PAC to grill Molapo

PAC to grill Molapo

MASERU – Public Service Minister Joang Molapo is set to be quizzed by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for allegedly hiring a deputy principal secretary when he was still minister of home affairs six years ago. Also in the firing line is Chief Ranthomeng Matete who was the then Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The two are accused of hiring Titi Thelejane as the Home Affairs Deputy Principal Secretary without following the government’s recruitment procedures.
That decision in 2012 is now set to come back to haunt the two.

Molapo, who is the Basotho National Party (BNP) deputy leader and Matete who served as the party’s secretary general for a long time, brought their own Deputy Principal Secretary when Prime Minister Thomas Thabane appointed them to head the ministry in 2012.
Normally, the DPS in a government ministry is not appointed on the basis of political affiliation but is promoted through the ranks of the ministry.
So instead of working with the DPS who was already serving in the ministry, Molapo and Matete allegedly brought their own Deputy Principal Secretary.
This was unearthed during a PAC hearing last week. The PAC was quizzing some officials at the ministry over suspected fraudulent activities in organizing and running Lesotho’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

The officials blamed Thelejane for wrongfully awarding tenders to certain companies. They also accused him of hiring companies illegally.
Molapo is now serving as the Minister of Public Service while Ranthomeng has retired and is now a chief in his Morija village.
Thelejane was never paid while still engaged as she was just occupying the office, the PAC heard.
She has since sued the ministry for not paying her.

As part of the preparations for the celebrations, a South Africa-based company, Advanced Business Promotions, was illegally granted a tender for brokering artists in the entertainment section.
Mahooana Lenkoe, a procurement officer at the Ministry of Home Affairs told the PAC that his bosses said the open tendering system could not be done because they had very little time to organise the function.

He said he was told that the Advanced Business Promotions should be given enough time to prepare for the celebrations.
“It is my strong suspicion that the company was selected by the DPS,” Lenkoe said.
The Auditor-General Lucy Liphafa has revealed that while Advanced Business Promotions did the job the payment was made to another company called Nala.
Nala did not have any contract with the ministry.

The then financial controller of the ministry who is now with the Police Directorate, ’Momorena Oliphant, said she was stunned when she was ordered to pay the company that did not have any contract with the ministry.

Following the order, Oliphant said she demanded answers from Matete why the payment should be made to Nala and not Advanced Business Promotions.
“I was told that Nala had financed the Advanced Business Promotions and the payment had to be channeled to Nala as per their agreement,” she said.
A visibly frustrated Oliphant told the PAC that she did not want to process any payment for Nala for she knew that it had not done any work for the ministry.
She said she eventually bowed to pressure from her bosses to save her job.

“The owner of Nala personally came to my office demanding answers why I did not want to pay him,” she said.
She said she also got immense pressure from the PS to process the payment.
Oliphant said out of frustration and with her conscience gnawing at her, she finally processed the payment attaching a note to it that she did it simply to save her job that was now at risk.
“I wrote the message that I did not know what I was doing,” she said.

She further told the PAC that she also delayed to process payments for screens that were installed at Lepereng, Sethaleng sa Mopapa and Pitso Ground because she received complaints that they were not functioning.

When asked whether all the performers were paid, Oliphant said to the best of her knowledge, all the payments were made.
But the Auditor General said there are still some performers who are to be paid.
The PAC also discovered that there were millions of maloti that were mismanaged.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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