Moorosi Tsiane/Pascalinah Kabi
PUBLIC Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Selibe Mochoboroane says he will soon summon ministers Mahali Phamotse and Moeketsi Majoro to appear before his committee after they both failed to show up yesterday.
Dr Phamotse, who is Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation minister and Dr Majoro (Finance minister) were meant appear before the PAC yesterday to answer questions relating to the proposed construction of facilities for the 2020 Africa Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games.
Lesotho is supposed to host the games next December.
The ministers were called after Ministry of Finance head of the public procurement advisory department (PPAD), Likotsi Leseli, told the PAC last week that the M2, 4 billion needed for the project was not budgeted for.
Part of the money will be used in the construction of a 40 000-seater football stadium and a 3000-seater indoor arena (Lepereng). The money will also be used to construct the games village which will accommodate 3000 people at National University of Lesotho (NUL).
Mr Leseli said this was one of glaring cases where cabinet imposed some decisions on the Ministry of Finance officials without following proper procurement procedures.
“The M2, 4 billion was not budgeted for and procurement procedures were not followed to hire contractors for the jobs,” Mr Leseli told the PAC last week.
“We have a problem of hierarchical influence which overrides legal procedure. Ministers make decisions in cabinet and we are forced to implement them whether or not standard procedures were followed,” Mr Leseli added.
Nevertheless, Dr Phamotse told the PAC last week that the government would go ahead with the construction of the sports facilities after sourcing the M2, 4 billion from a financier called Property 2000.
Dr Phamotse had been called to appear before the PAC after the officials from the Ministries of Finance and Sports had presented an adverse opinion on the project.
She told parliament that the games would continue as several preliminary processes have already been done.
“The agreement to host the games comes with clear conditions…the local organising committee (LOC) is right on track working on seeing that we achieve that.
“We also have the theme of the games (Unite, rise and build), we have the logo, the theme song and a mascot.
“The construction is in two categories. The first one is the construction of stadiums and grounds while the second is the building of the games’ village. The Prime Minister (Thomas Thabane) has already turned the sod for the 40 000-seater stadium, two Olympic standard swimming pools and a multi-purpose indoor facility in August 2019 at Lepereng while the Deputy Prime Minister (Monyane Moleleki) also turned the sod for a 3000-capacity games’ village in Roma this month.
“To start the construction, the government, through Ministry of Finance, has signed an agreement with investors who will do the work,” Dr Phamotse said.
It was against this background that Mr Mochoboroane called the two ministers to appear before the PAC yesterday at 11 am. However, they both did not show up.
“They were initially supposed to appear before the PAC on Tuesday and that was the mistake on our part because Tuesdays are for cabinet meetings. They informed us that they were going to cabinet and that they would come should the cabinet meeting take a shorter time.
“But a new date was therefore set for today (yesterday) at 11 am. They both did not come, neither did they give us an apology or an explanation,” Mr Mochoboroane said.
He said they were now left with no other choice but to issue summons to compel the duo to appear before the PAC.
“This means we must summon them to come and appear before the PAC. I am going to issue the summons for them to appear before us because they missed today’s appearance without advancing apologies. Anyone whose name has been mentioned must come to give their side of the story,” Mr Mochoboroane said.
Both Dr Phamotse and Dr Majoro could not be reached for comments as their mobile phones went unanswered yesterday.