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Jane drags Ministry of Sports to court for M27mil debt

Mohloai Mpesi

The Jane Geometrics survey and Laboratory boss, Lebamang Jane has vowed to drag the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation for failure to pay for services rendered by his company to the ministry.

Jane vowed to escalate the matter to the high court after his endeavour to seek intervention from the Ombudsman nosedived.

His claim was that the ministry owes him a whopping M27million for the survey services carried out by his company where the Lepereng Sports Complex was going to be erected in preparations for the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Maseru Youth Games 2020, December.  

He stated that he was orally directed by the ministry to do the job quickly as it (the ministry) was behind schedule in preparations for the tournament, while his contract paper works were still being arranged.

According to Jane he started the topographic and cadastral survey last year April. But after the completion of his work he said he was shocked to learn that the ministry does not know him and could not pay his dues as he claimed.

Jane complained before the Ombudsman Advocate Tšeliso Mokoko to intervene between the matter and Mokoko’s report which was released this week stated that Jane’s complaints have no substantiation.

“I don’t know if Ombudsman thinks the judgement is fair because he also knows that there is no way an engineer can be subcontracted by a contractor,” the irate Jane said.   

“I think he has been influenced by politicians and we are going to court with that report from the Ombudsman, we are going to sue the ministry of Gender.

“I am currently waiting for my lawyer, so that we discuss this matter. His views are his (Ombudsman), and do not stop me from taking the matter to court,” he said adding that it is a lie that he was associated with politicians.

“Above all, they associate me with politics of which I am not one, if I was a politician I didn’t have to go to the Ombudsman, I could have used my political connections to get my money. But I am not one; I took the right and transparent steps of doing things,” he said.

According to Mokoko’s findings, Jane was not consigned to carry out the survey duties by the ministry but Michael Family Trust (MFT) which is said to have won the tender of the project was.  

“The Ombudsman found that it is not correct that on or around April 15, 2019 Nthona Lemena called Jane inviting him to the Ministry of Gender for the meeting that was to be held on April 16, 2019. I have found that Jane was duly invited to the meeting of April 16, 2020 by Tayoob Jooma, acting on behalf of MFT. I have found further that the said meeting was not held in the Ministry of Gender’s boardroom but in the director infrastructure’s office.

“I have found that it was in that meeting of April 16, 2019 that Jane was introduced by Tayoob Jooma to the whole team of MFT.

“On or around January 24, 2019, the Ministry of Gender publicised an advertisement for an invitation for expression of interest, for infrastructure development projects whose objective was to make a proposal for design and supervision of construction of sport facilities and cost of the facility.

“In that bidding, MFT was a successful applicant, therefore was required to submit a detailed proposal. I have found that in order to submit as required, MFT needed to have the topographic survey for purposes of making design for the sports facilities. I have therefore found that it was the sole responsibility of MFT to have Lepereng site surveyed but not that of the ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation,” Mokoko’s report reads.

Mokoko’s report continues that it wouldn’t make sense for the ministry to issue an advert yet they know whom they were going to allocate the job to.

“In any event it would defeat common sense, why the Ministry of Gender would go out of its way to have the topographic survey as the complainant alleged, when the topographic survey, would at the end of the day be useless to the ministry. It would also defeat logic why the ministry would issue out the expression of interest, and then later on turn around to engage someone to obtain the survey of the Lepereng site for the Ministry of Gender. I have found that if that were to happen, it would have defeated the purpose of the rationale for having invited Expression of interest for infrastructure development project,” he said adding that the Jane was aware at all times that he was not engaged by the ministry.

“I have found that the Ministry of Gender, in the prevailing circumstances did not in any manner whatsoever engage Jane for any topographic survey services as alleged by the complainant. The only inevitable conclusion is that MFT as the successful applicant/bidder was required to submit the detailed proposal for the design of sports facilities.

“To do that exercise, I found that MFT had to be equipped with the topographic survey so that they could make the detailed proposal as required by the expression of interest conditions. I therefore found that Jane was engaged by MFT to carry out the survey works, but not the Ministry of Gender as alleged by the complainant.

“Jane at all material times, was aware that he had not been engaged by the ministry to carry out the survey works, hence he submitted his invoices for payment in the first place to MFT. However, upon realisation that his payment for whatever reason was not forthcoming from MFT, he harboured a well calculated and deliberate plan to demand payment from the Ministry of Gender.

“I have found further that complainant knew at all material times that he was not entitled to any payment from the Ministry of Gender as the ministry had not entered into any contract of any nature with him whatsoever. It would seem that Jane was under the impression that if he used his political connections to exert political pressure on the ministry to pay the alleged claim, the ministry would succumb to said political pressure and ultimately pay this fraudulent claim,” the report reads.

He continued that, “had it not been for the Principal Secretary for Ministry of Gender who stood his ground despite the political pressure that was exerted on him from all corners to process the said payment, the government of Lesotho would have been robbed day light of whopping M27 million for nothing.

“The Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Gender is therefore highly commended for resisting and aborting this fraudulent plan, which could have caused a huge financial loss to the government of Lesotho,” he said.

“On the basis of the above mentioned findings, the Ombudsman has made a ruling that Jane’s complaint does not have merit therefore is not sustained,” the report reads.   

Mokoko continued that Jane asked to provide some of the information in camera claiming that it was sensitive during the time he was testifying. The report however, revealed the private evidence that was given before the Ombudsman which involves some of the political figures.

“While proceeding in camera, he stated that on a day he could not recall, he received a call from one person by the name of Lehlohonolo Ramoabi, asking for a meeting with him. He stated that he met with Ramoabi at Naleli, while there Ramoabi called the former Minister of Gender and said; “Motho ea ne eo u seng u tšaba ho kopana leena ke enoa.” And the minister replied, “mofe litaba. Jane stated that Ramoabi asked him how much the government owed him for the topographic services he offered to the ministry.

“He replied that he was owed M27 million. He said that Ramoabi told him that they needed about M7 500 000 so that they could pay certain Members of Parliament, to lure them to support a motion of no confidence in parliament, should that motion be tabled before Parliament,” the report reads.

Mokoko’s report continued that, “Ramoabi wanted his assurance that once that payment was made to him, he would fund that initiative. He said Ramoabi told him that if he guaranteed them, that he would pay out his amount then his claim at the Ministry of Gender, would be immediately paid.

“The complainant testified that on that day he later contacted his uncle who is Member of Parliament, who confirmed that indeed there was a plan to pay certain members of parliament so that they could vote in favour of the motion of no confidence of the Prime Minister.  Complainant stated that he told his uncle that he was not going to be part of that plan.

“Jane testified that later on, he reverted back to Ramoabi and told him that they should pay him first, and then he would be open for further negotiations,” he said.

“It was the complainant’s evidence that on the day the previous government collapsed, the Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Gender, requested for his banking details. The complainant stated that he asked PS where he should deliver the required documents, and he said that PS’s reply was that he should deliver the required documents at his house, but he said that he instead took them to PS’s office accompanied by Ramoabi.

“Upon his arrival at the Ministry, he met PS in his office and handed over the banking details to him. He said that PS told them to proceed to the Parliament premises, where they would meet with AD parliamentarian who was already waiting for them. He continued that he called one Member of Parliament, namely Thuso Litjobo and told him that it was funny that he wanted his help whereas he had failed to ensure that he received his payment from the ministry of Gender.

He continued that, “After the establishment of the new government, he said the Principal Secretary called him to inform him that since there was a new minister of Gender, their task was to convince the new minister that his claim was due for payment. He testified that PS assured him that within a week his payment would have been processed.

“He stated further that Ramoabi called him to inform him that, they had met with the new minister of Gender, who had undertaken to ensure that his payment was processed. He said he told Ramoabi to give him SPA number as proof that his payment was being processed. He said he told him not to make follow up on the issue of his payment as he was ready to pursue it on his own through the right channels,” the report reads.

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