By ‘Majirata Latela
Former government secretary Moahloli Mphaka has advised that the architects of the Frazer Solar GmBH deal and those implicated in the scandal were intent on defrauding the government and should face the wrath of the law
Mphaka was testifying on Thursday before parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.
He told the PAC that whoever was involved in the deal with the supposedly German company should face prosecution for attempting to steal from the state.
Frazer Solar GmbH was awarded a R855-million in damages by a South African court after the Lesotho government reportedly reneged on a contract, which was purportedly to be funded by the German government, as part of a wider scheme to turn Lesotho into a net exporter of electricity.
“In my collection I don’t remember a time when cabinet approved that project. There is no country which can enter into such a huge agreement without the approval of the cabinet; that means such a decision which was taken unilaterally is fraud. It is a fraudulent act that has been committed by the two parties that entered into the contract,” Mphaka said.
He said as far as he is concerned the Lesotho Mounted Police should have liaised with other police internationally by now to find out where Robert Frazer is so that he can be apprehended and charged with fraud as he was trying to defraud the government of Lesotho and waned Lesotho not to entertain the fraudulent activities.
He added that Frazer came into the country while he knew that his motives were ulterior knowing that he had not consulted with the relevant state officers.
Mphaka further indicated that he has never received any court papers in connection with the alleged bogus company while in office.
He said the only time he heard about the Frazer Solar was when the project was to be presented before cabinet and as the cabinet secretary he was the one that accepted the memorandum from the principal secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office. The PM at the time was Thomas Thabane.
“I remember that the Solar Frazer project was one of the issues that were to be discussed by cabinet on a date I can’t not remember, when in cabinet, I remember very well that former minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Temeki Tšolo was not in the country and was represented by his deputy, Leshoboro Mohlajoa who was not able to answer the questions on the Solar Frazer project,
“The memorandum was withdrawn from cabinet with queries that the project has to be presented by the rightful ministry which is the ministry of energy and meteorology and that of planning which had insisted such a project needed to pass through certain stages in the ministry before it could be approved or given a go ahead,” Mphaka testified.
He argued that again the ministry of finance indicated that if that was a loan, then the project should be approved by finance ministry and not any other ministry. He said according to the laws of the country, the only person who can source out funds for the country is the minister of finance and therefore the memorandum already had three things which were lacking.
On the allegations that there was a time when court papers were served in his office thereby resulting in the government of Lesotho not presenting itself on the Solar Frazer case, Mphaka showed that there has never been a time when he received any court papers on the solar Frazer case.
He said proper practice is, when someone has a case against the parliament of Lesotho that office is served and if one also wants to accuse the office of the government secretary then that office should have been served with court papers.
He added that as a matter of importance one cannot have a case against the government and not serve the attorney general. He said claims by Frazer that he served the affidavits to his office were wrong.
“That case according to me is null and void and is a scam; there is no way one can accuse the government of Lesotho and not serve the attorney general, the case itself is wrong,”
On the one hand, while giving his testimony to the committee on Wednesday, Tṧolo rejected allegations that indeed he had signed the M1.7million deal with Frazer Solar GmbH Company on behalf of the government of Lesotho. He claimed he was framed by his secretary.
He told the committee that Frazer came to his office one of the days and like any other person who came to his office; he met with him and explained the solar project to him. He said he was talking about 100million Euros.
“I did not understand that he was talking about a loan and while he was presenting and showing the amounts of money, I told him that he will need to meet with relevant ministries which are the ministry of Energy, ministry of development planning and the minister of finance
“I tried on several occasions when he frequented my office that he should meet with the relevant ministers. I told him that his approach was now turning him into his(Frazer) coordinator in that project which was too good to be true,” he said.
As he continued to feign amnesia, Tṧolo said also in all things he could remember, he remembered that at one point his ministerial secretary who also has given his testimony in camera with the committee, that one time when he was in office the secretary told him that he was to attend a meeting at Darham Link on Solar Frazer.
He said it was unknown to him about the details of the meeting but he went on and officiated at the one-day meeting. To his surprise, he only saw government officers and there no principla secretary or a minister.
He said claims that he signed the deal were untrue.
“I stand here before this committee and swear to God that not in a single day did I ever sit here and sign any contract with Robert Frazer. It was just yesterday when I learned that my secretary and prime minister’s personal aide have signed as witnessed in this deal,”
“When you look at this signature that it is said to be mine, yes the signature may be close to mine but that signature is not mine at all. My names when written by me are ‘Temeki Felix Tšolo’ but here the names are written as ‘Tsolo Temeki Felix’ and also the position of the person who signed on behalf of the government of Lesotho is also not there,” he said.
On the one hand Thabane’s former personal aide, Hlophe Matla also told the committee that he was introduced to Robert Frazer by Tšolo when he was asking him to help Frazer to meet with the prime minister. He said through one All Basotho Convention member Teboho Tlokotsi, Frazer was finally able to meet with the then prime minister, Motsoahae Thabane.
“After facilitating the meeting with Frazer and Tlokotsi, I later met with Frazer who told me that he was able to make presentation to Thabane who facilitated another successful presentation to His Majesty the King,
“The other day when I came to the offices as usual to pass my greetings, Tšolo’s secretary, ‘Masentle Ntobaki, asked me to sign as a witness to the agreement which had two pages. She said the project was being moved to the ministry of planning,” he told the committee.
“I did not have a problem and I signed the letter after reading it. When I signed I realised that there were other signatures which I just overlooked but do remember that of Frazer and Tšolo,” he said.
Matla also told the committee that what he signed was a two paged letter not the whole deal with the Robert Frazer.
The Deputy chairperson of committee Kimetso Mathaba told theReporter newspaper that they were yet to summons the ministry of finance after “failing to present themselves before the committee when they are called.”