Mines minister grilled over work permit

Mines minister grilled over work permit

MASERU – MINING Minister Keketso Sello was this week taken to task by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for unlawfully extending a foreigner’s work permit at Letšeng Diamond Mine.
Sello conceded at the PAC that he extended the contract of Zimbabwe-born engineer, Alfred Madowe, but said he “was just used as a rubber stamp”.
“The Ministry of Labour and Employment is the one actually renewing foreigners’ work permits. I was just used as a rubber stamp,” Sello told the PAC.

The PAC chairman Selibe Mochoboroane wanted Sello to explain how Madowe, who was employed as a Mining Manager at Letšeng, obtained the work permit unlawfully.
Sello said Madowe was given a work permit on January 15, 2018 by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“I only exempted it in May. This shows that he already had a permit,” Sello said.
Mochoboroane argued that a foreigner could only work in the country for two years then pass their skills to citizens so that they do the job on their own.

“He did not deserve the work permit and the law says people should pass on their skills to the locals,” Mochoboroane said.
“This individual has overstayed here.”
He also said Madowe was vocal boasting that he will work in Lesotho for as long as he wanted because he will pay bribes.
“The letter was written by Honourable Sello giving the foreigner another exemption to continue working here,” he said.

Mochoboroane said according to the committee Madowe should have left the country a long time ago after working for two years.
Sello said he authorised the exemption in line with Clause 9 E of the Mining Lease.
He said the clause states that no foreign employee of a mining company may be employed in Lesotho for a period exceeding five years without the consent of the minister.
He said the clause states that the Ministry of Labour is the one vested with the power to approve the issuing of work permits after ensuring that indeed there is a scarcity of such skills in the country.
Sello said Madowe and Letšeng Diamond wrote a letter requesting an exemption for Madowe to occupy a position which was held by Wayne Louw who had resigned.
“It is indicated here that there were adverts in the newspapers about the vacant position but did not get a suitable individual for the job,” he said.

He said one Mosotho man, Letuka Moorosi, was approached for the position as he was suitable and competent but he declined to take the offer and it is for this reason that the mine saw Madowe as their right candidate.
He said on February 5 they wrote back to Letšeng indicating that they did not agree with their proposal.
Sello said they received another letter on March 1, 2018 and they responded on March 20 stating that their motivation for exemption was not convincing enough.
He also said on April 12, 2018 the mine wrote another letter followed with a work plan that stated that Madowe would pass his skills to Khoetha Masehlela.
“We then agreed as the ministry because there was at least something tangible,” he said.

Sello said in the same letter it was stated that Madowe was granted a two-year work permit expiring on January 15, 2020.
He said the letter also stated that the Ministry of Mining should give Madowe an exemption parallel to the work permit.
“I then wrote a letter saying Madowe is allowed to proceed,” the committee heard.
He said the issue of Madowe working in Lesotho for a long period of time was as a result of the negligence of the previous government.

Nkheli Liphoto

 

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