Minister fights councillors

Minister fights councillors

MASERU – THE Local Government Minister, Litšoane Litšoane, dissolved the Maseru City Council (MCC)’s tender board on Tuesday.
The minister accused the city councillors of usurping the powers of the tender board by awarding tenders despite that there is merely an oversight job.
Litšoane also nullified two policies the council made, saying they were made with “selfish intents” by the councillors who wanted to loot MCC funds.
Tongue-lashing the councillors, Litšoane said they acted against the Local Government Act of 1997 that says they do not have executive powers.
“Executive powers are bestowed on the city council’s staff with their different expertise and skills,” Litšoane said.
“The Local Government Act clarifies the duties of councillors, some of which entail overseeing the work of staff in the execution of their duties,” he said.

Litšoane said he is dismantling the tender board in line with section 92 of the Act.
Litšoane disbands the tender board at a time when the MCC is about to award a multimillion tender for the improvement of Mpilo Boulevard intersections.
The job, advertised in April, includes construction of new road links, vehicles’ flyover bridges, underpass and exclusive pedestrian bridges.
Mpilo Boulevard is expected to reduce accidents and traffic congestion.
The MCC currently has 20 roads to be maintained and upgraded.
Two of the roads, the Tšosane-Koalabata and Mohalalitoe-Lower Thamae, are almost completed.
Litšoane has instructed the MCC Town Clerk, Moeko Maboee, to establish a new tender panel.

The minister also ended the council’s policy on loans and salary advances, complaining that over M3.4 million of the MCC funds “is in the hands of staff and councillors”.
“What is surprising is that in the month of June the Maseru City Council failed to pay salaries of workers and allowances of councilors,” he said.
“I am embarrassed to say they have paid salaries and allowances with funds that were supposed to be used in lighting the streets.”
The minister said this policy violates the Local Government Act.
He said under the law only the minister can make policies.
Even the policies on the control of funds are made by the local government minister in consultation with the finance minister, he said.
He instructed the town clerk “to ensure that all funds in the hands of members of the staff and councillors return to the treasury”.

Litšoane also cancelled the council’s travel allowance policy, saying it violates the rules.
He said the town clerk will have to seek permission from the ministry’s principal secretary to authorize international trips by the councillors or staff.
He said the MCC’s senior management met with the ministry last Thursday to discuss these issues.
However, councillors have vehemently denied the minister’s allegations.
Lebohang Karala, the council or for Lithabaneng, denied that councillors and the MCC staff were loaned M3.4 million.
Karala said Litšoane was misinformed.
Karala said a 2004 policy introduced the internal loan scheme.
He said funds amounting to M200 000 were set aside to start a loan fund.

“Interest has been generated over the years and the fund has been revolving amongst MCC employees,” he said.
Karala said that “seed money has since been returned to MCC’s coffers”
He said the loans attract a 15 percent interest over six months and 21 percent if repaid over 12 months.
Karala said a record is kept on a monthly basis that shows how much loan has been issued and how it shall be deducted until it is fully repaid.
“An amount of M 77 996 is yet to be collected and recovered from staff,” he said.
Karala said the loan is not over M3 million as the minister alleged.
He said income generated from the scheme is used on council projects.

The Mayor of Maseru, Mpho Moloi, said the public should ignore the minister’s allegations because they are false.
The minister relied on wrong information, Moloi said.
She said the minister should remember that councillors are elected officials like him, adding that she wonders why the minister is targeting the tender board.
“He is joking because we were elected by the public just like him,” Moloi said.
“We are working on a big job of upgrading the Mpilo Road.”

’Makhotso Rakotsoane


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