Chaka: the boss who lived large

Chaka: the boss who lived large

MASERU – THE beleaguered former boss of the Land Administration Authority (LAA), Mahashe Chaka, could have cooked his academic qualifications to land the top job.
That is according to a draft report compiled by forensic investigators who have been looking into his tenure as the LAA’s director general.
Chaka has since resigned but the skeletons keep tumbling out of the closet, thanks to a stinking report now in the hands of the LAA board which was seen by thepost.
The report says the investigators zeroed in on Chaka’s Curriculum Vitae (CV) after they felt that “his attitude and responses were questionable for a person of his position and qualifications”.
Their first discovery was that there were no copies of educational certificates in Chaka’s personnel file.

They requested the details from Chaka who submitted only copies of some of the qualifications listed on his CV. The draft report says an analysis of the copies showed that something was not tallying. It says according to the copies Chaka obtained a Management Advancement Diploma and Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Management on the same day (October 17, 2003) from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The investigators observed that the transcript copy for the Management Advancement Diploma “is not clean and shows signs of tampering”.
They also noted that Chaka had obtained the Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Management in just six months. And he had achieved this while at the same time studying for the Management Advancement Diploma which he obtained on the same day as the Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Management.
Chaka’s certificate shows that he was awarded a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) on October 13, 2006, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal yet the transcript indicates that he completed the course on December 14, 2005.

The investigators were however puzzled as to why Chaka’s student number for the MBA started with 2015 yet he first registered in 2002.
Chaka seems to have graduated with the MBA despite his transcript showing that he failed three modules. More troubling to the investigators was the MBA certificate itself.
“On the Masters in Business Administration certificate, the Dean seems to have forgotten to sign, an odd thing as the Dean can be considered as the Principal of the Faculty,” the draft report says.
The draft report says there is no clear explanation as to why Chaka managed to register and complete an Honours Degree in Accounting Finance in just one year, as per his CV, without a first degree.

The investigators also note that the results of the Post-Graduate Diploma in Business Management and Management Advancement Diploma, “for some reason, seem to form part of the MBA results although he was awarded three different certificates.”
Their conclusion is that Chaka did not obtain the MBA as he claims.
“Even though the results verification took longer than expected, we have reasonable suspicion that Mr Chaka was never awarded the MBA certificate he claims to have,” the draft report says.

The investigators also dug through the records of Chaka’s international travel and use of the LAA’s credit card. The result is a staggering tale of how Chaka abused his imprest on several occasions. He was supposed to submit receipts a week after a trip but would take months to do so.
When he had any remaining funds from the imprest Chaka would keep them for months before remitting back to the authority. The investigators discovered that he used the imprest to buy Rayban Sunglasses, leather bags and clothes.

On one occasion he even got a herbal spot treatment using the imprest from the authority account.
The draft report says Chaka’s habit of delaying to remit change from imprest was equivalent to him granting himself an interest-free loan from the authority.
In some cases he would hold on to thousands of maloti for more than four months.
At other times he would not submit the receipts to prove how he used the money.
On a July 2017 trip to the United States Chaka used his imprest to by a pair of sandals and a cap.
He also bought an iPad case.
The investigators found that even when the hosts were providing him with meals and a stipend Chaka would still ask for money from the LAA. For instance, in October 2014 Chaka requested M61 882 for a workshop in Thailand which he claimed was going to run for eight days.
Of that amount M21 882 was for out of pocket allowance, M30 000 accountable imprest and M10 000 in lieu of accommodation during the workshop.
The investigators however discovered there was a letter of invitation clearly stating that this was a two-day workshop and not the eight days Chaka had indicated in his claim.
One of the organisers of the workshop told the investigators that Chaka received a US$226 allowance per day to cover room charges and incidental expenses from the host.
The draft report says the former director general should not have claimed M10 000 for accommodation and M8 205 as out of pocket allowance for the additional days he claimed to be in Thailand.
In April 2016 Chaka said he was going to attend a 14-day workshop in New Zealand. He claimed M40 600, of which M1 000 was a regional out of pocket allowance for the two days he was going to spend in South Africa while applying for a visa.
Two weeks later Chaka deposited M35 000 back into the LAA’s account, saying he had failed to travel for the workshop because of “visa complications”.
The investigators say Chaka failed to explain why he had returned M35 000 when he had been given M39 600 for the trip.
“The DG could not explain how the M4 600 was used as he did not proceed to his destination where he would have been entitled to spend the money,” the report says, adding that he failed to provide receipts for his expenditure.

As part of his contract Chaka has an LAA credit card for “authorised business including reasonable travel, accommodation and meals expenses”. There are two cardinal rules on the use of the credit card at LAA.
The first is that the credit card shall not be used for personal expenditure, “even if private funds are transferred or repaid immediately to offset the expenditure”.
The second is that all credit card expenditure shall be supported by authentic receipts and supporting documents.
Investigators however found that on numerous occasions Chaka would use the credit card to buy personal things.
While on a trip to New York in March 2018 Chaka used the credit card to buy cell phone accessories for M5 955. They included an adapter, organiser, iPhone X case, presentation report and Apple Pencil Leather case.

From November 2014 he was using the credit card to pay for his iCloud storage and iTunes. By the time he was suspended in May this year he had spent the LAA’s M6 899 on that service.
In November 2015 the former director general went to Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for a workshop. He used his credit card to buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and Samsung NP Laptop.

When quizzed by the investigators Chaka said he first bought the laptop because he was due to make a presentation but realised that his old laptop was not compatible with the set up at the presentation room.

When he was questioned about the Tab, Chaka said he bought it after realising that even his new laptop would not work for the presentation. That explanation implies that he had bought the gadgets at different times but investigators discovered that they were bought at the same time because they appeared on the same Point of Sale slip. Chaka could not explain how this was so, according to the draft report.

The investigators also noticed something odd about the trip to Kinshasa because he could not provide a letter to confirm that he was a participant at a workshop.
When asked why the authority had not sponsored the trip Chaka said it was funded by the Road Fund where he was chairperson of the board.
Yet he had used the LAA’s credit card to buy a computer and a tab during the same trip. Equally baffling to the investigators was that on the same day the credit card was used to make a M2 002 transaction in Sliema, a resort town on the east cost of the Mediterranean island of Malta.
A reconciliation of his credit card for November 2016 revealed that there were no matching receipts for transactions worth M8 643. The draft report says in March 2017 Chaka used M125 995 from the credit card when his limit was M100 000.

In January 2018 Chaka used the credit card to buy two batteries for M2 940 from Mjuza Tyres. The draft report says there was no reason for this because all cars are maintained by the LAA.
But that expenditure seemed to follow a pattern Chaka had established in using the card.
In November 2017 he had used the card to buy five tyres worth M21 000 from Mjuza Tyres. The report says LAA officials were not aware of any report that the car needed new tyres.
They were also not aware of the transaction until they were told by the investigators.

Chaka’s explanation was that he had to buy the tyres because the LAA had in the past failed to get the right size.
This was despite that a year earlier he had bought four tyres for M14 600 from the same shop for the same vehicle. The report says the investigators asked Chaka about the misuse of the imprest and abuse of the credit card but he refused to answer their questions.
“He advised that the investigators should proceed to lay bare what they found.”

Chaka also used his authority to push the authority to buy him a phone that was way beyond his entitlement.
He is alleged to have set this process in motion by instructing one of the senior officials to get a quotation for an iPhone X Plus and accessories from an iStore in Bloemfontein.
The investigators found that he only qualified for an iPhone 7 Plus valued at M16 000. It is however alleged that this entitlement was communicated to Chaka but he insisted on getting the iPhone X Plus.

Vodacom Lesotho, with whom he has a contract, indicated that he would have to pay an extra M4629 to get the iPhone X Plus.
“From the evidence obtained, Mr Chaka was not prepared to part with the said amount at least from his wallet,” the report says.
“Mr Chaka then opted to illegally use LAA funds to buy the said high-end phone. This came at the cost of M28 698 to the institution. It must be clear that he was still entitled to an iPhone 7 Plus from Vodacom Lesotho.”

The report says according to his contract Chaka was not entitled to a cellphone “at least beside the one that is provided by the service provider depending on his contract package”.
When interviewed Chaka said the expensive phone was a “business need”. His colleagues however told the investigation team that there is no LAA business application that can run on the cellphone. “This is another act of corruption and undue benefit,” the report says.

Editor’s note: Next week we reveal how Chaka allegedly paid himself a handsome bonus and used his power to illegally promote subordinates he favoured. We also reveal the chilling recommendations of the report and how they might affect the LAA.

Staff Reporter

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