Opinion By Nthakoana Ngatane
MASERU – A little over a year ago I made it my business to lift the veil that was used by Temeki T’solo, former minister in the prime minister’s office, to sign a dubious €100million deal that gave Frazer Solar GmbH “legitimacy” to claim and demand €50million compensation from Lesotho or seize the kingdom’s assets.
My findings, including that Frazer Solar had lied about having secured funding for the project, pissed-off its director Robert Frazer, enough to label me a “government agent” and threaten legal action against me, but never went through with it.
Since then, Frazer Solar has embarked on a baseless social media campaign to discredit Lesotho while the country has remained very silent.
This week Frazer issued another statement saying a Belgium court has recognized its Arbitration Order from South Africa, and “…issued an order allowing the company to seize the Kingdom’s assets in Belgium, including the bank account of the Lesotho embassy in Brussels.”
Frazer previously served writs of execution and attachment notices against the kingdom’s assets in jurisdictions including South Africa, that pays royalties for water supplied by the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and electricity revenues from Eskom. Other territories are the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Mauritius where Lesotho has shareholding in the West Indian Ocean Cable Company.
So far the only government to speak decisively has been South Africa. In November 2021, that country’s minister of water Senzo Mchunu said they can’t pay Frazer Solar because that will disrupt the current and future supply of water from Lesotho, and threaten relations between the two countries.
Mchunu and the Republic filed an intervention application in a case in Johannesburg, in which Lesotho is challenging the €50million claim by Frazer.
“Bowing to Frazer’s demands would threaten this cooperation. Treaties of this nature (LHWP) are also lodestars for how nation States across the world can, and should, engage with each other to ensure future peace and prosperity, particularly by ensuring the equitable sharing of limited national water resources for mutual regional benefit.” Mchunu said.
However, South Africa’s Department of International Relations has remained silent on its position regarding the arbitration process held in its territory, that was based on an agreement that Lesotho disputes, signed by T’solo, a minister who didn’t have authority.
South Africa and the European Union are also silent on my findings that German credit agency KfW Ipex Bank, which Frazer Solar claimed at the arbitration that it had agreed to finance the implementation of the project, has now denied this.
We know that Lesotho is assisted by the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF) housed at the African Development Bank. The ALSF said it is also supporting Lesotho in other jurisdictions where Frazer Solar has sought to register the award – yet it is still running amok.
Right Honourable Prime Minister Sam Ntsokoane Matekane, I am begging you to:
– tell your counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa that ill-informed arbitrations held in his territory pose a serious threat to mutual relations, it is the root of all this madness
– tell European Union Ambassador Paula Amadei that Lesotho’s image will not be tarnished by a company lying about being funded in the EU
– tell President Joe Biden’s special delegation to your inauguration that Frazer is a fraud abusing due international process…
Abti Sam, please stop this madness!
Nthakoana Ngatane is International Correspondent and Publisher of Lesotho Express News.