Ombudsman goes after DCEO boss

Ombudsman goes after DCEO boss

MASERU – THE Ombudsman Leshele Thoahlane wants parliament to censure the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) boss Borotho Matsoso for refusing to implement his recommendation. Thoahlane also wants parliament to force Matsoso’s hand to comply with his decision.
In 2016 a police officer, Tau Letšaba, complained to the Ombudsman that Matsoso had deliberately sabotaged his application for the position of principal investigations officer in the anti-corruption unit.

Letšaba applied for the position when he was still on second-ment to the DCEO.
He told the Ombudsman that the DCEO management shifted goalposts to frustrate his appointment. In November 2016 Thoahlane found in Letšaba’s favour and ordered the DCEO to stop the recruitment process.

The Ombudsman also told the Matsoso that if he did not agree with his recommendations in the case he is free to apply for judicial review at the High Court. This was after the DCEO had said it did not agree with the recommendations. Yet according to Thoahlane’s eight-page report to Parliament, Matsoso went ahead to fill the post and has refused to comply with the recommendations for the past two years. Both Thoahlane and Matsoso are admitted advocates of the High Court.

The Ombudsman told Parliament that earlier in 2016 a position of Principal Investigations Officer at the DCEO was advertised. Confident that he met the requirements, Letšaba applied.
Letšaba alleged that he was called one day to the office of the Chief Investigations Officer where he was informed that the management was aware of his application “but regretted being unable to consider him for appointment due to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) existing between the police, the DCEO and the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA).
The MOU is meant to stop the organisations from ‘poaching’ each other’s employees.
That position was later filled.

But some months later a similar position was advertised. Letšaba asked the Chief Investigations Officer if he could be released back to the police so that he could apply for the post.
He was told he could apply without going back to the police “because releasing him would result in understaffing in the investigations section”.
The Chief Investigations Officer allegedly promised him that seniors from both the police and the DCEO would sort the matter out.
Letšaba claimed that after he complained about the MOU, Matsoso said he should apply.

He said his understanding was that Matsoso would find a way to bypass the MOU to hire him. The Ombudsman says after applying he was called to the DCEO’s human resources office where he was told that he had not been shortlisted because of the MOU. Letšaba allegedly asked for the copy of the MOU but was not given.
Matsoso told him the same when he asked him.

“The complainant was even further bewildered when (Matsoso) invited him to his office to tell him that not only the MOU but his age too had contributed towards his disqualification in being considered for short-listing,” the Ombudsman’s report said.
The advert for the position had stated that applicants should be aged between 25 and 40 years, have a B.Com (Accounting), social sciences degree or equivalent and two years’ experience in either taxation or financial investigation.

Alternatively applicants could have a diploma in accounting studies plus 10 years’ experience in the same field or investigation of white collar crime.
Letšaba had told the Ombudsman that he had been in the police service for over 20 years and had attended several workshops and courses on investigation of white collar crime among others.
“While he was above the required age as per the advert, the complainant said he was an already serving officer of the Government of Lesotho who had relevant qualifications on top of which, as has already been mentioned, was attached to DCEO and doing what appeared in the terms of reference for the position advertised,” the report reads.
“He felt the age restriction was but discriminatory, he ought to have been short-listed.”

Letšaba cited two of his fellow policemen who were employed by the DCEO while on attachment under the MOU.
The Ombudsman said he could not understand why the MOU became an issue for Letšaba when it was never raised when his colleagues were recruited.
“He felt that all these reasons were brought up by the DCEO management just to frustrate his application for reasons not known to him (but) best known to the said management.”
Matsoso’s response was that Letšaba was way above the 40 years of age contrary to the advert requirement and that he only had a year on attachment at the DCEO and therefore did not have two years’ experience in white collar crime investigation.

He said even if he could be released back to the police so that he could apply, he still could not qualify because according to the MOU “he would not have left the agency of attachment for a period not less than six months”. “(Matsoso) vehemently denied the existence of any promise whatsoever either by himself or (Chief Investigations Officers) to the effect that the complainant’s application would be considered,” the Ombudsman said.

However, Thoahlane’s investigations revealed that all applicants for the position were police officers “junior to the complainant in rank and experience”.

Staff Reporter

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