Mapesela defiant

Mapesela defiant

MASERU-AGRICULTURE Minister Tefo Mapesela has told parliament he will not reverse his controversial decision to sell farming equipment last month.
Mapesela was responding to the parliamentary economic cluster’s recommendation to stop the sale until an investigation by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) is complete.

Mapesela has in the past rejected calls by the anti-corruption unit to suspend the sale until the investigation is completed.
A few weeks ago, he told thepost that the DCEO can go hang because the deal is already done and was approved by both parliament and cabinet.

He also refused to appear before the parliamentary committee to answer questions about the sale that has triggered an uproar and allegations of corruption.
He was in a defiant mood again on Tuesday when the economic cluster tried to pressure him to halt the sale of the government’s

tractors, harrows and planters to farmers.
The firebrand minister told parliament that despite the committee’s recommendations he will “behave as if nothing has happened”.
“The decision was approved by amongst others the cabinet and the parliament even though some members opposed it,” Mapesela said.

“The government also asked the Minister of Agriculture to value the equipment and then the cabinet adjusted prices before the sale.”
Some MPs however pushed back, insisting that Mapesela should heed calls from the cluster committee and the anti-corruption unit.
Kose Makoa, an MP from the Alliance of Democrats (AD), said Mapesela’s claim that parliament approved the sale was misleading.

Makoa said Mapesela “only came once to inform the House on what he wanted to do, not asking for permission from the House”.
“Parliament was never asked to approve this, it never did.”
But Mapesela remained adamant, insisting that parliament approved the sale and farmers who bought the equipment “should start going to the ministry to collect them”.

“Those with queries may meet me at the courts,” Mapesela said.
The Movement for Economic Change (MEC)’s deputy leader, Tšepang Tšita-Mosena, said the committee’s report on the issue has been delayed because it was busy with the national budget.
Tšita-Mosena said the committee now

wants to understand the sale because it “has caused a lot of confusion”.
She said the committee accepts that the Ministry of Agriculture can sell the equipment and that it is important that the procedure be followed.
“The committee is not sure if all necessary procedures were followed,” Tšita-Mosena said.

“We want to find out if the sale was done within the perimeters of the law,” she said.
She said they want the ministry to immediately stop selling the equipment “until all necessary investigations into the sale are done”.
“We want to be sure that the process followed all steps.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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