MASERU – The Ombudsman has rejected a request to probe circumstances leading to the alleged signature of an agreement between the Lesotho government and German solar power company, Frazer Solar GmBH, for the provision of solar energy installations.
The agreement is said to have facilitated connection of up to 40 000 solar water heating systems, 20MW of solar photovoltaic capacity, one million LED lights and 350 000 solar lanterns nationwide.
However, the Ombudsman, Tšeliso Mokoko, has disallowed the plea noting that the matter requested to be investigated is already pending in the courts of law, therefore ,he cannot interfere.
This call had been made by civic activist and Basotho Lead Petitioners official, Mpho Serobanyane, to request the Ombudsman, to investigate the matter – evoking in respect with Chapter 10 and 107 of the Constitution of Lesotho.
Chapter 10 of the constitution provides that “nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision.
- in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning, the development or utilisation of mineral resources or the development or utilisation of any other property in such a manner as to promote the public benefit;
- for the purpose of protecting the rights or freedoms of other persons”.
While Chapter 107 of the same constitution speaks on land vested in Basotho nation and ownership of natural resources.
In his letter, Serobanyane has asked the Ombudsman to urgently and thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure that parties that are found guilty are taken to book. To this Mokoko pointed acknowledged contemplation on the complaint and said he had discovered that the matter requested is already pending in the courts of law in various jurisdictions.
Highlighting that “pursuant to Section 9 (2)(d) of the Ombudsman Act 1996 thereof, the Ombudsman declines to initiate an investigation in this regard, as this matter is already pending in courts of law in various jurisdiction.”
These developments follow a Lesotho government statement indicating that a sovereign state, its properties, locally and internationally, remained safe and protected from seizure by anyone or organasation – this after Fraser Solar GmBH was awarded R856 million in damages in South African courts after allegedly reneging on the deal.
A statement released by the Qhobosheaneng administration in Maseru on Wednesday said whilst the government was trying to understand the matter it urged both the public and international partners to remain calm pending investigations.
An earlier statement issued by Withers Worldwide, the lawyers acting for Frazer Solar, it seems the project stalled in October 2018 when Lesotho’s Ministry of Finance refused to finalise and execute the project’s financial agreements. In a resultant legal action Frazer Solar GmbH was awarded the M856 million in damages by a South African court.