Mokoko rejects plea for Frazer Solar probe

MATHATISI SEBUSI

MASERU –   The Ombudsman has rejected a request to probe circumstances leading to the alleged signing of an agreement between the Lesotho government and German solar power company, Frazer Solar GmBH, for the provision of solar energy installations.

The agreement would 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 petition noting that the matter requested to be investigated and 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, requesting the Ombudsman to investigate the matter.

In his letter, Serobanyane has asked the Ombudsman to urgently and thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure that parties that are found guilty are brought 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.

He highlighted 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 organisation – this after Fraser Solar GmBH was awarded R856 million in damages in South African courts after Lesotho allegedly reneged on the deal.

A statement released by the Qhobosheaneng administration in Maseru last week said while the government was trying to understand the matter it urged both the public and international partners to remain calm pending investigations.

In an earlier statement issued by Withers Worldwide, the lawyers acting for Frazer Solar, the company claimed 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.

Following the award international media reports indicated Frazer Solar immediately moved for Lesotho’s revenue from water royalties paid by South Africa and could even see its share of an undersea communications cable seized after it breached the terms of a contract with Frazer Solar GmbH.

Under a global enforcement order, reports said, following the award in South Africa, Frazer said in a statement that it had taken legal action to seize royalties that would be paid to Lesotho’s government by the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority.

 

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