Five ambassadors recalled

Five ambassadors recalled

MASERU- IN a major shake-up in Lesotho’s diplomatic service, the Government has recalled five ambassadors.
Recalled are former Trade Minister Popane Lebesa (Kuwait), former Lesotho College of Education (LCE) rector Molefi Oliphant (London), former Justice Minister Mpeo Mahase in Brussels and former Tourism Minister Lebohang Ntšinyi (China).

Ratokelo Nkoka, who is a consular general in Durban, has also been ordered to come back home.
Also recalled is Lesotho’s UN ambassador in New York, Kelebone Maope, who however told thepost last night that he will fight the decision.
Maope said he has instructed his lawyer, Advocate Karabo Mohau, to file an urgent application to block the decision.
He said his case is likely to be heard next week.

Maope said Minister of Foreign Affairs Lesego Makgothi called him to Italy on February 28 to inform him of the recall.
The diplomats will start returning home at the end of April.
The last one is expected to arrive in Lesotho at the end of June.
Maope said he told minister Makgothi that he was not happy with the decision because the lawsuit he filed when government tried to suspend in December is still pending.

“I also told the minister that they should tread carefully as they recall the ambassadors so that they should not soil the dignity of the country,” Maope said, adding that he was not told why he is being recalled.

“The government is in breach of our contract because my contract is going to end in July 2019,” he said.
Makgothi told thepost last night that the ambassadors were being recalled because the government is apprehensive that they may not be able to represent its interests and articulate its policies.

This, the minister said, is because they were appointed by the previous government.
“They cannot pass the policy of this government. They were deployed during the previous government.”

The minister said he told the ambassador that under section 147 of the constitution the Prime Minister has the power to recall a diplomat any time.
“We did not ask them to show cause why they could not be recalled. We do not work in that way,” Makgothi said.
He said the ambassadors knew that they were being recalled because he had warned them at a meeting in Rome where he asked them to say how the decision will affect them.

Makgothi said some of the ambassadors have indicated that they are still paying their installments at the shops while others are paying off their car loans. One told the minister that his child will be writing final examinations in June.
“This one will be the last ambassador to return home.”

The minister said he did not have qualms with any of the ambassadors seeking legal redress.
“It’s their constitutional right to do that if they feel aggrieved.”

Makgothi said government will buy out the remainder of their contracts but “that would not include Foreign Service allowances”.
He said the case of Nkoka is complicated because he started his mission three days after the general election in June last year.

Majara Molupe

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