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Maloi blasts Mosisili over palace remarks

Pakalitha Mosisili‘. . . new palace architect was actually paid for work done’

Billy Ntaote

MASERU — The coalition government has dismissed claims by the main opposition Democratic Congress (DC) leader Paka­litha Mosisili that it was disrespectful of the King as “a baseless political rhetoric”.

In his campaign on both national televi­sion and radio this week, Mosisili accused the coalition government of disrespecting His Majesty King Letsie III by failing to pay the contractors of the new palace valued at more than M110 million.

“This government has no respect for the King, they were supposed to have paid those people timeously,” Mosisili said.

Public Works Minister, Lebesa Maloi, told the Sunday Express this week that Mosisili’s utterances were merely meant at winning the electorate’s sympathy so that he could be voted for in the up-coming by-elections next month.

Maloi was adamant that Mosisili’s state­ment was meant to mislead the public and coax them into voting in his favour since the “architect had already been fired for insubordination by the time I came into office as new minister”.

“He (Mosisili) does not have full details of what is going on; he is actually mislead­ing the public by his statements meant to gather votes for the by-elections.

“I received a report that the architect was disobedient hence he was fired, but for the bit of work he had already done he was paid,” Maloi said.

He said construction work was expected to resume sometime in the course of the month (February) with a new architect to direct the construction company.

The palace’s construction was supposed to have been completed by March last year but has since been suspended.

According to Mosisili government’s fail­ure to pay the construction company con­tracted to build the palace and its archi­tect resulted in the architect withdrawing his services hence the suspension of the construction work.

The Sunday Express has learned that the company engaged in 2008 to provide architectural services for the design and construction of four buildings, namely the King’s Palace, a Chapel, a Guest House and a Tennis House has since had its con­tract terminated.

Senior Private Secretary to the King, Mabotse Lerotholi, reiterated Maloi’s views saying the construction of the palace was suspended due to certain reasons “which cannot be interpreted to mean that gov­ernment is disrespecting the King as Mo­sisili said”.

Lerotholi said he was watching the by-elections campaign programmes when the former premier accused the coalition gov­ernment of being disrespectful of the King.

He dismissed allegations that govern­ment had not availed funds for the con­struction and architecture engaged in the construction of the King’s palace.

“We do not owe the contractor anything as he was paid for all work done already,” Lerotholi said.
Lerotholi said the architect was charged with the duty of leading the construction company engaged for construction work and giving instructions on how the con­struction should take place and monitor­ing the whole palace project construction but failed his mandate.

“In my own assessment, I believe he had his own motives. I’ve worked in the pub­lic service before and saw many buildings erected and finalised but it was the first time I saw such a thing done by an archi­tect,” Lerotholi said.

He revealed the architect was always playing tricks when he was supposed car­ry out his responsibilities.

Lerotholi said it was just as well that the architect’s contract was terminated.

“We only learned from the architect’s bosses in South Africa when the contract was being terminated that his employ­ers did not know that the architect was playing tricks in Maseru and threaten­ing to withdraw his services for frivolous claims which were of his own doing,” he said.

He said that plans were already ahead to engage a new architect to do the supervi­sion, adding that “surely construction will be resumed very soon at the palace”.

Ministry of Public Works Principal Sec­retary Lebohang Phooko said everything was in order towards engaging the new ar­chitect to finalise the palace project.

“We are finalising the issue of the palace with the architect and in about two weeks we should have something solid to talk about regarding the construction,” Phooko said adding that he would not comment on Mosisili’s political remarks.

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