Legislators in Lesotho are implicated in illicit passport services

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Members of Lesotho’s Parliament are implicated in illicit dealings with the country’s identity and passport services company Nikuv International Projects, it has emerged.

In his parliamentary address yesterday, Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo, said the March 2013 raid by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) seized documents whose evidence linked the current and former Members of Parliament to the unlawful activities.

“The House will remember that the DCEO is continuing to pursue prosecution of some of these cases and will continue to do so as evidence permits,” Molapo told the House . He ordered reduced contact of Nikuv with the politicians and their parties.

Services on passports and National Identity Documents resume on November 17,2014 countrywide after a four month halt, Lesotho’s home affairs ministry has announced.

Old Lesotho Passport, but still in use as Nikuv resumes producing the documents.
Old Lesotho Passport, but still in use as Nikuv resumes producing the documents.

During yesterday’s parliamentary address, Home Affairs Minister Joang Molapo said the services would begin after the contracted company Nikuv International Projects was paid M19.83 million (USD$1.775 million) for the civil registration and passport systems services. The remainder is to be paid out after Nikuv’s full compliance with the agreed terms of the agreement.

The system operation was halted in June 2014 after a dispute between the Government of Lesotho and Nikuv relating to the deliverable services based on the contract.

During the months of November to February 2015, staff at the ID and passport services will work overtime from 7.am to 8.pm in order to cover lost time since a stoppage on rendering the services in June 2014.

“The ministry ensures that it will continue to deliver top level service: ID and birth registration within 48 hours, passports within three-five days,” he promised and apologized for the disruption of services.

The dispute arose when home affairs ministry contended the contract for services required the delivery to Lesotho of the system-fully operational, source code, passwords as well as advanced technical training that allows government full control of the asset.

He reminded legislators that the contract was awarded to Nikuv in 2011/12 under questionable circumstances.

Former Home Affairs’ Principal Secretary Ret’selisitsoe Khetsi and one Motsotua Makoa are facing corruption charges involving an amount of M5 million as alleged bribe received from Nikuv. Also it was reported in local media last week that the current National Identity Card and Registration Director is implication in receipt of M170,000.00 (USD$17,000.00).

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