By ‘Mantoetse Maama
MASERU — Business persons engaged during the Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) games which were held in Lesotho last year are crying foul over unpaid dues by the authorities of the tournament, the Lesotho Times heard this week.
According to one of the service providers commenting on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, they had availed catering and transport services for the Mafeteng games as requested, for the duration of the tournament “but to this day we have still not been paid accordingly”.
“The local organising committee members told us that as soon as the games were over we would get our money, they even said they would pay us in hard cash,” said the complainant who had he had provided transport services.
The two-week youth tournament which roared into life on December 3 last year saw the 14 nations battle it out in the country’s two stadia in Maseru and Mafeteng the Setsoto Stadium and the Seeiso Leshoboro Sports Complex.
This means the transport service providers had to travel for the bulk of the time between the two districts delivering participants between home and the grounds.
“The committee had asked us to provide ten taxis (Quantum) and that the owners be from one taxi association so that we would provide one invoice for ease of payment,” he said.
During the opening they were asked to provide two taxis to provide the services in Maseru.
Meanwhile, this paper has learned that although the complainants were doing the same work as their counterparts stationed in Maseru, only the Mafeteng based group had not been paid.
Another lady who was providing the catering services who would also not be named for fear of victimisation said when they were supposed to be paid; the committee kept changing their stories.
“We were told that before Christmas we would get our money but until today (Tuesday) we have not received our payments.
“At first we were told that an officer who was supposed to authorise the cheque was on sick leave so we would have to wait until there was someone to sign it off,” she said.
She said since December last year they had been travelling to Maseru for the money to no avail as they kept being sent from pillar to post.
“At one point they said the cheque was supposed to be authorised by some committee member in South Africa so it was delivered through some local delivery company that delayed to deliver it back to Lesotho,” she said.
“They wanted to deny us access from the meeting but we told them that we would attend it because we wanted to be addressed firsthand about our payment. During the meeting they promised to pay us last Friday but nothing has changed,” she said.
The caterer said since the unfulfilled promise the authorities were no longer taking their calls anymore.
“These days they just ignore our calls but we won’t stop trying until they have paid us because we delivered the services,” she said.
Meanwhile the public relations officer of the local Cosafa office, Thethuoe Makara, confirmed that the Mafeteng business people who provided service during the tournament had indeed not yet been paid.
“It is true that there was a delay on the payments but we are still processing their payments.
“We are waiting for the projects managers to sign for the payment,” Makara said.
She attributed the delay of payment for the caterers to errors appearing in their requisition, while the transport operators’ delay was said to be the result of a delay in the transfer of the money in question from the sports ministry account to Cosafa.
Makara also confirmed that business people from Maseru who were offering similar services had been paid in full.