THE All Basotho Convention (ABC) has vowed to confiscate vehicles belonging to Bidvest Bank Limited if it forms government after the 3 June 2017 to recoup the money the South African firm “fleeced” from Basotho.
In turn, commuter transport operators say they have shunned the government’s policy of hiring Basotho-owned vehicles since there were no guarantees the next government would continue with the arrangement.
This comes amid revelations the government is still using cars hired from Bidvest Bank Limited despite saying it cancelled the controversial vehicle fleet services contract with the South African firm with effect from 1 April 2017.
It has emerged that the Bidvest cars are still being used because the government had so far only managed to acquire 193 Basotho-owned vehicles of the 1 060 needed to service 26 government ministries as well as parastatals.
ABC spokesperson, Tefo Mapesela, said they were not surprised by the revelation that Bidvest was still in the country.
“Bidvest is a partner in crime with the government in fleecing taxpayers’ funds,” he said.
“This is a continuation of the shady relationship that the government of Lesotho has with Bidvest. It started with the company being awarded the contract without even tendering for it.”
Mr Mapesela said if the ABC were to form government after next month’s parliamentary election, they would confiscate all the remaining Bidvest vehicles “to recover the money fleeced from Basotho”.
“We would compel them to pay the outstanding taxes they have not been paying since coming to Lesotho in 2015,” he added.
Public transport operators from the central, north and south regions of the country have also voiced their “disappointment” with the government’s handling of the vehicle fleet issue.
Makama Monese, who is the deputy spokesperson for the operators yesterday told this publication they had decided not to lease out their vehicles to the government “until the process is properly handled”.
“We are not satisfied with the way the issue has been dealt with by the government, hence our decision not to associate with it until it has been reviewed,” he said.
Mr Monese, who is also the spokesperson for the Maseru Region Transport Operators (MRTO) also said the government’s decision to hire vehicles from individuals was ill-advised since they would have to address all the individual problems that would arise.
He said the government was not inclusive in drafting the policy of hiring Basotho-owned vehicles.
“We expected to be included in the formulation of the procurement system as major stakeholders in the transport industry. Now they have decided to source vehicles from individuals, which we know that has its fair share of problems.”
Mr Monese said the government’s decision to introduce the policy of hiring Basotho-owned vehicles ahead of the 3 June 2017 was “suspicious”.
He also warned of a potential debt trap for Basotho who take loans to buy vehicles for leasing to the government since the contracts would only be for one year.
“We were not prepared to take that risk since no one knows what the next government’s position will be with regards to this policy. We have already seen people finding themselves in similar predicaments in the past.”
He said the public transport operators had the capacity to provide all types of vehicles the government needed if “the process is done right”.
“We can supply such vehicles right away it the government needs them in the event the process is done right,” Mr Monese added.