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Political patronage at heart of airport tender controversy

DC, ABC named in allegations

-Both vehemently deny association with company awarded tender

Nthatuoa Koeshe

Political patronage could be the reason why controversial South African businessman Thulani Majola who recently won a consultancy tender for the refurbishment of the rundown Moshoeshoe I international airport scooped the multi-million and was defended by the Ministry of Transport over allegations his company could have unduly been granted the job, Newsday has learnt.

Addressing the media in a spirited attempt to justify government’s move to grant the tender to Majola’s LTE consultancy amidst allegations that the company had been liquidated by the order of the South African High Court hence unworthy of getting the tender, the ministry’s Principal Secretary Maile Masoebe labeled media reports attesting to the liquidation unfounded and lacking in substance and if anything, a desperate political smear-campaign by some politicians who are actually cabinet ministers whom he said he would if need be, “name and shame”.

Both co-ruling Democratic Congress (DC) and the All Basotho Convention (ABC) have denied any ties with the mogul allegedly also politically connected in high place in South Africa.

Spokespersons of the two parties have both spoken against their movements going into bed with the businessman alleged to be a political party financier.

As a matter of fact, DC’s Serialong Qoo who is also Minister of Mining threw his ABC counterparts under the bus as relates to Majola saying if there should be a political party affiliated to him, it is certainly the ABC.

However, ABC’s Montoeli Masoetsa would have none of that, saying that his party did not even know the man safe reading about him in the media only now.

Majola has been linked to and associated with the DC whose political campaigning he has alleged to be funding to a point of even renting it a mobile stage mounted on a truck, a claim strongly scoffed at by Qoo who told Newsday that there was no truth to the claim as he avered that he was nowhere near their campaign adding that the truck in question, branded DC colours but bearing South African registration number plates, was in fact the party’s and is undergoing registration proesses so that it could carry a Lesotho registration plate. He said he would even show this publication the truck’s paperwork which prove it as theirs. However, until the time of going to press last night he had not availed the said paperwork.

Qoo explained to this paper that when DC assumed power in 2020, the tendering processes to facelift the airport had already been started by their predecessors in the former Prime Minister Motsoahae Thomas Thabane led-administration following the 2017 elections.

Qoo said that there were some functions by the ABC which were known to have been financed by Majola saying if Majola is anyhow affiliated with a political party in Lesotho then it is with the ABC.

ABC spokesperson Montoeli Masoetsa however denied any affiliation with the business mogul saying if anything, they are only learning about him now by reading about him in the papers.

Meanwhile, Masoebe rallied support for the South African businessman’s which he said was never liquidated “…and never will be…”

This is following an exposé by a South African news outlet that despite LTE Consultancy winning the tender, the company has since been liquidated.

“After a questionable tender process, in June 2021 the Lesotho ministry of transport awarded Majola’s LTE Consulting a contract to oversee the refurbishment of Lesotho’s dilapidated airport as the tiny kingdom raced against time to meet International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)’s standards, following ICAO threats to shut it down.

“But already on 18 March 2021, a provisional liquidation application had been launched by a creditor of LTE Consulting in the Johannesburg High Court. The application was granted on 9 June, a day before unsuccessful bidders were informed the contract had been awarded to LTE Consulting,” read the article.

With the motive to clear the allegations, to ‘set the record straight’, Masoebe said the claims were utterly untruthful and adding that majority of the news was fallacy. He said the fabricated information had been a result of inter-company conflicts with another fellow South African company with-which they were had previously worked another tender in that country, adding that the ministry had done all the necessary due diligence to annul claims of any foul-play in the awarding of the tender to LTE Consultancy.

“As we speak, LTE is not liquidated and it will never be,” Masoebe scolded.

The ministry of Transport to which the tender is answerable is currently led by Minister Ts’oeu Mokeretla who politically falls under the DC after being held previously by the ABC inter alia under the tutelage of Mokherane Tsatsanyane who has since jumped ship to join the DC former administration.

 The tender for consultancy of the airport refurbishment is estimated at around M35 million with the actual work estimated at an upwards of M 500 million.

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