Top education unit official ‘jailed’

Top education unit official ‘jailed’

MASERU – A SENIOR official in the Education Facilities Unit, ’Maliteboho Makhoali, was on Tuesday slapped with a one year prison term or pay a fine of M1 000 for misleading Parliament. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman, Selibe Mochoboroane, ordered the arrest and imprisonment of Makhoali after she admitted she had lied to Parliament.

A fuming Mochoboroane ordered Parliament’s sergeant-at-arms and the police to escort Makhoali straight to prison on Tuesday.
thepost could not verify last night whether Makhoali paid the fine.
Makhoali had told the PAC that public funds were used wisely when a school was built in a mountainous rural village of Ketane.
However, the PAC found that was not true.

The committee found that in 2013 over M300 000 was misused at the school where a kitchen and dining hall were to be built. The school was also to have catering equipment. None of those were found at the school despite the fact that payment was done.
Makhoali told the PAC that she inspected the school and found that all was in order but later changed her statement saying she had relied on photos.
“So I signed the certificate and payment was made,” Makhoali said.

Her boss, Nathaniel Motaba, who is the director said Makhoali was the one who inspected that everything was well done.
Makhoali conceded her wrongdoing and asked for forgiveness but Mochoboroane slapped her with the prison term.
Citing a clause in laws regulating parliament, Mochoboroane said it provides that if anybody lies or gives false information to Parliament or any of its committees deliberately he should pay a fine not exceeding M1 000 or a one year imprisonment or both.

“Most of you think Parliament cannot do anything if you lie to it,” Mochoboroane said.
“With this you will know that we have powers, given to us by this very House with its laws, to send you to prison,” he said.
Since last week the PAC has been interrogating several high ranking officials in charge of public funds.

The PAC is a parliament portfolio committee with a mandate to demand information on government expenditure of public funds and report to the House for it to direct the executive on what should be done.

It has the power to summon anybody in the country who might have any information on how the public funds have been spent to share his knowledge, except the king.

This week the PAC grilled officials from the Ministry of Education with all its departments and institutions of higher learning that receive subvention from the government.
National University of Lesotho (NUL) Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao was also interviewed this week.
Mahao, a tried and tested law academic with vast experience in university management, told the PAC that the NUL’s financial system was lagging behind when compared with universities around the world.
He convinced the committee that the funds were not misused but the system misrepresented what was actually happening on the ground.
He said he had introduced the internationally used system that will represent the university’s financial state more accurately.
The Lesotho College of Education (LCE)’s Rector Dr Karabo Mokobocho-Mohlakoana could not answer why the college has not been audited since 2003.
Mokobocho-Mohlakoana conceded from the onset that the college had had a managerial challenges for years.
The LCE’s bursar Lisebo Ramaili said when she joined the college in 2009 she worked hard to prepare the books from 2003.
“There were no documents and I did my utmost to ensure that at last there were audited accounts by 2009,” Ramaili said.

As for the period from 2009 to 2017, Ramaili said she was still preparing for the audit.
Mochoboroane grilled the Education Ministry for continuing to give the college money despite that it did not have audited accounts.
The college gets about M31 million from the government annually.

“Are you aware that you are breaking the law?” Mochoboroane asked.
Now came the Lerotholi Polytechnic, which gets about M28 million from the government annually without producing any audited accounts.
To make matters worse, the PAC found that M32 million went missing from the college through bogus procuring of teaching materials from five companies in South Africa.

The teaching materials never reached the college.
The names of officials who signed for payment of the non-existent goods were exposed.
The police are investigating the matter, the PAC heard.

Again, Mochoboroane roasted the ministry for continuing to allocate funds to the college despite that it does not produce annual audited accounts.
The PAC also found that the ministry is paying ghost teachers and there are no balances and checks when payments are made.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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