New policy to restore investor confidence in Lesotho

South African Broadcasting Corporation
August 27, 2003

About 15 more international companies believed to have been involved in bribery in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, are to be prosecuted soon. This comes after a German firm, Lahmeyer, was fined R10,5 million in the Lesotho High Court for bribery. The Lesotho government says its new policy on zero-tolerance on corruption will restore international investor confidence in the country.

The construction of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project attracted many international companies. Some of them, fearing stiff competition for winning the contracts, resorted to bribing Masupha Sole, the former chief executive of the project. Masupha has since been sentenced to 15-years imprisonment for receiving bribes amounting to R12 million.

The Lesotho government says if international companies and top government officials who are corrupt are not prosecuted, this bad practice could easily influence others to follow suit.

Fine Maema, the Attorney General in Lesotho, said: “Investor confidence clearly would be diminished if there’s corruption and people thrive on bribery. We’re saying that once the international companies and the international community as a whole realize that there’s zero tolerance on corruption, then it clearly means that there’d be more investors coming to Lesotho.”

The government is also clamping down on illegal immigrants. Tom Thabane, the Minister of Home Affairs, said: “Immigration officials in trade and industry who issue licences and officials who issue work permits to illegal immigrants and get bribed in the process are also being investigated.”

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