PS in no-show for PAC hearing

PS in no-show for PAC hearing

MASERU – THE Principal Secretary (PS) for the Ministry of Trade, Soaile Mochaba, failed to turn up for a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing on Monday.
The PAC was not amused by his no-show and is now threatening to summon him to appear before the committee through the police.
Mochaba was due to appear before the PAC for grilling on Monday and Tuesday but members of the PAC only learnt on Monday that the PS had gone on an official trip to the United States.

What irked the MPs was that Mochaba had not sent any note asking for a postponement of the hearing and only learnt that he was out of the country when the committee was supposed to sit.
The PAC chairman, Selibe Mochoboroane, who is also the leader of the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) and the MP for Thabana-Morena constituency, said he will summon Mochaba through the police.

“The police will have to bring him here and they will take him from wherever he is,” Mochoboroane said.
“When we say we want the ministry to come before the PAC we want the PS to be here not to give us people to talk on his behalf.”
“We will make an example with him of what happens to a government official, especially these principal secretaries, who take this committee for granted,” he said.
“It’s high time these principal secretaries give parliamentary committees the respect they deserve.”

One of the PAC member Likopo Mahase said the PS is taking the committee for granted.
“So for that matter we will make him come before the committee when he is back and we will deal with him for all he did,” Mahase said. The spokesperson for the Ministry of Trade, Liahelo Nkaota, said Mochaba left on Saturday for the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA)’s 17th Forum in the United States.
The MP for Qhalasi Palo Leteetee, who is also a member of the executive committee for the opposition Democratic Congress (DC), said Mochaba will have to answer all questions without any assistance from the ministry’s staff when he comes back.

“This is infuriating,” Leteetee said.
“I don’t understand why a whole chief accounting officer could just go like that when he knew ahead of time that he had some business with the parliamentary committee,” he said.
“He takes parliament for granted and he showed that by disrespecting its committee. He will have to come here and answer all the questions directed to him.”
Leteetee said even if Mochaba will bring his staff before the committee to help him answer some of the questions “he will have to answer them alone”.

The MP for Khubetsoana, Likopo Mahase of the All Basotho Convention (ABC), said parliamentary committees should work hard to ensure that public servants respect them.
Mahase said their patience has been pushed to the limit and they will make an example with Mochaba so that other principal secretaries who are contemplating to imitate him will not do so.
Mochoboroane said the Ministry of Trade is one of the government ministries whose chief accounting officers have a lot to explain because of the manner in which they have spent public funds.
“This ministry has spent too much money on international trips and we want the principal secretary to come and explain that,” he said.

“But instead of coming when the committee had called him, he decided to go on another international trip so that he gets a per diem,” Mochoboroane said.
The PAC’s concerns about the way the ministry is spending money on international flights comes barely two months after Finance Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro raised similar worries.
Majoro said he wanted to cut international trips because they are consuming too much of the public money.

Staff Reporter

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