remains committed to sharing detailed information pertaining to this case. However, the Government will continue to be vigilant when doing so based on the sensitivity of this case and also to avoid exposing its defence strategies,” the statement reads.

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