Brand New Vixion (BNV), an obscure marketing agency that was responsible for organising events to celebrate His Majesty King Letsie IIIâ€™s 60th birthday, is now embroiled in a massive alleged looting scandal.
The alleged scandal revolves around a controversial branding deal from the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), which awarded enigmatic BNV an astonishing M6.2 million tender to brand Lesotho as â€œa socio-economic trade and investment destination of choiceâ€.
The details of the alleged scandal were brought to light in a document titled â€˜Save LNDC Campaignâ€™, attached to a letter sent anonymously to Prime Minister Ntsokoane Samuel Matekane by alleged concerned employees of LNDC.
The letter outlines the awarding of the tender to Brand New Vixion, claiming the company received an advance payment of 25 percent, amounting to M1.55 million, flouting LNDCâ€™s procurement policies.
Despite all the fanfare and the astronomical tender value, BNV seems to have misplaced its deliverables. The concerned employees allege that to date, not a single tangible result has materialised from this grand nation branding project.
When approached for comment, Tlotlisang Setsumi, who had spoken on behalf of the agency previously, played the perfect role of a shady character caught in the act.
Setsumi deflected questions, suggesting that the matter was strictly LNDC concern.
â€œGo to LNDC and ask them, it seems like you are talking about LNDC matter that does not involve me,â€ he asserted cryptically.
â€œGo LNDC and leave me out of it. When you come from LNDC, go and talk to the owner of the company, not me. I have given you my answer,â€ he added,
LNDC Pledges Transparency and Cooperation
In response to the circulating documents and allegations, LNDC has released a statement acknowledging the seriousness of the claims and their potential impact on the corporationâ€™s image and reputation.
â€œThe contents of the letter and the attached documents bear allegations that are taken in a serious light by the Board and Management of the Corporation, as they have an overreaching bearing on the image, reputation, and the brand of the Corporation and its governance structures,â€ the statement read.
It added that where there are complaints or grievances about how the business of the Corporation is conducted, stipulated procedures must be followed and adhered to.
â€œThe corporation conforms to the value of transparency while conducting its business. This is because corruption is regarded as a serious misconduct. As a result, we are open to working with all the law enforcement institutions to investigate the allegations made in the SAVE LNDC Campaign,â€ the statement further read.
It also assured the public that LNDC is committed to serving the best interests of the country and remains committed to its mandate.
The letter to the Prime Minister was written on July 19 this year and received by the Office of the Prime Minister on July 21, days before Newsday reported that a series of celebrations marking the Kingâ€™s milestone birthday, which were organized by BNV, came with a jaw-dropping estimated budget of over M13.7 million, according to a document this publication has seen.
Identity Confusion: Vixion Pty Ltd and Brand New Vixion
This publication also reported that its inquiries with the Ministry of Trade led it to one conclusion, that BNV is not a registered business unless it is registered under a different name.
However, individuals who came forward after the publication of the story clarified that BNV is registered as Vixion Pty Ltd.
Indeed, there is a company registered under the name Vixion Pty Ltd, but its trading name is â€œVixionâ€, not â€œBrand New Vixionâ€.
Its registered address is listed as â€œLetlatsa Matsoso, Upper Thamae near Police Station, Maseru, Lesothoâ€. On the other hand, BNVâ€™s website shows its physical address as â€œMejametala Street, Maseru East, Lesotho, 100â€.