Statement by South African Minister of Water Affairs on Lesotho judgement

September 22, 2002


Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry Ronnie Kasrils has warmly congratulated his Lesotho counterpart, Minister of Natural Resources, Monyane Moleleki and his government following the conviction of the Canadian firm Acres by the Lesotho High Court on Tuesday for paying illegal bribes to the former CEO of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority.

“Through its determined prosecution of this case, Lesotho has demonstrated that Africa is ready to move forward with its development under the NEPAD umbrella.

“Lesotho has also shown that much of the corruption with which Africa is so often associated is actually a contagion from the rich world.

“What is striking in the cases before the Lesotho courts is that it appears that bribes were paid not to have contracts awarded, since this process was overseen by a joint South African/Lesotho Commission and could not be influenced by the CEO. The object was rather to increase company profits by persuading the former CEO Mr Sole to take decisions favourable to the companies. These included extending contracts and authorising excessive claims for construction expenses.

“I have taken a great interest in this case because any cost increases due to corruption would have to be borne by South African water consumers. This successful prosecution should ensure that such costs are kept to a minimum. South Africa continues to support Lesotho in its continuing actions against the other companies which have been charged.”

The Minister concluded by noting that the other companies concerned should settle quickly rather than drag out the proceedings in the hope of wearing down Lesotho’s resolve. He also indicated that jailed former CEO Masupha Sole, who has already been found guilty of receiving bribes should consider telling his side of the story in full.

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