Minister rebuts MPs’ criticism

Minister rebuts MPs’ criticism

MASERU – SMALL Businesses Development Minister Chalane Phori says he will not take the blame for Meraka Lesotho’s dodgy recruitment policies.
Phori was responding to last week’s attack by MPs, particularly the Mabote MP Fako Moshoeshoe, who accused him of letting Meraka Lesotho hire foreigners to do jobs that locals can do.
The MPs complained that Meraka Lesotho, a private company running the government-owned abattoir in Khubetsoana, had hired some Chinese nationals to slaughter livestock despite that there are Basotho who are qualified to do the job.

The MPs also complained that accountants for Meraka Lesotho are Chinese. Moshoeshoe was the most vocal among the MPs who complained.
Phori said his ministry had engaged researchers who found out that people who are working at the abattoir were Philippinos and not Chinese. He said the foreigners were qualified for the jobs.
However, Moshoesohe was not pleased with the response alleging that Meraka had destroyed local small businesses by allowing people to buy at low, wholesale prices instead of buying from butchery owners.

Also the opposition MP for Senqu, Likeleli Tampane, complained bitterly about the minister. Tampane said she spoke to Phori about that issue and he said the foreigners were qualified for the jobs. “But what I know is that there are no skills needed to slaughter a cow. These foreigners are now saying it is very easy to get jobs in Lesotho and the sad part is that Basotho are wallowing in poverty,” she said.

Tampane said the “unfortunate part” is that people often end up blaming the Prime Minister, yet it would be the ministers and principal secretaries who misuse government funds.
Phori said Moshoeshoe knew very well that the issue of who is employed anywhere “is an issue for the Minister of Labour, not me”.
“I only responded to the questions in Parliament on the understanding that we have a collective responsibility as ministers, not because I am directly responsible for who Meraka hires,” Phori said.
“Fako Moshoeshoe knew exactly well the minister he was supposed to have directed his questions to but he maliciously decided to attack me,” he said.
“This is personal. If he wants my ministerial position let him take it.”

“I am aware that he had been campaigning, seeking comments from businesses in the meat industry, saying he wanted to reprimand me. If it is this position he is after, let him come and take it. I am fed up.”

Phori said he helped establish an association of small butcheries “because I wanted these small businesses to benefit in the meat industry”.
“I played my part in blocking the red meat importation and making sure that Basotho sell their cattle at Meraka every Wednesday. I have no role to play in who Meraka employs. That is the duty of the Minister of Labour.”

Turning to Tampane, Phori said he had “no time to argue with noisy women”.
“I do not attack women, verbally or otherwise, and I am not going to attack Tampane. I simply have no time for her.”
He said Tampane should start talking about “the legacy left by her political father (Pakalitha) Mosisili, under whose guard millions of maloti were stolen in the infamous Bidvest fleet management deal”.

Staff Reporter

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