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Fight over M100m govt tender

A consortium made up of Fleet Services (Pty) ltd and Silverstone Fleet Solutions (Pty)) Ltd will battle it out with Fleeters Holdings (PTY) Ltd in the High Court on Monday over M100 million government fleet management tender which was won by the former in March, this year.

Fleeters Holdings (Pty)) Ltd also formed a joint venture with E.D.T. E-Drive Technology Ltd, Channel Communications (Pty) Ltd and Engidata (PTY) Ltd but their bid to tender was disqualified because Fleet Services and Silver Stone Fleet Solutions had a better offer for the management of government fleet.

In court papers seen by this newspaper, the director of Silverstone Fleet Solutions Letsatsi Mabona said he had attended the opening of the tenders with representatives of Fleeters. He said Fleeters had tendered as a consortium of four companies but did not oppose their tendering process as was required by the law to raise any grievances with PPAD for a period of 15 days after the award. Mabona claimed Fleeters had waived their right to appeal during the cooling off period.

The principal secretary of the ministry of finance Motena Tšolo said the government of Lesotho had resolved to have a long-term fleet management contract because it was expensive for government to operate short-term contracts procured for fleet management services. She said the companies had a ‘teaming agreement’ which showed that they had tendered their bids as a consortium. Fleeters was crying foul because it had lost the bid yet they had also tendered as a consortium with other 3 companies but were now fighting for the tender as a sole tendering company.

Tšolo said Fleeters which is owned by Bokang Tsoanamatsie was part of the ‘teaming agreement’ and other signatories of the agreement were Yehuda Beinin for E.D.T.E-Drive, Pusetso Borotho for Channel Communications and Neo Kolobe for Engidata, as they had diverse capacities. She added that in terms of Regulation 30 (3), Regulation 54 and 56 the Applicant (Fleeters) could not approach a court of law before lodging a complaint with the Tribunal.

‘I wish to categorically state that the company which has won the tender had submitted their bidding documents by the tender document. For the court to be enlightened in this regard in a broad sense. Fleet Services Lesotho (Pty) Ltd and Silverstone Fleet Solutions (Pty) Ltd registered a joint venture legally. The tender was looking for a Lesotho registered company. It therefore makes no sense that applicant (Fleeters) maintains the tender conditions disqualified a joint venture while itself had constituted itself and three of its partners into a consortium. It is quite evident that had it won, it could have won as a consortium,’ said Tšolo.

She said it was shocking that Fleeters disapproved the joint venture when it was exercised by others yet deemed it correct when it was exercised by them. Tšolo said the ‘cooling off’ period started on 28 March 2019 but the applicants did not show any intention to complain but launched the case as an afterthought.

The legal representative of Fleet Services Lesotho (Pty) Ltd and Silverstone Fleet Solutions (Pty) Ltd Advocate Chris Lephuthing said Fleeters Holdings did not have locus standi in judicio because the company was not acting on behalf of other 3 companies that formed the consortium but for its on interest.

‘The question of converting defences on the merits into preliminary points does not arise in this case because the consortium agreement had been signed by four partners, which factor suggests that all of them are supposed to be party to and or must be agreeable to the litigation being launched against respondents. It is also on the basis of those reasons that applicant (Fleeters Holdings) had also failed to establish that it has a clear right and a direct and real interest in the relief sought. In view of the nexus between applicant and three of its partners in the consortium, there is no evidence that applicant is acting in the interests of the consortium in this litigation, and as seen from the import of the declaratory order sought in this matter. The directors of the applicant had placed themselves in a position where their fiduciary duties to the consortium conflict with their own separate personal interests. This is contradicting the letter and spirit of the Fleeters Consortium. This fact talks to the non-joinder of the 3 other partners,” he argues.

Lephuthing said Fleeters Holdings was told in a written letter that the preferred bidder was Fleet Services (Pty) Ltd and Silverstone Fleet Solutions (Pty) Ltd for the government fleet management. He said Fleeters Holdings sought to sabotage and deviated from the Fleeters Consortium well known to it and therefore had no locus standi.

Advocate Khotso Nthontho represents Fleeters Holdings in the matter.

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