Fight over  reforms top job

Fight over reforms top job

MASERU-THE search for the chief executive of the National Reforms Authority (NRA) has been plunged into controversy after politicians allegedly hijacked the process.
While the NRA was conducting public interviews this week, a storm was brewing behind the scenes.

thepost can exclusively reveal that most of those interviewed this week were not on the original list of candidates submitted by the Institute of Development Management (IDM), which the NRA hired to manage the recruitment.

Sources at the authority revealed that some names have been removed from the IDM’s list and preferred candidates have been added. Most of those on the authority’s final list had failed to make it to the IDM’s shortlist.
Letters have been filing back and forth between the IDM and the authority as they strongly disagree on how to proceed. But while they argue a legal battle looms over the recruitment.

Last night former Mines Minister Lebohang Thotanyana, whose name was removed from the IDM list, filed an urgent High Court application to block the recruitment.
Thotanyana claims the fact that his name was plucked off the consultant’s list shows that there is some chicanery that has tainted the process.

The allegations of tinkering with the shortlist and Thotanyana’s lawsuit are likely to embarrass the authority that should otherwise be leading by example to show the change it seeks to make in the public service.
The IDM has since raised concerns with the NRA, refusing to be associated with the new list as well as the interview questions and panel.

In a September 4 letter to the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Law, IDM alleges that the NRA changed both the selection criteria and the shortlist it submitted.
In his letter the IDM’s country director Dr Retšelisitsoe Nko,told the principal secretary of law that the institution can not associate itself with the final list that does not include other names.

The IDM’s list for the chief executive’s position had nine candidates whose CVs had been scrutinised by human resources experts. The NRA’s list has five candidates, some of whom were not even considered by IDM.
It is alleged that some of the candidates were disqualified at the preliminary stages because they lacked the prerequisite experience and qualifications.

The NRA however changed the criteria, resulting in some of the candidates on IDM’s list losing points and those it had excluded gaining more marks to make it to the final list the authority interviewed this week.
That is how Thotanyana was removed from the final list even though he had been shortlisted by the IDM.

Dr. Letholetseng Ntsike, the Independent Electoral Commission’s director of elections, was excluded from the NRA list despite making it to the IDM list.
So was Majakathata Mokoena-Thakhisi, the former principal secretary of Public Works.
Mahashe Chaka, the former director general of the Land Administration Authority, suffered the same fate. So did Justice Tšukulu, Tšeliso Nteso, ’Mota Nkuatsana.

Only Koenane Leanya and Mawinnie Kanetsi survived the chop from the IDM list.
The NRA then added Mafiroane Motanyane, Selebalo Ntepe and Tšiu Khathibe to its own list.
Sources at the authority told thepost that the same changes happened to the IDM’s list for the deputy chief executive.

From the IDM’s list, the authority removed Thabang Mothepu and Mofilisa Letsoela and Kanetsi. Added were Khiba Mohapi and Motanyane.
The only ones who survived from the IDM list are Motlatsi Kolisang, Khathibe and Leanya.
Khathibe now appears on both lists but the IMD had shortlisted him for the deputy’s position only.

The IDM shortlisted Kanetsi for both positions but the NRA has her on the chief executive’s list only.
Motanyane, who is said to be related to a senior government official, did not make it to the IDM’s lists but is now vying for both positions under the NRA list.

The IDM’s letter said given the changes to the list the institute wanted to be withdrawn from observing the recruitment procedure “since it will not be in a position to write any report of the process it did not assess nor instigate in terms of good practices”.

It said it will also not participate in the preparation of interview questions as well as the examination to be administered during the interviews and preparation of scoring”.
It further recommended that the deliverables of its contract be revised to align with the new developments that had changed their role in the recruitment.

The institute however said it remained “committed to providing any further assistance once it is cleared in writing that the NRA would like to take over from the contractor that was supposed to be a deliverable”.
The NRA’s chairman Pelele Letsoela responded to IDM on September 7 denying the allegations and rejecting the recommendations.

Letsoela said IDM’s contract will not be reviewed and the institute still has an obligation to write the final report. He insisted that the IDM should also observe the process even though it was no longer in full control of the recruitment.
Letsoela described the IDM’s recommendation to have the deliverable changed as “unacceptable”, insisting that the NRA had not taken over IDM’s role.

He said he hoped the IDM will “get over this misunderstanding and continue with its commitment to provide the expected technical assistance to the process of recruitment as provided for in the Contract and Memorandum of Agreement”.
IDM’s Dr Nko this week confirmed his letter to the Ministry of Law but refused to discuss the contents.

“There is no collapse in the relationship. It was just a matter of seeking clarity. IDM is still a consultant and remains committed to complete the assignment,” Dr Nko said.
“We remain committed to working at the highest level of professionalism and integrity to give the expected results of the best possible standard and output”.

It appears that while the IDM and NRA were arguing, Thotanyana was getting ready to enter the fight. On September 12 Thotanyana wrote to Letsoela complaining that his name had been removed from the IDM list.
Thotanyana alleged that the authority instructed the IDM to abort the process.

“The shortlisting of the candidates for the position of the chief executive was undertaken by the appointed top echelons of the authority and this leaves a huge shadow of doubt on the credibility of the process given that the recruitment process by an independent consultancy institution was aborted without any justifiable grounds,” Thotanyana said.
He said he could not be arbitrarily disqualified.
Letsoela responded the next day, saying the IDM was never directed to abort the process.

He said it was not true that the top echelons of the NRA shortlisted the candidates.
Instead, he said, it was the NRA Selection Panel that made the shortlist with the IDM’s assistance. Insisting that the process was transparent, Letsoela warned Thotanyana not to try to stop the interviews through the courts because that will further delay the reforms.

He said Thotanyana, as a prominent politician, would not want to have the stigma of having delayed the reforms.
“Please also consider that a lot of expenses have already been incurred in the preparation of the interviews,” he said.
But yesterday Thotanyana filed an urgent application to stop the recruitment.

He is asking the court to stop the appointment of the chief executive until his case is finalised.
He also wants the authority to provide the record of the proceedings, deliberations and correspondences relating to the shortlisting criteria, scoring and his disqualification.

Thotanyana also wants his disqualification reviewed and set aside as unlawful.
Last night Letsoela said he was not aware of Thotanyana’s lawsuit.
He however said the recruitment process was going on smoothly.
“The process is complete and we are just making finishing touches,” Letsoela said.
He denied that IDM had raised concerns about the recruitment.

Staff Reporter

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